Prayer: A Response and An Appeal

There is a double entendre in that title. It is both something of a definition and the intent of this post. One complaint I have often had as a Christian is the amount of time spent talking about and teaching upon prayer versus that of actually practicing it. I think there would be less misconception if more labor were spent upon the actual task of prayer. Less of the complicated abstracts of man’s convoluted thinking would find footholds in that case.

After I make the case for what prayer is and perhaps touch on how it works, I hope to give you some further quotes and thinking on the topic. For now, I hope you, the reader, will act as the Bereans did, and study it out for yourselves; but not only study, go further into the practice of prayer with a whole new focus of allowing the Holy Spirit teach you what mere essays never can. Because that is where the real classroom of prayer begins: on ones knees.

A Response

Dan Phillips of Pyromaniacs wrote a piece on prayer, What prayer is and isn’t. I admit to anger upon reading it, but that has given way to a desire to look at the scriptural foundations of what prayer actually is, and hopefully move to the cloud of witnesses testimony( in another post) in order to elucidate what is often a confused approach to something that, for the Christian, should be as instrinsic to our being as breathing.

First, the list of things in which I agree with Dan Phillips:

  • prayer is talking to God
  • It might be talking in the form of praise, petition, confession, supplication, exclamation, or a host of other forms
  • Scripture constantly urges believers to pray, in both covenants
  • if you want to hear God speak to you, go to His Word in faith, and He will
  • “He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, Even his prayer is an abomination” (NAS). Such prayer is appalling to God.
  • wonderful things can happen in response to prayer
  • The weapon is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God

    The trouble is, of course, that there were acute instances of error, and these demand a response.

    About Prayer

    Prayer is not a dialogue. Prayer is not a conversation. Prayer has no intrinsic power, whatever.

    To this statement I answer:

    • Genesis 1:8
      Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
    • Genesis 15- the whole account of Abraham is full of conversation between God and man
    • Deuteronomy 5:24
      We have seen this day that God speaks with man
    • Isaiah 1:18
      “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD.
    • Isaiah 30:
      19 For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you.
      20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.
      21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
    • Job 23:5
      I would know the words which He would answer me,And understand what He would say to me.
    • Job 42:7
      And so it was, after the LORD had spoken these words to Job
    • John 8:47
      He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.
    • 1 Corinthians 12:8
      for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit

    In all these scriptures, and in the whole of scripture which tells of the interaction of God with man, we have words which implicate conversation and dialogue. From Genesis to Revelation. Not all prayer is dialogue with God, but all prayer in which we wait upon God for an answer and in which we receive answer is dialogue. As the book of Job states there are many ways in which God speaks to man, and all them can be called communication. There is the communication of communion between the spirit of a man and God’s Spirit. This itself is an established sacrament within the Church. It may involve the written Word of God, but it also involves the person of the Logos directly; God speaks with man. It is in prayer that this happens, and why we are enjoined to unceasing prayer. If prayer were only asking for our needs we should soon cease, but because prayer is a constant spiritual communion it makes sense for the apostle to word it as “prayer without ceasing”.

    In the idea of communion, communication, and conversation, how is it that something of such vital importance to humans, something that sets man, made in the image of God, apart from all the rest of the creatures of the world is somehow missing from man’s communication with God? How is it that man is tied to a physical book only to hear from God? And how is it that does not work on the basis of someone studying that book as the entirety of their act of gleaning communication from God? If it were so, then the Pharisees would not have been on the wrong side of this communication. And we would have no caveats of “dead religion”. Plenty of dead religionists pray their requests, look for their answers solely within the Bible, and yet do not know God and cannot communicate with God. They, do, however, come up with many teachings of error. There must be more to being “those who have ears to hear”. And more to hearing God than reading and studying only. Not everyone who errs is a dead religionist, or we could probably all at some time be labeled that way, but the point is that not everyone who goes sincerely to the Word of God is able to hear from it, either. Why is that?

