Atheists will often tell you they won’t believe in something unless they can see it, but that’s a lie. The true nature of the atheist’s creed can be summed up by what is known as the, Bandwagon Effect and has nothing to do with whether or not something can be observed. The Bandwagon Effect essentially says that the more an idea is accepted and found to be commonplace, the more reliable and acceptable it becomes.
In other words, if the majority says its true, it should be believed and embraced.
Now, many will claim the opposite. It’s the Christian who follows societal norms and the atheist who is the independent lone voice for reason and logic.
While that may seem true on the surface, here’s why, in all actuality, it’s bogus:
Lets take, for instance, the Atheistic equivalent of the Christian’s Jesus—-Evolution.
Folks who buy into this idea are often portrayed as critical thinking, no nonsense, just-the-facts type individuals. Yet, upon inquiring from them how they know what they do, things begin to get a bit . . . Interesting.
What Is Proof, Anyway?
After hearing a, “scientific” claim, the average atheist will never go out and actually put forth the effort to determine if the findings are true.
Hashtag: Going on YouTube or watching National Geographic is not investigating the claim. If you wanted to do a real, scientific investigation, you would need to get a hands on, first person observation.
. . . Not exactly sure why I started that paragraph by saying, Hashtag. Honestly, I still don’t really know what any of that stuff means.
Anyways, someone will come back and ask, “How am I supposed to do a first person observation? Most people do not have direct access to the evidence.“
Alright, so how do you determine the findings are reliable if you can’t test them, yourself?
“We look for a consensus among the top research facilities and their published findings.“
Okay . . . Let me translate:
If enough people tell us it’s true, we don’t feel a need to test it.We just believe.
No firsthand, observable research.
No life long travels around the globe to excavation sites.
No handling of, “transitional” fossils.
No years spent in a lab comparing actual DNA samples.
They come off like they’re some type of intellectual giant with this vast body of hard evidence that they have tirelessly and painstakingly accumulated through years of testing and research. But the truth is, the majority of atheists are sitting in front of their computers clicking a mouse or reading a book, buying into whatever they’re told. They’re quite good at dressing it up, but when boiled down to it’s most basic form, they have simply chosen to believe.
That is not science. Nor is it a rational way to arrive at the truth. That, my friends, is the Bandwagon Effect.
Are Christians Guilty of This?
“Christians are the same way, and even worse!“
Have you ever noticed how Christians often refer to themselves as Witnesses?
Now there’s an interesting term.
Hmmm . . .
Why would Christians call themselves, witnesses?
What is it they’ve witnessed?
An encounter with Jesus Christ. And a changed life to prove it.
They are not relying on what others have told them. They’ve had the experience themselves so it isn’t second hand information.
Now, some may argue that isn’t true. They may claim it’s some type of delusion or wishful thinking . . . But they can’t PROVE it’s not true, a delusion or wishful thinking. All the atheist can do is stand on the outside looking in, and—–guess.
So here is the real clincher of the whole thing: Christians have an experience where the atheist only has an argument.
And the man with an argument is always at the mercy of the man with an experience.
In addition, unlike so many atheists who measure truth based on the number of people telling them that something is true, Christians can also collaborate their story with millions of others—–but don’t need to. The crux of their worldview does notdependon the Bandwagon because their knowledge is first person. It’s experiential—-the highest type of knowledge that exists.
And that, my friends, hits a whole lot closer to the scientific process than watching the Discovery Channel or having a subscription to Popular Science.
The Bible teaches that God wants His children to be wealthy (not necessarily millionaires, please don’t misunderstand me—but wealthy. ie, To have an abundant supply enough to meet all their needs, and more left over).
“All the first century Christians including the apostles were poor and struggled to get even the most basic of necessities.”
A few things about this:
Firstly, this isn’t entirely true. There were Christians in the early church who lived in abundance (1Tim 6:17). Paul had his moments as well (Phil 4:18).
Secondly, I’m going to say something that I have never heard anyone else say on this subject: Aclose examination of the Bible will reveal that the only instances poverty was condoned were in connection to persecution or the preaching of the Gospel.
See, the modern Western world of Christianity is vastly different from that of first century Christianity. Back then, many believers were being put to death. They were run out of their homes and cities and forced to live in hiding. Many were stripped of all worldly possessions and thrown in prison.
Why? Because they had low paying jobs? Because of a recession? Because of a bad economy? No. It was because of their faith in Christ and the preaching of the Gospel.
So here’s the thing—If that is why a believer is struggling financially, neither I nor any prosperity teacher I know would have a beef with that type of a situation. Persecution is a mark of the Christian and the Scriptures are crystal clear on that.
But let’s get back to the original objection—- if we wanted to do a comparison between Western Christianity, and First Century Christianity, we would need to be fair and ask the question like this: If there were no persecution, and early Christians were practicing the wealth-building principles of the book of Proverbs by working hard, spending responsibly, and being charitable, would most of thembe poverty stricken?
When put in this light, a whole new perspective arises, doesn’t it?
