But this DANGER can also be present for all of us who subject ourselves to ANY spiritual authority, as can be seen in many historically recorded cases. The most recent of these sad cases being the highly publicized, extreme groups of Jim Jones and David Koresh's destructively misguided followers.
In taking your position that all apostolic ministry ENDED with John's death, I believe that you throw away the baby with the bath water so to speak. Just because there is DANGER in believing in the apostolic office being valid in the church today, that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.
The Scriptural book of I Corinthians, where apostleship and prophecy is much touted by Paul, was written to ALL PEOPLE IN EVERY PLACE who believe in the name of the Lord. I take this to mean that its writings (like all other Scripture) apply to all generations of Christians, not just to those particular ancient Corinthian Christians, don't you?
So, should not Christians today merely exercise the Biblical admonition to test the spirits of all who claim to be (or those who have others claim that they are) apostles in order to avoid the DANGER of being led astray by them? If people are truly open to the personal movement of the Holy Spirit to lead them into ALL TRUTH, will He not be faithful to do so in this case by identifying for them those that are true or those that are false apostles?
You're scriptural explanation for your position on this subject is in my opinion very weak because it certainly does not take into account all of the Scriptures on the subject. The way that we avoid any doctrinal error from false modern day apostles or from any Bible teachers for that matter (including you!), is to personally and prayerfully study all of the Scriptures on each particular subject for ourselves.
Since we Christians must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give account to Him for all of our doctrines and since any of us who have compiled and then taught any wrong doctrines will be labeled by Him to be least in the Kingdom of Heaven, would it not be prudent for all of us to stay open to the possibility of being wrong, even in our most strongly held beliefs?
Therefore, in the spirit of hungering to learn ALL TRUTH from the Holy Spirit and recognizing the possibility of being in error on this particular doctrine, I invite you and your readers to prayerfully read the first 5 entries in my blog on the subject.
I believe that on this particular issue, God has given me a better division of the Word than you espouse and that there truly are apostles active today, many, many of them! My own apostolic ministry over the past 25+ years is an example of my beliefs. I and others believe it has been accompanied by many, many powerful validating movements of the Holy Spirit in signs, wonders and miracles. I testify of much of them within my blog.
If people approach that which I believe I have been led to say on the matter of apostleship with a prayerful and open mind, they will realize that it truly is God's truth that there are modern-day apostles.
However, some people may not! In that case I would welcome engaging in an e-mail correspondence with any of those who wish to thoroughly discuss all of the Scriptures on this subject, just to see if we can improve our positions on the issue.
After all, even though I fully believe that I have been doing apostolic work with Jesus for all of these years, perhaps I'm mistaken. Perhaps I'm deceived! Perhaps I myself need to be corrected on this important matter!
I certainly do not want to stand before Jesus and be utterly ashamed because of an incorrect division of His Word on my part on this issue, just as I'm sure that neither do you nor your readers. So, for those of us who might be unable to avoid a difference on this very important issue, it certainly can't hurt to thoroughly discuss it, now can it?
Humbly believing myself to be one of the Lord Jesus Christ's many, many anonymous, practicing modern day apostles.
I read the first 5 entries of your blog. I too have also longed for direct communication with the Lord. I spent the afternoon of yesterday (the Lord's day) considering the passages you quoted, wondering about the possibility. That night, last night, I became violently ill. It seemed the more I opened my mind to the possibility of modern-day signs and apostles, the more ill I became. As I put the matter out of my head, I was able to find calm and peace. Was it coincidence? Could it be a sign? How would you interpret a possible decision, interrupted by a strange and sudden sickness, which only abated when you decided the other direction?
I believe this true occurrence, exactly demonstrates one of the multiple, fundamental errors of your case:
First, what you call "signs" and "wonders" are nothing compared to the true signs and wonders of the Bible. Biblical signs, wonders, and miracles were impossible to physically reproduce. They were undeniable. It was impossible to dismiss them as mere coincidence. Any such attempt would requires a scenario more outlandish than just accepting the miracle. For example, Bible miracles included: People lame from birth becoming instantly healed, immediately able to run and jump (Acts 3:1-11); deaf and mute people being able to hear and speak both clearly and normally (Mark 7:31-37); maimed people with missing or shrunken limbs, which were immediately restored (Mark 3:1-5; Matthew 15:30-31); people raised from the dead (Mark 5:35-43; John 11); etc. Furthermore, these "signs" were clear. They were not left to subjective interpretation. (Was I sick because the Devil was persecuting me, or was I sick because God was chastening me?) The overwhelming point of these "signs" was to prove that the messenger was endowed with a message from God. This leads me to the second problem.
Second, in the Bible, signs and wonders were given as a proof and confirmation to the unbeliever, not the believer (I Corinthians 14:22-25; Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:2-4; John 9:16-31; 20:30-31; Acts 2:22; 14:3). Jesus repeatedly recognized and pleaded with people to believe Him and trust Him, because of the signs they had already seen (Matthew 11:20-24; John 4:48; 5:36; 10:24-25, 32, 37-38; 14:10-11), not so they could see signs yet to occur. Therefore, we see that Bible signs produced faith, not the other way around (John 2:11, 23; 3:2; 4:53-54; 6:2; 7:31; 11:47-48; Acts 8:13). However, it seems to me that you have the occurrence of signs completely depending on belief, which is backwards compared to the Bible order. The only faith required was that to ask Jesus for help, nothing more... Finally, any reprimand given to those seeking a sign was given to those who rejected the clear already signs given to them or merely sought the carnal benefit (John 6:26-31; 12:37-43). They were not honestly seeking. Honest sign seekers who suffered from a weakened or non-existent faith were never rejected (Matthew 11:2-6; Luke 7:18-23).
Third, your "tests" of a modern day apostle are nothing more than the tests for any Christian! What Christian should not be loving? What Christian should not speak truth? What Christian would not say that Jesus has come in the flesh? You minimize the true test of an apostle, and relegate its testability to those who are already convinced. It's not much of a test at that point, is it? The only Bible based test of an apostle was his ability to work undeniable, mighty miracles (II Corinthians 12:11), plus, he could also convey the same ability to another Christian through the laying on of his hands (Acts 8:14-20; II Timothy 1:6). This was the only gift and proof that set him apart from other miracle workers.
