Don’t Shoot!: Being Charismatic and Reformed 

*This post was originally posted at http://www.pastordylanjustus.wordpress.com on August 9th, 2015*

My generation of Christians are a unique breed. With the influence of pastors like Piper, Driscoll, Mahaney and Grudem (among others), we have taken two seemingly contradictory theological camps and mashed them together to make a new camp. In his book A Call To Resurgence Mark Driscoll calls this camp the New Reformed. In essence, the New Reformed crowd holds to the basic tenets of the Reformed faith, namely the Five Solas, monergistic soteriology (doctrine of salvation), we are Creedal in that we hold to the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds (among others), TULIP is not a flower to us but a systematic acrostic of what we believe about the Gospel, we hold to Covenantal Theology and we hold to the Regulative Principle. But we also hold to a Continuational understanding of the “charismatic gifts” (usually tongues, prophesy and healing).
As you can imagine, this raises a lot of eye brows and causes a lot of tension between some other camps. Typically the words “Reformed” and “Charismatic” aren’t used in the same sentence without a few choice words between the two. But the two aren’t nearly as opposed to each other as many believe them to be. I have just a few reasons why I believe that being Reformed and Charismatic are more compatible than people think.
Let me clarify what I am advocating and what I am not. I am advocating an expression of the Spirit that is in-line with Scripture, that honors God and that genuinely shows the power of God. I am NOT advocating a false spirit-led outworking of false gifts. One where its chaotic and full of confusion, but rather, orderly and Christ-centered worship.
Continuationism Fits Right In With Sola Scriptura and Soli Deo Gloria
Continuationism fits right in with Sola Scriptura and Soli Deo Gloria. This is usually where my Reformed friends faint that I would say such a thing, but hear me out. If you’re not familiar with some terms I have used, let me catch you up! Sola Scriptura and Soli Deo Gloria, they are Latin phrases used by the Protestant Reformers to say “Scripture Alone (is our authority)” and “To God alone be the glory”. Continuationsim is the belief and understanding that Spiritual Gifts spoken of in Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:7-10, 28 and Ephesians 4:11 all continue to this very day. The opposite view of this is known as Cessationism and it holds to the belief and understanding that in 1 Corinthians 13:8-12, Paul is saying that the gifts of prophesy, tongues, and knowledge will all pass cease soon (usually at the close of the Cannon of Scripture).
Back to my original assumption that Continuationism is compatible with Sola Scriptura and Soli Deo Gloria. Assuming that these gifts do in fact continue today, they would, by Scriptural necessity, function under the authority of Scripture. Scripture gives a clear command to desire the gifts (1 Cor. 14:1). Would Paul tell us to desire something that is going to cease before many of us are able to understand the Gospel and then desire the gifts? Paul also tells us that the gifts are given for the building up of the church. So if the gifts are used and the church is edified wouldn’t God be glorified? After all, it is what Scripture tells us to do.
Most of the issues arises with the gift of prophesy. Often times prophesy is misrepresented as a new revelation from God. Something new from God that isn’t included in Scripture. This is by no means what is actually meant Scriptural New Testament prophesy. The definition that Wayne Grudem gives is prophesy is something that God “spontaneously brought to mind”. It’s a direct word from God, and neither is it authoritative. Prophesy can be used to glorify God. Perhaps in a church business meeting, the members are stuck at a crossroads about whether to add another service or find a new location or go multisite, the Holy Spirit presses upon someone’s heart to stand up and tell them to go multisite. They are obedient and do so, the church decides to do multisite and the church grows. God would be glorified. Nothing went against Scripture, everything was within the realms of Orthodoxy.
Hopefully with the first point I cast the reel and you bit the worm, now it’s time to reel you in! Typically when someone starts talking about the Gifts of the Spirit people get anxious. Their first thought is some crazy guy running around mumbling, somebody hits him in the head and he gets up and starts handling a snake. It may be slightly embellished, but it’s true. A lot of my Reformed friends see an issue with the gifts functioning in an orderly way in worship. Hopefully my next point will clarify that.
Continuationsim Functions Best Under The Regulative Principle
Among the Reformed crowd, there is known what is called the Regulative Principle. The Regulative Principle, in simplest terms states: worship is to be done according to Scripture, and only what is prescribed in Scripture is to be used. That’s a very watered down version that probably doesn’t do it justice for what some believe concerning worship.[1] It’s counterpart is the Normative Principle, which states: whatever is not prohibited in Scripture is permitted in worship, so long as it is agreeable to the peace and unity of the Church.”[2]
So, coming from a stance holding to the Regulative Principle how would the gifts function under something typically so orderly? Well Paul, I believe, would be in favor of the Regulative Principle insofar as it doesn’t become authoritative or legalistic, and he would permit the gifts to function in an orderly fashion. Look at 1 Corinthians 14:26-40, especially verse 40. Notice what the Apostle says about how the gifts are to function in a church service, decently and in order. These two words are significant to understanding this. Decently, in the original language means “honest”. So one shouldn’t function in their gift in a dishonest or deceitful way. Orderly means “in time, fixed succession”. There is a time during the worship service for the edification of the Saints by the use of the gifts. It’s not happy hour at the local pub and everybody gets to speak at once. It is orderly. Scripture teaches (Sola Scriptura) that the gifts function in an orderly manner (Regulative Principle). In order to ensure order is kept I would suggest that prophesy and the like be filtered through an elder first. Doing this, if it is something that doesn’t need to be said publically it can redirected to be told to the appropriate people privately. I simply believe this to be a wise use of the Godly men who shepherd the flock.

