On Picking and Choosing

Image found at greythinking.com

I’m still working on my series about church authority. In the meantime, I’m inspired with many other topics that I want to tackle.

Today, I want to talk about the claim that Christians “pick and choose” which scriptures they want to follow. In my experience, it’s not so much picking and choosing verses out of context (which does happen to an alarming degree), but more about picking and choosing what kind of lens we use to interpret scripture. Make no mistake, everyone has a lens. No one approaches the Bible objectively, no matter how much one might claim to the contrary. 
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The Purpose of the Holy Spirit

Revolutionary Faith has been active for nearly three years now, and “how to feel the Holy Spirit”—or some variation thereof—is still the top search term that leads people to this blog. My post “What Does the Holy Spirit Feel Like?”, published in the blog’s first six weeks of existence, remains the most accessed post on the site.

I understand the fascination. There is much about the Holy Spirit that remains a mystery. It is God’s powerful, dynamic presence in the Christian life, and its urgings can seem inexplicable.

However, the Holy Spirit has a purpose, and I fear too many believe that purpose is simply to be felt. Many people seek the Holy Spirit for a visceral experience or spiritual vision. It exists for much more than that. In fact, if you’re having a feeling without the Holy Spirit’s other manifestations, I would pause and seriously examine exactly what it is that you’re experiencing. It may be something other than the Holy Spirit. Continue reading

Heretical Ministry, or How to Make Atheists

https://i0.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/204/494149544_5857986986.jpgWhile researching for my series on the Holy Spirit, I came across an atheist forum engaged in a discussion on speaking in tongues. What I read disturbed me. It wasn’t that the forum participants were calling it “satanic gibberish” and mocking the Bible. That’s to be expected. It’s that some shared stories that reveal just how deep the roots of heresy have grown in the charismatic movement–and how it’s tearing people away from God.

This is the story I can’t get out of my head. Fair warning: it contains strong profanity. I won’t remove it all because it expresses exactly what this young man felt, and he deserves to be heard with his own voice. However, I have edited elsewhere for length and clarity. Continue reading

What does the Holy Spirit feel like?

I’ve noticed that my articles on the Holy Spirit are getting some good traffic. It seems many people are curious about Him. And it’s no wonder. The Holy Spirit is a mysterious and powerful entity. When Jesus sent Him to the disciples at Pentecost, there was a sound like a rushing wind that brought half the city to the disciples’ doorstep. The disciples saw flames settle over their heads and spoke in foreign tongues. And that tradition continues in many churches. People under the power of the Spirit have seen visions, heard heavenly voices, prophesied, danced, spoken in tongues, received miraculous healing, and overcome addiction. Some have described the Holy Spirit as thus: In the Old Testament, God was above us. When Jesus came, he was God with us. The Holy Spirit, however, is God in us. That’s a pretty weighty thought to digest.

Many believers hesitate to receive the Holy Spirit because they’re not sure what to expect. The thought of prophesying, speaking in tongues or dancing in front of their church unnerves them. They don’t want to look foolish or make a mistake. Continue reading

Deconstructing Cessationism: Part 2

Now I will provide the scriptures that support the continuation of the Holy Spirit’s gifts into modern times. I originally had this material grouped in with a previous post, but I decided to split it up to focus the arguments and improve readability. (For Part 1 on cessationism, click here.)

Scriptures that Support Current Manifestations of the Spirit

Let’s begin with the words of Jesus:

And these signs will accompany those who believe [emphasis added]: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” (Mark 16:17-18).

Notice Jesus doesn’t say “These signs will accompany my apostles” or “These signs shall follow the Early Church believers.” Anyone reading this scripture would logically conclude that Jesus is referring to all believers–past, present and future. However, my NIV Bible lists a disclaimer with this passage of scripture: it’s not found in earlier manuscripts. So if someone wishes to exclude it from the argument, they can. There are plenty of other relevant passages that aren’t in question, such as this one:  Continue reading