Fourth, you have also overlooked the requisite qualifications for an apostle, which explains one of their special and primary works. Apostles had to be present eye-witnesses of Jesus' ministry from the baptism of John to Jesus' ascension (Acts 1:21-26). Why? They were to serve as eye-witnesses and testify of what they had seen (John 15:27; Acts 1:8, 22; 2:32; 3:15; 4:33; 5:32; 10:39-41; 13:31; I Peter 5:1; I John 1:1-4; Revelation 1:2)! This is the true meaning of "witnessing for Christ" (John 12:17-18). There is no way that you or I could serve in that capacity. Paul was the surprising last of those qualified for such a task, hence his label as "one born out of due season" and Jesus' appearance to him (I Corinthians 15:7-9; Acts 22:14-16; 26:16). If Jesus were to continue to appear to men and appoint them as apostles down through the ages, how could Paul be considered "one born out of due season"? There would have been nothing late, nor unexpected by his vision and appointment.
Fifth, you, and those you have quoted, have incorrectly assumed that any church office must be filled by people on earth to function and profit us today. Therefore, the requirement extracted from Ephesians 4:11-13 is flawed. Just because we do not have apostles and prophets living on earth, we should not assume that they are neither living nor functioning in that capacity. For example, Jesus no longer exists on the earth in a bodily form. Does that mean He no longer serves the church? Remember, Jesus said that the 12 apostles would reign on 12 thrones with Him (Matthew 19:28). Their rule and office continues with His rule. To say their function has ceased would imply that Jesus' rule has also ceased. Their role was to lay a foundation, upon which we stand to this very day and prosper (Ephesians 2:20). Just as Jesus does not need to die daily for the sacrifice of our modern sins (Hebrews 10:11-14), so do the apostles not need to re-reveal and re-confirm that message once delivered from God (Jude 1:3). The foundation has been laid. The work has been accomplished. Who are we to say it is not complete and demands repeating? The work of teaching, overseeing, and shepherding obviously goes on, but the work of revelation and confirmation is complete, and with it, the work of miracles and signs (I Corinthians 13:8-10; Zechariah 13:1-6), yet the "gift" derived from that work goes on.
Lastly, I must kindly say that your claims are no different than the Mormons, Muslims, Catholics, Pentecostals, and other charismatic people who claim the Spirit moves them. How is it that you all offer the same proof and say different things? If the signs you offer are indeed proof of your apostleship, then so justified stands all the other people with whom I have personally studied, leaving the Spirit divided and me at a loss as who to believe. Incidentally, many of these groups also claim "unusual" or "astounding" growth as proof to their authenticity.
In conclusion, I would warn of a common human trait to see things we want to see, recall things we want to recall, interpret events the way we want to interpret them, and dream what we want to dream. It was a problem common to days gone by, just as it is now. Our forums are rampant proof to that point:
Based both on your own standard (modern signs and my recent illness) and the Scriptures, I ask you to consider if you indeed meet the qualifications, charter, and capabilities of those ancient apostles? Could the miracles and signs you have seen been the "deceiving signs" worked by the Devil, or dreams forced into vision by a desiring mind?
I encourage you to turn to that true, unique, and towering beacon of light that stands above all modern claims for both inspiration and wonders - the Bible.
May God help us to have a sincere love of truth,
I have a feeling that if I hear back from this guy, I will hear that verse, James the brother of Jesus (Gal. 1), and Jesus being unable to do many signs in Nazareth because of their unbelief.
Thank you for your extensive, thought provoking + prayer provoking response to my feedback comments to you about your doctrines on modern day apostleship. The fact that you read my blog is greatly appreciated. Also greatly appreciated is your testimony about how you opened your mind to the possibility that there could be apostles today as well as to the possibility of having direct communications with God. It is further appreciated that you enlightened me about the illness that hit you as you entertained these thoughts and how it left you when you removed them from your mind.
I believe that my prayers about this unexpected turn of events with your unique illness during your meditation have now been answered and that I have been given insight and understanding from the Lord about that occurrence. I also believe that Jesus would have me attempt to share these thoughts with you in answer to your question asking me how I would interpret this event? It will take a few moments to do that, so please bear with me.
To begin - when I first read some of your website I was impressed with how well versed you are in the Scriptures that all Christians are to stand upon to combat falseness of every kind in the church. I too believe in much of what you teach. I believe that you have an important defensive spiritual gift from the Lord which is much needed by all Christians. I believe that He has gifted you to marshal together (into one place on the internet) most of the Scriptures to be found on the subject of false teachings.
I also believe that the Lord has shown me that those who do your kind of work are operating in a prophetic gift from Him even though many of them (including yourself) would probably not agree with that contention. When I say prophetic gift, I mean it in the sense that you have the kind of prophecy gift which opposes evil, but does not necessarily make predictions.
In fact, your use of God's Word in this regard is so powerful that it even set me to seriously re-evaluating my own beliefs about my long established apostleship from Jesus. After all, nowhere does it say in the Bible that jim h is to be an apostle of the Lord in this time period of the creation and I must confess that He never appeared to me in Glory to assign me to this office (as he did to Paul). I only became aware of my own gift of apostleship from Him thru interpretation (by myself and a number of other people with whom I fellowship) of the many, many unique incidents which constantly occur within my life. So this belief is entirely subjective to us and, like Paul, I am an apostle to them, but not to most others.
This revelation of my own apostleship (of which I testify in my blog) came to me a few years after I became a born-again believer in my own personal salvation from God's wrath upon my sin thru my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. From my rebirth until now, I have had a large appetite for God's Word. As an apostle I have often studied the Scriptures that you know so well on false apostles, teachers and prophets just to be sure that I wasn't being presumptuous. Yet thru your powerful teachings on falsehood in these areas and this event, I was set to wondering if somehow I have been off-base all of these years on my belief in my apostolic ministry!
To tell you the truth, the whole incident of your illness was quite rattling to me and until I reached peace with the Lord about it, I have not responded to your e-mail. After all, I've been on this spiritual ground for over 20 years so it's very firm ground in my mind. Yet I sure didn't want it to be spiritual ground that is any way wrongly divided from the Word, especially when I will eventually be standing before the Lord at the judgment! If He was using this sign of your illness to inform you and me that I am wrong and I am not His apostle, then I wanted to leave this ground immediately.