    There is a living spiritual communion that takes place within the life and soul of the believer in Christ Jesus. It is the “abiding” of the word of Christ in all its forms and sense. Prayer is the vehicle for the flow of that living communion, and so I would say that while we cannot say that prayer is always dialogue or conversation or the conduit of power, we may say that, in turns, it can be…. upon the basis of relationship, expressed within the terms of “Father” and “sons”. It is -at times- expressed in those ways, and at times, not. To Dan’s declaration of what prayer “is not” I do not answer “is”, but, “can be”. It is always a part of dialogue that both parties decide whether and when they will speak, but the Bible plainly illustrates that it is the habit of God to desire dialogue with man. I can’t imagine how someone could deny that.

    With that I come to the next statement:

    If He talks directly to me, unmediated, I am a prophet, or a seer. And I’m neither; nor are you.

    This, as stated, has many problems for the Protestant believer. And is poorly formed for the Catholic. That word, “unmediated”- just what is Dan expressing in that? In the Nicene creed we say we believe in One Mediator, Jesus Christ ( 1 Timothy2:5 )…. that is one through whom we meet with God in any type of meaning. We also say that Jesus Christ is very God of very God…. we believe that when we fellowship with Christ we are directly in communication with God. There is neither man nor object through which God and man are mediated except Christ, and we are told we will hear his voice, not read his book. This in no way takes away the importance of reading the scriptures and studying them for direction and instruction, it simply does not inflate them to something more than they are, the Bible was never meant to substitute for Christ Himself.

    The prophet and seer are specific functions in which what is seen and heard is for a certain purpose outside of an individuals communication with God. King David was both a prophet and he had times he had to hear from prophets, and there were times he notably did not hear. This is how God interacts with man, Sovereignly. The place wehere Dan stumbles is in his belief that there is no prophecy of this sort today… and so extrapolates this to God no longer speaking to man directly. I believe in this he greatly errs, to think that the New Covenant affords less rather than more of relationship with God than those of the Old.

    By contrast, Scripture never urges believers to pray and then wait for God to speak back in that prayer, expecting (demanding?) that God engage us in conversation as a regular facet of normal Christian living. (I am using “conversation” in the strict sense: I speak, then God talks back, unmediated, verbally). Scripture never directs us to an Eastern-style emptying of the mind and listening in and to the [More Biblical image of prayer than many] silence, for an imaginary “still, small,” never-promised “voice” of God.

    To strengthen his case, here is an example of the black and white dilemma. If it were a matter of Christians being advised to understand that they can neither demand answer from God nor should they be led to expect to always “hear” in communications of words, then I would not protest. But the fact is that there are times throughout the history of the confessing Church that believers have heard the voice of God, they knew within that God had communicated and they heard in terms of a verbalized answer. But there are so many myriads of forms and functions of this that we can’t formulate a measure of how God is expected to relay His message to us, what we can expect…. and this is what I believe and hope Dan most meant by his remonstrations, is that we may hold everything we believe we have heard from God against the written Word in the Bible and judge it by that rule and standard.

    There are times in the Bible when we are to experience the presence of God through a posture of silence and awe. It is not an Eastern “nothingness” to quiet oneself before God and seek to either “hear” or “acknowledge”. Our silence opens us to being able to hear without the constant inner dialogue we tend to carry on in our minds. There are many voices that we hear in our mind, and we can be perfectly sane and normal with those noisy thoughts – but there is also the voice of God which godly men have had occasion to hear.

    That those who trust in God are called to wait upon him, in prayer, has many examples. It is an attitude of the spirit, not coming to a stockstill wait in the physical sense. The word “wait” in this sense is the word,’Qavah’ ( often translated “hope”) or the word,’Chakah’ in Hebrew.’Meno’ is the Greek, along with some of its variations. The meanings of all have the thought to wait for, expect, endure, patiently tarry, or abide. These are attitudes in prayer, but attitudes of what? Of hearing an answer. That Someone is expected to get back to us.

    Prayer, if you will, is depressing the button on the walkie-talkie, and talking. No more, no less. It has been described as a soldier in the field calling for supplies and reinforcements, and that’s not bad. Prayer is you, talking…….Not only is prayer not the be-all and end-all; in fact, sometimes it is positively wrong to pray.”He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, Even his prayer is an abomination” (NAS). Such prayer is appalling to God.

