Ecclesiology 035: Spiritual Gifts 15

Dr. Andy Woods | Sep 2, 2018 | Luke 16:27-31 | Ecclesiology

Dr. Andy Woods

Ecclesiology 35:  The Charismatic Movement, Part 2

Luke 16:27-31    9-2-18     Lesson 35

Father, we’re grateful for Your word, grateful for Your truth I just pray You’ll be with us today during Sunday School and the worship service that follows and I just pray that Your Spirit will be present illuminating the Scriptures to us so that we might embrace everything that You have for us.  We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said… Amen.

Let’s open our Bibles to Matthew 7 if we could, Matthew 7, verses 13-14 continuing our journey in Ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church.  I’ve been camping on the purposes of the church, one of which is the edification of the saints so that they can use their spiritual gifts, which means we have to do some teaching on spiritual gifts.  We made some general observations about spiritual gifts and then we’ve sort of been sidetracked on this issue, number two, are all the spiritual gifts for today?  And I’m hoping that today will be the last lesson on that subject.  And then the goal is to open it up for questions and answers in totality next week, and then the following week is a congregational meeting which I would encourage you to attend but we won’t be having Sunday School because the meeting takes place during the Sunday School hour.

But we’ve made some preliminary thoughts about these seven gifts and we’re sort of the persuasion of cessationism that those seven gifts ceased in the first century.  And we tried to make the case that the foundational gifts, the confirmatory gifts and the revelatory gifts have ceased but the edificatory gifts continue on.  And so as the series progresses I’ll be showing you what those edificatory gifts are and some basic tips to follow to identify what your spiritual gift mix happens to be.

This teaching that the certain gifts have ceased you’ll also find it in church history, many refutable theologians have testified to that fact.  I had given you this section, Roman numeral IV, assuming those gifts are around today, and many argue that they are, there’s certain rules that have to be followed so we went through the rules of prophecy as Paul outlines them, and tongues.  And the last time I was with you we went through what I think is the true source of the charismatic movement.  In other words, if a lot of these experiences that people have today don’t conform to the Scripture then where do those things come from?  And I tried to show you in Genesis to Revelation that a miracle in and of itself shouldn’t persuade anybody because the devil performs miracles.  So we talked about that.

And in this final lesson on the charismatic movement I wanted to give you Roman numeral VI here, which I’m hoping we can finish today.  Roman numeral VI, an explanation of the charismatic movement’s popularity.  It doesn’t really come as a surprise that when you channel surf on so-called Christian television the most popular people out there are the Benny Hinns, the Paula Whites, the Creflo Dollars, it’s almost like the charismatic movement has almost a virtual monopoly on Christian television.  Of course, there are some exceptions to that, there’s some very good people on Christian television but by and large I don’t know… I’ll try to explain why that’s true today.

But what you discover is the charismatic movement is wildly popular.  And so a lot of people think well, it’s got to be true because it’s popular.  And I’m here to tell you today that that is not at all a biblical way of thinking.  In fact, that’s actually a logical fallacy called the ad populum argument where you identify truth by majority opinion.  It was at one time a majority opinion that the earth was flat, although I’m shocked to discover some people are still teaching that today, that the earth is flat but we won’t get into that.  That was a majority view, it was at one time a popular thought that we’re living in a geocentric solar system, everything revolves around the earth in terms of the planets and everything, not a heliocentric solar system.  And you could go around and you could find that those views were the most popular views but obviously they were (pardon the expression) flat out incorrect.

So you can’t judge something is true by its popularity.  In fact if  you’re a Biblicist what you’ll start to discover is that the majority is typically wrong.  For example, the crowd coming out of Egypt that went down to Sinai in the days of Moses and had basically an eleven day journey into Canaan, the spies went out in Numbers 13 and 14 to spy out the land and the majority of the people saw giants in the land (those spies) and they said we can’t beat the giants.  That was the majority opinion.

There were two dissenting voices, Joshua and Caleb, that said God has been with us thus far, let’s take the giants, but they were in the minority opinion, they were not in the majority opinion.  So the minority opinion lost the day, the majority opinion won and we know that the majority didn’t have it right there.  God was very displeased with the majority opinion and disciplined that generation where most of them sort of walked around there in the wilderness for forty years (what could have been eleven days turned into forty years) had the minority opinion won the day.  So sort of in America we look at elections and we look where everybody is always ramming some kind of poll down our throat and there’s all these surveys people conduct and so we’re sort of being discipled into thinking that majority opinion is right.