Your testimony of the illness that struck you (to me it was perfectly timed but to you it was seemingly coincidental) during your pondering of these matters, and your 5 points of contention with me made me wonder if I was wrong to try to correct you on your beliefs. Was God using this event to tell me that He was pulling His supernatural substantiating support of my apostolic mission towards you, just as He did years ago to a minister who wrongly contended with me (I testified of this in my blog).
I wondered if He was informing you (and me, thru learning of this powerful illness event) that He was supporting your strong use of His Word against the things that I teach about apostleship today because perhaps I have been preasumptuous. I began to wonder if part of the reason that your illness was sent to you in that manner was to show me that I have been off-base in my own long held beliefs about all of these things! I felt the perhaps you were given that illness to tell you that my teaching was falsehood and then as soon as you abandoned your positive thoughts about my teachings, God took the illness away from you, perhaps to show you (and then me) that there is error in my whole concept!
So, here I found myself encountering you, an obviously dedicated and sincere Christian (as I also am) and very well versed in the Scriptures (as I also am), who with an open mind began pondering this idea of being able to communicate directly with God and the possibility of apostles being ordained by Him for today and then seemingly had that door slammed powerfully shut by God (or the Devil)!
And here I am, fully believing that I have the better spiritual position than you have on this issue and also fully believing that the Lord sent me to you with my message and that He was sure to send you some kind of an undeniable sign to certify to you my correctness on these issues.
But Instead God sends you this illness which if it is a sign, it is a deniable sign (to you) so it does not clearly substantiate me and my teachings to you! In fact, if it is a sign if it is not only deniable by you then it seems to supernaturally testify against me and my teachings which then makes it a sign that I want to deny!
So just as Moses did in Exodus 3:3 - 4 - when a very unusual thing occurred in his life, I turned aside from my path (of trying to correct and enlighten you) to stop and humbly pray to God to show me why this unusual thing happened and to ask if I was being corrected? I believe that in so doing the Lord has spoken to me in thoughts that have come into my mind about it, somewhat as He spoke to Moses when he turned aside from doing what he was doing to more deeply investigate the unique thing that God was showing him (in the burning bush that was not consumed).
I believe that God spoke to me about you in 2 verses. The following is the first verse...
Matthew 12:24 - Is this not the reason (you) errs,
because he (you) knows not (the true meaning of) the Scriptures (on these issues)
nor the power of God (who's true signs can be DENIABLE ).
Then I believe that The Lord showed me that your illness was given to you AS A POWERFUL, BUT DENIABLE SIGN FROM GOD for other reasons than those that you perceived (and that I too originally thought). This illness's perfect timing, starting as you entered your ponderings and then leaving as you left them is the indicator that it was a true sign from God. But it was a quite deniable sign to you because it just seemed so coincidental, didn't it? Yet in spite of its deniability, I believe that its coincidental nature is the key that makes it a sign to you and I from God.
To press on with this, I believe that the Lord has shown me that your error rests in your firm belief that all true "signs" from God need to be undeniable "signs" and not subject to personal interpretation. You state that you believe that to deny true signs that come from God would only lead one into a scenario more outlandish than just accepting them. To you, as you stated, the point of all of God's "signs" must be that they clearly prove that the messenger is endowed with a message from God. I might suggest to you that in this context you consider God's 1st sign to Gideon which, even though given after he had just spoken with the Angel of the Lord (!), was still so deniable and unreliable that he had to ask God for another opposing sign to confirm it.
I believe that the Lord showed me that your illness was not a persecution from Satan towards you nor a punishment from God. I believe it was merely an attention getting sign from Him, administered firmly upon you (as a child whom He dearly loves) in order to begin to set you straight about the deniability of His true signs. I believe that your illness was sent as a substantiating sign from Him to you about there being powerful but DENIABLE signs and wonders from Him today, which He might decide to send to accompany His true apostles' teachings!
Why would he allow them to be deniable? Because it takes a greater faith to believe in them when they are deniable, even if that faith appears to be foolish!
I Cor 1:27 - God chooses the foolish things of this world to shame the wise
I Cor 4:10 - We are fools for Chris's sake...
I believe that the Lord revealed to me that this sign He sent you was just powerful enough to get you to think that IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN A SIGN FROM HIM! But it was not so powerful as to have been UNDENIABLY a sign from Him to you! It reminds me of exactly how these kind of signs from the Lord began to happen with me 20 years ago and I believe that this is also how they are now beginning with you!
After all, if you think about it, you could have responded to me in your e-mail without even mentioning this illness event at all. But I believe that God wanted you to do so because He also wanted to make me aware of the fact that people will object to His signs because they are deniable, a thought that had not occurred to me because of my own strong faith in them.
Your illness sign was so perfectly timed and yet it was so deniable that it prodded you to inform me about it and then to go on and ask me (could that have been facetious considering your later 5 points of doctrine) to explain to you if I felt that it could have been a punishment from God or a persecution from Satan (since that's the only 2 reasons that you of which could conceive that God could have had for permitting this sign to occur in your life, if He did permit it)! You could not see any other reason for a sign like that being sent to you and to tell you the truth, at first neither could I! But, because I believe in God sending coincidental, deniable signs, I could immediately view your illness as very possibly being a true sign from Him to confirm or denounce my teachings. And because it did not appear to you to be an undeniable sign from Him, you could not!
Then the Lord again spoke to me in this 2nd verse...
Hab 3:4b - 6 - ...there is the hiding of His power (making it deniable).
Before Him goes pestilence (manifested thru my ministry as His apostle - a spiritual pest to evangelicals with your beliefs),
and plague comes after Him (your illness once He spoke to you through me).
He stood and surveyed the earth; He looked and startled the nations (you and I both)!
I believe that at the time, the perfect timing of your illness startled you. I know that God sure startled and surprised me with news of it because it was a seemingly de-substantiating sign of my teachings! But soon after that startling, I believe that God showed me in my thoughts and through the above mentioned verses that I am the one on correct ground on these issues and that you are not!