    One of the names of God is Yawehyireh, “God provides”, so this is one way of communicating with God. But to reduce it to this …how is the view of God as Commander of Supplies any different than that of Santa Claus or Sugar Daddy? Yes, God wants to meet our needs and is ready to hear our cries, but that is not all of it, and probably not even most of it when we speak of prayer and communing with God.

    The later statement only defines the propositions of prayer. There are times when what we think of as prayer will not qualify with God, and will not even make it into the throne room for a hearing: deliberate sin is the separation between God and man, it must first be dealt with and is why Jesus spoke of leaving your gift to God at the altar and making amends with your fellow man first. God has qualifications to be met for interaction. This has been taught from those first chapters of Genesis, onward.

    Now, if you want to hear God speak to you, go to His Word in faith, and He will (Proverbs 6:20-23; Hebrews 3:7ff.; 2 Peter 1:19-21, etc.).

    This is one very important way of hearing from God, but this is not prayer. And it doesn’t negate the fact that prayer is another way in which we may hear from God. But we need to go on in Dan’s statements to see more of what prayer is and is not.

    An Interesting Case of Conflation

    When prayer is expressive of a relationship with God, and in accord with God’s will as revealed in the Bible alone, prayer can accomplish much (James 5:16; 1 John 5:14). But of course, in these cases, the prayer itself is of no power, whatever. It is the God who hears prayer — He is the powerful one.

    Think about it. When the bully is beating you up, and all you can choke out is “Dad!”, what dooms your tormentor isn’t the power of your word, your “prayer” — it’s the big, angry man who loves you, hears your voice, and comes running.

    So is it prayer per se that really strikes terror into demons’ hearts in this spiritual battle of ours? I do read some detail about the armor of God, crafted in Heaven to equip us for that battle (Ephesians 6:10ff.). I do somewhere around there of prayer, and I do read of a weapon.

    But the weapon isn’t prayer (Ephesians 6:18). That’s just us talking to God. Our words are without intrinsic power. I don’t think that us talking, per se, scares demons.

    In order to derive this viewpoint, Dan had to build upon his basic premise that prayer is no more than us talking, albeit to God. He adds a teaching on the attributes of God, that God is all powerful, and comes to the idea that “the prayer itself is of no power, whatever”. Then gives the opinion that our words are without instrinsic power. Again, he has erred.

    This time, however, it is not on the point that God converses or communes with men, but upon the point of authority. The authority of which he speaks is resident within the name of Jesus Christ. That is where the power resides, but those delegated to use that power are the believers who call upon the name. Us. That is one reason why our prayers can have power, not by who we are, or our own virtue, but within the representation which we present to the spiritual world. We are hid within Christ, and in Him we use His name…. and it has no less authority than in the time of the apostles. There is authority in the name of Jesus Christ, that name above all other names, and it is within that name we pray. There is power in that. It isn’t magical incantation- but the decided use of the name in calling upon God, in speaking out blessings, and in uses other than prayer as well: casting out demons. So, yes, demons tremble at such speech- it was with a word that Jesus cast them out. We are given the authority of His name. [Mark 16:17 many references in John 14-16.]

    God moves and works through His Church, the assembly of believers in Christ Jesus. This is why our prayers are of utmost importance in the affairs of men, it isn’t some exercise in futility- some sort of ringing the bell so we can get the door of provision to open or the angry man to come out and teach everyone a lesson. We have purpose and meaning in our prayers to a hearing God, who speaks and acts upon our behalf and on the behalf of those whom He has shown through scripture-recorded history that He cares about: mankind in its confusion and affliction. We are now entered into that compassion which He desires to give to the inhabitants of the earth. Thy Will be done in earth as it is in Heaven.

    The weapon is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). God’s Word sent Satan running from our Lord (Matthew 4). It will do the same for us.

    Yes, and Amen. But there are weapons of our warfare, plural, and prayer is indeed one of those in defeating evil in the earth and manifesting the good of God’s gospel through Christ His Only Begotten Son.

    29 thoughts on “Prayer: A Response and An Appeal”

    1. i am a muslim.. I know you are talking about your religion’s pray.. If you dont mind, can we share knowledge each other about our own religion???