Conclusion
In conclusion, I believe that Scripture teaches that the gifts do in fact continue today, and that they should only function under the authority of Scripture which I believe also teaches an orderly worship service. Therefore, I believe that being both Reformed and a Continuationist is compatible and not a contradiction of beliefs.
[1] For a couple of good resources concerning the Regulative Principle, R.C. Sproul has a good article ( http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/regulative-principle-worship ), as well, Mark Dever has two chapters in his book The Deliberate Church (Crossway, 2005) dedicated to understanding and applying this principle. The Westminster Confession of Faith is also a go-to resource.
[2] Regulative Principle. n.d. http://theopedia.com/regulative-principle Accessed (August 9, 2015)

Old Priesthood, Same Covenant 

“Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;” – Hebrews 8:1 KJV

One of the biggest disputed topics between Reformed Baptists and Reformed Presbyterians is that of the New Covenant. More specifically, what is new within the New Covenant.
What’s not new about the New Covenant.
Before I begin, I think it is important to discuss what is not new in the New Covenant. Our main passage is going to be Hebrews 8, and many of the things said here about the new covenant is not really new at all. The following things are often presented as new realities of the new covenant, however , as we will see, these were all precious realities within the old covenant.
No Differences

Those who argue against Paedobaptism often use the passage in Hebrews to prove that the new covenant is new in two aspects, both in its essential nature and in its membership. The passage often used in support of this is verse 11 in Hebrews 8. As we look further, we will see that neither are new in the new covenant.

Internal Religion

“I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” – Hebrews 8:10 KJV

Many people believe the newness of the new covenant is that it is an internal religion. The assertion is that believers in the old covenant did not have this internal reality that we do. However, scripture seems to indicate otherwise...”And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart.” – Deuteronomy 6:6 KJV (Emphasis mine)

We know that regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit, and since there were regenerate people prior to Christ’s incarnation (Hebrews 11.), we must assert that they were made alive by the inward working of the Spirit of God.
“I delight to do thy will, O my God: Yea, thy law is within my heart” – Psalm 40:8 KJV (Emphasis mine)

Knowledge of the Lord 

This is one of the characteristics of the new covenant, but itself is not what is new of the new Covenant. Credobaptists argue that those of the new covenant will know the Lord savingly, or that the entire new covenant is made up only of the elect. However, we know that not everyone in the new covenant is saved. Covenant membership does not equate with election. This is the fatal error many Federal Visionists make. We have many warnings and exhortations throughout Scripture to prove ourselves as covenantally faithful, not covenant rebels. Even our Lord said that the church would be mixed of believers and unbelievers. We must understand that this verse, within context, is about how some form of teaching is going to cease that was present within the old covenant administration.
Divine Mercy

Some believe that the full pardoning of sin was not present within the old covenant administration, however this simply cannot be. Does God change? Of course not! Those of faith within the old covenant administration were saved just as we are today: By faith alone in Christ alone.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.” – Psalm 103:12 KJV

“But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him and His righteousness unto children’s children.” – Psalm 103:17 KJV




