I seem to be the only person who knows how to explain and defend the theology of Andrew Murray. I do so in these audio lectures:
Note: The text version below is the same as the taped lectures with but a few exceptions due to some last-minute edits.
Why We Need A Second Reformation
The title for the entire series of lectures is, “Why We Need A Second Reformation.” Anyone and everyone has my permission to produce and circulate copies of these audio messages assuming they do not take credit for the material and assuming they always offer it free of charge to any and all recipients.
An author named Andrew Murray
once wrote, “The church needs a Second Reformation – this time for
sanctification.” Andrew Murray died 100 years ago after writing 240 Christian
books dedicated to inflaming the church’s passion for prayer and worship. About
20 years ago I read one of his most famous books entitled, “With Christ in the
I’d like to mention two leaders
who used Andrew Murray’s theory with great success. The first leader is Paul
Yonggi Cho, who is founder of the world’s largest church located in
Another leader who depended on Andrew Murray’s theory was Charles Finney, who is often considered the greatest American evangelist. Finney’s revivals so powerfully improved the American moral climate that some scholars give him partial credit for the abolition of slavery. In his autobiography he frequently talks about his use of the theory. For instance he would pray for victory in a particular village until hearing God promise him victory over that territory.
Many Christians presume to already know all the correct doctrines and would therefore abandon their pastor if he changed his stance even on minor doctrines. Fearing abandonment from their congregations, pastors are usually reluctant to embrace unfamiliar theories. The situation is even worse in seminaries where professors fear to lose their jobs over the slightest change of doctrine. As a result, Andrew Murray did not even attempt to influence church doctrine. He did not write theology textbooks defending and explaining his theories. Instead he wrote simple prayer books, and I seem to be the only reader who somehow managed to figure out his actual theology. Allow me to be absolutely clear on this point. I am probably the only person on this planet who knows how to explain and defend his theories. I say this after 20 years of experience, including five years of discussing these theories with numerous denominations by means of online theology forums.
I will begin with four lectures defending Andrew Murray’s theory that we should persevere in prayer to hear from God specific directions for evangelism. We need to know what to preach, where to preach, and when to preach. And I will demonstrate biblically that we are supposed to wait in prayer to hear a promise of victory over the territory targeted for evangelism.
My fifth lecture will defend Andrew Murray’s theory that sanctification is a matter of waiting prayerfully on God for outpourings of the Holy Spirit.
My sixth lecture will defend Andrew Murray’s theory that spiritual gifts are still needed today.
My seventh lecture will defend Andrew Murray’s theory that the evangelist’s body is supposed to be charged with power from on high for preaching the Word.
My eighth lecture will demonstrate that Andrew Murray’s metaphysics can easily solve several technical problems, such as the Incarnation, still UNSOLVED in mainstream theology after 2000 years.
My ninth lecture will provide a few practical suggestions for helping church leaders to spur their congregations on to a greater commitment to corporate prayer.
Allow me to define two important terms used repeatedly in the lectures. The first term is “the mainstream”, for instance I will speak of “mainstream Christianity” or “mainstream theology.” Here I mean those doctrines common to the majority of people who accept the Bible, in other words those doctrines found in all the following kinds of churches: Evangelical churches, Protestant churches, Orthodox churches, and the Roman Catholic Church. I fully agree with the following three elements of mainstream theology:
One. Jesus is God.
Two. Jesus died for our sins and rose again.
Three. Jesus is the second Person of the Trinity.
The second term I will often use is “evangelical Christian.” Evangelicals are part of the mainstream but are distinctive in virtue of the following combination of three doctrines.
One. Salvation is by faith alone. Here I agree.
Two. A person is fully saved and born again at the moment of accepting Christ by faith. Here too I agree.
Three. The Bible is the only authority in the Christian life. Although I do agree that the Bible is the written Word of God, I do not regard it as the only authority for Christian living. The lectures will prove that evangelical theologians THEMSELVES imply the authority of conscience and the authority of the Holy Spirit’s inward witness to our hearts.
The content of these lectures is generally the same content found in my book Knowing God is Physical Sensation. However, the audio lectures are probably the best way to go. You can burn them to a set of four audio CDs. Or you can burn them to a single data-CD (if your CD player supports MP3).
This is lecture number one in the series entitled, “Why We Need A Second Reformation.”
I always argue my opinions very vigorously, and therefore at times it might SEEM as though I am presuming to know for sure what I am talking about, but the reality is that none of us, generally speaking, really know anything for sure. Therefore everything I say in these lectures is merely my own opinion.
You probably feel that, to some extent, each of us is entitled to our own opinions. I mean, you’re not out there killing people, right? So is not it okay for you to abide by your opinions, especially those formed through diligent Bible-study? After all, hasn’t every born-again Christian in church history acted as though its okay to form Bible-based opinions and then live steadfastly by them? I hate to burst your bubble, but just because everybody’s doing it does not make it right. Indeed the act of forming a religious opinion and then presuming it to be the truth is the definition of every false religion on the planet. The reality is that mere opinions are unsatisfactory because the consequences of errors are eternal if God exists.
For instance if you presume to know the correct method of evangelism, and turn out to be incorrect, millions may go to hell as a result of your presumption. Admittedly we can’t help but form opinions, but we have no right to presume them to be true. Accordingly each of should always admit, when discussing religion with others, that none of us really knows what the heck we are talking about. Unfortunately none of the churches and church leaders seem willing to so admit. Almost all the Christian churches are grounded in a very severe intellectual dishonesty, in the sense that the preachers stand in the pulpit pretending to know what the Bible says. Accordingly, should it really surprise us that so little power flows to us from on high? Furthermore, everyone should seek to answer the following question, “What method would God, if He exists, use to elevate us from this unsatisfactory state of mere opinions to a state of sure, infallible knowledge of religious truth?” Christians already admit that God provided the biblical writers with doctrinal infallibility. If He is no respecter of persons, then He is willing to do the same for us.
If God exists and is holy, it follows that He is willing to render each of us infallible. To deny this is to slander, impugn, and contradict His holy character. Why so? Imagine, for instance, that you are a political leader who happens to be a Christian. You are faced with the decision as to whether you should engage another nation in an act of war. You definitely don’t want to kill people whom God wants kept alive. You therefore need to make an absolutely correct decision, an INFALLIBLY correct decision, regarding the war. If God were unwilling to grant you sure knowledge on such a life and death issue, He would be a selfish, coldhearted tyrant of zero compassion. In fact let’s now consider a biblical example of a political leader faced with deciding whether to engage another nation in war. Let’s pick it up at 1Sam chapter 23 verse 2, “David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah.”
Apparently, then, the God of the Bible is indeed willing to provide information loud and clear - infallible information - on temporal issues such as war. If He is willing to address such TEMPORAL issues, how much more willing is He to address ETERNAL issues such as evangelism? That is to say, when deciding where and when to evangelize, do you first inquire of the Lord in the same way that David did in that passage? Do you continue praying until God has responded to your questions loud and clear? Or is your attitude one of presumption such that you march out for evangelism and missions into any territory you please even before He has authorized you to go forth? Do you go forth based on your own fallible opinions? And when you preach, are you content with preaching your own fallible opinions, or do you speak precisely what God has told you to say?
How would God, if He exists, render you infallible? After 20 years of reflection, I can still find only one reasonable theory of inspiration. It has two aspects. First, God must supply you the relevant data, by speaking to you, if you don’t yet possess it. Second He must foster within you a feeling of certainty that the data came from Him, or at least a feeling of certainty that the data is correct.
Of course if your degree of felt certainty is less than 100%, you shouldn’t presume to know anything for sure. However, when your certainty DOES reach 100%, you no longer have a choice as to what should be presumed, because 100% certainty means completely convinced. What I mean by 100% certainty is a state of mind so convinced that you can no longer even bring to mind the possibility of being mistaken. Most likely no one could reach such a level of absolute certainty without supernatural aid. God would need to reserve to Himself alone the power to impart 100% certainty. He couldn’t allow the devil to give you 100% certainty if He wanted you to be infallible. However, it’s really no concern of mine whether the devil, if he exists, can give me 100% certainty, because God can’t blame me for being fooled by it. He can definitely blame me for any prior sins that admitted the devil into my heart but, once he is admitted, I cannot be blamed for acting according to 100% certainty, because 100% certainty leaves a person fully persuaded that he is doing the right thing.
Many evildoers CLAIMED to have felt 100% certain, but we have no reason to believe them. In fact if what Paul said in Romans chapter 1 is true, I have every reason to disbelieve them. He said that those who do wrong know that they are doing wrong. Far from feeling certain that they were doing the right thing, they felt certain that they were doing the wrong thing.