And quite frankly, biblical speaking, the majority typically has it wrong.  Jesus, did He not speak to this in Matthew 7:13-14?  He said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. [14] For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

So the correct path is the narrow path and the small path that few find.  The wrong path is the wide path and the broad path and the many that are on it.  So when you get into charismatic theology what people will do is they’ll point to so and so’s ministry, it’s so big and look at all the TV and radio stations that they’re on and look at their budget and haven’t you seen the screen shots of the masses of people that are jammed packed into their auditorium.  I mean, are you telling me that that is wrong, that’s a wrong way of thinking?  And I’m saying it is a wrong way of thinking because you’re trying to figure out what’s true based on what the majority believe.

You know Revelation 12:9 tells us that Satan deceives the whole world.  [Revelation 12:9, “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”]    So Satan is pretty good at deceiving masses of people and if that’s true you can’t ascertain truth by majority opinion. Amen!

Having given that introductory remark I want to give you theses six reasons as to why the charis­matic movement is so incredibly popular.  Reason number one is the charismatic movement attracts those who are drawn to miraculous experiences rather than simple faith and trust in the person of Jesus Christ and the diligent study of His Word.  And underneath that point I’ve got a few sub points.  There is an awful lot of people out there that will tell you that faith alone in Christ alone is just not enough, and simply ordering your life by what God has already revealed in His Word is not enough.  But the reality of the situation is faith alone in Christ alone is enough.  In fact, whether you have a single experience in your life or not as a Christian is sort of irrelevant. What God has already provided for us in His Word and in His Son is completely sufficient.

So over in 2 Corinthians 5:7 it says “for we walk by faith, not by sight—” we’re the kind of people that just trust God walking with Him without needing to see all of the time the next vision or the next sign and wonder.  Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is” what? “impossible to please Him, [for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”]  Not only is faith alone in Christ alone enough but God’s Word is enough.  I mean, a lot of people will reject a church like this because they don’t see all of the signs and wonders happening, we’re just here to study the Bible.  And what I’m here to tell you is the Word of God IS enough.  Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ.”  It’s “the word of Christ” that brought us to saving faith alone in Christ alone.

And we’ve been through this passage many times but just down 2 Timothy 3:15-17, you can go back into our 2 Timothy series and listen to that but there we were talking about the sufficiency of the Scripture and what the work of the Word does in a person’s life.  [2 Timothy 3:15-17, “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. [16] All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; [17] so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”]

Not only does the Word of God bring us to faith alone in Christ alone but it helps us grow up and it actually equips us “for every good work.”  And so if you have that going on in a church whether it is a single vision, whether there’s a single sign or wonder, whether anybody has an experience, what God has already given in His Word is sufficient.

Beyond that, people have a mindset that where they think if a miracle happens that’s going to immediately produce faith and obedience.  I remember one time I was talking to an unbeliever and he was saying to me, well, why doesn’t God just start writing in the sky or do some obvious miracle and then masses of people would trust in Christ.  Well, my response to that is God has already written in the sky, it’s called general revelation.  I mean, it’s obvious God exists simply by looking at the world around us.  Psalm 19, Romans 1, many other passages.

And if that weren’t enough God is also doing something very… He’s doing a significant miracle right now in our midst that most people won’t take time to examine; it’s the nation of Israel having returned into their land in unbelief which is a sociological miracle.  So when people say why doesn’t God something, why doesn’t He do a miracle, well, you’ve got two miracles happening right now; you’ve got general revelation, I mean the fact that you exist and your heart is beating is  a miracle.  The fact that these planets rotate around the sun without colliding with each other and we’re not so close to the sun that we burn to death and so far away from the sun that we freeze to death, that’s a miracle called general revelation.   And the nation of Israel, as we’ve talked about in other lessons is a sociological miracle.  So God is doing miracles today.