The thing is, we really don’t have that sample to draw from when it comes to the New Testament. As previously mentioned, early believers were under severe persecution which led to severe poverty. The closest thing we would have for an accurate comparison is the Old Testament. Here, followers of Jehovah had periods of time where they were under no persecution. And when we study these instances, what we find is a pretty consistent pattern of prosperity.
“Proponents of the Prosperity Gospel are out to get money. They twist the Word of God in order to make the preaching of the Gospel a money making venture.”
I can’t argue this. I have seen it many times. However, the old saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” applies here. There will always be bad examples in Christianity for ANY doctrine. So we need to be fair and look at the idea itself, apart from any of it’s abuses.
“These teachers wouldn’t dare spread such a message in third world countries where people are severely poverty stricken.”
Actually, I think you’ll find this message is often even more wide spread in these types of countries than it is here, in America. I’ve spoken to multiple missionaries who tell me this is the case.
Really, if it’s in the Bible, then it needs to be preached everywhere, regardless of outward circumstances, or popularity.
“If God wants us rich why are there so many poor, struggling Christians? And why does it seem it is only working for these Faith Teachers?”
Let’s broaden this scope a bit to include anything that God wants for us. When we do, we find that most Christians are not living up to their potential in MANY areas. They are depressed, divorced, struggling with multiple sins and bad habits. None of these are God’s Will yet MOST believers find themselves still in bondage to them. Why would we assume that the fact that God wants us rich and prosperous would somehow work automatically when these other things don’t?
As far as the, “faith teachers” who it seems to work for—- Again, you have to think of this like any other topic. How would you like to hear a pastor teach about being free from lust while he is committing adultery? Or a Bible teacher on having the joy of the Lord while he is miserable? Or someone else talk on witnessing to the lost when he has never led someone to the Lord?
We view a person as an authority in any field in which they are able to achieve an uncommon level of success. There is nothing suspicious or underhanded about leaders leading by example.
“People who see you driving expensive cars and living in big houses will be motivated by the wrong reasons to get saved.”
First of all, our duty is to preach the Word of God regardless of what motivates people to get saved. Secondly, one could argue that Peter was motivated by the wrong reason to follow Christ in Luke 5 after Jesus blessed His fishing business so much so that his boat almost sank. Yet, even though he had experienced, “divine prosperity” it still caused him to realize he was a sinner and needed Jesus (vs 8). Same with those who believed and followed Jesus after He multiplied the fish and loaves (John 6:26). Regardless, what some may consider, “the wrong reason” could be the only way some may realize their need for salvation and follow Jesus.
“The Bible says the love of money is the root of all evil.”
ANSWER: That’s true. It’s very wrong and very destructive to pursue money or to be greedy. It’s unbiblical to elevate anything or anyone above a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and our allegiance to Him.
“Jesus said don’t lay up treasures for yourself here on earth.”
This passage actually presents a problem for the non Prosperity crowd more than it does Word of Faith people. Because if you’re WOF, you believe God has provided for you riches. So you’re not laying up anything. It’s a gift God has given you and you are simply RECEIVING it. On the other hand, if you don’t believe God wants you to be rich and that you shouldn’t be storing up for yourself treasures, then what are you doing with a bank account?
“The Bible says to be content with just food and clothing.”
This is another of what I call, “self hanging” arguments. In other words, the passage challenges more than just what is known as the, “Prosperity Gospel.” Because if you live in America and have a computer, car, tv, iPhone, iPad, etc then we must ask, Are you being content with just food and clothing? And why are you saving up all that money for a vacation?
“Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all he had before he could follow Him.”
He also told Zacchaeus (another rich man) nothing of the sort (Lk 19:2-5). So what should we take away from these stories? If it’s that we should not put riches before God—- I agree. If it’s that we should sell all we have and follow Jesus—-lead the way, chief.
“There just isn’t any solid biblical evidence for this doctrine.”
Well that depends on what you mean by, “solid biblical evidence.” All I can do is tell you what the Bible plainly says. To me, that’s solid. I get that there are other criteria many of us look at. Commentaries, digging around in the original languages, etc. Those are all fine and good (heck, what you’re reading now could technically qualify as Bible commentary) but at the end of the day, the emphasis should be on what the Bible says. Not on what we think it says. Not on what we think it means, or what others say about it, but what God Himself, actually wrote down for us.
So here are a handful of my personal favorite passages on the subject.
“By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honor, and life”
(Proverbs 22:4 KJV)
“Through wisdom is a house built. And by understanding it is established. And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”
(Proverbs 24:3-4 KJV)
“Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished, but he that gathers by labor shall increase.”
(Proverbs 13:11 KJV)
“Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold NOW IN THIS TIME, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”
(Mark 10:29, 30 ESV)
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
(2 Corinthians 8:9 NKJV)
Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us RICHLY ALL THINGS TO ENJOY.
(1 Timothy 6:17 NKJV)
Therefore let no one boast in men. For ALL things are yours: whether . . . THE WORLD or life or death, or THINGS PRESENT or things to come ALL are yours.
