A Review of Pentecostalism: Part I – The History of Pentecostalism

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It is hard to discuss something so broad and nebulous as Pentecostalism, and those who think it’s simple will give simplistic responses. Nowhere is Pentecostalism codified as in a creed book. Trying to nail down Pentecostalism is like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall. There is so much within what is called Pentecostalism that is not only different, but contradictory. Much of it depends upon the when and where within their timeline.

Although it has root in the 1800s, Pentecostalism is basically a 20th century, and now 21st, phenomenon. There were no Pentecostals on the Mayflower. No Charismatics signed the Declaration of Independence. And there were no tongue speakers or faith healers who fought in the Civil War.

The Pentecostal Movement

Pentecostalism develops in three progressive stages. The first is what is simply called The Pentecostal Movement, which spans the turn of the century to about the end of the Great War. Its roots go back to the Second Great Awakening, and specifically to the Revival Movement and the Holiness Movement. The second of these was characterized by women who didn’t cut their hair, dressed plainly and modestly, and who wore no jewelry or make up. Some of this can be seen today in pockets of Pentecostalism. The initial Pentecostal Movement was a reaction to the secularization and materialism of Darwinian evolution. They wished to restore the world to a sense of the moral, but more important, the supernatural.

Because of the Pentecostal Movement, several new denominations were introduced. There are four which remain as the most prominent. The first is the Church of God of Prophecy, which can be traced back to 1907. Next is the Holiness Pentecostal Church, which started up in 1911. Soon the Assemblies of God began in 1914. The Foursquare Gospel branched off from the Church of God of Prophecy in 1923. To be sure, there are others, but these are still the most familiar in our time.

Charismatic Renewal

The second stage is called the Charismatic Renewal of the 1950s and 1960s. The difference between Pentecostal and Charismatic is basic. Pentecostalism results in denominations, four of which were mentioned in the last paragraph. Charismatics are individuals who remain within mainstream denominations. There are Charismatics within the Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and most religious bodies.

Charismatics are likely the minority of any congregation, found in pockets, but usually get along with non-Charismatic members. Unlike many Pentecostalists who insist tongue speaking is indispensable for salvation, and hence, pressure other people to seek it out, Charismatics do their thing but rarely look down on non-Charismatic friends within their congregations.

The Charismatic Revival got its big push through Campus Crusade movements that swept over academia following the Second World War. It served a psychological need for the children of war, but took the form of religious practice. It provided a false sense of peace for those discomforted in their upbringing by man’s inhumanity to man, the cruelty of war coming over their theatre matinee screens, and for many sense of loss from losing a father, brother, cousin, or uncle to WW2 or the Korean Conflict.

Neo-Charismatic

The third stage, known as Neo-Charismatic, began in the 1980s and continue to the present. It introduced four new components to the world of Pentecostalism. It could be argued that these are all four parts of the same system and not four distinct features. The first is the rise of the Televangelist. The second, and close to it, is the advent of the health and wealth gospel. Send money to the TV preacher and God will make you rich. The third is the birth of the mega-church, autonomous and non-denominational, even though they are like Holiday Inns – one is like every other. The fourth is an introduction of Premillennialism. Many TV preachers are finding faux-fulfillment of prophecy in every bit of news. This amends their message to one where you need to send in your money before it’s too late!

What began with the renouncement of the world with the Holiness Movement has morphed into the gross worldliness of the mega-church, and the prosperity gospel. It’s clear why it’s difficult to put Pentecostalism in a box. How can one single thing contain everything from women with modest dress and no make up to Tammy Faye Bakker? Through all of its shape-shifting and false appearances, there some basics to Pentecostalism. It emphasizes the emotional, the subjective, and the personal experience over the rational, and it holds to modern-day miracles with an emphasis on tongue speaking and faith healing.

This article is a select reading from my book, Biblical Teachings Regarding The Holy Spirit. It is available on Amazon and Kindle. To order, click here.