So what is new about the new covenant? We’ve established that within the old covenant there was total forgiveness of sins, that there is still apostasy within the new covenant, and that there was an internal reality to the worship and faith of the old covenant saints. As I’ve noted earlier, we see that knowledge of the Lord characterizes the new covenant, but not in the way credobaptists believe. Some form of teaching is going to cease.
A Priest Not of This World

Lets look at Hebrews 7, 8, and 9 for the context of how Paul introduces the New Covenant.
“For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrafices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. For if He were on earth, He should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law;” – Hebrews 8:3-4 KJV



“Then verily the first covenant had also irdinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.” – Hebrews 9:1 KJV



The context given here is of worship, namely through the offerings of the priesthood by the ceremonial law.
Looking at Hebrews 8:11, we come across the phrase “all shall know me, from the least of them to the gratest of them.” As I’ve noted before, this is not saying that this knowledge is knowing the Lord savingly. I feel that this verse, in context, is speaking about the abrogation of the Priesthood, whose role was one of instruction and teaching of the laymen of Israel. (Deuteronomy 33:8,10; Malachi 2:6-7)

The Priesthood held the honor of being “known” by the Lord because they were the ones who served the Lord in his tabernacle, and made offerings “before the Lord.”
What has ceased under the new administration of the covenant of Grace is the need of an earthly priesthood to offer ceremonial sacrifices. Looking at the other aspects of the old administration, we see they too existed. (Divine initiative, Inward/Spiritual realities, total forgiveness of sins, etc..) The only difference is that now we no longer need a priesthood to perform these ceremonial sacrifices and feasts that would tell us of what the Christ would do. Rather, We now have a new administration with sacraments that point back to what the Christ has done, no longer teaching us, but causing us to reflect upon the reality rather than learn about the type.
Another way of showing this is that the phrase, “from the least of them to the greatest of them,” is about ranks, or classes, of people. We see it used this way numerous times throughout both testaments. (Genesis 19:11, Deuteronomy 1:17, Acts 26:22, and even Jeremiah uses this phrase 7 times, each speaking of ranks or classes of people.)
The newness of the new covenant is that we no longer need an earthly preist to teach us of what Christ will do, because we now have Christ as our high priest who has in Himself fulfilled the ceremonial law that taught of what He would do.

“Hebrews 8:11 explains that part of the newness of the new covenant is found in the removal of the Levitical preisthood-an office that was especially engaged in teaching and representing the knowledge of the Lord to the people. This function is something that Jeremiah explained would one day no longer occur; it would cease. And this teaching that would cease would have a pervasive effect on all the covenant people. Now that God removed this way of teaching the knowledge of the Lord and is bringing in the Gentiles in significant measure, it is accurate to say that “all will know Me, from the least to the greatest of them.” – Jeffrey D. Niell, The Newness of the New Covenant.

4 Quotes about the Kingdom of God

“The objective, according to Jesus, was not to get people inside of heaven, but to get heaven inside of people. An understanding of the gospel that concerns itself only with getting my own soul into heaven – damn this world, it’s all going to burn anyway – falls miserably short of the revolutionary message of Jesus. Jesus did not come to live in your heart like an imaginary friend. He came to bring you into the kingdom that you might be a part of God’s communal ministry of justice, grace, and mercy.”
― Ronnie McBrayer

“What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether. They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.”
― N.T. Wright

“God’s Kingdom is “present in its beginnings, but still future in its fullness. This guards us from an under-realized eschatology (expecting no change now) and an over-realized eschatology (expecting all change now). In this stage, we embrace the reality that while we’re not yet what we will be, we’re also no longer what we used to be.”
― Timothy Keller

“Modern prophets say that our economics have failed us. No! It is not our economics which have failed; it is man who has failed-man who has forgotten God. Hence no manner of economic or political readjustment can possibly save our civilization; we can be saved only by a renovation of the inner man, only by a purging of our hearts and souls; for only by seeking first the Kingdom of God and His Justice will all these other things be added unto us.”
― Fulton J. Sheen

3 Most Helpful Articles of 2015

The truth is that she is weird, and she is liberal, but when anyone is speaking the truth you can’t disagree with them just because they don’t fit into your cookie cutter mold of what a Christian should look like.

These are some articles that really helped me in my walk with God to understand some key theological concepts. I hope you find them helpful as well.