(1 Corinthians 3:21, 22 NKJV)
And if you’re tempted to doubt what is included when the Bible says, “ALL” in the above verses, this passage has always helped me to keep from trying to put a lid on it . . .
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
(Romans 8:32 NKJV)
At this point, I’d like to open the floor to hear from you.
What are you thoughts on this subject?
Would early Christians have prospered if not for persecution?
What is your take-away from Jesus’ words to the rich young ruler?
How does one avoid laying up treasures here on earth?
Should God’s Will for prosperity be expected to work automatically when His Will in so many other areas of our lives does not?
Most people who know me know that I’ve been married twice. As you get older, and further from certain events in your life, you tend to look back with a different perspective. Often you realize what at the time seemed like a situation with no options, was really a situation that simply lacked knowledge. In other words, if you had more information, you would have been able to make a smarter decision.
Not always. But many times.
All marriages are different, I understand that. But my first marriage started out, for lack of a better word, pretty normal. We loved each other. Did things together. Communicated. Shared our passions and dreams for life. Had the occasional fights that all married couples have etc. About a year in we had our daughter, and things were good.
I remember one day the topic of divorce came up and my wife asked me, “What would you do if I ever wanted to get a divorce?” And me, being the Christ follower that I am, knowing that the Lord is my Portion and I have need of nothing else (insert all the other Christian cliche’s here______________________________________________________________), responded, “I’d say, okay. Then let’s get a divorce.” She was a bit shocked. “You mean you wouldn’t fight for our marriage?” And I said, “Why would I want to stay married to someone who didn’t want to stay married to me?” I thought I had made a good point. And I suppose she did too because we kind of laughed about it and changed the subject. A couple years later that was exactly how it played out. “I’m not happy anymore. I think I got married too young and there is still a lot of life that I want to live. I want a divorce—–”
Let me just stop here and say this in case I never get another chance to—- Does what she said sound familiar to any men out there? After hearing story after story similar to mine, a very wise man by the name of Dennis Prager once made the astute observation that there is a profound shift that takes place in the minds of most women around twenty nine or thirty years of age. Life, to them, begins to speed up. They begin thinking they’re missing out on things, they reassess their goals and accomplishments. And if you’re married to one, there is a good chance she’s going to want to kick you to the curb. Now, of course, this is not always the case. And men are often just as much, if not more to blame for divorces in this age bracket as women are. But, many, many, females have testified to the legitimacy of this phenomena.
I’ve always said what makes women so confusing isn’t that they don’t know what they want—(because a lot of us don’t know what we want) it’s that they think that they do.
This seems especially true of women under the age of thirty.
. . . Just some food for thought.
But I digress . . .
Several months later everything was finalized and my marriage was over.
Fast forward five or six years and Lorena (my current wife) and I were discussing the subject of divorce among Christians. During the course of the discussion I had an epiphany: Parents seem so much more committed to their children than to their spouses—-I know, it’s weird anyone would ever draw a comparison here, but just think about it for a moment. It isn’t that our kids don’t drive us bananas. Or that we don’t constantly butt heads with them. And sometimes the arguments get loud . . . things get thrown . . . the police get called . . . And maybe you spend a night or two in jail.
This has never happened to you?
Of course not. Me neither.
But there just seems to be this whole other level of determination when it comes to our kids that isn’t even in the same stratosphere with our spouse. It’s a resolve that no matter what, we are going to love them and work with them and do everything in our power to get along with them. Short of death, the idea of divorcing or abandoning our children is not even a thought, let alone an option.
So here’s what struck me so profoundly: While humans have the capacity to exude this type of commitment toward others, for one reason or another, we often decide not to when it comes to our spouses.
Now, I’m not interested in getting into a conversation about what qualifies as justifiable reason for divorce. Regardless of what the Bible says about that subject, I think most of us who have been divorced (including myself) know that that was not the reason we decided to end the marriage. We simply lacked the resolve.
Like the Church has done in so many other areas, we have looked over to see how the world was doing marriage and said, “That seems fine. Let’s do that.” It is no wonder the divorce rate is just as high among Christians as it is among the world. Because we have adopted their version of marriage. And the world’s version of marriage is, “This is a commitment to stay with a person for the rest of your life. But things change. People change.” Irreconcilable differences came to mean:
“They don’t pay enough attention to me.”
“We fight too much”
“I got married too young”
“We’re drifting apart”
“They’re never going to change”
“We have financial problems”
“I’m just not happy”
If you use your imagination, you can rearrange most of these statements to apply to your relationship with your child. Yet, notice how with the change of context these statements go from sounding like legit reasons, to lame excuses.
What is Marriage?—I Mean, Really?
Then again, one could argue that the difference between the bond with your spouse versus the bond with your child is blood. Your children are a part of you. You’re hard wired to have a stronger connection to them. I mean, on the one hand you have your own flesh and blood, on the other you have just—– a person . . . Right?
One of the most commonly quoted passages we hear at wedding ceremonies and regarding the subject of marriage in general comes from Genesis chapter 2, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” I get that there is a point we’re trying to make by just quoting this portion and leaving the surrounding context out. But I am always curious when people quote a section of Scripture that starts with an unfinished thought. ” . . . For this reason ” For this reason, what? Have you ever asked yourself that question? For what reason? What is the reason for marriage?