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The Parsimony of God

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When we discuss the qualities or attributes of God, we often talk about how God is all powerful and all knowing. He is complete in love and holiness. And yet, there is one attribute rarely discussed, probably because it is rarely considered. God is a parsimonious Being. There is an economy to the actions of God. This means that God does not act unless it is necessary for Him to do so. One way to explain this may be in the difference as well as the utilization of both miracles and providence. The first is where God acts directly and contrary the laws of nature, and the second is God acting indirectly through the existing physical laws of the earth.

A Clear Example

Let’s consider an example where we see both, the contest on Mt. Carmel. Elijah offers two prayers, both are answered, but answered differently. He prays for fire and fire falls from heaven. This is a miracle because fire doesn’t naturally do that. Then he prays for rain and rain falls from heaven. This is God’s providence. He used the laws of nature to hold back the rain, and when Elijah prayed, He sent the rain, but all without a miracle. It had rained before and will rain again just as it rained that day, and my natural means.

God did not make it rain miraculously since there was no need for it. To use a miracle when providence will do would be wasted energy and activity on God’s behalf. There are other examples in the Bible. Jesus raises Jairus’s daughter, then tells her to eat (Mark 5:43). While the resurrection was a miracle, He didn’t raise her with a full belly. She could eat on her own after she was alive again. On entering Jerusalem for the last time, Jesus rides a colt never been ridden (Mark 11:2, Luke 19:30). Usually such an animal might try to throw the rider, and Jesus could have miraculously subdued the animal. Instead, He ordered the colt’s mother to lead so it would be calm (Matthew 21:2). Nature worked good enough, and no miracle required, so no miracle performed.

A Practical Consideration

Of the attributes of God, this one may seem slight, even incidental, but it is an important point. Calvinists teach that the Holy Spirit directly converts the sinner. This can be considered a miracle. Weak members of the church have taken in this doctrine to a lesser degree, teaching that the Holy Spirit leads them or enables them to live as a Christian, and this is an immediate and direct action. God works on the sinner and continues to in the saint, but through the word.

Calvinists say they are converted and sanctified by the direct operation of the Holy Spirit. Christians hold that this all happens through the agency of the Bible. David says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul” (Psalm 19:7). And Jesus prays, “Sanctify them with Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Therefore, the parsimonious nature of God will not allow for Calvinism to be true, nor does it assist the notion of those weak and compromising members of the church.

 

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Announcing The Launch Of My Latest Book, Biblical Teachings Concerning The Holy Spirit

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I am pleased to announce the release of my fourteenth book, Biblical Teachings Concerning The Holy Spirit. It’s both a quick read and a deep study.

One of the most difficult subject matters in the Bible has to do with the Holy Spirit. It is sometimes overly complicated by the emotionalism that is often brought to the discussion. And an additional problem that I see is the danger of study for validation or previous convictions and not for true learning. Quite often, this can take the form of shallow study, seeing only what was said before by others, and in a sense, carrying the party line on any given doctrine.

Even with diligent study and free thinking, the matter of the function and operation of the Holy Spirit is a difficult matter, if not the most difficult one from Scripture. But this does not mean it is impossible to learn what God has said on this subject. It should not be a frustration that the Bible contains complex and intricate subjects. Coming from the mind of God, this should be expected. And yet as challenging as it may be, the Biblical teachings regarding the Holy Spirit were revealed with the intend from God that they be studied and understood.

Biblical Teachings Regarding The Holy Spirit

ISBN-13: 978-1544844923

Available on Amazon and Kindle. to order, click here.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1544844921

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The Inspiration of the Bible: Part III – Practically What It All Means

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When I speak of the author of the Bible, I mean God. And when I mention the writers of the Bible, I intend the men who were Inspired. The Bible writers were aware of Inspiration, both within themselves and in others. There are a few times when those with Inspiration argued for a certain point and based their argument on the grammar of other passages from the Bible.

Grammar and Inspiration

Jesus argues in favor of the resurrection before the Sadducees by quoting God to Moses at the burning bush, “I Am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Matthew 22:32, Exodus 3:14). His conclusion is that the three Patriarches still live, though physically dead when God addressed Moses. The entire argument is based upon the tense of the verb. Jesus uses the same argument before the Pharisees when He says, “Before Abraham was, I Am” (John 8:58).