So if we won’t be faithful with the miracles that we’re seeing why do we think that yet another miracle is going to create faith and obedience in people?  But the fact of the matter is miracles, as you study them in the Bible don’t necessarily and automatically produce faith.  If that were true, if miracles produced faith there was not a generation that saw more miracles than the nation of Israel that came out of Egypt.  That’s why God was so displeased with that generation.  They saw the ten plagues in Egypt, they saw the manna sustaining them in the wilderness, they had the Sinai revelation, all they had to do was keep trusting God for eleven days and enter the land despite giants.  And that generation that saw all of those signs and wonders, I can’t think of a generation that’s seen more, including the parting of the Red Sea.  And yet that nation, despite having all of those miracles, couldn’t trust God and obey Him in very simple things.

So we think miracles are going to produce automatic faith and obedience and that simply is not true.  Take a look if you could at Luke 16:27-31.  It says this, “And he said,” now this is the rich man that died in unbelief and went to Hades, “And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house—[28] for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ [29] But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ [30] But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ [31] But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Isn’t that interesting?  The rich man says do a miracle and go back and reach my brothers who are in the same state of unbelief that I was in so that they don’t come to this terrible place of torment.  And the answer is very clear they’re not going to believe that; they’re not going to believe someone rising from the dead.  If they’re not going to believe Moses and the prophets you can do miracle after miracle after miracle and they still won’t believe.

So there’s a mindset out there, particularly in the charismatic circles that you’ve got to have signs or wonders.  And I’m here biblically telling you that that’s not true.  The only thing additional signs and wonders would do is increase a person’s accountability on the day of judgment.  If folks aren’t going to believe the simple revelation of God and His word it doesn’t matter how many signs and wonders occur in their lives.  Signs and wonders of such an extent that it those in the days of Sodom had seen those identical signs and wonders they likely would have repented in sackcloth and ashes.

And you’ll notice under C there I’ve got several Scriptures you can jot down.  Matthew 12:38-42, that’s speaking of the generation that wouldn’t believe Christ despite the fact that they saw multiple signs and wonders occurring through the life of Christ.

[Matthew 12:38-42, “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” [39] But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; [40] for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. [41] “The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. [42] The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.”]

You can jot down Acts 2:22-23, those verses talk about the multiple miracles that the nation saw through Jesus Christ and yet they nailed Him to a cross.  [Acts 2:22-23, “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—[23]this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.”]

You can jot down Galatians 3:5 where the Holy Spirit testified through various signs and wonders.  And yet this was the generation that was moving off into a false gospel.  [Galatians 3:5, “So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?”]

You can jot down 1 Corinthians 1:7 that had multiple manifestations of spiritual gifts taking place in their congregation in Corinth and yet that’s probably one of the most carnal rebellious group of people that we have record of from the ancient world.  [1 Corinthians 1:7, “so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,”]

So this idea that miracles automatically produce faith and obedience simply doesn’t fit what the Bible describes.  If you really want to know what the issue is with people concerning faith go over to John 7:17, a very important verse.  I hope that you have this one underlined in your Bible.  John 7:17 and what does it say?  Jesus says, “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.”  So how do you know if what Jesus is saying is true?  It has to do with the heart, you have to be willing to embrace it.  If you’re willing to embrace it then you’ll get all the proof that you need.

So the reality of the situation is the mind follows the will.  If the will has already decided that it will not trust in the provision of Jesus Christ then the intellect or the mind will just generate darkened philosophy and excuses for explaining away the things in the Bible.  And doing miracle after miracle after miracle to a person with that kind of a heart problem and a will problem will never convince them, it doesn’t matter what you show them.  The only thing it’s going to do is it’s going to increase the level of torment that they will experience on the day of judgment.

So we often use the phrase “seeing is believing.”  You hear that all the time.  Seeing is believing, in fact, that’s not even biblical to think that way.  What Jesus is saying here is not seeing is believing; what He’s saying is believing is seeing.  If your will is right and that sends submission to God you’re going to get a lot of evidence.  And this is very important because we have these apologists today that call themselves evidential apologists that think they can go onto college campuses and construct an airtight argument and they’re going to produce all of these conversions.  I’m not necessarily against those kinds of things, particularly if the Holy Spirit is using that to draw people, but here’s the reality of the situation.

If a person has already made up their mind they’re not going to believe it doesn’t matter what airtight argument you present to them their mind will generate some kind of bizarre philosophy to explain away the obvious.  This is what people do with creation.  Our country can’t even accept the fact that God created the heavens and the earth.  We now teach in the schools that everything came about accidently.  So if you can’t accept that miracle how in the world are you going to embrace another miracle.  And as I’ll be showing you, according to Romans 1:18-22 what people do is they take the obvious revelation of God and they pervert it.  That’s what unbelief does.  Why?  Because the mind follows the will; if the will is not submissive to God then the mind just generates excuses for what the will already wants to do.  John 7:17. [“If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.”]