Even degrees of certainty less than 100% play a significant role in religious enterprise. This will take some time to explain. When I finally admit to myself that mere opinions are unsatisfactory, I should reevaluate all the opinions that I’ve been taking for granted. In other words I should begin again. Therefore I am now standing here, picturing myself as an agnostic, unsure of which religion is the true one, and I now begin again, attempting to form, to the best of my ability, some opinions about religion. And suddenly I remember an important factor in all decision-making. I always feel a moral obligation to try to do what is morally right to the best of my knowledge. When faced with several choices, then, I must pick the one that I feel most certain about, morally speaking. Of course in some cases, all the choices might seem so morally questionable that I feel more certain about waiting for more certainty than choosing any of them. In such cases I will seek more certainty before embracing any of the choices. In a nutshell, I will heed my conscience. Heeding conscience means to embrace those actions and beliefs that I feel most certain about, morally speaking. Never in life can a situation arise where it is appropriate to disobey conscience. After all, if I feel a moral obligation to do one thing, but instead do the opposite, I become a contradiction in terms.
Consequently if God exists, and if He wants me to embrace a particular religion, He must influence my conscience in order that I feel more certain about His religion than I do about remaining agnostic or choosing another religion. In fact that’s precisely how I presently feel about Christianity. I feel more certain about embracing Christianity than remaining agnostic or choosing some other religion. I feel about 95% certain that Jesus is God, that He died for my sins, and that the Bible is His good book. Therefore my conversion to Christianity was not a foolish act of blind faith. Rather it was simply a matter of executing what my conscience demanded, which is the only reasonable way, the only sane way, for a morally upright person to behave. Look at this way. Why do you get upset when your children disobey your voice? After all, a child can’t prove that you are his true parent. His conscience is persuaded that you are his true parent and therefore you are rightly upset when he disobeys. To admit that your children should obey your voice is to admit the authority of conscience.
On the other hand I should not be fully satisfied with 95% certainty. My highest priority in life must be to reach 100% certainty, for until then I can’t even presume to have chosen the right religion. Moreover, as a religious person, I also want to be 100% certain that I am conducting evangelism in the proper manner. The trouble is, I can’t imagine any way to attain to 100% certainty other than asking God to impart it to my heart supernaturally. As a result, prayer will be my top priority in life.
Here’s an interesting question. Am I ever obligated to obey men? Only if my conscience demands it, that is to say, only if I feel certain that I am supposed to obey a particular man. Therefore whenever God wants to me to obey an apostle, prophet, or pastor, He must raise my level of certainty in regard to that man. After all, a man who calls himself a prophet is not necessarily a prophet. A man who calls himself a pastor is not necessarily a pastor. A congregation or institution that calls itself a church is not necessarily a church. I must beware of the opinions of men. In fact, when I open up the Bible, I see a completely different pattern of leadership than what is found in the so-called churches of today. In the Bible, an infallible apostle planted a church in a city, appointed one or more elders to preside over it, and then moved onto another city. That was the biblical pattern. Even if God wants us to abandon the biblical pattern, we still aren’t justified in pretending that modern systems of church government came strictly from the Bible. It is an act of intellectual dishonesty to tell people that our churches are run according to Scripture. Clearly they are not.
I call it the problem of evil presumption. One of the most effective ways to quench the flow of power from on high is to presume that our churches are real churches, and our leaders real pastors. Allow me to explain why. Imagine what would happen if you rewarded your child every time he did something wrong, something contrary to your will. He would conclude that he is actually doing something right. Therefore you cannot afford to shower him with blessings, unless he says to you, “Father, it’s okay to shower me with blessings, because I will never presume that I was behaving correctly unless 100% certain.” My proposal, then, is not that we shut down the churches but merely that we change our ATTITUDE toward them. Let’s simply stop presuming them to be real churches. Desisting from presumption liberates God to bless us a lot more. The history of religion on this planet is the history of evil presumption. Are we, as Christians, going to continue acting presumptuously just like the world? Are we going to keep insisting that our religious opinions are correct even when we are less than 100% certain?
In my opinion, leaders of today should regard their role as possibly temporary. They should be praying that God eventually establish real churches run by real pastors and elders. And He is merciful. If you are a leader, God probably won’t end your ministry. More likely He will transform your institution into a real church and retain you as its main leader. In a real church, the flow of grace is stunning. This is what Paul is referring to at 1Cor 12:28 which reads, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, and diversities of tongues.”
Most members of every congregation would say, “I believe that the hand of God has brought us together as one body. I believe this is a real church.” Are they correct? If so, God is apparently a racist, because Sunday is still the most segregated day of the week. If today’s institutions are real churches, I find it rather odd that I’ve never met a happy Christian. Admittedly I have met hundreds of Christians who are content, primarily because they enjoy all the luxuries absent from third-world countries, but I have never met any happy ones. To get some idea of what happiness would look like, consider how drugs intoxicate the mind. God is capable of stirring you with an intoxicating joy far more potent than any drug. Literally He would have you bubbling over with laughter in almost every situation.
The discipline of epistemology is simply the effort to form a theory as to whether we can know some things for sure, and how we can come to know them. I’ll say it again. The discipline of epistemology is simply the effort to form a theory as to whether we can know some things for sure, and how we can come to know them. And that is precisely what I’ve been doing in this lecture. Therefore to refresh your memory, I will now review the four epistemological conclusions that I’ve already drawn thus far in the discussion.
The first aspect of my epistemology was to argue that people should not rest content with less than 100% certainty, no matter which religion turns out to be true.
The second aspect of my epistemology was to define the conscience as certainty. I am morally obligated to my feelings of certainty. When my certainty is less than 100%, I am obligated to whatever seems most certain.
The third aspect of my epistemology was to confess the present state of my conscience, that is, to admit that my conscience currently feels about 95% certain that Christianity is the true religion.
The fourth aspect of my epistemology was to use the Bible as a tool. That is to say, while I am patiently waiting and praying for God to raise my level of certainty to 100%, I can, in the meantime, look to the Bible to form some opinions that will hopefully turn out to be correct.
Here ends lecture number one entitled, “The Voice of Certainty as The Only Valid Epistemology.”
This was lecture number one of the series, “Why We Need a Second Reformation.”
This is lecture number two in the series, “Why We Need a Second Reformation.”
As noted earlier, David cried out to God asking whether he should go up to murder the Philistines, and the Lord responded with a voice. The voice would have been useless to David if it had failed to impart certainty. Therefore we can safely assume that God’s voice usually imparts certainty. My mentor Andrew Murray affirmed that His voice imparts certainty. He wrote, God does “not leave His servant in uncertainty as to His will. The gods of the heathen are dumb and cannot speak [whereas the Father’s voice] lets His child KNOW [His will].” In fact this is actually what Paul meant when he said that faith comes by hearing. God’s voice imparts feelings of certainty eliminating feelings of doubt, and this certainty is called faith. I’ll say that again. God’s voice imparts feelings of certainty eliminating feelings of doubt, and this certainty is called faith.
In David’s case, what was the degree of certainty imparted? Was it 100% Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to consider Abraham who, like David, heard a voice from heaven. Abraham heard a voice commanding him to murder his own son. In obedience to the voice he made every effort to do it. Hebrews chapter 11 classifies Abraham’s murderous effort as one of the great examples of righteously walking by faith. His faith was a certainty based on hearing God’s voice. Again we must ask, was the level of certainty 100%? Let me put the question another way. If you yourself were only 95% certain that such a voice was from the true God, would you attempt to kill your own son? I sure hope not. Therefore the only way to classify Abraham’s behavior as magnificently righteous is to assume 100% certainty. And what stopped him from completing the murder? He heard a second voice. The first voice imparted certainty that he SHOULD try to kill his son. The second voice imparted certainty that he should STOP trying to kill him.
Another example is Moses.
About 150 times Scripture tells us, “The Lord spoke to Moses” or something to
that effect. At one point the voice
commanded him to murder seven nations to take possession of the
Saul murdered an entire nation except its leader named King Agag. The prophet Samuel was angry at Saul for showing mercy to King Agag. At 1Samuel chapter 15, the prophet denounced Saul’s act of mercy as disobedience to God’s voice, and then he drew a sword and cut King Agag to pieces right in front of Saul.
I could provide several more
Old Testament examples, but I’d like to move on to the New Testament.
Evangelicals claim that Bible-study is the only authority in the Christian
life. Prior to conversion, Paul had learned from Bible-study that God is a
transcendent Creator instead of an ordinary man. Based on Bible-study, then,
Paul reasoned that God was not a Jewish
carpenter named Jesus Christ. Then he suddenly saw a blinding light and heard a
voice from heaven on the road to
Peter was a Jew who, based on Bible-study, shunned the Gentiles. Based on Bible-study, the Jews were persuaded that associating with the Gentiles is unholy because they are unclean. The Jews also consider unclean certain foods such as pork. Then in Acts chapter 10, he saw a vision and heard a voice commanding him to eat unclean foods, and the Holy Spirit told him to take the gospel to the Gentiles. At first he was reluctant, but God repeated the vision three times, thereby raising his level of certainty. He eventually accepted the vision and voice as an authority higher than all his previous Bible-study.