To the Jews of the first century, Paul clears up their misunderstanding. God says the world will be blessed by the seed of Abraham (Genesis 12:2-3, 22:18), and since they were the seed of Abraham, they thought the world would be blessed through them. Paul points out the promise is through the seed, not seeds (Galatians 3:16). Paul contention hangs on the number of a noun, showing it is singular and not plural. These men would not make these arguments by Inspiration if word-for-word Inspiration does not also include the grammar of every word.

Inspiration and Authorship

The writers of Scripture were aware that they were Inspired in what thy wrote. To the Corinthians, Paul writes, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you” (First Corinthians 11:23). And to the Thessalonians, “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (First Thessalonians 2:13). These passages not only show how men knew they were Inspired, but they demonstrate that speaking by Inspiration is the same in content as writing by Inspiration. Luke does the same when he records, “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them” (Acts 8:14).

Some have criticized plenary Inspiration like it’s a dictation machine, but that ignores the use of the human mind in the men Inspired. Paul writes, “The Spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet” (First Corinthians 14:32). These men with the gift of prophecy did not control the content, but they had control over where and when it would be used. The words did not bubble out from them as they are some unconscious vessel like the Delphian oracle. Peter writes, “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from Heaven, things which angels desire to look into” (First Peter 1:10-12). Several facts stand out from this text. But for our consideration, the greatest is that men spoke and wrote by Inspiration, and all the while they were conscious and aware. Their minds were engaged.

Writers even composed Scripture and considered what others wrote as Scripture. This is more than New Testament writers quoting Old Testament prophecy. For example, Paul writes, “For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages’.” (First Timothy 5:18). Here Paul contends for paying elders who work full time in that capacity. He gives two passages to support his point. One is from the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 25:4), but the second is a quotation of Jesus (Luke 10:7). Both of these quotes are called Scripture. This means the gospel account of Luke was already written by this time, and that it was considered Biblical canon, not just by Paul and Timothy, but by the God Who Inspired Paul to so argue. Later Peter says, “and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation, as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (Second Peter 3:15-16). Peter also considers the epistles of Paul authentic Scripture.

New Testament Use Of The Old Testament

The New Testament treats Old Testament characters as people who really lived in history and their lives are accurately recorded in the Old Testament narratives. The New Testament agreed with the Old that Adam was the first man and Eve was the first woman, and the serpent beguiled Eve in the Garden of Eden (Matthew 19:4, First Corinthians 15:45, Second Corinthians 11:3, First Timothy 2:13, Genesis 2:24, 3:1-4). Noah and the flood was a real event (Matthew 24:37-39, First Peter 3:20, Second Peter 2:5, 3:6, Genesis 6-8). Lot and his family escaped God’s destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah (Luke 17:28-32, Second Peter 2:6-7, Genesis 18-19).

Moses lead the children of Israel out of Egypt and through the Red Sea of the great Exodus (First Corinthians 10:1-4, Exodus 14). In the desert, God punished the wandering Jews with poisonous serpents, but sent the remedy with instructions regarding the preparation of a Brass Serpent (John 3:14, Numbers 21:4-9). Jonah, whose historicity is scoffed the most by liberals, really was swallowed by a great fish (Matthew 12:39-40, Jonah 1:17). Add to that faith’s hall of fame, the catalog of heroes from the Old Testament listed in the 11th chapter of the book of Hebrews. It covers everything from creation to restoration, or in other words, all of the Old Testament history, and treats it as legitimate and historically accurate.

The Old Testament As Law

Before He ascends, Jesus says all written in the Law, the Psalms, and the prophets concerning Him has been fulfilled (Luke 24:44). That’s an accurate breakdown of the Old Testament, but in another sense, it is all considered law and not just the Pentateuch. John records Jesus saying, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, You are gods’? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:34-35, Psalm 82:6). Jesus quotes a Psalm, yet calls it both Law and Scripture. A similar occurrence is in John 15:25, where He quotes Psalm 69:4 and calls it Law. Three times Paul quotes material not in the Pentateuch, yet refers to it as Law.