Beyond that there are an awful lot of people in the Gospels that hang around Jesus only for the next miracle. And Jesus simply would not accommodate Himself to such people.  Over in Matthew 12:38-39 Jesus made this statement, He said: “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.’”  Now that’s me as a hilarious statement because He had already shown them multiple signs, what else do you guys want?  [39] But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign;” see that, “and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah” which properly understood He’s speaking there of His resurrection, I mean, if miracles produced faith and obedience Jesus would have accommodated these people.

Over in John 6:15 and verse 26 you’ve got a bunch of people that are attracted to Christ because he performed the miracle of the loaves and the fish and fed the multitudes.  [John 6:15, “So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.”]

And Jesus saw through the holes in the air, and in verse 26 of John 6 He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.”  Your stomach was filled, that’s the only reason you’re following Me.

Over in John 4:48 it says, I think he’s being somewhat sarcastic here, “So Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.’”  So there are many, many people out there that just are attracted to Christ for a miracle but they really don’t want anything to do with His actual teachings concerning their spiritual life, health, salvation.  And you see, the charismatic movement is filled with people who were drawn to these miraculous experiences.  But the reality is simple trust in Christ and His Word is enough; they put miracles on way too high of a pedestal.

So that, I think, is the first reason why the charismatic movement is so wildly popular.  The second reason why the charismatic movement is so wildly popular is it is attractive to people who have a very difficult time trusting God through life’s adversities.  The reality of the situation is God has put into our lives obstacles and problems for the simple purpose of building faith and character.  You know the verses well, James 1:2-4, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, [3] knowing that” and he begins to describe what trials do, how they build endurance, they build faith, they build character, they build patience.  [Verse 3, “knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. [4] And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”]

And a lot of people just aren’t interested in that process.  There are times in  your life where there’s going to be problems and you’re going to pray and pray and pray and you’re not going to get any sign from God, you’re not going to get any vision from God, you’re not going to get any experience from God.  Why?  Because if God simply gave you a vision or a sign or an experience or an immediate healing, all of these things that we want how in the world is the character ever going to be developed in us?

Paul, of course, had a thorn in the flesh, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, he asked the Lord to take it away three times, each time the Lord said no, “My grace is sufficient for you.”  [2 Corinthians 12:7-10, “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! [8] Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. [9] And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. [10] Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”]

So nobody ever told us that becoming a disciple of Christ and growing up in Christ is somehow an easy process.  Salvation through justification is free but discipleship is always costly and quite frankly, a lot of people aren’t interested in that and they would rather pack an auditorium that tells them something that they can see, something that they can feel, and something that they could experience.

The third reason why the charismatic movement is wildly, wildly popular is it attracts people who are really not content with the gradual process of progressive sanctification.  We’ve gone through, in our church year numerous times this chart that reveals the three tenses of salvation.  Justification, the past tense of salvation where I’m freed from sin’s penalty at the point of faith alone in Christ alone.  Glorification, the future tense of our salvation is when we’re free from the very presence of sin upon death or the rapture.  But what about that middle tense there, sanctification, the present tense of our salvation where we are being gradually, and it’s a gradual process, delivered from sin’s power by walking with Christ and learning of His resources and appropriating those in faith and obedience moment by moment.  What you’ll discover in the Bible is salvation is used in the past tense, the present tense and the future tense.

The middle tense of our salvation, unlike the other two tenses which take place in a nanosecond, the middle tense is a gradual process.  And it can be an excruciating process, it can be a difficult process, but it’s a process nonetheless that is necessary to conform us to God’s ultimate goal for our life.  What is God’s ultimate goal for your life?  You want to know God’s will for your life?  We could pack out seminars talking about that, “How to know God’s will for your life,” until you actually tell them what the Bible says, then the crowd thins, doesn’t it?  God’s will for your life is right there in Romans 8:28 and 29.  It says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good [to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  [29] For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.”]