    2. A friend of mine explained the Pyro post as a possible countermeasure to some erroneous teaching relative to prayer. I had to reply that this is not unusual of the Pyro gang. In an effort to confront error they go too far and create additional error.

      I like your post.

    3. “what I believe and hope Dan most meant by his remonstrations, is that we may hold everything we believe we have heard from God against the written Word in the Bible and judge it by that rule and standard.”

      Bingo. I must admit that at first I was perturbed by the Pyro post on prayer, but like you it did give me reason to ponder and seek clarification. I’ve formed the opinion that to deny God’s response to prayer, in whatever form he chooses, is to border on denial of his sovereignty. In the end, we must measure what we “hear” against the Word. Is Dan’s point that what we “hear” is simply our consciense as conditioned by the Word and not God’s voice?

      Thanks for the post.

    4. I also found it interesting that Dan Phillips called his critics ‘popes.’ Isn’t that what Roman Catholics call Protestants? We’re all our own little popes…

      We don’t have to have perfect understanding of all things of the faith, but I too found Dan’s post to strike a chord in me where it contained what is typical in a dead faith sort of way. I see more in prayer and fasting than most Reformed, Calvinist types (of which I’m one), and it is the Holy Spirit that leads me in seeing more… Be bold, Christians, and don’t allow people who get obviously off-the-mark with things to effect your own discernment of similar things. Just because Group ‘A’ is off-the-tracks, doesn’t mean everybody has to be. Or (a unique saying): Most everything is lame, but not everything’s lame.

    5. Thank you for this rebuttal. I glance at Teampyro every now and again, mainly due to morbid curiousity, and Dan’s post on prayer was one of the most pathetic diatribes I have ever seen there. Reactionary religion and Spurgeon-worship…it’s actually quite obvious that no one there ever hears from God. Dan didn’t have to write an entire article about it!

    6. I remember when i was a young Christian in the midst of the Charismatic community. I was at church on a Sunday, and I prayed and listened for God to speak to me.
      I heard Him say go to Ocean City to visit your brother.
      I told my wife. She said, “No way, we’re supposed to go over her mother’s on Memorial Day. We argued, and I said I’ll go without you.
      Later that day I was reading the Bible, and I had just started to read it, and was still very unfamilar with the Word.
      I was in Ephesians 5. The Lord said to me, “Love your wife as I have loved the Church.”

      I didn’t go to the Ocean, but went with my wife to her mom’s.

      Just a thought. There is a lot of mayhem in the Church today from people hearing God speak to them.

    7. I’m giddy with the comment responses, I love to hear what others are saying, I love dialogue ;)

      Rick, I agree with you, and it was that the error was in something as foundational as ones prayer life and doctrines on prayer the set the fire under my seat- pyros are rightly named I guess.

      Bob, when I shifted from a response of anger to one of seeking to put my own thoughts in order on the topic I stopped trying to figure out exactly what the authors intents might have been or what experiences led to making some of the statements that were just plain off-target. I think in blogging sometimes there is a tendency to get carried away with making splash, but certain subjects need more careful consideration. Prayer is one on my list.

      ct, hmmm, I have been known to pontificate. I appreciate your balanced and wise comment, here.

      Derek, sounds like you have your own bone to pick with some of their opinions… Maybe that is something that is contradictory in the article- obviously they have times when they hear from God if they are bona fide believers ( which I have no reason to doubt)… but they are painted into a corner with some of their favored stances on cessationism- at least that is what I surmise. I really am not all that familiar with all the writers there- and there are times I like what I read-they sure have a great sense of humor! But the issue is never who the people are as much as what the issue is, for me, anyway. This one needed to be addressed.

      donsands, I have my own little story on that…. I probably have it online somewhere- I’ll have to find it and post it, because yes, there is a learning process in hearing from God and we can go off in all sorts of silly directions. I confess it plainly that I have… but I have also found that there is a straight and narrow path of the reality, too.