  • In the law it is written: ‘Withmen of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people, and yet, for all that, they will not hear Me’” (First Corinthians 14:21, Isaiah 28:11-12).
  • Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Romans 3:19, having just quoted in the prior seven verses Psalms 14:1–3, 53:1–3, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Psalm 5:9, 140:3, 10:7, Isaiah 59:7, 8, Psalm 36:1).
  • Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman” (Galatians 4:21-22, Genesis 16:15, 21:1-3).

After the resurrection of Jesus, He encounters a pair of men traveling the road to the town of Emmaus. They are still sad over the crucifixion and are aware of the glorious events of that morning, but partially so. They know the women found the tomb opened and empty and that they spoke to angels, but as yet had not seen Jesus. They knew Jesus would redeem Israel, but their idea was probably nationalistic, so the cross frustrated them and the resurrection confused them.

Jesus replies to them, “Then He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?’ And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:25-27). Their ignorance is of all that the prophets have spoken, so He corrects them beginning with Moses and continuing through all of the prophets. While the literature of the Old Testament can be compartmentalized into the Law, Psalms, and Prophets, it is all one spiritual covenant, all Scripture and all law, and as a single voice of God was given to bring us to Jesus

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The Inspiration of the Bible: Part II – All or Nothing

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It is a very popular notion in liberal theology that Inspiration is only partial. That is in contrast with plenary, which means full or complete. I contend that the Bible teaches it is the product of plenary Inspiration, and that in truth it is such. The argument for partial Inspiration is that God lead men to write, but only on the indispensably spiritual material. Things such as history and science in the narratives of Scripture are not necessary for salvation, so God did not lead anyone in writing these things. They are purely the product of human composition, which is subject to error and may therefore be incorrect.

Plenary Inspiration

When pressed, liberals do not even believe in any sort of Inspiration. That is because they do not hold the Bible to be all-authoritative. All they spout is love, but then they do not even follow what the Bible has to say about love. There is a cruelty in liberalism that screams hypocrisy. Don’t get me wrong, conservatives often have a mean streak in them as well. There are many modern-day Pharisees amongst us who are just as sociopathological as any TV or movie crime dramas. Hannibal Lecter has nothing on many of the pseudo-sound preachers today.

If partial Inspiration is true, then discerning what is Inspired and what is not becomes a subjective experience. In the end, we are left following our heart, the zenith of madness. Also, it wonders why if God could get the small stuff right, then why didn’t He? It seems partial Inspiration is a poor excuse to dismiss all of the Bible, the big stuff and the small stuff. And finally, if God couldn’t get the small stuff right, such as history and science, then why should He be trusted with the big stuff? Finding errors of any kind lowers the credibility of the whole thing, especially the spiritual matters.

The Word Of Truth

God does not lie (Titus 1:2). In fact, it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18). Jesus is the one and only source of truth (John 14:6), which could not be if He came to do the will of a God subject to falsities. It is the same with the Bible, it cannot contain lies if it is the word from a God who cannot lie.

  • In Him you also trusted,after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation” (Ephesians 1:13).
  • because of the hope which is laid up for you in Heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel” (Colossians 1:5).
  • But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (First Thessalonians 2:13-14).
  • This is He who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ. Not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth” (First John 5:6).
  • And now, O Lord God, You are God, and Your words are true, and You have promised this goodness to Your servant” (Second Samuel 7:28).
  • The judgments of the Lord aretrue and righteous altogether” (Psalm 19:9).
  • I have chosen the way of truth. Your judgments I have laid before me” (Psalm 119:30).
  • And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for I have hoped in Your ordinances” (Psalm 119:43).
  • Your righteousness isan everlasting righteousness, and Your law is truth” (Psalm 119:142).
  • You arenear, O Lord, and all Your commandments are truth” (Psalm 119:151).
  • The entirety of Your word istruth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever” (Psalm 119:160).