 

Now it’s very important to understand this, it doesn’t say everything in your life is good, we have cancer victims in this church, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that suffering from cancer is good.  If you get injured and go to the hospital I’m not going to tell you that that is good.  We’re living in a fallen world where bad things happen.  It’s been that way since the fall in Eden.  What I am telling you is this, God (if you give Him an opportunity) will use it for good.  The Bible never says it’s all good, what it says is God wants to use it for good to call you according to His purpose.  We know that “all things work together for good, to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

So if I was sitting in the classroom with Paul I would raise my hand and I would say well what is that purpose.  Paul would say I’m glad you asked, verse 29, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;” what is God’s will for your life?  It is to take your daily walk, your daily life in the middle tense of your salvation and allow your practice to catch up with your position.  In other words, you don’t become perfect but gradually what starts to happen through the middle tense of salvation, progressive sanctification, is we start to become more Christ like in moral character in life.  That’s God’s will for your life.

And everything that happens to you, some of it could be bad from the human perspective, if you give God the change He will use it, sort of like sand paper sanding off some of those rough edges. Do you all have any rough edges that need to be sanded off?  I’ve got a few of those myself, the sanding process is never fun but everything that happens in my life God will use it to sand this off, to sand this off, until I gradually begin to conform in daily life to the image of Jesus Christ.

This is not popular American preaching today.  What people want to hear is instant success, instant spirituality, instant glorification.  And the charismatic movement offers that by giving people an immediate miracle, giving people an immediate sign or wonder, giving people an immediate word of knowledge, and so you can see why the charismatic movement is such a draw, there’s just a lot of people out there who aren’t content with the gradual process of progressive sanctification, because quite frankly the process isn’t enjoyable.  And how appealing it is to hear somebody to kind of give me a tool to circumvent that process by receiving something instant from God.

The fourth one, and I believe this is a biggie, the charismatic movement attracts people who lack the assurance of their salvation.  My eyes probably were opened to this the first time listening to one of my heroes, professor who is now with the Lord, J. Dwight Pentecost, in a doctoral class he made some sort of comment, I think we were in Paul’s letters that semester, he made some kind of comment about the charismatic movement and he said I want you to know how many people in the charismatic movement lack what is called the assurance of salvation.  Now do all of the lack the assurance of salvation?  I didn’t say that, what I’m saying is it’s a doctrine that’s almost lost in charismatic and Pentecostal circles.

What is the doctrine of the assurance of salvation?  Listen to me very carefully; it is not the doctrine of eternal security.  We know that when you’re in the hands of Christ you are eternally secure, you will never perish, John 10:27-29, “no one is able to snatch them out of” My hand. [John 10:27-29, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; [28] and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. [29] “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”]

There are many, many people that believe that but they do not believe in the assurance of salvation.  The assurance of salvation is knowing that you possess that.  See, a lot of people, whether you call it Arminianism, don’t believe in the assurance of salvation because they deny security, they think you can be saved one day and lost the next.  There are other people, and this is probably the group that is almost getting the upper hand today in the Reformed very Calvinistic circles that say oh, we believe in eternal security, and they do, but what they say is I really can’t know if I have eternal security because I don’t know if I’m one of the elect and I don’t know if I’m one of the elect because I don’t know if I’ve persevered enough in my life.  That’s Calvinism.

And this is, if you do counseling ministry you’ll see this very fast, there’s like an epidemic of people out there coming from bad teaching in Arminianism and in some doctrines of Calvinism that are all confused on the assurance of salvation.  The reality of the situation is the Bible teaches the assurance of salvation.  It doesn’t just teach security, it teaches that you can know that you have security.  This is as old as Job who said, remember all the problems that Job had, what did he say in the midst of that?  He said, “I know that my Redeemer lives and in the end He will take His stand upon the earth.”  and with my own eyes I will see Him.  [26] Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God;”] Job never had any doubts that he was on his way to glory, even in the midst of all of his affirmatives.

David, of course taught and believed in, remember all the trials David went through, David in Psalm 23 is not just talking about eternal security, he is talking about the assurance of salvation.  In Psalm 23:6 he says, “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”  Sound like a guy that really doesn’t know if he’s saved or not?

Jesus, as we’ve explained many times at this church taught the doctrine of assurance of salvation.  He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes in Him who sent Me, has” present tense possession, “eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed” perfect tense, one-time action ongoing results, “but has passed out of death into life.”