    8. I particularly like to ponder and discern how God responds to my prayers. The answers are there, but not always in obvious form. Like a prayer asking God to keep a particularly negative person away from you. The answer might me: “You leave.” That would take care of the situation, but in a way not expected when the prayer was said… And, of course, it may be your weakness that you don’t want to leave, but really have to… “I didn’t want THAT answer!” Yet, it answers the prayer nevertheless…

      Really, when you pray and meditate on the response you can come into understanding of things you wouldn’t even have been thinking of to begin with if you hadn’t taken it to God in prayer…

      On the Pyro subject: I think what rubs some the wrong way is the assumption (which comes across in the style of writing) some of the writers there take that the audience is as dumb as the cartoonish strawman they are often lecturing against. Yes, I pray and then wait for the actual, audible VOICE OF GOD to answer me. Thank you, Dan, for disabusing me of this wrong approach. Where would I ever be without you…?

      (OK, I may have a history of writing in the very same manner – which I’m attempting to correct – so…often you see yourself in others and of course it’s not pleasant…)

    9. I have a question. If God does speak His infallible Word to us, could this phrase, or sentence, or paragraph, or however many words He speaks, be considered the same as Scripture?

      And I must add that God can, and does know His children, and He may work within our hearts differently, though His truth and grace are always sufficient for all we need to live godly and faith filled lives for His glory.

    10. I tried to post at Pyro but since I’m not a member, and don’t feel like joining, I couldn’t post my thoughts.
      I wanted to tell Dan that I have heard God’s voice before-more than once. I’m not a charismatic and this hasn’t happened often but I have most definitely heard God speak in my mind, very clearly. No one will ever be able to convince me it wasn’t the Lord I heard. I KNOW.
      So, God does speak outside of the Bible today.
      That’s all I wanted to say.

    11. I have to say both post were quite interesting. I find when I boil them both down the two of you are not as far apart as you might think. There were some very important points in Dan’s post such as the truth that not all prayer to God is pleasing to God, and the fact that the power of prayer is in God not in us (at least that is what it seemed he was saying when he said prayer does not have any power in itself). It seemed you had problems with that last one, but if prayer had power in itself then it would be magic not turning to and resting on God’s power. Notice this is not saying that prayer is not powerful, James 5:16 tells us it is, but making sure that people realize the power is in God.

    12. “It seemed you had problems with that last one, but if prayer had power in itself then it would be magic not turning to and resting on God’s power.”

      Aside from the fact that we ought to look at the definition of magic (maybe I’ll do that,later, because this is a topic that often came up in my debates with pagans) the point I made is that there is power in prayer itself because of where the authority is. God has put the authority squarely within the Name of Jesus Christ. That is why we end our prayer, most often, “in Jesus Name Amen”. But whether we formally say that or not, the basis on which our prayers are heard is on that authority sealed by Covenant. We are given, as it were, a power of attorney. We may speak and act in the name of Jesus.

      This is why there is such a big deal about profanity: taking God’s name in vain. There is real power and authority in the use of that name.

      A big trouble with Christians is often that they don’t know who they are in Christ, they don’t know what is given them in Christ, and they do not behave in perspective of those things. This is what came out within Dan’s post. The power of God is not something that we passively hope for, the power of God is given us now: in Christ.

      I think a topic study ought to be done on “the power of God” because the epistles of Paul say things like the gospel is “the power of God”, “Christ is the power of God”… this is not some far off thing that the Father has hoarded to Himself- He has freely given us all things in Christ… and how to we obtain? Through prayer: ye have not because ye ask not, ask and ye shall receive. The one main thing I would agree with Dan- that this subject is fraught with sentimentality and men’s traditions, but we differ completely on what defines that. I think those who revere the physical book of the Bible to the point that is almost superstitious and idolatrous are in error and forget that we have a living relationship with a Living God.

      The main point about God and us in this matter of power- the source is and must be seen as always *Him*. But it is resident within these jars of clay… and this is because of the fact that the Holy Spirit comes to reside within the Believer. I am now ready to go on to the next comment response to elaborate on this.

    13. donsands says “I have a question. If God does speak His infallible Word to us, could this phrase, or sentence, or paragraph, or however many words He speaks, be considered the same as Scripture?”

      Ah yes, Don, I have been reading the usual arguments from over the fence. I love the way Protestants like to borrow the word “infallible” when it suits them.