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17-18). The jot refers to the Hebrew letter yod, which is the smallest Hebrew letter. It looks like our English apostrophe. The tittle is a bit more interesting. There are two Hebrew letters that look almost identical, resh and daleth. A single penstroke makes the resh, whereas the daleth is made from two. Think of the Greek Gamma (G), but the mirror image of it. The pen starts in the top left, moves straight right and down in one stroke to form resh. With daleth, you start upper left and move right, but pick up the pen and make a single stroke down. The tiny bulb that inevitably sticks out of the top righthand of the daleth is the tittle.

The jot and tittle could not be removed unless they were added, or put another way, a part of the Inspiration itself. Jesus is saying that the smallest parts of the Hebrew alphabet in which the Law of Moses was written will not be removed until it is completely fulfilled in Jesus Christ, His cross and resurrection. If the jot and the tittle were a part of the Inspiration, then it is the highest of absurdities to claim that Inspiration was partial.

Weight Of Inspiration

Since the Bible is fully Inspired, it deserves to be treated with gravitas. Because of the Bible, everything we do as part of divine service is serious. When Peter tells the hundred and twenty that Judas should be replaced as apostle, he bases that on it being the fulfillment of prophecy. He adds, “the Scriptures had to be fulfilled” (Acts 1:16). A brief time before this, Jesus also quotes prophecy and says, “The Scriptures cannot be broken” (John 10:35).

If God, Who cannot lie, predicts it in prophecy then it must come true. The exact day of Jesus Christ’s Triumphal Entry in Jerusalem is predicted to the very day in Daniel’s vision of the Seventy Weeks (Daniel 9:25). On the day predicted, Jesus enters Jerusalem and is announced to be King. The Pharisees scolded Jesus and told Him that He should have commanded the people to be quiet. Jesus replies, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:40). Somehow, it was inevitable that Jesus would be declared King on that day because God by Inspiration had said it would happen on that day a bit more than 500 years prior.

That is why ignorance and misunderstanding of Scripture has always been the most hazardous place to be in. Jesus made it a point to fix the problem of misunderstanding the Bible.

  • But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless” (Matthew 12:7).
  • You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29).
  • But I say to you that Elijah has also come, and they did to him whatever they wished, as it is written of him” (Mark 9:13).
  • Have you not even read this Scripture: ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone’?” (Mark 12:10).

It is vital to learn once and for all that only the complete and total word of God should be considered the truth (Psalm 119:160). That is because every word of it is Inspired by God.

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The Inspiration of the Bible: Part I – The Nature Of Inspiration

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The character and quality of the New Testament and how we received it is based upon Who authored it. The New Testament was not written by the finger of God on some mountain top or mediated by angels. Apostles and prophets, all followers of Jesus Christ, were given the words directly by the Holy Spirit. The word for this process is Inspiration.

The gospel was preached before it was ever written down. The oral preaching and the written Scriptures are in all ways equal in content and value as the word of God (Second Thessalonians 2:15). Since the New Testament originally comes from God, then it is perfect and flawless and in all ways reflect the one who gave it.

New Testament Inspiration

The gift of prophecy is another phrase used in the New Testament to describe Inspiration. It was a supernatural act, or to put it another way, it was a miracle. The apostles had every supernatural gift and could pass any one of them on by the laying on of their hands upon the recipient (Acts 8:18, Second Timothy 1:6). This may include the gift of prophecy, or it may be another miraculous enablement, such as healing or speaking in tongues. The purpose of the miracles was to confirm the Scriptures while they were being written in the first century (Mark 16:20).

The gospel was Foreordained by God (Romans 16:25). Paul calls it the “mystery” (musterion), which means something hidden now revealed (Ephesians 3:8). What was reveal and written was intended to make God’s wisdom known to mankind by reading the New Testament (Ephesians 3:10). The gospel was a message first preached by Jesus in accordance to what God the Father wanted preached (Hebrews 2:1-4, John 14:10). It was then conveyed to the Apostles (John 16:12-13).