Genesis 2:23 “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.”
See, God had taken Adam’s rib and created Eve. God took one person and from that created two. Adam was missing something from that day on and his own commentary reveals to us the purpose of marital union—Because the woman had something that the man lost. She possessed part of him. Man would now spend his life looking for that one thing that eluded him and when he finds it, he wants it back. So he leaves his father and mother, cleaves to his wife, and regains what had been taken from him.
But the question is . . . Do we really believe that?
Do we really believe that marriage is not just dealing in spiritually abstract ideas of, “commitment” but is, in all actuality, a reset. It’s Man being put back to One Flesh.
This is not just a sentimental story to make you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside. It’s a revelation of the inner dynamics of what makes marriage, marriage.
I have to say, I only understood this passage from Genesis in a poetic way, that had no bearing on any real world situation. But the fact is, the reason a man is joined to his wife is not dissimilar from the reason a parent is joined to their child—-Because they are a part of them.
God Works It Out
Again, this is by no means a fix-all for marriages. Much, much, more can and should be said on the subject. But this was one personal reflection of mine I felt compelled to share. The lesson? When it comes to your spouse and children, do not put the ideas of commitment, resolve, faithfulness, and determination, into separate categories.
If you are going through some rough times with your spouse, I encourage you to change your thinking in this area.
It makes a world of difference.
And if you’ve already been divorced, trust Him, because regardless of a bad decision, He will work it all out for the good.
He certainly did for me. I’m now married to a beautiful and wonderful godly woman who enriches my life in so many ways.
I don’t know if you have ever experienced this type of phenomena but its been a pretty common scenario for me. It goes something like this: You’re listening to a Bible teacher talking on a controversial subject. And at first it’s amazing. You’re thinking, “Oh, wow. There’s alot of good information here. I may finally get some legit answers on this subject!” Then it happens. What seems to be the inevitable fate of nearly every sermon we hear: Weird tangents that leave the Scriptures and start into gobbledegook. Or the, “under the rug” treatment where Bible passages to the contrary are either completely ignored, or stamped with a generic disclaimer before moving on.
I’m a firm believer in doing unto others as I would like done unto me. So I’ve put this subject into an FAQ format in order to hopefully cover every angle, question and objection. If I missed something, or you have another question not addressed, please feel free to ask 🙂
Oh . . . And one more thing—I feel silly having to say this but just to clarify, this article isn’t about what people say or think about the Bible. It’s about what the Bible actually says on the subject. I mention this because I know there are entire schools of thought devoted to commentaries and what folks think the Scriptures imply as opposed to what they actually say about tongues. While I think these things can be helpful and informative, they are not divine and should not be treated as one in the same as the Bible.
“1 Corinthians 13:8-10 Says that when the, “perfect has come” tongues will cease. The, “perfect” refers to the Bible, so tongues are no longer an active gift.”
ANSWER: We need to be careful here. Does the passage actually say this? Or is this what we think it means? What it says is that at some point they will cease. But to assume that they already have is just that—- an assumption.
“The tongues mentioned in 1Corinthians were all known languages. They were not mindless babble like you see today.”
ANSWER: It is true that there is a gifting by the Spirit that causes someone to speak in a foreign language. You see this
in Acts 2 and it’s also mentioned here . . .
To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
In Greek, the word, kinds is genos and means, “stock, tribe, offspring, national descent.” When you read the context you see that this manifestation of the Spirit can be given as He wills (vs. 11).
But he mentions another type of tongue that would not fall under, kindred or foreign tongues.
2: For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God: for no man understands him; however in the spirit he speaks mysteries.
So when we talk about praying with tongues (which is what this article is about), we are not talking about any known language. No man understands. This is obviously different from a foreign or tribal tongue that could be interpreted.
The same accusation is made of Paul. People say because he was a Pharisee he knew multiple languages. And these were the tongues he prayed in when he said, “if I pray in an unknown tongue my spirit prays (1Cor 14:14).”
First of all, we already know that when someone prays in a tongue it is not a known language. But beside that, Paul said when he does pray with his spirit, his understanding (GK mind) is unfruitful. If those were learned languages, then his mind would be the very place from which it was coming from. Instead, Paul identifies a distinction between his mind, and his spirit. And so should we.
“The usage of tongues today is abused. You shouldn’t do it out loud unless there is an interpreter (1Cor 14:27-28)”
There is no profit if people don’t understand you. The Bible says you’re speaking into the air (1Cor 14:6-9).
If there is no interpreter, keep quiet. Just speak to yourself and to God.
Having noted this, you should never measure a doctrine based on it’s abuse.
“Paul spoke negatively about people who pray in tongues because it only edifies that person instead of the rest of the church.”
ANSWER: This is an opinion. There is no scripture that says that. While it is important to seek to edify the Church, we are also encouraged to speak in tongues and build ourselves up (1Cor 14:5).