      OK, to answer. Here’s the difference Don: there was a time when God’s Holy Spirit spoke to man only through specific chosen vessels of men and sporadically through time. But He did speak: God spoke and acted and these things were written down…some the very words, some the historical accounts, and all so we may be educated in the way God acts and thinks, and how He views us, and how we act and think within the context of relating to God, to each other, and how God views all that. That is our scripture in a nutshell.

      But in Christ, what happens? Everyone ( who are bona fide Christians) gets to hear the Holy Spirit and get His direction and interaction. That is why Jesus said it was good for Him to go back to Heaven. Knowing that God does not change, His attributes are eternal, we know that we may dependably hold the scripture as standard to what God is saying today. Is God writing scripture today? He does not have to…His Holy Spirit may now be given permanently to the Believer in and through Christ Jesus. Does that mean God no longer speaks- infallibly? No, He still speaks, sometimes through those with prophetic gift, sometimes through those with teaching gift, but always, He speaks and leads each of His children personally and individually and in the collective whole we call the Church. Infallible is something judged after the fact… and the word is not highly understood as used. That is why atheists like to think they can call God a liar- they believe that God says something in stone and then says something else in stone -when actually there is the organic relationship of ..if you do this…I do that. Consequences and rewards. So define your use of “infallible” when speaking of God’s Word and we can talk further.

    14. ilona,

      Everything God says is incapable of error. His words are perfect and precious. They are holy and eternal.

      I suppose that’s how I would define infallible.

      Is the Bible a done deal, or can we add to it? That was my basic question.

      My older brother believes when he sits and writes down a message from God, that what he writes is no different than what Ezekiel wrote.

      Do you think he’s alright to think this?

    15. I agree with everything Ilona has said thus far. This is how I see it as well.

      Donsands, the example you use of your brother and Ezekiel is typical of the Pyro’s style themselves. Ezekiel was speaking to the remnant in Babylon and to Christians in all times. Your brother doesn’t have that burden, I’m guessing.

      A Christian is given discernment by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of discernment. The Spirit of Truth. Faith itself, as a Puritan once said, “hath a piercing eye” to “see into the spiritual realms.”

      If your brother is self-deceived or lacks discernment his case doesn’t define the relationship between a Christian and God, the mystical union (if that phrase causes concern Berkhof’s got a whole chapter devoted to the unio mystica) between the believer and Christ effected by the Spirit.

    16. ct,
      I don’t quite understand what you’re trying to say.

      Ezekiel was a prophet of the Lord, who wrote the inspired truth of God. As is the whole Bible.

      Can anyone who hears God today consider these words he hears, equal to the Holy Scriptures?

      I suppose my question has be unclear, and I hope this helps.

    17. >ct,
      >I don’t quite understand what you’re trying to say.

      Really?

      >Ezekiel was a prophet of the Lord, who wrote the >inspired truth of God. As is the whole Bible.

      Maybe somebody else in some other thread you’re involved in denied this in some way.

      >Can anyone who hears God today consider these words >he hears, equal to the Holy Scriptures?

      Special revelation as it exists in the Old and New Testaments is the Word of God par exellence for us. If the retreat here is to say that all you and Dan are/were saying is the equivalent of the fact that your brother isn’t Ezekiel then I suppose I’ll have to let you off the hook… If you still want to say God only speaks via the text of Scripture you need to realize that, your (or Dan’s) Charismatic tongues/dancing stage aside, that doesn’t line up with what the Bible says…in myriad ways…

      All of this is the prejudice among certain types towards clericalism. It really is. All this talk of ‘American individualism [sneers]‘ you hear out of the Federal Vision crowd is similar to what you hear from high church Presbyterians and lately James White type (which includes the TeamPyro folks) Reformed Baptists. Everything always gravitates towards Rome, or towards Geneva. But it has to be remembered that at Geneva the guy there was dubbed by history “the theologian of the Holy Spirit”…

    18. “…Calvin pre-eminently the theologian of the Holy Spirit.”