To young Timothy, Paul writes, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (Second Timothy 3:16-17). The phrase “all Scripture” refers to the complete Bible, Old and New Testaments. We don’t follow the Old Testament today like we do the New. But we learn eternal principles about the nature of God and the name of man, the nature of sin and the nature of atonement. Plus, we see in the Old Testament all of God’s Promises to the Patriarches and Prophecies through later men. Over 3,800 times in the Old Testament Scripture does it claim that it is the word/words of God.

God Breathed

The word for “Inspired” is qeopneustoV and it literally means “God breathed.” It is as if God is actually speaking the words with His own breath that appear on the pages of the Bible. That demonstrates the degree to which Scripture is Inspired, that it is word for word perfect.

Because every word of Scripture is breathed out by God, it is the most practical reading ever given to mankind. The is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness and only because it is Inspired. And because the Bible has this four-fold practicality, the end result for the believer is that he is made complete and full, not lacking anything for spiritual maturity. This fullness means the believer is equipped to every good work. Not only does the Bible tell us all we need to do to be considered faithful, but it supplies us with every motivation so that we want to obey God.

When we speak of the Bible as Inspired by God, we mean word-for-word Inspiration. It must be that specific because of the nature of God. He is all-knowing and all-powerful. He knows what we need to be saved and knows how to transmit what we need. God in all things is perfect, and we can only expect perfection in any communicative effort He would proffer towards mankind. The only way to insure perfection in His Bible, His Inspiration must be word-for-word exactly what God wishes to say.

One of the over 3,800 Old Testament references to it as the word/words of God just mentioned is Second Samuel 23:2, which says, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me,
And His word was on my tongue.
” Remember that the Holy Spirit is the means by which God the Father conduits Inspiration to certain men, and in this case, David. By divine Inspiration, he composed the Psalms. When David communicated by the Spirit of God, it was not the thoughts of God on his tongue, but His words.

This is a matter that the New Testament confirms. Paul tells the Corinthian saints, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (First Corinthians 2:12-13). The Holy Spirit does not speak with words of the world, but the words of God. In this, the things that belong to God are conveyed by spiritually Inspired words.

Inspiration Assures Certainty

Likewise, the apostle Peter writes, “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from Heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (Second Peter 1:16-21). Peter is referring to the Mount of Transfiguration where the glory of the Lord was revealed to Peter, James, and John. Along with this visible display, God spoke directly from Heaven, and said “This is My beloved Son” (Matthew 17:5).

Peter argues that we have a word of prophecy that is more sure than that. The Bible can confirm itself, and the certainty of it as the word of God is easier to prove than if anyone were to claim that God spoke to them directly. Because the Bible is this more sure word of prophecy, no passage of Scripture is subject to personal interpretation in that no one can say one interpretation is as good as another. We need to think for ourselves and study for ourselves, but we have the obligation and responsibility to come to the proper interpretation that God intends for us to reach. Otherwise, the Bible is pointless. If one take on any given passage is as good as another, then God is advocating the folly of following the human heart.

God gave us the Bible and expects us to correctly understand it. Saving faith cannot come by any other process. The reason one interpretation is not as good as another is because of Inspiration. Men did not decide on what to write. Instead, holy men were moved, literally picked up and carried along, by the Holy Spirit. We need to take our Bibles seriously since we know it is the perfect and flawless word for word Holy Scriptures.

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The Problem of Evil: Part III – Pleasure & Pain

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The Selfish Turn in the Problem of Pain

I have noticed that people are arguing the problem of pain differently these days. Most folk today ignore the disease, war, famine, and general third world suffering that happens across the globe. Their thumbs and their eyes are fixated on a smart phone or a tablet. Their getting their pleasure centers in their brains overstimulated like lab rats who push the blue button and buzz their brains and ignore the red button that feeds them so they starve to death.