Suppose a man in your neighborhood walked up to you, claimed to be God, and commanded, “Leave behind all your possessions and come follow me.” Would you follow him? The disciples did so. Was this the right decision? Or were they fools? The NT indicates that those who followed Christ were wise, and those who rejected Him were fools. The only way to make sense of this is to admit that Christ’s voice imparted certainty to the disciples when He said to them, “Come follow me.”
To claim that Bible-study is my only basis for doctrine does not work, logically, because it only prompts the question as to my basis for believing in the Bible. In other words, what was my MAIN basis for doctrine whereby I, on that basis, accepted Christianity? Of course if my basis were blind faith, then I acted foolishly, because blind faith is not a wise way to live. All false religions are grounded in blind faith. I must have had some kind of APPROPRIATE basis for accepting Christianity. Let’s assume it was my conscience. Having accepted the Bible and Christianity on the basis of my conscience, I cannot now claim, after the fact, that Bible-study is now my only basis for doctrine. That would not make sense, because my main basis is still my main basis. My conscience was my basis for accepting the Bible and Christianity, and it is still my daily basis for CONTINUING to accept the Bible and Christianity. Therefore I cannot regard Bible-study as my only basis for doctrine; it’s not even my MAIN basis for doctrine. My main basis is my conscience, for if tomorrow my conscience persuades me that I chose the wrong religion, I’ll throw the Bible into the trash can without hesitation. Clearly, then, I regard my conscience as a much higher authority than the Bible. Folks, there is simply no way to avoid this conclusion. You can only avoid it in a superficial sense, that is, you could contend that logic, rather than conscience, is your main basis. In other words you perhaps became a Christian because you logically deduced that the Bible is true. If so, the fact remains that your main basis is still your main basis. If logic was your main basis, then in your eyes it is a higher authority than the Bible, for if tomorrow logic persuades you that you made the wrong decision, it will be time to put the Bible into the trash can.
John Calvin was the leading theologian of the Protestant Reformation. He realized that God would not expect us to base our saving faith on logic. To see why, picture adolescents or mentally handicapped people. They have not attended seminary, they have no knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, and probably no knowledge of church history. They are simply not equipped to logically deduce that Christianity is the true religion. Calvin held that God’s solution was to have the Holy Spirit impart a feeling of certainty to our hearts as our basis for accepting the Bible and Christianity. To say that the Holy Spirit convicts us, argued Calvin, means that He convinces us that Christianity is true, but His method of persuasion is not logic. Calvin was very emphatic and insistent that it was a feeling of certainty rather than logic. And the Holy Spirit continues to sustain this feeling of certainty after conversion, argued Calvin, as the ongoing basis of our saving faith. This is what keeps our saving faith stable, so that we do not suffer a mental lapse into unbelief and thus lose our salvation. Calvin’s theory is officially called the doctrine of the inward witness of the Holy Spirit, and all evangelical churches and theologians for the last 500 years, as far as I know, fully accept it. According to evangelical theology, then, my main basis for doctrine, the basis on which I accepted, and daily continue to accept, the Bible and Christianity is a feeling of certainty provided by the Holy Spirit. Again, my term for this feeling of certainty is the conscience. As I argued earlier, once I admit that my main basis for accepting the Bible is my conscience, I thereby imply that my conscience is a higher authority than the Bible, for if tomorrow my conscience felt persuaded that I made the wrong decision, I would throw the Bible into the trash can. My conscience is my final authority in all matters of faith and practice. And let’s keep in mind why John Calvin drew such conclusions. He drew them because the human mind is too feeble, ignorant, and fallible to make reliable use of logic and Scripture. If there is to be a RELIABLE source of doctrine, said Calvin, it would have to be the INFALLIBLE God sending His Holy Spirit to influence my conscience. My mentor Andrew Murray commented on Romans 9:1, “The Holy Ghost speaks through conscience.”  Having begun with this assumption, Calvin and the other evangelical theologians flatly contradicted themselves, and led us astray, when they later construed Bible-study as our highest possible authority, as our most reliable source of doctrine. The Holy Spirit was supposed to be our most reliable source of doctrine. My mentor Andrew Murray elevated the Holy Spirit above Bible-study when he wrote, "All the teaching through the Word or men is…subordinate to the personal teaching of the Holy Ghost." By the way, here’s a list of verses supporting Calvin’s doctrine of the inward witness of the Holy Spirit: John 15:26, John 16:8, John 16:13, Romans 8:14-15, Galatians 4:6, 1Jn 2:27, 1 Jn 4:13, and 1Jn 5:6.
The Bible is a useful tool when our degree of certainty is less than 100%. Suppose for instance that an elder walks up to his pastor and says, “My conscience is now telling me that Jesus is not divine.” The pastor must respond according to his own conscience. For instance he might reply, “In that case you cannot be an elder in this congregation any longer. I think you’ve strayed too far. When I prayed about this issue, and studied it in the Bible, my conscience became persuaded that Jesus is God. And it persuaded me that anyone who denies it has strayed too far. I’m still only at 95% certainty, so I might be the one in the wrong, but nonetheless my conscience feels enough certainty to demand your resignation as elder.”
When your certainty is less than 100%, it’s important to remember that there are two ways for choices to come into your mind. The first way is to actually hear an external voice loud and clear, precisely as you would hear the voice of a friend. The second way is for the thought to come to mind WITHOUT external sensations of any kind. Generally this is just your own mind at work, and therefore you should be especially reluctant to presume it to be God’s voice. Folks, God does not want you to confuse His voice with your own thoughts. Therefore when He is ready to speak clearly to you, He’ll be especially sure that you experience external sensations of some kind.
Christians who do not expect external sensations end up presuming their own internal thoughts to be the voice of God. Every time a religious thought comes to mind, they tend to assume it is God speaking. As a result, the church is becoming filled with so-called prophets who only prophesy in presumption. I myself do not know whether to laugh or to cry when one of these guys stands before an audience of 2000 Christians and says something silly like this, “The Lord just told me that someone in this audience has stomach problems and therefore should come forward to the altar to get prayer for healing.” Obviously, in an assembly of 2000 people, SOMEONE in that crowd has stomach problems. SURELY THE LORD would not be in the habit of inspiring such self-evident prophecies. A REAL prophecy would probably be something like Paul’s statement to Elymas at Acts 13:11, “The Lord is about to blind your eyes.” Immediately the man became blind.
In our effort to define God’s voice, we probably should not limit it to sound, because He can use any kind of feeling or sensation, including visual content, to convey a message. Thus the best definition of God’s voice is any feeling or sensation from Him that is sufficiently distinct, sufficiently loud and clear, to be perceived. This would include feelings such as love, joy, and peace. In my opinion Christians should devote themselves to worship expecting to feel His love, joy, and peace in increasing measure. Ideally we also want to hear Him speak words, but generally this won’t happen very often because the church is currently too distant from Him. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear any words. For the moment, be content with outpourings of His love, joy, and peace. Some Christians are afraid to pray for direct revelations because they fear that a demon will respond. Folks, God is not going to send a demon to those who seek His face. Listen to what Jesus said at Mat 7:9: “Which of you fathers, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”
In this lecture I have been challenging the evangelical assumption that Bible-study is supposed to be the basis of our religious beliefs. According to this theory, I am to believe a given doctrine only if I can prove that Scripture teaches it. I’ll say that again. Evangelicals assume that Bible-study is supposed to be the basis of our religious beliefs, meaning that I am to believe a given doctrine only if I can prove that Scripture teaches it. This theory has several weaknesses as follows.
Weakness number One: Attempting to prove that Scripture teaches a given doctrine will always fail due to the problem of infinite regress. Allow me to explain. A proof is built upon preliminary assumptions which in turn need to be proven. And proving these assumptions is itself a proof built upon yet another set of preliminary assumptions which in turn need to be proven. The result is an infinite regress of endlessly attempting to prove preliminary assumptions, with the result that the doctrine in question never actually gets proven. For example if I wanted to prove that church government consists of a pastor and a group of elders, I must first prove, as a preliminary conclusion, that the relevant Greek words do indeed translate to the English words “pastor”, “elders”, and “churches.” And this proof will be built on additional preliminary assumptions which in turn need to be proven; and so on, resulting in an infinite regress. As a result, Bible-study BY DEFINITION can never function as a self-sufficient source of doctrine.
On the other hand Bible-study does indeed have some doctrinal value when the preliminary conclusions are already given to the heart by the inward witness of the Holy Spirit. It also has value in a debate where the two parties already agree on a SET of preliminary assumptions. In these cases, there is no infinite regress of needing to prove preliminary conclusions. In other words, when the preliminary assumptions are already in place, the Bible can be used to construct a proof of the doctrine in question. For instance suppose you already agree with me that Abraham acted righteously when he tried to murder his son in obedience to the voice. In a debate with you I can use this preliminary assumption to prove that God’s voice imparts a feeling of certainty. And that’s precisely how Paul used Scripture in his debates. He regularly cited Scripture in his debates because he was simply using against his opponents their own assumptions about Scripture.