      “Previously, men had looked to the Church for all the trustworthy knowledge of God obtainable, and as well for all the communications of grace accessible. Calvin taught them that neither function has been committed to the Church, but God the Holy Spirit has retained both in His own hands and confers both knowledge of God and communion with God on whom He will.” – B. B. Warfield

      http://homepage.mac.com/shanerosenthal/reformationink/bbwcalvin1.htm

      Read the whole thing. There is a deep corruption of what Calvin taught and what Calvinism is going on today not only by the obvious bad-theology groups (FV, etc.), but more subtly by those who assert themselves as champions and defenders of Calvinism against those groups… It’s all ultimately Romish and dead.

    19. ct answered pretty well and the quote from Warfield is excellent.

      Don- what do you do with the statement of Jesus (concerning John the Baptist)?
      “Luke 7:28
      For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

      That seems to put all Christian believers on a higher plane than Ezekiel as prophets. And yet it takes nothing from the fact that God most certainly did speak things of utmost importance to all of us through the words of Ezekiel written in scripture. I just think it puts your question in perspective.

    20. I apologise though if there is a trace (or more) of viciousness in my replies. I always feel I’m being attacked, which is inexcusable. I mean, I may be being attacked (not in this particular case), but anything can be said with diplomacy. I always want to avoid sounding lukewarm, but language is such that you can say anything with any degree of sharpness while still maintaining diplomacy and grace. I’m working on it…

    21. ct,

      I didn’t take your comments as sharp.

      I believe the Bible is the final authority to us. I believe the Scriptures, as we have them now, is also all sufficient.
      I believe God did it this way because it pleased Him to do so, and also for our protection from satan and all his masteries and deceptions of the truth.

      “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” Luke 4:4; Deut. 8:3

      “Every Word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him.
      Add not to His words, unless He reprove you, and you be found a liar.” Prov. 30:5-6

      “If any man shall add to these things, God shall add to him the plagues that are written in this book:
      And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this message, God will take away his part out of the book of life” Rev. 22:18-19

      ” … even as our beloved brother Paul also 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 be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable twist, as they do also the other Sciptures, unto their own destruction.” 2 Pet. 3:15-16

      I show all these verses of the Holy Writ in order to say I truly believe the Bible is our final authority. We need not add to it, nor take away from it, indeed we better not.

      Does the Spirit of Christ speak to us in great and passionate ways. Yes, He speaks to me all the time. And I love to hear Him. He never adds to the Scriptures, but His words are “living, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”.

      Sorry for the long comment. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. They have challenged me.

      Ilona,

      That is a difficult verse for me. I will have to study and chew on it a bit. I have been there many times, and have never grasped what our Lord means here.

      Thanks for allowing me to blog.

      May you have a blessed day in His love and grace.

      ps My wife gave me 10 volumns of B. B. Warfields writings. I haven’t hardly delved into them as yet, but I’m planning to.

    22. Don- “in mouth of two or three witnesses” :)

      I can’t say I have complete clarity on that verse myself, and as a matter of fact I never put those things I hear from my fellow believers on the same level of authority as scripture. BUT I wonder if that is my own weakness in not giving God His due respect … in thinking that when He leads me I am able to excuse my slowness, or relegate it to a lower level, and elevate my own understanding under the cloak of “looking at what the Word says”. The fact is that our hearts are deceitful, and we should all the more exalt the Holy Spirit as our leader rather than ourselves or our fellow man. The Word of scripture acts as our standard whether we are in truth hearing the Holy Spirit, but not instead of.

      I don’t see why there should need to be any “added scripture” and I stay clear of the Apocrapha if you want to know the truth. Yet, I think that there is revelation given that is fresh and new everyday from the hand of God. I know God speaks, and at times verbally. Even audibly. It is simply a matter of frequency… there seems to be no need or reason for audible communications on a broad scale, -it is rare in the OT, as well. We are not told how often the prophets heard within or from outside themselves.

      So you see the only thing I am adamant on is that God does converse with us, and it can take all the forms that are recorded in scripture. That we should be expectant to both hear and understand. That is my emphasis, and I am zealous to see that is not trespassed upon. Error in this matter misleads and discourages th every important actions of developing a prayer life, and erodes faith- without which we don’t recieve anything from God.

    23. I catch your thought. I agree with reservations.

      I do want to state once again, and I know you agree, that there are many deceiving spirits out there. And even satan is an angel of light, so his demons, and tares (Matt. 13:38), come as light as well.