He doesn’t say you have this as long as your life measures up; He says you have it period.  Now you can either spend your life second guessing that or you can get smart and just believe what the Bible says.  Of course, the assurance of salvation is taught in the Book of Acts. What did Paul and Silas say to the Philippian jailor?  “What must I do to be saved?  [Acts 16:29, “and after he brought them out, he said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’  [30] and after he brought them out, he said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’]  [31] …” Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household,” as long as you make it to the end in good works…  That last clause he didn’t say, did he?  He gave that jailor not just the salvation message but He gave him the doctrine of the assurance of salvation immediately, in that statement.

Paul, of course, taught the assurance of salvation.  Look at how many times he uses the word “hope” here, “waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons.”  [Romans 8:23, “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”]  “The redemption of our body,” anybody looking forward to that?  [Romans 8:23, “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”]

“For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?” [Romans 8:24] The word “hope” is sort of deceiving to us because we’re all substituting the English definition into that word, where it’s I hope I get the new job, I hope the stocks that I picked work out, that’s English. The Bible wasn’t written in English, right?  It was originally written, the New Testament, in which language?  Greek.  The word there for “hope” is elpis, which means not anxiously wishing or uncertainty, but rather confident assurance of something yet future.  It is not an “I hope so” mentality but rather an “I know so” mentality.

So whenever you’re reading the New Testament, particularly Paul, and you see the word “hope” you ought to just cross out that word or put next to it “I know” because that’s what the word elpis means.  Paul here in Romans 8 gives no indication of anything other than the absolute ironclad assurance of salvation.  And the general letters, of course, teach the assurance of salvation; one of the most prominent is 1 John 5:13 where John says, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may” what? “know that you have eternal life.?”

Hannah Whitall Smith, back in 1893, writes this: “In the first chapter of Numbers we are told that only those Israelites who could declare their pedigree might be numbered among the men of war and in the second chapter of Ezra no one who could find this register and reckon his genealogy was allowed to exercise the office of priests.  Any doubts and uncertainties on this point them as polluted and consequently unfit to serve.”  She says, “I believe the same thing is true of Christians now; we can neither be numbered amongst the Lord’s soldiers nor enter into priestly relationships with Him until we can also declare our pedigree as children of God and reckon our genealogy as being born of Him.”

If you’re not willing to stand on the doctrine of not just eternal security, but on the assurance of salvation you’re already neutralized.  How in the world are you supposed to go out and fight for God if you don’t even know if you’re a Christian or not?  And I think this is why this is such a plague in evangelicalism today because it neutralizes the effectiveness of God’s people in this world.  This is not some doctrine that I’m up here making up; it’s in the Bible.  Dallas Seminary was founded on this that all Christians can know of the assurance of salvation from the very day they take Jesus as their Savior.  And this is not founded upon any fancy discovery of their own worthiness but holy written upon the testimony of God in His written word.  It’s an objective fact.

It’s like looking at accounting, you can’t vent math in accounting, right?  Well, the government does I guess, some, but good accountants, you look at something in the ledger, it’s a mathematical fact, it doesn’t matter how you feel at any given moment, it’s a mathematical fact.  You can feel rich, you can feel poor, it’s irrelevant, it’s in the ledger, it’s true.

So, the problem is people say “well, I’m not sure if I’m saved,” and I say” well, have you trusted Christ?  “Yeah, I’ve done that.”  Okay, I take them at their word, “so why don’t you feel you’re saved?”  Well, I… haven’t prayed enough, and I…. allowed this sin into my life, and I…. did something I shouldn’t have done.  You see the problem there, you just used the personal pronoun “I” three times; you don’t live the Christian life looking at yourself.  You want to talk about depression!   You live the Christian life based on what Jesus has already declared to be true.  That will unleash incredible service in your life because you’re not concerned, your mind is not divided anymore on this issue, the assurance of salvation.

Now today you ask people well, how do you know you’re saved?  And they always start talking about some subjective experience in their lives—well, I used to have no desire for God’s Word and now I do.  I used to have no desire to share my faith with the lost and now I do.  And I’m not denying those experiences, God gives us experiences but the great Lewis Sperry Chafer called those experiences secondary evidences.  He says, “There is a normal Christian experience, there are new and blessed emotions and desires, old things passed away and behold all things become new but all such experiences are secondary evidences as to the fact of salvation in that they grow out of the positive response of faith which is the primary evidence.  You know you’re saved because Jesus says you’re saved.”  Period.