Weakness number Two. The second weakness of Bible-study is that it is a highly intellectual exercise, whereas Christ claimed that God reveals truth in a manner that does not exercise the intellect, for He stated at Mathew 11:25, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” My mentor Andrew Murray stated that the wise and the prudent are those who rely on hermeneutics to interpret Scripture. Some of you might be unaware of the complexities of Greek grammar. Consider that a typical verb in English only has four forms. For example the verb “play” has the four forms play, plays, played, and playing. That’s all. And in Spanish, a verb typically has 30 forms. Whereas in ancient Greek, a verb could easily have 200 forms. Therefore if knowing God’s will is a matter of Bible-study, the average Christian will never stand a chance at maturing spiritually, because he does not have enough knowledge of Greek, much less Hebrew, to prove anything. Such proofs shouldn’t be necessary because direct revelation is for babes.
Weakness Number Three. Evangelicals insist, “We look to the Bible for religious information because we should never rely on the opinions of ordinary men.” The problem is that Bible-study does in fact rely on the opinions of ordinary men. After all, Bible-study is an examination of history, context, Greek grammar, and Hebrew grammar. Ask any evangelical theologian where he gets information about all these things. He reads a multitude of seminary textbooks written by ordinary men !!! To suggest that these books are reliable is to imply that the Bible is not the only reliable textbook; it is not the only authority.
Weakness number Four: If God intended Bible-study to be our main basis for religious beliefs, He is an incompetent leader, because He allowed 5000 years to transpire without providing a printing press. For the first five thousand years of the church, the average believer did not have a Bible, because the printing press was only invented 500 years ago.
Weakness Number Five. Bible-study is subjective in the sense that, ultimately, it has no definite standards. For example, suppose I write up a biblical proof. Some readers might feel that I really proved my point. Others might feel that I did not even come close to proving it. What litmus test will finally establish or negate my proof? There is no such litmus test; the whole process is highly subjective, and consequently no conclusion is ever finally established. Whereas my epistemology provides a definite standard. For example it holds that a conclusion is obligatory if apprehended at 100% certainty. The evangelical scholar Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, president and founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, admitted that a feeling of certainty is what enabled the prophets to recognize God’s voice.
Weakness number six. Centuries of Bible-study haven’t been very fruitful. To begin with, the number of doctrinal disagreements even among evangelicals is pretty startling. There is a longstanding joke that seminaries should be called cemeteries, because the students often fall away from the faith. They fall away because seminary suddenly exposes them to numerous disagreements in the church, discrepancies in the biblical texts, and weaknesses in mainstream theology. A professor at Dallas Theological Seminary published an article in which he frankly admitted that Bible-study has been causing students to fall away, and he said that the only remedy is for them to spend more time seeking Christ’s voice. After all, why do you believe that I exist? Because you can hear my voice. And your faith in me would grow even stronger if you could also see me, touch me, and even smell me. Therefore the key to strong faith in God is experiencing Him through external sensations at high intensity and wide variety.
Weakness number seven. For three reasons it is unlikely that God intended Bible-study to be our main mentor. Stated differently, for three reasons God probably intended His voice to be our mentor. First, He created us for fellowship with Him and therefore to hear His voice. Second, rule by divine voice has a solid history. Not only do we find it with Adam and Even in the garden, but even prior to them with the angels. Angels don’t rely on Bible-study; they know God’s will in virtue of hearing His voice. Third, it is self-evident that God’s voice, imparting certainty, is potentially a far more effective tool than Bible-study. God is a selfish, cruel Being if He is unwilling to avail of His best tools on our behalf.
Weakness number eight: Bible-study cannot reveal to us the specifics of God’s will, because our exceedingly complex world is fraught with unpredictable dangers. For example God might want you to stay home from work tomorrow because a Muslim perhaps intends to bomb the building. There is no possible way you can get this kind of information from Bible-study. You might reply that, if God intended to protect you, He would put a stop to the Muslim. However, in Scripture we often find that He does not put a stop to the danger. For example when Herod sought to kill the infant Jesus, God did not put a stop to him. Instead the divine voice warned Joseph in dreams to flee to another country. At Romans 11:33 Paul stated that the human mind cannot trace out the specifics of God’s will. Again, the reason for this is that the world is too complex for us to grasp the rationale underlying His decisions. Therefore Bible-study cannot suffice to reveal or even verify the specifics of His will for your life. And that’s why my mentor Andrew Murray wrote, “Obedience depends on hearing the voice. Do not imagine you know the will of God. Pray and wait for the inward teaching of the Spirit.”
Weakness number nine: The NT writers implied that the Holy Spirit is willing to provide us all the needed information even without Bible-study. For example let’s pick it up at 1john 2:27: “The anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and therefore you do not need anyone to teach you. His anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true and is no lie, and so, even as He has taught you, continue to abide in Him.” When the NT writers made such promises to the churches, they realized full well that the average Christian would never own a Bible. The implication, then, is that the Holy Spirit is willing to guide us into all truth even without Bible-study. A similar passage is 1 Corinthians chapter 2 verses 6 thru 16, where Paul defines the spiritual man as a mature Christian thoroughly educated by the Holy Spirit. It’s interesting that we never find Paul petitioning God to get multiple copies of the Bible into print, much less a wide variety of seminary textbooks. Instead he simply prayed that God grant His people understanding. For example Col 1:9 states, “We pray without ceasing that you might be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” Likewise at Eph 1:17 he prayed that God grant the Ephesians the Spirit of wisdom and revelation for enlightening the eyes of their hearts.
2Timothy chapter 3 verse 15 to 17 is probably the only passage in Scripture which, at first glance, seems to suggest that Bible-study is a sufficient source of doctrine. Timothy grew up in a godly household of true believers who instructed him in Scripture from childhood. Let’s pick it up at verse 15 where Paul says to Timothy: “From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfected, thoroughly furnished to every good work.”
However, if this passage proves anything all, it actually proves too much, because Paul is clearly speaking of the OT Scriptures in this context, as the NT was not yet written at the time of Timothy’s childhood. In other words if the passage is taken to mean that Scripture is sufficient, this would mean that the OT is sufficient, in which case the NT is unnecessary. It’s interesting that verse 16 does not say “sufficient” but rather “profitable.” For example I might say to you, “Diligence is profitable for acquiring all prosperity.” This would NOT imply that diligence is SUFFICIENT for acquiring all wealth. It only means that diligence is PROFITABLE toward the goal of acquiring all wealth.
At Verse 15 Paul stated that Scripture can make Timothy wise. As I have already conceded, Scripture can be effective for creating proofs if, and only if, the proofs are built upon a set of preliminary conclusions previously established or assumed. Otherwise we have the infinite regress of endlessly attempting to prove preliminary conclusions. From where did Timothy obtain a set of preliminary conclusions? Verse 17 states, “That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.” This phrase “the man of God” is very significant, as Roman Catholic scholars have been quick to point out. In the OT it functioned as a technical term for an established prophet. In other words Paul is saying that the Scriptures can help to equip the prophet for every good work. The mind of a prophet is packed full of preliminary conclusions given by the Holy Spirit. Consequently a prophet is the ONLY person who can draw conclusions from the Scriptures with full expertise.
Evangelicals have a very biased outlook on verse 15. I’ll read that verse again: “From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Wise in what sense? What wise lessons did Timothy learn from Scripture? He probably learned that we need to depend on God’s voice, on the inward witness of the Holy Spirit, as our principal authority, as opposed to relying mostly on Bible-study. Indeed Scripture indicates that Bible-study is insufficient, because it implies that the Bible is not solid food. For example at 1Corinthians chapter 3 Paul denied the Corinthians solid food because they were still babes. He gave them letters known today as NT epistles, but no solid food. Therefore the NT epistles are not solid food. Scripture is not solid food. Likewise the writer of Hebrews implied that the epistle to the Hebrews wasn’t solid food. That’s why the early church father Chrysostom concluded that solid food must be referring to content unavailable from Scripture. It is content available only through the special revelations usually reserved for prophets.
Here ends the second lecture entitled, “The Weaknesses of Bible-Centered Epistemology.”
This was the second lecture in the series entitled, “Why we Need a Second Reformation.”
This is lecture number three in the series entitled, “Why we Need a Second Reformation.”
I want to begin with a difficult passage about prayer. Let’s pick it up at Mark 11:22: “And Jesus said to them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he says shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he says. Therefore I say unto you, Whatsoever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Based on this passage, many Christians imagine that you can obtain blessings simply by claiming them in faith. Just name your blessing and claim it. I call it the name-it-and-claim-it faith movement. This is a bit silly. After all, there is some truth in the maxim, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” God is too wise to grant immature Christians the power to simply name it and claim it, for they would harness this power for selfish motives. The passage is not talking about name-it-and-claim-it. It’s talking about 100% certainty, for it defines faith as the absence of doubt. This passage confirms that the devil can’t give us 100% certainty. For if the devil could give us this kind of faith, many immature Christians would be casting mountains into the sea for selfish gain. Generally God reserves this degree of certainty for Christians faithful in unselfish prayer over the course of many years.