One definition for, “edify” in Greek is, “to bring about good.” So, contrary to the claim, Paul says it’s a good thing.
“1Corinthians 12:11 says that these gifts are given as the Spirit wills—-not given to everyone.”
ANSWER: Correct. The, “gifts” in 1Corinthians 12 are given as the Spirit wills for the profit of all (1Cor 12:7). But it’s worth noting that the tongues mentioned in 1 Corinthians 14 which profit the individual (as opposed to all) are never directly referred to as a, “gift.” Instead, they’re referred to as praying in or with your spirit (14:2, 14-16).
See, if you call it a, “gift” then it leaves the impression that some may have it and some may not. But if you refer to it as Paul did, “praying with my spirit” it becomes a strange idea to assert that only a select number of Christians are able to pray with their spirit.
Besides that, the same verse in chapter 12 that mentions kindred tongues, also mentions prophesying (vs. 10). Yet later Paul says, “You may all prophesy one by one (1Cor 14:31).” This would not be possible if, “given as the Spirit wills” meant, “not all are able to.”
“1Corinthians 14:22 says tongues are a sign for the unbeliever. We should not be trying to use them to edify ourselves or as some secret prayer language.”
ANSWER: It is true that the Bible says tongues are for a sign. But the prior verse shows us that the type of tongues he refers to are the kind that are spoken to men. Notice the quote, “With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people yet for all that they will not hear Me . . .” Remember, the subject is the unknown tongue which is spoken not unto men, but unto God (1Cor 14:5).
“1Corinthians 12:28-31, asks the question “do all speak with tongues?” This shows us not everyone is going to speak in tongues
ANSWER: Correct. Not everyone speaks in tongues, nor will they. But that’s obvious. Does every Christian you know speak in tongues? Probably not. In fact, most believers I know don’t speak in tongues. So we really don’t need a Bible verse to tell us this to know it’s true. But the topic is whether every believer should pray in tongues. And the passage simply does not answer this. Now, there are many who believe this passage is implying that idea. But the text doesn’t say that. It can’t be verified. People are free to speculate, but insofar as what we actually can observe in the passage, that isn’t falsifiable.
Now, if one insists on entering the realm of speculation by talking about what they believe is implied (something I don’t recommend), then there are plenty explanations that could be made to account for why tongues are mentioned in this list.
For example, someone could argue that all of the positions named in the passage (apostle, prophet, healings, etc) minister to other people, therefore, the tongues would also be in reference to the type which can be interpreted and edifies the Church. And would exclude the prayer tongue of chapter 14 because it only edifies the individual and is thus, not technically a gift.
Again—-All of the above is speculation. But demonstrates how easy it is to come up with a reasonable explanation if you’re going to give authority to inferences (which, again, I would not advise).
“There is no Scripture that tells us God wants us all to pray in tongues.”
ANSWER: Let’s take a look at what the Scriptures do tell us.
But you, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in/with the Holy Ghost,
18: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in/with the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Here, God tells us all to pray in the Spirit. What does that mean? Do the Scriptures tell us what it looks like when someone prays in the Spirit? They sure do.
2: For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God: for no man understands him; however in the Spirithe speaks mysteries.
When someone speaks to God, what does the Bible call that? It’s called prayer. Well, this passage mentions speaking to God, so we know it’s about prayer. But not just any kind of prayer. It gives an explanation for what a person is doing when they pray in tongues. What’s it called? Speaking (or we could say, praying, because that’s what speaking to God is) in the Spirit.
14: For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15: What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
Read the above passages in different translations, and it will help you to see it even better.
Speaking in tongues is only one form or one type of prayer in the Spirit. Not the only one.
ANSWER: That is a good observation. Let’s look again and see if God addresses this as well . . .
18: Praying always with ALL prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Some translations say, “All KINDS of prayer” or, “EVERY KIND of prayer.”
If he told us to pray with all kinds of prayer, that by itself, would be enough to know that prayer tongues would be included. But he actually takes it one step further and says to pray with all kinds of prayer IN THE SPIRIT—making it unmistakable.
Finally, the easiest way to know God wants all of us to speak in tongues is because He said so, word for word.
5: Now I want you all to speak in tongues but even more to prophesy . . .
Prophecy (speaking God’s Word—See Greek definition) is important. Even more important than speaking in tongues. But He still tells us He desires we do both.
“If God wants me to speak in tongues then it’ll happen— until then I’m not going to try and force anything.”
ANSWER: Right. And if God wants you to pray in English then it’ll happen. And if He wants you to read the Bible then it’ll happen. And if He wants you to go to church then it’ll happen—- but until it does no use in trying to force it, right?
No. You can’t make God’s responsibility what He has already made your responsibility. He told you to pray in the Spirit.
And for the record, this idea that it will, “just happen” with no effort or involvement on your part is unscriptural. There isn’t a single place in ALL the New Testament that says, “The Holy Spirit will speak through you” or, “a power will come over you and make you do it.” No, in every instance, it is the person who does the speaking.