  1. The Playground of Heavenly Reality: Pneumatological Sacramentalism
    I know this article has some odd words in the title, but I promise that if you’re from a charismatic/pentecostal background like I am and you want help understanding what role the sacraments play in that setting, then this article is really helpful.
  2. What Getting Dumped Says About You
    As someone who got dumped this year, I found this article to be comforting on so many levels. I think it’s interesting someone has finally addressed this issue from a biblical standpoint to let you know that you are not alone, and you are not out of the sovereignty of God just because your relationship didn’t work out.
  3. Want millennials back in the pews? Stop trying to make church ‘cool.’
    On April 30th, the Washington Post published this article written by Rachel Held Evans on the cusp of her new book, “Searching for Sunday.” In the article she tells the truth about all of these huge mega churches that try to make Jesus a ‘cool, relevant, hipster.’ Now, if you know who Rachel Held Evans is then you’re probably thinking, “She’s a weird, liberal, Episcopalian. What are you doing promoting her stuff?” The truth is that she is weird, and she is liberal, but when anyone is speaking the truth you can’t disagree with them just because they don’t fit into your cookie cutter mold of what a Christian should look like.

Now, I found more articles than just these helpful, but I’m constrained for time at the moment and I really wanted to get these out there. So, take a read, tell me what you think, and have a blessed Sunday!

Unified in Christ: The Rice Haggard Story

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” 
– 1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)


In the late 1700’s there was young man by the name of Rice Haggard that had answered the call to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Ordained into the ministry by Bishop Francis Asbury, Rice Haggard had all the qualifications to be a big name in the early days of the Wesleyan movement. However, he gave up all of that because he wanted something greater for the body of Christ. He wanted unity. He didn’t want to be known by a denominational name or the name over the church door, he wanted to be known simply as a Christian. He later left the Wesleyan movement over this issue and had a great part in the Christian movement in north central Kentucky around the Cumberland County area. I think we can take a look at the life of Rice Haggard and learn from the zeal of this great man of God. I don’t suggest that we leave our churches and go be a part of a Church of Christ or Christian movement, but I do think we should actively pursue fellowship with our brothers and sisters across denominational borders and learn and grow with one another as God empowers us to do so. Be blessed today as you pray about how to live out unity with other believers! 

Treasuring God’s Word

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“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.”
– Psalm 119:9-16 (NIV)

 
The Bible in the picture that I used is my own Bible and after 3 1/2 years of owning and using this Bible, I’ve decided that it’s time to retire it. I’ve preached many a sermon with it over the last few years and now, laden with duct tape, highlights, underlines, and post it notes, it will now have a special place in my top dresser drawer. I will confess though that as much as I’ve read the Bible, I’ve not always applied it to my heart like I should, and I can promise you that if I had applied God’s word to life all the times that I should have my life would’ve gone a lot easier and possibly would have turned out much differently.
David starts out this part of Psalm 119 by asking a legitimate question. “How can a young person stay on the path of purity?” The answer is by treasuring God’s word. Treasuring God’s word is not just reading it, but living it. James tells us,
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” – James 1:22-25 (ESV)
 
Did you catch that last part? James actually tells us we will be blessed by applying the word of God! He’s not talking about necessarily material blessings, but he’s talking about an inner sense of peace. The word blessing in the Bible means happiness. James is telling us that if we apply God’s word to our heart then in the end, we’ll be satisfied with living by God’s prescribed order.
Today, pray about how God would have you apply His word to your life and ask Him to put people in your path that you can share His word with.

Sermon of the Week: “Loyalty and Love” by Pastor Lindell Cooley

Each week I’ll be posting a sermon of the week. The featured sermon will be one that has spoken volumes and given me inspiration, comfort, and good hard look at something God is trying to show me through His word.