On the other hand, given that 100% faith is a work of the Holy Spirit, why then does the passage command the disciples to have faith in God? In what sense is faith a work of human effort? This passage exposes that there are two kinds of faith. In order to test you, God can place a demand on your conscience obligating you to trust Him with all the willpower you can summon. Trusting God as an act of free will is a self-generated human faith. You should do this only when your conscience demands it, for otherwise you would be acting in blind faith. For example you shouldn’t say, “I’m headed out to evangelize on the nearest street corner because I’m just gonna have faith in God for a great harvest.” Don’t do this unless your conscience absolutely demands it. Instead wait in prayer for outpourings of divine faith. In other words keep praying until God gives you 100% certainty that your evangelism on that street corner will be victorious. But while you are praying, be sensitive to the fact that the Holy Spirit might place a demand on your conscience to exert human faith, that is, to trust that God will eventually answer your petition if you persevere in prayer.
The Protestant Reformation
occurred 500 years ago and can be defined as the rise and spread of evangelical
theology on our planet. For the first 100 years of the Reformation, these
evangelical theologians were very much in agreement. One of the doctrines they
agreed upon is called the Covenant of Grace. To a large extent I agree with
this doctrine in virtue of the following argument. Although scripture speaks of many covenants,
for instance an Old Covenant and a New Covenant, there must be one
Does Scripture explicitly mention this Covenant of Grace? In Galatians chapter 3, Paul seems to clearly identify the Abrahamic covenant as the Covenant of Grace. In this chapter Paul refers to the Abrahamic Covenant in at least four ways. He refers to it as “The Covenant”, he refers to it as “The Promise”, he refers to it in the plural as “The Promises”, and finally he refers to it as “the Inheritance.” Time and again God appeared to Abraham face to face announcing various promises, for example at Genesis chapter 17. God Himself classified these various promises as His covenant with Abraham. According to Hebrews 11, Abraham was even looking forward to the heavenly city because God promised it to him as part of the covenant. Apparently God actually showed him the heavenly city during some of those face-to-face visions.
To recap, I’ve basically made three statements about the Abrahamic Covenant. Most theologians, both past and present, who accept the Covenant of Grace as the main covenant of Scripture would agree with these three statements:
One. The Abrahamic Covenant extends to all OT and NT saints according to Galatians chapter 3 and Romans chapter 4.
Two. The Abrahamic Covenant is probably the Covenant of Grace, for Paul ties it to the cross, to salvation by faith alone, and to our heavenly inheritance.
Three. The Abrahamic Covenant is a series of promises that God VOICED to Abraham.
However, this third statement probably needs a slight modification. This is where I deviate slightly from the traditional view. Again, the traditional view is that the Abrahamic Covenant is a series of promises voiced to Abraham. Generally I agree, but let’s also recognize that some of the promises voiced to Abraham don’t apply to me, for instance the promise that he would bear a son in his old age. How, then, can I be under the same covenant if some of the promises don’t apply to me? The solution is to define the covenant, not as the set of promises voiced to Abraham, but rather as the DYNAMIC of hearing promises. Anyone who participates in the dynamic is a member of the covenant. In other words, anyone who hears God speak promises is a member, because membership is by faith, and faith comes by hearing according to Rom 10:17. The tenth chapter of John’s gospel provides powerful evidence that Christians hear God. Verse 10:27 states, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
During conversion, Christ began to speak promises to your heart even as He spoke to Abraham. For instance He promised to forgive your sins and resurrect you into His heavenly city. According to Hebrews 11, all the OT saints were expecting, by faith, to be resurrected into the heavenly city. Their faith was based on hearing Christ promise them resurrection. However, I want to get back to the third chapter of Galatians because it is a very important discussion of the Abrahamic Covenant. Verse 29 asserts that all Christians are Abraham’s seed. Verse 16 reads as follows, “The promises were SPOKEN to Abraham AND to his seed.” I’ll read that verse again, because it proves that God speaks promises to your heart even as He spoke them to Abraham. It says, “The promises were SPOKEN to Abraham AND to his seed.”
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Unfortunately some versions of the Bible weaken the force of the Greek here. They render the verse as stating, “The promises were MADE to Abraham and to his seed” instead of, “The promises were SPOKEN to Abraham and to his seed.” However, if you investigate the Greek word used there, you’ll find that it always means “spoken” throughout the New Testament. The word “spoken” indicates “hearing”, which is consistent with Paul’s twofold reference to “the hearing of faith” at verses 2 and 5, which I’ll discuss later.
The theologians of the
Protestant Reformation recognized that the term “seed”, though singular here,
plays a dual role both singular and plural. In the plural, “seed” refers to all Christians, for all of
us are Abraham’s seed according to verse 29. In the singular, “seed” refers to
Christ as the seed of Abraham. Thus when Paul says, “The promises were SPOKEN
to Abraham AND to his seed” he is including Christ Himself in all of this,
meaning that the Father spoke a variety of promises to Christ. For example, the Father promised the Son, “I
will resurrect you into my heavenly city.” Therefore the Abrahamic covenant is
actually the Father-Son covenant and, as such, is the main covenant of Scripture. The covenant is individualistic, meaning that
it applies to any individual to whom God speaks promises. Whereas
In this same chapter Paul equates “promise” with grace in contrast to the works of the law. God promised Abraham blessings that he hadn’t earned through works of the law. Such an unmerited blessing is a gift given by grace, not by works. Let’s suppose you want a blessing from God. There are two ways to go about it. You could open up your Bible, find some laws and commands, try to obey them, and then say to God, “Ok, God, I earned it by good works. Bless me now.” The other way is to skip the good works altogether and go straight to prayer, saying, “Ok, God, Give me the blessing even though I did not earn it.” This is what it means to walk by grace, as opposed to the works of the law. After all, God created you for fellowship and therefore for prayer.
The next issue is this. When praying, how are you to know when God has granted the blessing? His intention is to reply to you directly. He wants to speak to you because, once again, He created you for fellowship with Him. When you ask Him for a blessing, He wants to respond, “Yes, I have approved your petition. I PROMISE to do what you asked.” In other words we are supposed to be hearing promises. Abraham did not get blessings by observing laws and commands learned in Bible-study. His blessings came by grace, that is, by hearing God speak promises in response to his prayers. Abraham was a perfect example for Paul to mention in his epistles because he lived before the OT was even written. There was no Bible in Abraham’s day. The only thing he had to go on was God’s voice. This is what made him the perfect model of the walk by faith.
The Galatians had become too dependent on Bible-study. They were looking to Scripture to find a bunch of laws and commands to obey. This is not the pathway to blessing. They should have been waiting in prayer to hear promises. One reason that God established this dynamic of hearing promises is that it fully glorifies Him. That is to say, I cannot really take pride in my own skills as an evangelist if God promised to give me the victory. He gets all the glory.
Surprisingly only a handful of church leaders, over
the last 2000 years, have recognized the
need to wait on God for promises. This is very odd because the OT saints were
well aware of it, and generally referred to it as “Inquiring of the Lord.” I’ll say it again. Throughout the OT, the
phrase “Inquiring of the Lord” referred to waiting in prayer for a “Loud and
Clear” response from God. Here’s a list
of OT verses that specifically contain the phrase “Inquiring of the
Lord.”: Gen 25:22, Ex 18:15, Judges 20
verses 27-28, 1Sam 9:9, 1Sam 10:22, 1Sam
23:4, 1Sam 28:6, 1Sam 30:8, 2Sam 2:1, 2Sam 5:19, 2 Sam 5:23, 2Sam 16:23,
2Sam 21:1, 1Ki 22 verses 5 thru
22:13, 2Ki 22:18, 1Chronicles 10:14, 2Chron 18:4,
2Chron 18:7, 2Chron 34 verses 21 and 26,
Jer 21:2, Jer 37:7, Ezek 14:3,
and Ezek 20 verses 3 and 31. In several of these passages, the petitioners were inquiring of the Lord
for a promise of military victory over the enemies of
Indeed this principle of waiting for promises of
military victory was actually a specific feature of the Mosaic law. That’s how
the institution of the law was set up to operate. You can see this for yourself
in the Book of Numbers at chapter 9 verses 15 to 23. Probably the most striking
aspect of this passage is the extreme redundancy. It keeps repeating the same
dynamic over and over again, as if God is saying, “This principle is very
important, so I am going to keep repeating it just to make sure you get it.”
I’ll now summarize the content of this passage. It implies that Moses did not
really need to alert the people as to when it was time to march into a new territory, because the Lord alerted the entire nation visually.