Now, you have emotions, I’ve had them and continue to have them.   You can have experiences but that’s just gravy train, that’s secondary, because if you’re going to live your life based on your experiences let me tell you something, as someone who’s walk with the Lord, oh, gosh, I’m afraid to even ask how long I’ve walked with the Lord, your experiences are going to come and go.  They’re going to ebb and they’re going to flow.  And if you’re living your life based on these evidences that are just secondary you’re going to think you’re save done day and the next day you won’t think you’re saved, because one day you felt something, the next day you didn’t.  You live your life based on what God has objectively declared for you.  This is what I’m talking about; I’m not just talking about eternal security; I’m talking about the assurance of salvation knowing that you actually possess it. And what I want you to understand is this doctrine is, for whatever reason it is neglected, it is ignored in many charismatic circles.

John Piper says this: I can’t think of a more unbiblical thing than what he’s saying here.  “No Christian can be sure that he is a true believer, hence there is an ongoing need to be dedicated to the Lord and to deny ourselves so that we might make it.”  I mean, compare that to what Jesus just said.  Compare that to what 1 John says.  Piper, I cannot believe the popularity of this guy, some have even called him jokingly The Pied Piper, he has a complete inroad into the minds of the youth within evangelicalism and I don’t know how you interpret that, not only is he denying the assurance of salvation here, he’s teaching works salvation because what he’s saying is maybe your good works didn’t save you but you’d sure better keep doing it to keep your salvation, which makes me my own savior.   God help us if I’m my own savior!

And it’s not accident that John Piper is very much into this mystical sort of Christianity.  Why the relationship between the two?  Because if you don’t have the assurance of salvation what are you dependent upon to know that you’re saved?  It’s the next miracle, the next sign or wonder, the next audible voice, the next vision from God.  I’ve got to keep having these things because they make me feel a certain way and I don’t even know if I’m a Christian or not, so I’m completely dependent on extra biblical manifestations to teach me something that God already says you possess.  See that?

So as the doctrine of assurance of salvation wanes what you start to see is an explosion of mysticism and experientialism and charismatic theology.

A fifth reason why the charismatic movement is so popular is it attracts people who really don’t want to worship God in truth.  Jesus is very clear, John 4:24, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  You worship God by how He has revealed Himself, not based on how we want Him to be.  But you see, the great plight of fallen humanity is to make god (little g) in man’s image.  This is as old as the golden calf incident, you can read about that in Exodus 32:1-10, where Moses is up in Sinai and they just got tired of waiting on God and Aaron, the high priest is leading the charge, the religious authority.  They got their metal and threw it into the molten fire and Aaron what he says, “I’ll pop this calf” as if they had nothing to do with creating this thing.

[Exodus 32:1-10, “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, ‘Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’  [2] Aaron said to them, “Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.”  [3] Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. [4] He took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.”  [5] Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” [6] So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.  [7] Then the LORD spoke to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. [8] “They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’” [9] The LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. [10] Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.”]

And then what did he say, Behold, this is who took you out of Egypt.  It’s a false god.  Romans 1:18-23 talks about this where people take the revelation of God and they distort it.  [Romans 1:18-23, “[18] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, [19] because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. [20] For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. [21] For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] Professing to be wise, they became fools, [23]and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”]

 

Why do they distort it?  Because they don’t like how God has revealed Himself.  I want a God after my own making, I want a God that gives me experiences.  I want a God that tells me I’m going to be rich.  I want a God that tells me if I get sick then there’s an immediate healing in it for me.  What is it?  It’s a false God, its people wanting their itching ears tickled and turning aside to myths.  And if you don’t like how God has revealed Himself then you substitute in that a god of your own liking.  For example, in Exodus 32:6, the golden calf incident.  It says, “So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.”

Now when it says here they “rose up to play” we’re not talking about a game of checkers.  If you look at the Ryrie Study Bible note he comments on the Hebrew word “play,” and he writes this: “The word suggests sex play, it is the same word used here as is used in Genesis 26:8.  In light of drinking and possible nakedness the scene likely becomes a drunken sex orgy.”