As far as your belief that the Scriptures teach that signs are for unbelievers, I agree with you (unless those unbelievers are seeking for substantiating signs). However, any Christian who does not believe in or correctly interpret some portion of the Scriptures will be treated by God as an unbeliever in that particular regard! Not as an unbeliever for salvation, just an unbeliever in regard to that particular matter. The book of Acts tells of signs sent to straighten out the unintentional wrong thinking of Christ's first Jewish believers (i.e. when God sent manifestations of the Holy Spirit upon some Gentile believers as a sign to correct the Jews wrong belief that only Jews would be given that gift).
I believe that signs will be sent by God to accompany those who are faithful to testify to unbelievers (in this case I am the believer in apostles, etc. and you are not). So this sign was given as an accompaniment of my faithful teachings and testimonies to try convince you to also believe in my doctrine. Like Paul who was indignant of apostasy against the true Jewish faith (as you are for Christianity), Jesus smote him with blindness (as you were smitten with your illness) because as the Lord told Ananias, Paul had to suffer much for the Lord in reversing his spiritual position and accepting Jesus (as will you in the future when you reverse your position and accept the correct doctrine from Jesus on deniable signs).
Which leads me to now position myself on the Holy Ground that I believe that the Lord Jesus Christ then told me to stand upon in regards to you.
Deuteronomy 20:19 - 20 - "When you (me) besiege a city (you) for a long time, to make war against it in order to capture it (to the Lord's correct doctrines),
you shall not destroy its (fruit bearing) trees (many of your other doctrines which are good)
by swinging an axe against them (Jesus said He has already laid a spiritual axe [the correct division of the Word]) into the root (distortion of the Word) of unfruitful trees [bad doctrines]);
for you may eat from them (I buy into many of your other teachings), and you shall not cut them down....
Only the trees which you know are not fruit bearing trees (the unfruitfulness of your doctrine of the undeniability of His signs) you shall destroy and cut down (with testimonies),
that you may construct a (spiritual) siege works (of correct doctrine) against the city (you)
that is making war with you (me) until it (you) falls (joins in your mind with the Lord's true doctrines on deniable signs).
I believe that the Lord has shown me that this may be a long siege against your error in this regard. So for now, I believe that have been instructed in this verse by the Lord to go no further in discussing with you any other doctrinal differences we may have because your other positions are bearing fruit with God for now. So I believe that Jesus wants me to withdraw from e-mailing you until you want to do so again, now that His axe is at the base of the unfruitful tree of your unbelief in deniable signs. I believe that the Lord Himself will be now moving with more deniable signs in your life in order to eventually convince you of the truth of what I just explained, realizing that until this issue is settled you will not be ready for any further corrections on some of the other erroneous matters that you put forth in your 5 points!
I feel as though He told me that until you get this matter right that you just cannot bear the burden of more of my teachings. Hopefully you will be willing to go on with me later as more and more of His deniable signs and wonders are sent to you and as you see that though each one is quite deniable, you will not be able to keep on denying them because there will be just too many to deny! At some point, the improbability of all that will happen to you will convince you of this truth. This will be His way by which to substantiate me and to show you that you are wrong about His true signs being undeniable because deniable signs are used by Him to sort out the chaff from the wheat when it comes to faith!
It takes a seemingly foolish leap of faith to believe in His signs when they are so easily deniable so faith in them being truly from Him, is highly rewardable!
Hebrews 11:6a - And without faith it is impossible to please Him...
I felt Him telling me that my blog was used by Him to get you to start opening up to the possibility of direct communications with Him and apostles, prophets, signs and wonders as being for today. But He used that illness to not yet allow you to actually enter onto that Holy ground because you are not prepared in your mind to suffer all of the changes in your life that such ground entails. So He gave you a taste of the pain of it to drive you back from it until you are more ready for it. That is what I believe to be the reason He used the misery of that illness as a sign to you,m273p15c!
I feel that He also told me in my thoughts that He has placed you (in your current level of faith), as a guardian for the evangelical church from error and deception from false prophets and apostles who might try to infiltrate and bring forth Satan's lying signs and wonders to lead people of this bent astray. I feel that He showed me that even though your beliefs are flawed, with many evangelicals your level of teachings are quite effective for now, because they are all like minded with you in this flaw.
So I believe that He sent that illness upon you as a sign to prevent you from proceeding onto my better ground with Him unless and until you are completely prepared to go thru the pain and suffering that communicating directly with God and believing in apostleship today will bring to you! After all, if you think about it for awhile, just having to change all of your teachings in your internet ministry on this subject will be extremely painful and will probably alienate you from most if not all of your current evangelical church support! And I can tell you from my own experience taking this kind of spiritual journey, it will get much, much worse than that! But its well worth it because I have peace in my assurance that I have many doctrines which are true to God that others don't have..
James 3:17 - The wisdom from above is first pure and then peaceable...
I feel that God also told me that He used your illness sign to tell me to return to my blog and adjust my teachings to put more emphasis for my readers on all of the pain that direct communication with God has brought to me over the years! After all, quite often when He speaks to me within my thoughts, His thoughts bring me into some kind of new unwanted pain because His thoughts invariably go against some form of comfortable but wrong worldliness that is hidden deep within my heart.
That happened to me here because i had boxed Him in to ONLY substantiating me and my teachings from Him with undeniable signs and wonders! The story of your physically painful illness that seemingly testified against me and my teachings led into me experiencing a few days of intense emotionally pain of my own because I had this part of my apostolic doctrine wrong!
And take what is happening to me right now in my overall ministry on the internet. It is very painful for me to be led by the Lord to look up and read many, many Biblical teachings that are just plain wrong but vehemently pronounced as God's truth. Then when I'm further led to confront those who write these erroneous things with very gently worded corrective e-mails, I mostly get back some form of cynical, defensive e-mail response that is dogmatically stubborn and very painful to read and ponder (Thankfully, yours is not one of those. It is very reasonable and thoughtful and though still painful, it is much easier for me to deal with).
I feel that the Holy Spirit has also rewarded and comforted me with the thought that just the fact that we're both reasoning with Him on these issues in prayer, makes us both righteous with Him on this ground, whether either of us is actually right or wrong on it! By being reasonable and loving towards one another over these issues, we are both standing in that in-between but holy grace ground spoken of in...