      There is this one preacher, who was your typical Charismatic preacher, Carlton Pearson, and he now preaches and teaches there is no hell, BECAUSE God spoke to him, and confirmed it.

      And there are many, many such as he. Our Lord warns us to take heed. Matt. 24:11,24 As John the Apostle also tells us to test the spirits. 1 John 4:1

      We need to walk that very fine balance beam of truth and understanding, and always in love and by faith.

      You’ve given me things to think about.
      Rejoicing in His grace. Don

    24. “You’ve given me things to think about.”

      I didn’t hope for anything more than that:)

      I was thinking about “hell” today. It is as unknown to us now as the concept of “death” was to Eve prior to the fall. Now we know all too well just what death is about, so much so that we cannot imagine existance without its cessation.

      We are in the same place about “hell”, we know things about it- God has given mandates concerning our escape and the necessity of everlasting life, but we don’t really know with understanding what it is or very much about it.

    25. Hell is quite debated. Real quick. One thing we know is that there’s a place away from the loving presence of the Prince of peace, and that our Lord did tell us that it would be better to cut off a limb, or pluck out an eye than to go there. There is not a more serious subject I would think for a human to consider. Matt. 5:29-30; 18:8-9

      I heard a very deep teaching on hell from R. C. Sproul. It was very extensive and scriptural. Just in case you want to check it out.

    26. I guess I don’t delve into the subject much because I take it all too seriously- it was instrumental in my conversion experience. I think people take one of two aspects of God to turn to him: some are driven by their conviction of sin and some are drawn by the revelation of the goodness of God: both truths, but some are more sensitive to their need for God by one or the other.

      I just don’t think I need to be more sensitive to the hell issue. Not that this is an accurate judgment on my part….

    27. One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is teaching of the faith. Doctrine AND practice (teaching of the practice side is more neglected).

      So everytime we go to a Calvin or Augustine or Bunyan or Spurgeon (etc., etc., etc.) we are once removed from Scripture (and to say they only have value in that they say what Scripture says if fine, but the fact is without systematic theologians – the collective effort over the centuries getting at the truth of Scripture, the parts in relation to the whole – we’re not going to see it on our own *most likely*… Certainly not all we can see from the collective effort of Holy Spirit inspired teachers. Certainly not without great zeal and further help from — the Holy Spirit.)

      This is the Holy Spirit speaking to us, interacting with us. We don’t just take Calvin without our own discernment (given us by the Holy Spirit) engaging his teaching and so on. It’s not a one-way street.

      Scripture is our standard (and please don’t suggest this fact ties us to the Dan Phillips side of the argument. We all have Scripture. No will will out “Scripture is my authority” me.)

      So in the area of the faith involving practice it can be said to be the same (though people are much less willing to grant this). Jesus and Paul and James and all the New Testament gives teaching on the practice of the faith. But it’s like doctrine. Without help from teachers you will miss alot *most likely*…

      So you use the discernment the Holy Spirit gives you. You put it to use. You’re able to separate wheat from chaff. Use the ability. You’re given talents (silver), don’t bury it in the ground.

      For instance in a current thread on TeamPyro they are discussing joy and delight and how a Christian is to relate to that, etc. I have understanding of that that transcends anything that’s been written there, even by the books referenced. I learned it from an *extra biblical* source. I used discernment. The Holy Spirit teaches and leads one potentially into such teaching. If you’re constantly *skeered* (you choose to only *hug the shore* rather than venture out on the open sea) then so be it. Not all Christians are like that. I have the Navigator in me. The Spirit of Discernment and Truth. I use it.

      It is also very lame to assume everybody is an idiot. Or to use your own history of being burned to then preach never using or going near fire. Anyway, we all have to be idiots (or fools, or innocents) about things before we learn about them. So, just because you can’t fix a car engine before you learn how to fix a car engine is no reason to never enter that initial stage where you are a beginner and know nothing about car engines and you have book in hand or teacher at your shoulder, and a degree of faith that the teacher knows the subject matter. Not foolish faith, but…you know…discernment… Sanctified (by degree) common-sense is another good term…

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