When He wanted them to remain stationary, the pillar of cloud remained basically
grounded, that is, hovering just above
the tabernacle in view of all
The law emphasized God’s voice
because the Abrahamic covenant centered on His voice. Even the Ten commandments
were His voice because they did not originate on stone tablets. Rather, God
voiced the ten commandments to the
entire nation of
The enemies that
That day they preached in the streets of
Let’s now move forward three chapters later in the Book of Acts, because the stage is now set for a proper understanding of Acts chapter 4. In this scenario, Peter was anxious to continue taking the gospel to the streets but wanted to be sure that God would fully empower him for the task. Therefore instead of stepping out on blind faith, he gathered the entire church in prayer, hoping for a loud and clear sing from God. Let’s pick it up at verse 30,“And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness.” The famous evangelical commentator Albert Barnes remarked that the language used here indicates an earthquake. This is not to suggest that every earthquake is necessarily a sign from heaven. Everything hinges on certainty, epistemologically speaking. You must feel so certain that the earthquake is a sign from God that your conscience feels obligated to accept it as such.
Six chapters later, at Acts chapter 10, we find Peter on a rooftop praying. Why was he on a rooftop praying? Why wasn’t he on the nearest street corner preaching away? Because he recognized the need to wait in prayer for loud and clear signs. While praying on the rooftop he saw a vision directing him to take the gospel to the Gentiles.
The book of Acts is simply filled with examples of the
Lord using Loud and Clear signs to initiate and direct evangelism. For instance
at Acts 8:26 the angel of the Lord commanded Phillip to travel south from
In a similar way Paul’s ministry of evangelism was,
from start to finish, directed by loud
and clear signs from heaven. It began on the road to
Here ends lecture number three entitled, “Hearing God Speak Promises is the Key to Successful Evangelism.”
This was lecture number three in the series, “Why We Need a Second Reformation.”
This is lecture number four in the series entitled, “Why We Need a Second Reformation.”
In the previous lecture we observed that victory depends on waiting for Christ to announce promises. Stated differently, You need his PERMISSION or PREAUTHORIZATION if you want to undertake a particular ministry or evangelistic campaign. Let’s pull a few more examples from the four gospels.
Let’s pick it up at Luke
chapter 9 verse 2. “Then Jesus called
his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils,
and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the
Another example of the need for preauthorization is Matthew chapter 14 where Peter attempts to walk on water. Verse 24 tells us that he did this when the raging winds were wildly tossing the boat around like a baby’s toy. If you believe that Peter stepped out of boat on blind faith, then I would urge you to simply follow his example. Simply purchase a ticket for an ocean cruise and, when you get out to the middle of the ocean, in the midst of a raging storm, step off the boat in blind faith to walk on the water. Obviously blind faith is foolishness. Indeed the technical term for blind faith is presumption. It is the essence of all false religion in the world. Instead of stepping out on blind faith, Peter petitioned the Lord for a vocalized preauthorization. Let’s pick it up at verse 28. “Peter said, Lord, if it is you, then TELL me to come out to You on the water.” Peter was no fool. “And Jesus replied, ‘Come’. And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.” The clear implication is that the Lord’s voice imparted a feeling of certainty which is faith, or as Paul puts it, “Faith cometh by hearing.” As a result of this feeling of certainty, Peter considered it safe to step out upon the water.
In the Scriptures God sometimes uses repetition to drive a point home. Therefore it is very significant that Christ twice performed for the disciples the miracle of harvesting fish from a fisherman’s boat. He initially performed this miracle early in His relationship with the disciples, and then a second time after the resurrection. He repeated the miracle because He wanted to emphasize the necessity of preauthorization for evangelistic ministry. To understand how this miracle drives the point home, you need to keep in mind that He used the catching of fish as a metaphor for winning the lost to the gospel. For example He said to His disciples, “I will make you fishers of men.” In the two passages in question, the disciples were casting out nets night and day without success. They weren’t catching any fish. The casting out of the nets is a metaphor for evangelism. In other words what is pictured here is a congregation evangelizing night and day with little or no success in winning the lost to the gospel. The REASON the disciples weren’t catching any fish is a lack of preauthorization. They had cast out the nets on their own initiative, based on their own opinions, instead of waiting for a Loud and Clear sign from God. THEN Jesus suddenly said to them, Cast out the nets one more time. NOW the disciples have finally received the needed preauthorization. So they cast out the nets one last time, which immediately became full of fish to the bursting point. What is pictured here, therefore, is a small congregation that suddenly receives preauthorization to evangelize. Immediately their evangelism becomes so fruitful that their building becomes filled to the bursting point, so that some members have to stand outside. This is called revival or spiritual awakening, which in some nations has occurred on a grand scale perhaps every few hundred years or so. However, the miracle of harvesting fish – the miracle Jesus did twice - indicates that God originally intended such revivals to be the evangelistic norm for every generation of believers.
Let’s suppose that you just heard God promise you victorious evangelism in a particular territory. This does NOT necessarily imply that you yourself are the one who is supposed to take the gospel to the streets. That is the task of the evangelist. Historically theologians have widely presumed that all Christians are tasked with evangelism. This presumption is usually called the Great Commission. I see little support for this assumption. I am not aware of a single verse in the NT epistles that urges all the members of a congregation to become active in evangelism. In fact the NT spells out two qualifications necessary to function as an evangelist. After 2000 years of overlooking these qualifications, Bible-scholars are finally, in the last 30 years or so, beginning to recognize the first qualification. Unfortunately the whole church still remains completely in the dark with respect to the second qualification.
The first qualification is an endowment of the Holy Spirit for prophetic utterance. An increasing number of scholars are finding this conclusion irresistible as a result of performing redaction criticism on the synoptic gospels. It works like this. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the synoptic gospels based on possessing similar content. If you find a particular event common to all three synoptic gospels, you can compare and contrast the three accounts hoping to discover the distinctive motif of each writer. Another way to discover the author’s intentions is to reflect on which events he recorded versus those he omitted. Luke’s two books Luke-Acts are quite large, constituting a full 25% of the New Testament. Therefore scholars had quite a wealth of material at their disposal when performing this redaction criticism. What they discovered is that Luke emphasized the endowment of the Holy Spirit for prophetic utterances proclaimed for the sake of evangelism.
Let’s consider an example of how redaction works. Although all four gospels introduce John the Baptist as the premier evangelist of his day, it is Luke that most clearly identifies him as a prophet. According to Luke chapter 1, what qualified John the Baptist to function as an evangelist is that he was a prophet in the magnitude of Elijah. (Actually he WAS Elijah in return, but I cannot discuss this fact here). Now, I am not saying that you must hold the OFFICE of a prophet in order to evangelize. Rather I am merely stating that evangelism involves prophetic utterance. If you want more examples, I can point you to two works of redactive criticism. The first is Roger Stronstad’s book entitled “The Prophethood of all Believers.”. The second is James Shelton’s book entitled The Role of the Holy Spirit in Luke-Acts.” Both of these evangelical scholars concluded that Luke defines evangelism as prophetic utterance.
Since God is holy, we should not embrace a theology that depicts Him as somewhat irresponsible, disorganized, careless, sloppy, and cavalier in His approach to evangelism. And yet for the last 2000 years, the church has been conducting sloppy evangelism and missions, in the sense of producing evangelists and missionaries who run around all over the planet in a state of uncertainty as to WHAT to preach, WHERE to preach, and WHEN to preach. Worse yet, they are full of doctrinal disagreements even amongst themselves. Such sloppiness cannot possibly be what God intended. After all, let’s consider what’s at stake here. When you preach the gospel, you are offering to the audience advice critical to their eternal destiny. If you are not 100% sure that your message is 100% accurate and true, it is unethical to articulate your advice unless you first forewarn them with the disclaimer that you really don’t know for sure what you are talking about. Now here’s the problem. We find no such disclaimer in the preaching of Christ, John the Baptist, and the apostles. This leaves us with two possible conclusions. The first is that these men preached in an unethical manner. That is to say, they were supposed to announce such disclaimers but were simply too uncaring and negligent to bother doing so. The second possibility is that no disclaimer was necessary because these men were INDEED 100% certain that everything they preached was 100% accurate. In other words they preached with a gift of inspiration whereby they spoke doctrinally infallible words. In both testaments, such a gift of inspiration is called the gift of prophecy. Logically we can conclude, then, that evangelism is supposed to be prophetic utterance. As Jesus Himself told His Apostles at Mat 10:20, “It will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of my father speaking through you.”
Let’s turn back to the Day of Pentecost to see this prophetic dynamic in action. After the Fire landed on the disciples, they began to preach the gospel, although not in their own words, but rather as the Spirit gave them utterance. Modern Pentecostalism has classified the utterance as speaking in tongues. This classification is incorrect. The proper classification is prophetic utterance, as a number of Bible commentators have pointed out, not to mention the redactive critics mentioned earlier. Allow me to explain why. The speaking in tongues characteristic of modern Pentecostal churches consists of languages that no human being understands. In chapter 14 of 1Corinthians, Paul indicated that prophetic utterance is more appropriate for public settings because the audience can understand prophecy. Thus the term “prophecy” refers to inspired speech that CAN be understood. And therefore modern Pentecostals are quite correct to use the term “tongues” for speech in languages that no one can understand. In public settings it requires the gift of interpretation because no one can understand the languages.