Now, that isn’t to say the Spirit won’t prompt or inspire you, but we often have these strange and mystical expectations of things that can hinder us from true, biblical experiences. It may or may not happen the way we are expecting, but the safest way to a true experience is to stay with what the Bible actually says.
I don’t really have anything negative to say about denominations. If you look at most, regardless of what they evolved into over time, they were born from a lack of proper attention given to a biblical subject. In other words, they’re here because prior to their existence, we, as the Church, had neglected certain truths and swept them under the rug.
If you think about it, the Bible is a big book. It’s the living Word of God. We have studied it for thousands of years yet continue to mine gold from it’s depths. Like the turning of a diamond before a brilliant light, this Book shines forth seemingly never ending truths as we gaze into it . . .
Dang . . .
Imagine if I talked like that all the time?
Anyways . . . So it makes sense that we would need various members of the Body to magnify the multiple facets of God’s Word.
In science, you have different studies. Some deal in Chemistry. Others in Biology. Others Meteorology, Anthropology etc. None of these are separate from one another. They do, however all have a different focus. And yet they’re all working to achieve the same, ultimate, purpose of bringing about good to mankind. The biologist does not get mad or upset when the botanist doesn’t want to focus on . . . Eh, whatever it is biologists are into. No, instead he has the bigger picture in mind and knows that even though they are going about it in different ways, they are on the same team, headed toward the same goal.
Maybe we’re Supposed to be Lopsidedon our own
The Bible says to no longer know men after the flesh but as New Creations in Christ. We are all members of the same Body and same Family. What happens all too often, however, is instead of seeing ourselves as One, we think that every ministry should be a self sustaining organism. Then we get upset because we don’t feel they emphasize what ought to be emphasized. “I don’t like such and such a minister because he doesn’t talk enough about xyz.” “So and so focuses too much on this— not enough on that” etc. In other words, we’re saying that they’re lopsided and incomplete. And they are.
But if you take that same ministry/minister and place them back in the Body where they should be, viewing them not as a whole but as they actually are—only a part, then a new perspective emerges.
Our Failure to see the Big Picture
The problem is us. It’s our unwillingness to recognize that other believers possess portions of the same truths we do. We want to be the lone ranger standing atop Mount Sinai, with a long flowing beard, dictating everything the Almighty wants to say to His people.
. . . That was a really mangled euphemism— not sure where I was going with it, but you get the idea.
We have this same attitude when we leave a church. We point out all the bad saying, “they don’t do this they don’t teach that. They emphasize this too much they don’t emphasize that enough.” Well, you didn’t feel that way three years prior when you started going, did you? So what happened? You probably grew. You got what you needed. Then the Holy Spirit started taking you in a different direction and you moved on. You should look back in hindsight and thank God for that church instead of criticizing it. I talk to people all the time who say, “I used to like that minister. I’d listen to him all the time. But I can’t anymore. He’s unbalanced.” Well, if God was able to use him to teach and grow you for a season, maybe He’s still using him to teach and grow others who are just entering, or still in that season.
I don’t think we give the Holy Spirit enough credit in these things either. He knows where you need to be and what truths you are ready to accept and so He maneuvers you to that end.
Of course, as with anything, what I’ve said on this subject is not all that can or should be said. But my hope is to create a new perspective and maybe rebuild some burned bridges. To remind us we are a family. We should be able to look at all of these ministries and denominations as a gift from God to help us see things that we may have missed otherwise.
And who knows . . . Maybe ignite in us the realization that unity is closer than we thought.
Christians are touting that the greatest compromise of the Church today is a spineless, watered down Gospel. Instead of telling people about the dangers of sin and impending judgement, we talk about how to achieve success and happiness with the help of God. Instead of calling on the sinner to repent, we simply say, “Jesus loves you and has a plan for your life.”
There’s no lack of critics for ministers like Joel Osteen or, “seeker sensitive” churches that, “fail” to present the Word of God in it’s entirety. The great outcry has been for a return to a preaching as seen in the New Testament demonstrated by Jesus and the apostles.
Yet when we raise the question about another missing aspect in modern evangelism, the silence is deafening:
What about the signs and wonders?
The Church, by in large, has not earned the right to preach fire and brimstone like we see preached in the Bible. Why? Because we are not backing it up with the miraculous like we see in the Bible. We go on and on about how necessary it is that we stay biblically accurate in our preaching yet we ignore that the biblical presentation nearly always had signs following the message.
Think about it. Miracles and healings are what set the stage for the Gospel to be preached. It gave Christians a platform. It set them apart from other religions that only had words. This is what’s missing in our modern attempts to preach the same message they did. We have not shown ourselves to be an authority on the issue. We want people to listen but we don’t give them any reason to.
“Well, the Gospel itself is the power of God. We have the Holy Spirit as our authority.”
Cop-out. The early church had both the Holy Spirit and the Gospel too yet it didn’t stop there. Are we saying that we don’t need something that was so central in the ministry of Jesus and His apostles?
Drawing Attention to Ourselves
People want to criticize me for talking like this because they say we shouldn’t be focusing on signs. I’m not focusing on signs. I’m focusing on preaching the Gospel in the manner the Bible says it should be preached.