Isaiah 1:18 - 19 - "Come now and let us reason together," says the Lord, " Though (either of) your (doctrinal) sins be as scarlet, they will be white as snow... if you consent and obey you will eat (be given insight into) the best of the (spiritual) land (the right division of the Scriptures on these spiritual subjects)
I also feel that in you revealing to me that when you backed off of my doctrines, the illness immediately left you and peace ensued (just as the destructive storm left Jonah's shipmates and peace ensued with them when he was discarded), this was additional proof to me from God that I should now back off from you and leave you to stay for right now in your current peace and grace with God (as Jonah left his shipmates in their peaceful and grace filled calm state from which they could learn more about God's power and move forward from their existing low levels of faith)!
Collosians 3:15 - And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds... (Amplified Bible).
Remember m273p15c, the High mountain of God burns with painful, destructive fire! No spiritual falseness whatsoever can even touch it without painful consequences. Only those who have that fully dedicated, faith-unto-death faith that Moses had, can climb this Holy spiritual mountain! So for you to just ponder the possibilities of these things is not the level of faith with which I believe that God eventually wants you have in order to approach this Holy ground. Therefore, I believe that He used that painful illness to drive you off from it until you're ready to approach it much most seriously!
So for now, just as Paul was once stopped by an angel from ministering to certain people and looked to God for guidance on where to go next, I'll be praying for guidance until He shows me where next to proceed with you about my teachings. Then, at some future time, I believe that you like Mark with Paul, will join up with me in all of this. I hope so!
Thank you for hearing me out and I wish you God's blessings in all of your endeavors, from here on into eternity.
Sincerely in the love of the Lord Jesus Christ,
an anonymous apostle
I must confess that I am very much at a loss as how to respond. I have prayed about this question, and I have spent some time studying on the matter. But, I still don't know the best way to respond. "Why the quandary?", you might ask.
Well, I answered your previously with several Scriptural points specifically relating to New Testament apostles, signs, and wonders. If you had illuminated adjacent passages, included words, or grammatical structure that invalidated my reasoning from Scripture, I could grapple with that.
However, it seems that you are being led by an inner voice that elevates you beyond the reach of Scripture. Now, I admit you reference Scripture, but you do not truly use it, as I would do, because you insert words to make application that cannot be found in the text. Only by your inner voice and inner movement can you make these applications. Context seems irrelevant, because the Spirit seems to help you make special application. You take liberties that I would not dare dream to presume. ... This presents a difficulty. For example, what if I wrote this to you:
The other day, as I sat meditating upon our discussions, imploring Jesus for guidance, I stumbled across this verse, and I felt God speak to me in this way:
How could you answer me? What could you possibly say? Maybe, that the Spirit couldn't have said that to me, because He said something else to you! But, that leaves us nowhere. Two different spirits are speaking to us, telling us two different things, and neither respects the other, because our personal experiences and voices say otherwise. ...And then the lawless one (you) will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume (along with his stubbornness and false teachings) with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one (you) is according to the working of Satan, with all power, (deniable) signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception (even if done ignorantly) among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion (many deniable signs), that they should believe the lie (the false interpretations of these deniable signs), that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth (you refuse to look at Scripture) but had pleasure in unrighteousness (you take comfort and exalt yourself in your signs and divine guidance). (II Thessalonians 2:9-12)
At our last worship service and Bible study (providence?), we were studying opposing "faiths" in an effort to equip our members to better seek the truth, salvation, and unity with their acquaintances. This particular class, we were studying a faith that relied on Holy Spirit testimony in addition to their texts. We discussed this problem: How do you answer someone who ultimately forsakes all writings and all objective standards? How do you reach someone, whose ultimate standard is a personal, inner, incontrovertible voice? You can't! Such people are untouchable because they do not share common ground with anyone else - not even the gospel. They may start with Scripture, but they end with the "voice". The Bible is only useful to them when it agrees with their beliefs. If you corner them with the truth, their personal revelation from the Spirit trumps all!
All I know to do is point out this fact: Look around. We are surrounded by Muslims, charismatic Catholics, Pentecostals, charismatic Baptists, Calvinistic Presbyterians, Mormons, etc. - all claiming to be led by an inner force, which ultimately trumps all evidence, reason, and even texts - including Scripture. They all claim to be led by a similarly appearing force, many believe in the same force, but yet they all practice and teach completely different things. All of them asserting that they are leading me to a fuller truth. None of them can offer any evidence, only coincidences that even atheists can produce. I have seen Mormons and others multiply stories like those found on your blogs, yet I have rejected the Mormons. If I accept your signs, how will I avoid becoming a Mormon, if I maintain my consistency and integrity? I do not say this to be unkind, but to point out a practical, spiritual problem.
As another example, have you heard of the 11:11 phenomenon? You can google it, but there are a group of paganistic, spiritualists who have noticed that they are drawn to observe clocks, when they read "11:11". They interpret this to mean they are special. They are the one! Or, so they want to believe. They don't know what the numbers mean, but they know the spiritual world is reaching out to them. Ever since reading that, I have noticed that I also see "11:11" frequently. Weird? Maybe this neo-pagan world is trying to contact me too? Maybe God is telling me that I am the one to reach you? No, I have just forgotten all the other times that I checked the time and it read, "9:53", "1:28", or some other random, forgettable sequence. "11:11" sticks out in my mind, because I now attach significance to it. You might say I am "looking" for it. (I don't believe this of course, but I know of no significance for any other time, so this one continues to stick out in mind.)
These deniable evidences are merely circumstantial. They are not signs, because they are impossible to interpret. They are only useful when one discards all the events that would indicate a meaning contrary to one's current interpretation. It does not require faith, but prejudicial interpretation and unconscious, selective observation.
My friend, I fear that you may be trying to find signs. Your last email is the strongest proof I have seen to this point. My illness clearly indicated that you were wrong, IF such circumstantial signs are telling. But, yet somehow, you twisted it to support you! That is proof to my very point! These "signs" are so "faint" and subjectively interpreted, that anybody can find whatever he wants to find. If signs are so "deniable", then their meaning is subject to the whims of men. They are no kind of signs at all. Please read a few posts in this forum to see others who have offered the same invitation to me:
How are you different than these people? ... I am not trying to be unkind. I too have faith. I too am religious. But, yet my faith is rooted in Scripture. I have an objective standard that can be tested, proven, and shared - God's written, confirmed, and preserved Word.