So, what’s going on here?  God had already revealed Himself in the Ten Commandments, one of those commandments is “Thou shalt not commit” what? “adultery.”  So the people said well, you know, monogamy, that kind of rhymes with monotony, I’m tired of being monogamous because being monogamous is monotonous, this is far more exciting than to invent our sexuality and not follow the rules of the Creator.  So, they created a god that appealed to licentiousness.  See that?  Jude 4 talks about the same thing.  [Jude 4, “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”]

What you have to understand is the charismatic world is filled with this mentality.  I don’t like the middle tense of my salvation stuff, I don’t like gradual progress into Christlikeness, and I’m sure getting tired of not having enough money and I can’t just jet around to Rio de Janeiro whenever I want to, I want to own my own plane.  So what do you do?  You invent a god that gives you all that stuff.  It’s called an experiential god, it’s called the health and wealth gospel, and people will pack out an auditorium to hear that.  So, the charismatic movement is very attractive to people who really don’t want to worship God as He has revealed Himself.  You know, I go to Sugar Land Bible Church and you guys are so line by line, verse by verse, I mean, we want to hear some motivational speaking, or whatever people want today.  So I’m going to go down the street or go down the freeway and I’ll find a happy preacher that appeals more to my sensual nature, which is really your sin nature.  See that?

Number six, this is big too, the charismatic movement is attractive to people who desire authority over other people.  If you place yourself in a position where you say to people God told me to tell you and you have to listen to me because I’m an apostle, I’m a prophet and I receive direct revelation from God, so God told me to tell you X, Y and Z.  In other words, this book is not the revelation of God in totality, you need my additional prophetic and apostolic insight and God told me to tell you.  Do you realize what a power trip that is to people?  And how that is an appeal to the basest instinct in people of a desire for authority and power.  And once you start to wield that power and once you start to discover how many people are under your spell, that’s very difficult to give up.

And as an example of somebody that has this mindset  you don’t have to look very far in the Scripture  until you run into a guy named Simon the Sorcerer who was into all of these signs and wonders, then he got saved, and then because of the Jewish Samaritan conflict the apostles had to come from Jerusalem to lay hands on the Samaritans so that the Holy Spirit could be given to them, it was a transitional problem in the Book of Acts where this occurred on a limited basis so that the Samaritan Hebrew conflict wouldn’t continue into the church age.  So, Samaria knew that they belonged to Jerusalem and Jerusalem would [can’t understand word] belong to Samaria because we are all one in the body of Christ.

Now to you remember Simon, the Sorcerer’s reaction to that?  He says I want that power.  Who was Simon, the Sorcerer?  He was justified, he just hadn’t had any chance to grow.  But it’s very clear as you read Acts 8:9-24 that the guy wanted the power that he saw manifested through the apostles.  The Christian world is filled with people like that.  They don’t feel validated in their personal lives (for whatever reason).  Part of it is they never really take the time to investigate what God has said about them and the riches He’s given them so they’re attracted to groups, they’re attracted to meetings, they give them some kind of personal sense of validation.  And the charismatic movement offers that because if you qualify in their circles as an apostle and a prophet you get the privilege of saying “God told me to tell you” your power needs are met.  I mean, the religious world is filled with people that want power, you have to understand that.  And so that would be another explanation of the charismatic movement’s popularity.

So very quickly, number one, you don’t judge something as true by how popular it is.  And number two, there are legitimate reasons why this movement is so big; it attracts those who are drawn to miraculous experiences rather than simple trust in Christ, it attracts those who have a difficult time trusting God through life’s experiences.  I’m not saying every charismatic is this way but there seems to be a surplus and abundance of such people in their movement.  It attracts those who are discontent with the gradual progress of progressive sanctification.  It attracts people who really lack the assurance of salvation.  It attracts those not wanting to worship God as He has revealed Himself. And it oftentimes is a great appeal to people who want authority over others.

I realize this is a lot of stuff here, isn’t it, so next week the floor is  yours and I won’t be doing any teaching, we’ll open up the whole thing for Q&A so this is our final lecture on the charismatic movement and then once we do Q&A next week and the following week the congregational meeting then we’re going to go back into the actual legitimate gifts that exist in the body of Christ, what are they, how do you identify what gift is yours.

Let’s pray.  Father, we’re grateful for truth even though it’s sometimes hard to swallow.  You’ve called us to worship you as You revealed Yourself.  I pray that You would make us that kind of people here at Sugar Land Bible Church.  I pray You’ll bless the communion service that follows and the teaching of Your Word and the fellowship lunch as well. We ask these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said… Amen.