“Healings and miracles will only draw attention to yourself.”
Yes! That is EXACTLY what needs to happen.
F.F. Bosworth used to say that healing is the dinner bell. The sinner is no different today than he was 2000 years ago. He will be drawn to the extraordinary and consider the Message like never before when it is confirmed. Christians are the sign post that points to Christ. But people only pay attention to sign posts that are backed by authority.
Does the Bible Really Say It?
Some argue that the bottom line is we are commanded to preach the Gospel in it’s entirety and we have failed to do so.
I know this may throw a huge theological monkey wrench into our previously tidy doctrine but . . . Where does the Bible even tell the average Christian to preach the Gospel?
“In the Great Commission! Right before Jesus left He told us to go into all the world and preach it.“
No, He told His apostles that. If we want to take what He told them and apply it to us, I’m all for it—as long as we are consistent.
Matthew 10:5-8 “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying . . . go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”
See, if you want to run with the big boys and wear the big boy pants, you better have the underwear.
Otherwise, maybe we should stop criticizing Christians for spreading the message about Jesus in their own way. The, “watered down” and, “compromised” Gospel is often just an unconscious recognition that we’re missing something. I don’t think most of us are even able to pinpoint what it is, but we notice it’s missing and we’re trying to compensate for it.
Then there are those who ignore this aspect of the Bible, go out anyway and try to preach like the apostles—And fall flat on their faces. They can’t grab the attention of the sinner like the men of God in the Bible did and instead end up sounding like raving lunatics that people avoid. Then they blame the unbeliever and say, “these people have closed their ears and hardened their hearts just like they did in Jesus’ time . . .” Here’s another thought– maybe they haven’t closed their ears or hardened their hearts. Maybe they’re just tired of hearing a bunch of talk and are wondering what sets our message apart from any other religion.
Be Ready to Give an Answer, Not Necessarily a Sermon
Does that mean we are not supposed to tell people about Jesus? Of course not. Christians are exhorted to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in them. That is a broad statement though. It does not say, “be ready to tell people about how sinful they are, the wrath of God, and genuine repentance.” Don’t get me wrong, that may be the answer some Christians have to the question (although it seems a bit forced), but it is definitely not a command to lay it out that way. We are demanding things of one another that God does not demand.
There is definitely a place and time that the sinner should know the whole truth, but since the Scriptures do not specifically tell us WHEN or WHERE then we all individually must rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us in this area.
As for the fire and brimstone preaching, I believe it is needed. But it must be presented in a manner of power and authority as we see in the Scriptures otherwise people will just tune you out. Unfortunately, the spiritual nursery is running at full capacity in this area and no one wants to give up their bottle.
So until we are willing to look in the mirror and admit we have already compromised the biblical presentation of the Gospel, then we’ll just have to make due with a watered down one.
The story of the man born blind in the Gospels is pretty well known. We often think of it as a demonstration of how clueless the disciples were concerning spiritual things–Actually having the audacity to ask Jesus whose sin was responsible for making him blind.
What kind of jerky theology would hold people accountable for their disabilities?
Well . . . The Bible.
I know that it makes us feel really compassionate to read this passage and think, “Well, DUH. Of course no one was responsible.” But that may be us reading through the lenses of our American Christian Goggles more than anything else.
The question the disciples asked Jesus was actually pretty legit. We probably don’t think of it that way because we have never had a well rounded Bible lesson on this topic.
Both Old and New Testaments draw a correlation between our overall health and our choices. (Deut 28: 15-35, Psalm 119:67, John 5:8, 9, 14, 1 Cor 11:29-30).
That is not to say that every time someone gets hurt, sick, or is born with some disability that its due to an individual’s sin.
What I am pointing out, however, is that we have probably overused this passage (along with Job) to relieve ourselves from taking responsibility where we should have. It’s become our Go-To-Scripture of defense as for why sometimes things just, “happen.” The Ol’ Stand-By used for knocking down straw men that we erect. Like the commonly referred to fanatical preacher who accuses sick people of not repenting for their sins . . . You know . . . The one who no one really seems to have ever actually met . . . Or know the name of . . . Or . . . Come to think of it, know anything about other than that he’s out there–lurking.
It is true that with this instance in the Gospel of John, the man had not sinned. It’s also true that neither had Job. But the rest of the Bible has a whole lot more to say on this subject than just these stories. We often ignore passages that are clear and addressed to a broad audience (us) in favor of uncertain applications that are forcefully deduced from biblical accounts.
This is a practice in Bible interpretation that continues to bewilder me. We take an event that occurred once or twice, and we set it up as the Golden Standard by which we will evaluate any similar situation happening now or moving forward . . . Which, I wouldn’t completely disagree with if we were actually consistent with it. But we’re not. Both Job and the blind man were healed. If we are going to use this as some sort of template for our own suffering, then we must expect to be healed . . . But we don’t.
In the scientific community, this is what they would refer to as, wonky science. A little bit fishy. A little sloppy. And wreaks of a doctrine that was arrived at by emotion, and not actual Scripture.