On Pentecost an utterance occurred that everyone could understand. Therefore the proper classification is prophecy. To put the argument another way, Luke was NOT saying that the disciples spoke in tongues. That’s how the various Bibles have been translating it, but that’s not what Luke meant. Several times in the NT the Greek word in question clearly means “languages” rather than tongues. For example Revelation 14:6 affirms that the gospel is to be preached to men of every nation and every tongue. This means that the gospel is to be preached to men of every nation and every LANGUAGE. It does not refer to the gift of speaking in tongues. It does not refer to the gift of speaking in languages which no one can understand. Therefore we should not use the word “tongues” when translating Acts 2:4. We should render it like this: “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” After all, nowhere in the book of Acts is the gift of interpretation mentioned.
Even if the Holy Spirit was active in the human voice-box to inspire the languages of Pentecost, it wasn’t the gift of tongues. It wasn’t the gift of speaking in languages which no one can understand. Therefore it was prophecy. The entire Book of Acts – the ENTIRE book of Acts - is concerned with preaching the gospel to the nations. God would not have the evangelists preaching to the nations in languages which the nations cannot understand. That would be self-defeating. That would make no sense.
At Acts 10:46 the household of Cornelius spoke in other languages when the Spirit fell upon them. In reflecting on this outpouring, Peter stated at verse 11:15 that it was the precisely same kind of gift given at Pentecost. Therefore, since Pentecost is best classified as prophecy, the experience of Cornelius must likewise be classified as prophecy. That’s why the church father Tertullian, as early as the year 200 A.D., classified the experience of Cornelius as prophecy rather than tongues. In sum the Book of Acts simply does not mention the gift of tongues. Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians is the only book in the NT that mentions the gift of tongues. Interestingly enough, that epistle ranks it least among the gifts listed at the end of chapter twelve.
Even more disturbing is the fact that modern Pentecostals presume to possess the same gift outpoured upon the Apostles in Acts. Here the reasoning seems to be, “Since I speak in tongues just like the apostles did, I have the same magnitude of anointing given to the apostles.” Such reasoning is flawed. It’s like saying, “Since I speak in tongues just like the apostles did, I too am an apostle.” If modern Pentecostals possess the same magnitude of anointing described in the Book of Acts, why can’t they perform the same miraculous works? There should be an abundance of healing the sick, raising the dead, prophesying, miraculous signs, wonders, and successful evangelism. All of this is generally absent from the average Pentecostal, even from those who are diligently striving to fan into flame the gifts within them. I myself take the following approach to the question as to whether I have received the anointing described in the Book of Acts, “I will not presume to possess it until I am 100% certain that I have received it.”
Another reason to classify Pentecost as prophecy is that Peter’s speech on that day contained far too many theological insights and revelations for him to have produced the message on his own. Clearly he was engaging in prophetic utterance. Furthermore, he announced that the outpouring was a fulfillment of Joel’s promise. What precisely did the promise of Joel state? Let’s pick it up at Acts chapter 2 verse 17, “In the last days, says God, I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall PROPHESY, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. And in those days I will pour out My Spirit upon My maids and servants, and they shall PROPHESY.”
OT prophets were called seers. The word seer in English is short for SEE-ERS meaning one who sees visions and dreams. In Peter’s recital of Joel’s promise it is twice stated that those who receive this outpouring SHALL prophesy. Note well that it does NOT say, “I shall pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and they MIGHT PERHAPS prophesy.” No. It says they SHALL prophesy. Either God was lying, or He meant what He said. I believe He meant what he said. Therefore those who receive this outpouring SHALL prophesy. Nor does it say, “I shall pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and they shall speak in tongues.” The explicit teaching of this passage is that the anointing featured in the Book of Acts produces prophecy. PERIOD. Where there is no prophecy, there is no such anointing. I’ll say it again. If you have never prophesied, then you haven’t yet received the kind of outpouring promised by Joel, even though you do, in virtue of being a Christian, possess the indwelling Spirit of the new birth and sanctification.
According to Joel the Spirit would be outpoured upon all flesh. What does “all flesh” mean? It must be limited in force. For instance it does not mean everyone, for that would include unbelievers. The immediate context affords us a clue. Men from all nations were in the vicinity of the outpouring on Pentecost. Thus all flesh means “all types of flesh.” This is much like an automobile supply shop whose motto is, “We sell all car parts.” This means “We sell all TYPES of car parts.” Albert Barnes, John Wesley, and Marvin Vincent are examples of evangelical scholars who would agree with this interpretation of “all flesh.” If you read the entire book of Acts, you’ll find that the Apostles often laid hands as a means of transferring the Spirit of prophecy to new disciples. Typically this was done after water baptism. That’s why Peter said to these men of all nations, “Repent and be baptized for the remission of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The problem, however, is this. Why did Peter say that Joel’s promised outpouring upon all flesh was already fulfilled even though these men of all nations had not yet received it? Peter’s statement indicates that the promise is inexhaustible. That is to say, any last-days outpouring of the Spirit of prophecy is yet another fulfillment – another PARTIAL fulfillment - of Joel’s inexhaustible promise. For instance at Acts 11:15 Peter classified the outpouring on Cornelius’ household as another Pentecost. Both outpourings were fulfillments of Joel’s promise regardless of whether the group of men from all nations had yet participated.
I define an inexhaustible promise as one that functions as a Promised Land – a promised territory - that every Christian is supposed to go up and possess. For example Hebrews chapters 4 urges us to take hold of the inexhaustible OT promise of entering God’s rest. Likewise Jesus Himself officially perpetuated the OT promise of entering God’s rest when He promised us at Mat 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Throughout this life you are to endlessly continue appropriating more and more of this promised land of rest, this promised territory, steadily ascending into higher and higher levels of rest. The process is never completed in this life. It is only in the next life that such an inexhaustible promise is completely fulfilled. I submit that Joel’s promise of the Spirit of prophecy is equally inexhaustible. Every Christian is supposed to seek greater and greater outpourings of prophecy throughout the rest of his life. That is what Peter had in mind when he extended Joel’s promise to all believers at Acts chapter 2 verse 39, “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, and to all whom the Lord our God shall call.” The point I’m making here is that even though you currently lack the prophetic qualifications for the office of evangelist, God does not want you to remain in that condition. He wants you to partake of the Spirit of prophecy. How do we obtain it? Redactive criticism would point out here that the expression ‘filled with the Spirit’ is virtually unique to Luke’s writings. It occurs about 14 times in Luke’s writings. The only other place it is mentioned is Ephesians 5:18. And Luke is the only writer who records the following statement of Christ, “How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” Prayer is therefore the key to obtaining the Spirit of prophecy. This verse is the only statement in the entire NT that affords any kind of instructions on how to be filled with the Spirit. Moreover Luke, in every case where he recorded an outpouring, was careful to imply that prayer is ultimately what triggered it. For example let’s pick it up at Luke chapter 3 verse 21: “Jesus Himself was baptized and, while He was praying, the heavens were suddenly rent open, and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him.” Redactive criticism would point out here that Luke is the only writer who credited this outpouring to prayer. The other two synoptic gospels certainly recorded this outpouring but did NOT mention prayer in connection with it.
I will now present a third
argument for defining evangelism as a form of prophetic ministry. The OT
prophets often announced commands that put life and death at stake. For example
Moses commanded the nation of
There is one more verse possibly relevant to the controversy of tongues. Acts 19:6 reads, “And when Paul had laid hands upon [these disciples], the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spoke with other languages, and prophesied.” I suppose one could concoct an argument that there was more than prophesy going on here, and therefore tongues. However, this verse is really not very pertinent because modern Pentecostalism stands or falls on Pentecost. Pentecost was Luke’s SUPREME opportunity to tell us what Jesus had in mind when He referred to power for witnessing, clothing the disciples with power from on high, and baptizing them in the Spirit. Luke pointed our eyes to Joel’s promise of the Spirit of prophecy.
Moreover, reading this verse as tongues is too far-fetched to be considered sound hermeneutics. Allow me to explain why. Luke’s two books, which constitute 25% of the NT, fall squarely in the tradition of the biblical historians who, with few exceptions, made much ado about prophets and prophetic utterances. In other words we have about a thousand pages of OT history whose style forms a precedent for Luke’s literary endeavor. Furthermore we also have the other three gospels Mathew, Mark, and John which likewise mimic the writing style typical of the OT historians. In all these books – both OT and NT - there is no clear mention of a gift of speaking in languages which no man can understand. If such a gift were to be the mark of empowerment for a new age, we would expect Luke to provide at least one clear discussion of this topic. He did not. This would leave the reader hopelessly confused about a very crucial topic. Whereas if we assume that the languages were intelligible, there is no confusion at all, because we can simply classify it as prophecy, in the longstanding tradition of the biblical historians who made much ado about prophets. Furthermore, redactive criticism proves that Luke stressed prophecy far more than Matthew, Mark, and John.