That much input in the pleasure parts of the brain means it in time loses its pleasure, but people continue merely from rote habit and mental addiction. And when their device can’t get enough bars or they can’t find the Wi-Fi hotspot, they cry and pretend they are suffering. And then they run into a real problem and run overboard into an excess of ever more selfishness of emotions.

Something truly tragic happens, and they cry Why did God let my granny die? it seems the problem of pain has taken a selfish turn from “Why does God allow bad things to happen?” to “Why does God allow bad things to happen to me?” No one worries about the suffering of those in impoverished countries except for the occasion humanitarian worker or the narely read philosopher, and I hope I can add to the list, God’s people.

The Problem of Pleasure

Biological evolution says all upgrades are due to cell mutations and natural selection, but in particular, adaptation that enhances survival. And yet there are things in life that are part of the human experience that have nothing to do with survival. What I have in mind is pleasure. Evolution cannot explain why we as humans enjoy anything, why we find pleasure in experiencing beauty. So for my tastes, let the atheists whine all day about the problem of pain. They can’t explain what for them is the problem of pleasure.

Why do we taste food and enjoy it? The skeptic says taste buds evolved as a survival technique so we’ll know what berries are poison or when meat is rancid. But usually once you’ve tasted these things it’s too late. Also, other senses are better for determining these things. We see and recognize berries that look as such are to be avoided. Meat that smells spoiled is spoiled.

But pleasant flavors cannot be accounted for as a means of survival. Atheists cannot explain why a Crème Brule tastes so good and why we gain so much pleasure from eating it. Skeptics can’t tell us why everyone thinks a sunset is beautiful, and why we enjoy watching them. And consider the fine arts. Evolution cannot explain why we get such exhilaration from hearing Beethoven, Chopin, or Rachmaninoff played on a piano. Shear materialism cannot answer for why we are so stirred by the poetry of Browning, Byron, or Whitman. Atheism cannot reason a response as to why the novels of Tolstoy and Hugo rouse us with stunning displays of what it’s like to live as a human in this world. Skeptics have nothing to say about why the paintings of Van Gogh or Rembrandt allow us to see our world within ourselves brushed on canvas.

Atheists are a miserable lot in the first place. The Bible says they cannot find peace (Isaiah 48:22, 57:20, 59:8). No wonder they can’t answer the problem of pleasure because they are often oblivious to it. The Christian acknowledges that there is suffering in the world, but we thank God for all of the blessings He gives us, for the wonderful things that come from living this life, and for the exalted gift of gaining pleasure from experiencing beauty.

Man Cannot Blame God

The thing about the whole argument of the problem of pain that galls me the most is the presumption people have in sassing back at God. They sound like petulant children. You know they got it coming and you don’t mind at all when they get it. Man is not in the position to dare talk back to God. Job learned this lesson the hard way, but he learned it. God spoke from the whirlwind and said to him, Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer that.” … “Would you indeed annul My judgment? Would you condemn Me that you may be justified?” (Job 40:2,8).

God does not answer to us. We are not in the place to know all things as God. We simply do not know enough to blame God of anything wrong. Any such accusations come from human wisdom, which is in truth, foolishness.

  • The heartis deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
  • ‘For My thoughtsare not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
  • O Lord, I know the way of manis not in himself. It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).
  • There is a waythat seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12).

The worldly man will engage the faithful on matters where he does not know as much as he thinks he does. He will blame God for human suffering, not knowing that the Bible has the answers, and yet he will refuse to hear a Biblical answer. And the things we tell him are Scriptural and reasonable, yet he shrugs and says I don’t get it. Their response is like the parable of the sower. Some seed lands on the rock-hard road and the seed cannot penetrate at all. This describes the worldly person so far removed from any spiritually and love for the truth that anything they hear is like a foreign language (Luke 8:12).

The failure is not ours, but completely on their part. And even if God did step down and stop all human suffering, that would not make anyone believe who doesn’t already. They are like the kinsmen of the rich man in torment, who have the Scriptures, and if they don’t believe them, they still wouldn’t believe even if God left His throne and came down here just to ease all suffering (Luke 16:31).

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