As previously stated, I’m not saying every suffering person out there is an evil sinner. Only that the Scriptures give us a little bit more responsibility in these matters than we often care to accept.
Funny how some Christians believe God is a kind of socialist and probably don’t even realize it. They think that if a believer has a lot of money, the percentage they give to charities, missions etc, should be higher than a Christian who doesn’t. Even though the the wealthy ends up giving more than a Christian who makes less, they are still viewed as greedy because of what they have left over.
Why is that? Because people are not judging the situation based on numbers, they’re judging it based on how it appears. The perception is, “This guy’s got too much money. Look, he went out and bought himself a BMW and a Mercedes. That money could have been used to feed starving children or missions! All I’ve got is a Honda.”
“His ‘leftover’ money is more than my ‘leftover’ money. And even though I sometimes spend my money on frivolous things, they’re still less expensive than the frivolous things he spends his money on.”
That, my friend, is socialism. You are not outraged at his lack of giving. You are outraged that he’s got more than you. You want him to give and give and give until he can’t afford his Mercedes and BMW and has to go out and buy a Honda.
There are obvious issues with this type of thinking. One of which is the complete subjectiveness of it all. What happens when we leave out the guy with the Mercedes and compare you to someone who only has a Ford? Now you become the greedy one. And what happens when the guy with the Ford is compared to someone with a bicycle? And we’re only talking within the economy of America. I’d venture to say all of us are living above and beyond people in mud huts in third world countries.
The whole thing is nonsense.
The book of Proverbs is full of practical advice on how to work hard, honor God, and make a lot of money.
Don’t let someone make you feel guilty concerning what you give or how much money you make. There is a good chance you probably give about the same percentage, or even more, than they do.
Give to the poor. Give to the ministry. As much as you have decided in your heart. But also, enjoy the fruits of your labor (Eccl 9:9).
As a younger, slightly more naive Christian, I used to be critical of pastors and Bible teachers who would preach the same messages over and over again. They had a binder or notebook with all the sermons they had written over the years, and instead of coming up with anything new, they’d just cycle through that book.
I’d think to myself, “hasn’t this guy got anything new? I want a fresh revelation. Some new wine for the new wine skins (whatever that means). Something I’ve never heard before. A different take on a commonly known Bible verse, maybe. If this guy had a closer relationship with God, he would have a Word for today.”
Now, after being both a student and teacher of the Bible for some years, I find I have a growing respect for ministers who teach the, “same old, same old.”
The Bible is a Big Book. The more I study it, the less I think I know about it. Sure, I could be like most and take a plethora of Bible commentaries from the same denominational point of view and its pretty easy to convince myself I’ve got it figured out. But when I stand back and have a long, honest look at the Bible, I realize there is little that I am willing to take a definitive stance on.
Contrary to much criticism I’ve received about this, I can’t, in good conscience, bring myself to believe that I’ve got the, “right” position on all—or even most Bible passages.
I’m afraid that our appetite for, “something new” and discontentment with the unknown has contributed to a culture of Christians who feel the need to have all the blanks filled in. A nice, evenly distributed sphere of doctrine. And of course, being the humans that we are, those blanks will be filled in differently depending on the reader. The result? Church splits and denominational divides abound.
It seems to me that we are Jack of all Trades and Masters of None. Except we don’t like uncertainty because we think it makes us vulnerable, so we parade as Masters of all.
Ultimately, I can’t speak for anyone but myself. Like many, I have portrayed myself as knowing more than I actually did. And have led many astray with random, off-the-top-of-my-head explanations of Scriptures because I didn’t want to ruin my image as The Bible Answer Man (eat your heart out, Hanky).
Now a days, there are a handful of Bible subjects I teach. People who have known me for years can tell you, I never really move on to anything else.
I don’t really know what I believe about water baptism. I’m uncertain where I come down on the ideas of predestination, election and free will. And I really have no idea what to think about the book of Revelation. You would be surprised how upset Christians get when you tell them you don’t have a view or an opinion on every Bible verse. “What?! You can’t just NOT have an opinion. You’re ignoring God’s Word, that’s what you’re doing!”
Sigh . . .
Don’t get me wrong, I could erect a lofty position and then hold to it for dear life, unconsciously hoping that my dedication somehow makes it true . . . Like I suspect many others are doing. I could give you my own opinion and jazz it up with terminology like, “proper hermeneutic”, “contextual implication” and my personal favorite, “God told me . . .” But what good does that do?
I study. I pray. I’m open to venturing into other areas of the Word, but common sense tells me my chances for error drastically increase as I push and push for a monopoly on the Scriptures.
Experience has taught me that one of the most authentic answers you will ever receive concerning Bible doctrine is, “Humph! . . . I don’t know.” And we should be okay with that. It should not bother us if there are, “loose ends.” Let’s not allow mainstream Christianity to pressure us into being dogmatic about things that, deep down, we are still questioning.
In a nutshell? Not that the truth can’t be known (it certainly can be) but that we should be willing to consider the very likely and sobering thought that we don’t yet know it.