Please ask yourself: How do you decide what is right and wrong? Scripture or the Holy Spirit? If you say both, I want to know which is supreme. I think you have already demonstrated that this inner voice, which is presumed to be the Holy Spirit or some agency of God, is the ultimate standard for you. Please reread our last two emails. Mine was clearly rooted in Scripture. Yours was based in your reasoning, meditation, and insertion of words into unrelated Scriptures. Which Scripture did you use to authorize your office? Which Scripture did you use to spell out the mission or qualification of apostles, so you could demonstrate your applicability? I press my point in love.
If you are comfortable with using the Holy Spirit and Scripture as you have with me, please know that I deal with Mormons, Muslims, charismatic Catholics, and so on, all using the same approach. What makes you different? How can you know that you are right and they are wrong. I firmly rest my faith on Scripture, which was inspired by the Holy Spirit and confirmed by Him (Romans 10:17; Hebrews 2:3-4), and with that, they are silenced. Where does your faith truly rest? Jesus, sure. But, how do you know what God and Jesus want you to know, believe, and do? Is it the inner voice, or Scripture? ...
I think you and I are working from two different platforms. It is impossible for one to reach the other. I pray you will become open to Scripture, because I cannot operate from a foundation that the Scriptures clearly warn as dangerous and susceptible to personal misuse, delusion, corruption, and error (Deuteronomy 13:1-5; 18:20-22; Jeremiah 23:16-36; 29:8-9). I would have preferred to focus time primarily on these verses and others, but I am not sure if it would have helped. I pray you will study these Scriptures and come back to me on these and the ones sent previously.
These words will surely hurt. You have spent too much time in thought, prayer, and study for me to think otherwise. Please, know I said them because I am gravely concerned.
With Christian love and humility,
May God help us to have a sincere love of truth,
Thank you very much for your reasonable response to my last e-mail. I'm sorry that I have been unable to respond to it sooner but I am not as gifted as you are to quickly construct a letter that correctly expresses my thoughts. Please don't feel for a minute that I was hurt by anything you said in it. On the contrary, in spite of our differences I am strongly encouraged by your loving spirit and your willingness to discuss your point of view. I can't remember when I've had such a reasonable response from anyone who agreed to reason with me about differences in doctrine.
After pondering all that you said in this last response, I still find myself unable to agree with you about a number of things because I still believe that you have flaws in some of your reasoning. So permit me to come back at you to explain your error to you in the same loving fashion as you have had towards me. This time I'll address your last e-mail response to me Scripturally one point at a time. However, if you don't mind, I'm not going to bother to look up and use verse Identifiers unless when I'm mentioning a Scripture, the passage is obscure. I'm foregoing them because I'm sure that you're already quite familiar with those that I'm going to quote since they are basic Scriptures. But if you want each verse's identifiers, just let me know and I'll look them up and send them to you.
You started your last e-mail response to me by saying to me...
...it seems that you are being led by an inner voice that elevates you beyond the reach of Scripture. Now, I admit you reference Scripture, but you do not truly use it, as I would do, because you insert words to make application that cannot be found in the text. Only by your inner voice and inner movement can you make these applications. Context seems irrelevant, because the Spirit seems to help you make special application. You take liberties that I would not dare dream to presume...
m273p15c- I want to unequivocally declare to you that I do not feel that God would ever have me elevate myself beyond the Scriptures or listen to any spirit that would try get me to elevate myself beyond what is written in the Scriptures because plain and simple, we are told in the Word that we are not to go beyond what is written. However, that restriction in my opinion does not lock us into context at all so please let me explain what I believe to be its correct meaning.
What I believe that God has shown me is that He offers us a "Freedom in the Word" grace by which for us to (for lack of a better word) stretch the application of His Word beyond its context WHEN the principles in a passage fit a particular situation in our lives. This idea is housed in the Words of God that say - "where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty" and "man shall...live by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God" and "the Word of God is living and active" and I Timothy 6:2b where we are instructed to teach and preach principles.
What this expression, "Freedom in the Word" means to me is that there are principles to be found within most verses in the Bible that will fit every situation in everyone's life. I believe that the Lord in His Almighty power has imprisoned every aspect of each of our lives so that they must be lived at one level or another within His inspired Word's context and / or its principles. I believe that He has so constructed each of our lives that principles within pertinent Scripture passages spring to life as they fit into the various situations in our lives.
m273p15c, I believe that only through their principles can all of the Scriptures possibly be living and active for us today. If as Jesus and Moses said in the Scriptures, man shall...live by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, how else could that be possible when the Scriptures were not written to each of us personally? To me the answer is obvious - only in principal!
So, by stretching beyond context's letter, but never going beyond the principles of what is written that might apply to one of our life situations, AND by only doing that within the liberty that the Holy Spirit of God gives us for the situation, we stay within the spiritual grace that comes forth from within each passage that fits that our life situations. This is what I believe is living and active "Freedom in the Word" because as the Scriptures say, "the letter kills but the spirit brings life." I believe that God has shown me that holding to the letter of a verse's context - kills the spirit of its principles - and prevents them from being recognized as applying to the circumstances which His Holy Spirit is moving upon us to show us just how perfectly they fit.
For example, take the passage in Genesis 1 that says, "...darkness was over the surface of the deep (symbolizing understanding for a particular situation), and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters (the context or surface of His verse that contains a principle for that particular situation). Then God said, "Let there be light" (His voice in our inner man suddenly sheds His light upon that verse's principle for the situation); and there was light (we, by faith in that verse's suddenly revealed principle, gain a deep understanding for the situation)". This Genesis passage's principle is that God's Spirit moves over Satan's darkness (which initially covers each of our life's events and hides the Lord's depths of understanding that are within it) to bring forth His light of revelation which overcomes that situation's darkness and gives us understanding.
m273p15c, I believe that it is not possible for anyone to truthfully live a life that stays within the strict confines of the context of all of Scripture! How can anyone do that? I believe that if we ponder the depths of human life with God, He will show us that it's impossible. Think about it. Context kills the spiritual principles of verses by imprisoning them within their "letter". So if they are imprisoned in context only, how can they possibly be completely living and active? Simple logic tells us that they can't and the Spirit tells us that He won't let them be so imprisoned! Yes, God's word is imprisoned within both context AND principle - but no, it is not imprisoned in context alone! If you look at how the Holy Spirit quoted verses from the Old Testament thru the writers of the New Testament you will see this living and active "Freedom in the Word" concept shown right in the Word. He quite often applies out-of-context principles found within the O.T. verses to living situations being discussed in the N.T.
