You can complete a form. Maybe there’s a phone number to call. Or in some cases, you might even be able to make an appointment with a real live individual. In business and government services, it’s a mark of sound practice to provide people with a means of filing complaints. But what are Christians to do with their complaints over another Christian – or even an entire church? What we find, as with most things, is the Church is called to practices quite different from that of a business or government agency.

Complaints in the Church?

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Spurgeon2I recently received an email asking a question that I have been asked from time to time. It pertains to the topic of spiritual gifts and cessationism. In today’s article, I’ve summarized the question and provided my response.

Question: You mention Charles Spurgeon as an advocate of cessationism. But Spurgeon confessed that on several occasions, while he was preaching, he received impressions from the Holy Spirit that gave him extraordinary insights to expose specific sins in people’s lives with incredible accuracy. From my perspective, those impressions seem to align with the gift of prophecy. How do you reconcile Spurgeon’s impressions with your claim that he was a cessationist?

Response:

It is important, at the outset, to note that Scripture – and not Spurgeon – is our final authority in these matters. I’m confident that Charles Spurgeon would agree with us on that point. Whatever we conclude about Spurgeon’s experiences, we need to remember that our convictions must ultimately be drawn from the Word of God.

Having said that, I do think it is helpful to think carefully about the issues you raise in your question. With that in mind, I’ve summarized my response under the following three headings.

A) Was Spurgeon a Cessationist?

Yes. The nineteenth-century ‘Prince of Preachers’ taught that the miraculous gifts of the apostolic age (including the gifts of tongues, prophecy, and healing) had passed away shortly after the first century.

In a sermon entitled, “Final Perseverance” (March 23, 1856), Spurgeon spoke of the spiritual power that was available to his congregation with this qualification: “Not miraculous gifts, which are denied us in these days, but all those powers with which the Holy Ghost endows a Christian.” Continue Reading…

swashbucklersWith the publication date of Things that Go Bump in the Church only eight days away, the marketing machine is in full swing. I’m not as well-connected as the other authors, Mike Abendroth, and Byron Yawn, but int he tradition of the little drummer boy, I have this blog’s Monday slot to give…

The book deals with intimidating and misunderstood doctrines, poking some fun at the Amityville Horror genre. Here is an excerpt from my chapter on demons, called “Spiritual Swashbuckling.” 

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It was a dark night. Raining. I awoke to frantic knocking on my cabin door. Youth camps often come with various genres of drama, from relationship angst to teary confession sessions. As a camp counselor I had encountered my diverse array of spiritual emergencies on my watch, ranging from the need to rebuke a bevy of mean girls, to confiscating contraband magazines from the guys’ dorm. But the look in this kid’s eyes was one of genuine terror. Something was wrong. I grabbed my Bible and charged through the pouring rain in pursuit of the young man who had been sent to summon me. When I got to the dorm room, all twelve teenage boys were standing outside, shivering wet.

They sheepishly confessed that they had been experimenting with an occult game, glassy-glassy. This is where people supposedly channel spirits, which move a glass over a lettered board to eerily spell out instructions from the netherworld. The boys breathlessly recounted what they had witnessed. Shortly after they had turned out the lights and sealed the door, they heard an intense crying sound in the room like a baby had been pinched. This was followed by hissing noises and more high-pitched cries. The stunned boys all looked thoroughly traumatized. This was no prank being played on the camp counselor. I wanted to ask which one of them was disturbed enough to bring Satanic paraphernalia to a Christian camp, and why none of the others were man enough to put a stop to it. Instead, I clutched my Bible, boldly kicked open the door, and flipped on the light switch.

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MacArthur and PiperSeveral months ago, shortly after the Strange Fire Conference, notable continuationist pastor, John Piper, responded to some of the claims of the conference via his question-and-answer program, Ask Pastor John. Over the last couple of weeks, John MacArthur has begun responding to Piper’s remarks over at the Grace To You blog. These posts represent valuable, rubber-meets-the-road exegetical discussion as it relates to the cessation of the miraculous gifts, and it’s happening between two lifelong students of Scripture who many in our generation consider to be fathers in the faith. It’s surely an exchange you don’t want to miss.

I want to devote today’s post to recapping what’s been said there so far.

#1 Biblical Prophecy and Modern Confusion

In the first post, MacArthur begins with some comments of appreciation for John Piper and his ministry, speaking of his gratitude for Piper’s friendship and partnership in the Gospel. He also takes some time to briefly clarify an apparent misunderstanding of what and wasn’t being said about Piper at the Strange Fire Conference.

He then moves quickly into addressing the issues that Piper brought up in his first podcast. First, he comments on Piper’s definition of prophecy, and notes how he “illustrates one of the central concerns of . . . Strange Fire: the charismatic movement, even down to the most conservative continuationists, has entirely redefined the New Testament miraculous gifts.” He goes on to engage with that redefinition.

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Now in my last post (which is here), I wrote about the sufficiency of scripture and explored that topic a bit, taking a look at what Isaiah 65:8-16 teaches us about gambling/playing the lottery.  Now even though I tossed out the “please don’t ask me every sort of hypothetical question” line, they still came.  I understand that, honestly.  It’s only natural for people who are thinking about things to toss out questions and attempt to feel out the boundaries of an answer.

Thinking

What about gambling for fun?

What about supporting the local hospital by buying a lottery ticket with no expectation of winning?

What about this?

What about that?

Now believe me, I am headed towards delivering some principles to address all those questions…but not quite yet.

Please be patient with me as this is a Cripplegate original mini-series, and I’m making the posts more concise in order to maintain an expected standard of quality.

That being said, let’s get on with the show.

So last time we talked about gambling and looked at a passage that many of you may not have known applied to gambling.  The whole point there was to point to the idea that the scripture often addresses matters more clearly than we may think.  Now, I’m going to point out a similar idea: the Bible directly speaks about far more issues than we often expect.  Today I’ll illustrate that by giving an issue that has come up for me several times, but initially caught me wildly off guard.  What is it?  Well, let me keep you hanging for a second or two. Continue Reading…

driscollMark Driscoll’s recent apology has provided for some thoughtful and edifying discussion.

And as we discuss, it’s best for us to remember a few things: We need to love and pray for him. We need to remember that we’re not omniscient. And we need to hope for the best and pray accordingly.

And in doing so, the church as the opportunity to grow from this. Questions are being raised. Ideas are being circulated. But there have been too many erroneous assertions and objections in the mix.

Here are a few categorically unhelpful ideas buzzing throughout evangelicalism regarding the Driscoll apology:

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