This week’s featured sermon is “Loyalty and Love” by Pastor Lindell Cooley from Grace Church in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Just Truth About Injustice, Part 2

“So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter. Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive. Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.” – [Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 King James Version]

Next, I turned to look at all the acts of oppression that make people suffer under the sun. Look at the tears of those who suffer! No one can comfort them. Their oppressors have all the power. No one can comfort those who suffer. I congratulate the dead, who have already died, rather than the living, who still have to carry on. But the person who hasn’t been born yet is better off than both of them. He hasn’t seen the evil that is done under the sun.” – [Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 GOD’S WORD Translation]

When I was a senior in high school, I was sitting on the bleachers in the gym one day reading my Bible. I remember that I had an old 1917 Scofield Reference Bible, King James Version, and I determined that I was going to read through the book of Ecclesiastes. I read the first three chapters, but as I begin to read the fourth chapter, I stopped right after verse three and I had to absorb exactly what Solomon was talking about. For roughly three years now I’ve had Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 rolling around in the back of my mind and whenever I read it I go back to that moment where I was sitting on the bleachers in the gym at Dover High School and my mind was going over the subject of oppression.

I was a nerd in school and as a result, I didn’t fit in with very well. I mainly stayed to myself and was often picked on. I thought I knew what oppression was. I had no idea what oppression was until I did a word study on ‘oppression’ and found out that this word in the Hebrew implies tyranny by a ruling authority such as a master mistreating a slave, but this isn’t ordinary mistreatment, this is mistreatment by deception. The same root word is used in verses where the words, “deceived” (Leviticus 6:2, KJV), “robbery” (Leviticus 6:4, ESV), and “wrong” (Psalm 105:14, KJV) are also used. What I was going through as a social outcast in high school was kid stuff compared to what Solomon was describing in Ecclesiastes 4.

When we look at the subject of oppression we find that God has a lot to say about oppression and about those oppress other people particularly widows and orphans. One of the first commandments concerning widows and orphans is found in Exodus.

You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.”– [Exodus 22:22-24 ESV]

God is very plain about what the punishment for the mistreatment of widows and orphans is. From in-depth study of widows and orphans, I think it’s safe to say that He holds them very dear to His heart. This isn’t just an old testament command either. Let’s look at what God has to say through James.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” – [James 1:27 ESV]

In the Church, we’ve created this mantra that has infected infected Christian culture in almost the worst way possible. “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.” Does that sound familiar? Anytime I hear someone say that it’s like a cat’s claws running slowly down a chalkboard. It has to be one of the most ignorant and theologically inaccurate things I hear on a weekly basis from various cheesy Christian bloggers that still think it’s so cool to say that. The fact is that pure religion has been defined for us in this passage and it would do us well to realize that and apply it to our lives. No, Christ does not merit us on our good religion, but rather, our good religion stems from the relationship that we have with Christ. The Bible is clear. Injustice and oppression against people, especially widows and orphans, will be recompensed either in this life or the next. One day God will right the wrongs of our society and we will live in peace and harmony the way we were meant to.

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” – [Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 ESV]

Finding the Strength

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” 
― F. Scott Fitzgerald

I won’t go into a lot of details about what happened. There’s much I could tell, but it doesn’t need to be told. On February 22, I left my home of Pottsville, Arkansas for what I thought would be the greener pastures of Altura, Minnesota. I went to go be with my fiance of four years and we were finally going to get married. I will leave it at this: we mutually decided that it would be best if we broke up. I tell you all of this to tell you that after being broken, I am finding the strength to come back home and start over. In this I’ve questioned God and received no answer. I’ve disappointed myself and I’ve disappointed my loved ones. I feel as though I have nothing left except and I suppose, in the end, that’s all I really need. I don’t need man’s approval. I need God’s approval and forgiveness and I believe I have that now. We all make mistakes. I just need to take the life lessons I’ve learned and move on. 

Waiting at the BP gas station in Plainview, Minnesota, I opened up my Bible and read Jeremiah 12:1 in this translation. 

“You will be in the right, O Lord,
   when I lay charges against you;
   but let me put my case to you.
Why does the way of the guilty prosper?
   Why do all who are treacherous thrive?” 

–  [Jeremiah 12:1 NRSV]

The first thing that I noticed were the words, “You will be right…”. Jeremiah is complaining to God and before saying anything he admits that God will be right no matter what he says to Him. This begs the question, why are you going to argue with someone that you know will be right in the end. The only conclusion I can think of is that it just makes you feel better to get your feelings off of your chest. When I talk to God about my situation I know that He knows what is best. I know that it is His will and for my betterment to go through what I’m going through but sometimes it just makes me feel better to bring my case before God to just talk and bring my case before him because I know He loves me and in the end, He will still be just and loving. 

“…you have judged in my favor;
    from your throne you have judged with fairness.” 

-[Psalm 9:4 NLT]