For instance, Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit, said that Old Testament Scriptures on muzzling working oxen were speaking about New Testament Christians paying their ministers! Such a far out contention is obviously because he's seeing this O.T. passage in principle, stretched far from its context. Can you see this? Is Paul's interpretation here (which is made under the movement of the Holy Spirit within him) not completely out of context and a huge stretch from it? How can oxen possibly be ministers? Only if they are oxen in principle which is just what he goes on to explain. I believe that this is "Freedom in the Word" actively at work by the Holy Spirit of God within His Scriptures because (as you well know), the Scriptures declare that they are all inspired by Him. I also believe that this sets the precedent for Christians to open their minds to following the Holy Spirit of God's leading beyond a verse's context and on into its principles for a given life situation, just as he did. This is exactly what I felt led to do with the verses that I quoted to you from Habakkuk and Deuteronomy (in effect, through my God-given faith in them as applying to our life situation, making them living and active to me for it).
But before you say it, I do whole heartedly agree with you that such freedom is fraught with dangers! These dangers I will discuss with you once we can agree that it is Scriptural to push past a passage's context and stretch out into its principles, when led by God to do so for a matching situation. Let me continue....
In the New Testament gospels, Jesus is told of encountering a teacher of the Old Testament and in their discussion, besides explaining to him the huge N.T. concept of being born again, He also informed him that in the Old testament, the obscure passage about Moses' lifting up of the serpent statue on a pole in the desert was in principle, symbolic of His own coming death and Resurrection! How could a serpent be said to represent God Himself when serpents were cursed by God in the garden of Eden? Only in the principle of Jesus bearing our sin (our curse) upon Himself on the cross! He also told the pharisees that the story of Jonah (a seemingly far fetched tale that many would discard as not being Scriptural at all, had not Jesus made this important reference to it) was also a symbol in principle of His coming death and resurrection. He also told his disciples that John the Baptist was Isaiah, if they could accept it. That obviously refers to accepting the idea of John, in principle (not in person), as being a living and active Isaiah during his own lifetime. And of course there's all of the parables that are nothing but principles.
Those 2 verses in Habakkuk and Deuteronomy that I quoted to you, I feel were quickened / ignited to me within the spirit of my mind by the Holy Spirit of God, not by some other spirit. Each verse was like a file card flipped open in a Rolodex by the Holy Spirit of God for me to see as applying to our situation. To me the principles in them seemed to fit our situation perfectly, just as to me your illness seemed to perfectly fit the timing of your meditations about my doctrines. To me, this was the Holy Spirit of God speaking to me, bringing me to remembrance of these particular Words of His and, as you said, making special application of them to our situation. To me, I was moving in the Spirit of God's own liberty in so using them and in that sense they became living and active. But to you at this point, this was not God moving me but only my own inner voice or some unknown spirit within me, prodding me to make that special application.
m273p15c, how else, or maybe I should ask, in what sense does the Word tell us that man shall...live by every Word from the mouth of God? Did not Jesus, who was not Jonah, live His own life and then go to His own death and resurrection, in the spirit or principle of Jonah, just as He prophesied. Did He not do all of this within this concept of "Freedom in the Word" in which He went beyond the letter of what was written, by stretching what was written, using the principle of what was written, which He felt perfectly fit His own life situation?
m273p15c, I don't believe that I am being presumptuous (as you indicated that you would never dare to be) in declaring these Scriptural interpretations but it may turn out that I actually am! So in order to avoid presumptuousness in making them, I feel that I am repeatedly led by God to humbly hedge against that sin by preceding such contentions with the simple statement, "I believe...". What that injunction means to me is that I truly believe that I'm in touch with God on a particular thought or matter, yet it may actually be God's truth that I am not in touch with Him on it at all! So I believe that this hedge phrase was given to me by the Lord (within my thoughts years ago) in order to to keep me humble and away from the presumptuousness of following some incontrovertible voice. This hedge phrase shields me from having no avenue of retreat should the thoughts that I truly feel are coming from God, merely turn out to be my own thoughts or thoughts that are actually coming from the voice of some evil, misguiding spirit.
And once you hear the thoughts that I say I believe God has spoken to me, it is then up to you whether or not you too believe that they are from God. After all, we can reach agreement that they might or might not be from God, but neither of us can state unequivocally that they truly are or are not from Him! Therefore, for both of us to avoid presumption, we can only confess that we believe that our thoughts are or are not from Him, not that they actually are or are not from Him. So by using this statement, "I believe..." wholeheartedly, the presumptive sin of absolute certainty should not come forth from me in this discussion.
With this thought in place let us go on. You next said...
...This presents a difficulty. For example, whatifI wrote this to you:
The other day, as I sat meditating upon our discussions, imploring Jesus for guidance, I stumbled across this verse, and I felt God speak to me in this way:
How could you answer me? What could you possibly say? Maybe, that the Spirit couldn't have said that to me, because He said something else to you! But, that leaves us nowhere. Two different spirits are speaking to us, telling us two different things, and neither respects the other, because our personal experiences and voices say otherwise.And then the lawless one (you) will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume (along with his stubbornness and false teachings) with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.The coming of thelawless one (you) is according to the working of Satan,with all power, (deniable) signs, and lying wonders,and with all unrighteous deception (even if done ignorantly) among those who perish,becausethey did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.And for this reasonGod will send them strong delusion(many deniable signs),that they should believe the lie(the false interpretations of these deniable signs),that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth(you refuse to look at Scripture) but had pleasure in unrighteousness (you take comfort and exalt yourself in your signs and divine guidance).(II Thessalonians 2:9-12)
m273p15c- in that circumstance I would have to say to you that I believe that it was not the Holy Spirit who said that to you but that it was instead some other spirit and that I feel we need to discuss the matter more thoroughly in order to find out what spirit was actually at work within you giving you this revelation. In this way that difference would not leave us - nowhere. Yes, two different spirits are expressing different things that we can't agree upon but that would put me in a position (as I am with you and as you are with others in your forums) to open up a discussion about those differences. This is just what we two reasonable Christians are now doing here in conducting this discussion of our differences of belief in an effort to bring one or the other to a belief in God's truth about them. So let's proceed on that basis.
You next said...
...At our last worship service and Bible study (providence?), we were studying opposing "faiths" in an effort to equip our members to better seek the truth, salvation, and unity with their acquaintances. This particular class, we were studying a faith that relied on Holy Spirit testimony in addition to their texts. We discussed this problem: How do you answer someone whoultimatelyforsakes all writings and all objective standards? How do you reach someone, whoseultimatestandard is a personal, inner, incontrovertible voice? You can't! Such people are untouchable because they do not share common ground with anyone else - not even the gospel. They may start with Scripture, but they end with the "voice". The Bible is only useful to them when it agrees with their beliefs. If you corner them with the truth, their personal revelation from the Spirit trumps all!
(In answer to your above parenthetical interjection - providence ? - yesm273p15c, I do believe that your Bible study was Providentially ordained because it fits right in with what I felt led to tell you before about God sending you more and more deniable signs. Your ? tells me that you still are wondering if coincidental things like this can actually be a true sign from God)
In my case, even though I might somewhat appear to fit this mold, I don't believe that I do because I believe that the Holy Spirit only trumps the context of the Word, when He tells us to stretch it via its principle(s) for our situations in order to show us more and more of how we live actively within every word that proceeds out of His mouth.
I also don't believe that He speaks to me with an incontrovertible voice as do the parties in your example. Look at Peter in Acts 10 struggling with the vision of the sheet full of animals and the voice of God telling him to kill and eat them. God's voice there wasn't incontrovertible to him. No, instead God spoke to him in a controversial vision and it left him perplexed and he stayed that way until God moved another event, a coincidental one, to confirm what He had said to Peter in the vision. The second confirming event convinced him of the legitimacy of the voice and its vision. So the voice of God was not, when heard, incontrovertible for him in that case just as it wasn't at first for Gideon and it wasn't at first for me either and it isn't for you right now. Therefore, even though I believe that I hear the voice of God at times, I agree with you that you can't reach anyone who follows an incontrovertible "voice of God". This I believe is what happened to Jim Jones and to David Koresh but it is not what goes on with me.
If you were to corner me with something that actually is God's truth that I was opposing, I believe that the Holy Spirit would confirm the truth of it within my heart, cutting me to the quick, just as He did to 3,000 people when Peter cornered them, under the power of the holy Spirit, when he preached the gospel to them. (by the way, the reason that I believe the Lord led me to confess my belief in the gospel to you in my last e-mail, was to show you that I am not one of those who deny it, even though I might appear to you to be off base on this issue). Then I would need to repent, just as they did, and accept the truth of the matter.
m273p15c- I believe that the Lord would have me to now go no further in this discussion than this last quote of yours because this is the issue that I feel God has shown me that we must settle first, in order to get to all of the other things that you bring up. So, let me now explain to you what I believe God is showing me to be your heart error on this particular issue.
The Lord Jesus Christ is quoted in the Word as saying that God seeks worshipers who will worship Him in spirit AND in truth, not just in truth! I believe that God is showing me that you are not doing both. I believe that He is showing me that deep in your heart you too want to worship Him in spirit but because of a fear of all things supernatural, you can't get there. I believe that He is showing me that you lock yourself within only the letter of truth found in the context of God's Word because of this deep seated distrust of all things supernatural. This is why you feel that you must have undeniable signs from Him in order to believe that they are truly from Him. I believe that deep in your heart you're afraid of letting yourself go into the supernatural realm with Him.
You are worshiping God in truth yes, but not in the supernatural movements of His Spirit which manifest in His revelations of its hidden principles, therefore you are not in nearly as much truth as you could be and deep in your heart you want to be as you worship Him. To me, you insist upon undeniable direct communication with Him because of your fear of any supernatural manifestations as being truly from Him. So you just don't see how to get to direct communications with Him. This limits your spiritual growth and you don't experience the joys that His Spirit brings when He speaks to you by quickening within your intuition a verse's hidden underlying principles that apply to a particular situation. And m273p15c, if you did somehow get an undeniable communique from God, would you then not fall into the category you mentioned above, of one who puts the incontrovertible voice above all else?
To put this all plain and simply, I believe that He is showing me that you are hearing His Word but because of your underlying distrust of the supernatural, you are not hearing His voice within your mind speaking it! Jesus is quoted in the Scriptures as saying. "My sheep hear my voice (not just His Word [although that's the language His voice speaks]) and....they follow me (in the direction that He is telling them to go thru the context AND the principles of the passages that apply to their life situations)."
What is the voice of God? I believe that it's the inner voice of The Holy Spirit speaking within a person's mind in their conscience and / or their intuition. People testify to His voice within them when they say that a particular verse spoke to them. That's same the inner voice or Spirit that you see moving me when I'm taking the kind of liberties with God's Word that you feel that you would never presume to take! I'm expressing His inner man voice within me that's speaking within my intuition when I'm making special application of the principles of His Word to a given situation.
So when you leave the Holy Spirit's supernatural movements out of your hermeneutics of the Word for any given situation, as all evangelicals are taught to do because of evangelical's universal distrust of things supernatural, you can't become spiritually mature beyond the Word's limiting context. Therefore, you can't begin to taste the powers of the age to come (that deep in your heart I believe that God is showing me that you really want to taste) that will only come to you when you begin to believe His internal revelations to you of Scripture passage principles applying to your life situations. You do know the Word m273p15c- but you don't (out of fear of all supernatural things) hear the Spirit of the Lord's voice when He ignites its principles for you within you. So you're stuck in the cocoon of Scriptural context, unable to fly beautifully freely to communicate more with God as you so dearly desire to do and as He is here beckoning for you to do,. You can only better communicate with Him by doing it thru belief in His revelations in your inner man of the principles of passages applying to your life situations. In the Word we are told to fear only the Lord but you fear the supernatural and that is your error m273p15c!
So for now, let me just leave this one particular difference of ours to the Lord and wait upon Him for an answer to it so that we may proceed on to the other issues which you have brought up in your e-mails. Should He show me that I have been presumptuously wrong in my beliefs that I have ezxpressed to you here, I will contact you and confess such. I would hope that you would do the same towards me.
an anonymous apostle