Another problem with regarding tongues as proof of empowerment is that it assumes a new era. There cannot be a new era because the Abrahamic covenant is inviolable. Nothing new can be added to it according to Galatians 3:15. NT saints do not get a better cross than OT saints. It’s the same cross, and therefore the same set of blessings. Moreover, in the OT, prophecy was considered proof of empowerment. Therefore one would expect the same from Luke, and we are not disappointed.
The stage is now set for
introducing the second qualification for the office of evangelist. Let’s pick
it up at Acts chapter 1 verse 8, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy
Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses in
Should there be any remaining doubt that this is in fact what Luke had in mind, he completely eradicates it for us at Acts 22 verses 14 and 15. In this passage the disciple Ananias specifically defines a witness as one who SEES and HEARS Christ face to face. Ananias indicates this definition when he describes Paul’s appointment to the office of evangelist in the following way. “The God of our fathers has chosen you, Saul, to SEE the Righteous one and to HEAR a voice from His mouth. For you shall be his witness unto all men of what you have SEEN and HEARD.” Notice how the word witness appears explicitly in this passage, in the context of seeing and hearing Christ. I’ll read it again. “The God of our fathers has chosen you, Saul, to SEE the Righteous one and to HEAR a voice from His mouth. For you shall be his WITNESS unto all men of what you have SEEN and HEARD.” That’s Acts chapter 22, verses 14 and 15.
Also relevant are Acts 1:22 and Acts 4:33 where Luke refers to “witnesses of Christ’s resurrection.” A witness of His resurrection is one who has seen the resurrected Christ. However, in Luke’s view, all the great OT prophets were witnesses as well. They were witnesses of Christ because they saw and heard Him, even though they died too soon to serve as witnesses of His resurrection, unless of course God also showed them the resurrection in visions.
At this point I’ll begin to formulate several arguments demonstrating that God wants us to see Him face to face. Let’s begin by defining the nature of conscious experience. What does it mean to be conscious? Consciousness is continually experiencing a variety of sensations loud and clear. Thus the complete termination of all sensations would be the death of consciousness. For instance we comprehend even the most abstract concepts by means of visions. Consider for example the scientific theory that light is both a particle and a wave. Comprehending this concept is a matter of visualizing light, particles, and waves. Where there is no vision, there is nothing pondered, nothing perceived, nothing comprehended, and nothing experienced. In a nutshell, where there is no vision there is no CONTENT. If words such as “God” failed to convey some perceptible meaning or content, there would be no point in reading the Bible, and indeed the very notion of conversion would be completely meaningless. As a result, there must be some meaning or content in mind whenever we proceed to worship God. In other words we must be worshipping SOMETHING, we must be worshipping some kind of content. The problem is, however, that the human mind cannot properly conceptualize, on its own, an ineffably holy God. Thus the mind, when left to itself, is doomed to worship a conceptual idol. This is precisely the plight of the Pharisees, the Jehovah Witnesses, and the Mormons, to name a few of the cults. They supposedly worship God as found in the pages of the Bible which they so diligently study, but in reality what they are really worshipping is a conceptual idol formed and shaped by their own minds. The Holy Spirit is the only remedy. For the Christian, the Holy Spirit testifies about God to his heart, providing accurate CONTENT about Him. As already stated, content is a matter of visions. The mind can only worship that which the mind’s eye sees. As a result, a number of evangelical scholars, notably John Calvin as the leading theologian of the Protestant Reformation, and Marvin Vincent as one of the greatest Greek scholars in church history, have rightly defined the new birth as an ongoing vision of Christ, even though this vision is, for most Christians, far too faint and thus far too subconscious for them to even realize it is happening. Stated differently, in one sense all Christians DO see God, but in another sense they are largely blind to Him. They do not really see Him in face to face proximity, and thus, as a result, are still heavily steeped in conceptual idolatry. The Holy Spirit desires to gradually rectify this idolatry, he wants to rectify this lack of accurate content as part of the ongoing process of maturation, until we consistently see Christ face to face even as Moses did. In fact the Holy Spirit wants to THOROUGHLY enlighten your mind, providing accurate content about many other biblical concepts and events such as angels and heaven, which implies that you are supposed to see angels vividly, as though face to face, and perceive the heavenly city distinctly, as though already there. That’s why Jesus voiced the following promise to Nathaniel at John chapter 1 verse 51, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” Abraham was looking forward to the heavenly city because the Lord showed it to him during some of those face to face visions of God. A good example of such a vision is Jacob’s dream. Let’s pick it up at Genesis 28:12: “And Jacob dreamed of a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to Heaven. The angels of God were ascending and descending on the ladder. And at the top stood Jehovah, saying, ‘I am Jehovah, the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac.” Thus in a single dream Jacob saw angels, God, and even heaven itself.
The experience of visions is part of the Spirit of prophecy featured in Joel’s promise. The promise states, “Your young men SHALL see visions, and your old men SHALL dream dreams.” Here again, note that the promise does not say, “Your young man MIGHT PERHAPS see visions, and your old men MIGHT PERHAPS dream dreams.” No. It says they SHALL see visions and dream dreams. At Ephesians 1:17, Paul prayed down upon the Ephesians a Spirit of revelation that the eyes of their heart may be enlightened. Eyes that are enlightened can see objects previously unseen. This is surely a reference to the visual content provided by the Holy Spirit.
At this point some listeners might be tempted to object that several verses deny our ability to see God in this life. But this kind of objection picks and chooses which passages to take literally. The Bible states that men saw God. There is nothing in these passages even remotely suggesting that the text is non-literal. On the contrary, in some cases there is strong evidence for literalism in the context. Take for example Numbers chapter 12 verses 6 thru 8 where God distinguishes Moses by emphasizing that he regularly spoke with Him face to face in contrast to lesser prophets who had to content themselves with obscure messages from Him. If those face to face visions given to Moses are not literal passages, that is to say, if what Moses saw in those visions was not a genuine, accurate portrait of God, then it becomes difficult to determine in what sense God elevated him above the other prophets. Even worse, once God begins providing inaccurate content, He becomes an instigator of conceptual idolatry. What we need, then, is a theological solution allowing us to take ALL the passages literally, both the ones where men saw God and the ones which indicate that He cannot be seen. I propose the following solution.
A full revelation of God’s glory, holiness, and love would be too emotionally traumatic for the human heart to survive if it occurred instantaneously. Hence the Holy Spirit must reveal God to us gradually in stages, a little more each day, because such a slow unveiling of His glory is far less traumatic to the feeble human heart. This long process takes so much time that none of us will ever complete it in a single lifespan, and thus we won’t get a full revelation of His glory on this side of heaven. When men saw God face to face, therefore, it was not a full revelation. He literally had to SHADE His glory instead of exposing them to its full radiance. That’s what Paul was referring to when he said that God dwells in light unapproachable. And the shading of His face is precisely what God was referring to when He said to Moses, “I will cover you with my hand when I pass by, so that you will only see my back parts, for no one can see my face and live.” In other word He used His own hand to shade His face from Moses. Thus you CAN see His face when properly shaded, but the problem here is that Moses wasn’t asking for a shaded version of God. He was petitioning for a full revelation, to which God in essence replied, “I can certainly give you a full revelation of my back parts, but I can’t give you a full revelation of my face, because no man can survive a full revelation of my face.” You might ask, “If the human heart is in danger of spasms from emotional trauma, why does not God simply grip it tightly enough to prevent the spasms?” Because such a tight grip would in effect stop the heart which is precisely the definition of death. Thus no one can see His face and live.
Here’s another reason why we are supposed to see God face to face. Most Christians would agree that He wants us to experience intimate fellowship with Him. However, the concept of intimate fellowship strongly suggests face to face communication. To understand why, imagine the following conversation between two men named Mike and Tom. “Hey Mike, I’ve been enjoying intimate fellowship with a woman. In fact we’re in love.” “CONGRATULATIONS Tom! Is she beautiful?”
“I imagine so, Mike, but I’ve never actually seen her face to face.”
“You haven’t seen her? I’m sorry to hear that. But I’ll bet she has a very lovely voice. Surely you’ve spoken with her, haven’t you Tom?”
“Actually, Mike, I’ve never even heard her voice. In fact she died 2000 years ago nailed to a cross, but she left behind a wonderful book of laws, rules, and regulations for me to follow. She called it ‘the Bible.’”
“Really, Tom? You’ve never even heard her voice? Wait a minute. I thought you said earlier that the two of you were enjoying INTIMATE FELLOWSHIP. Now you’re trying to tell me that all you’ve got is a book of laws and commands called a Bible? What a lousy situation! Care to explain that, Tom?”
“Sure Mike. I can explain it. We are indeed enjoying intimate fellowship. It’s a SPIRITUAL RELATIONSHIP. We are intimate in the sense of enjoying a spiritual relationship with one another.”
Folks, that’s a totally ridiculous state of affairs. I’m not going marry a woman that I can’t see, hear, feel, smell, or touch. That’s not fellowship. Calling it a “spiritual relationship” does nothing to rectify the complete lack of intimacy implied here. Indeed the phrase “spiritual relationship” is a non-statement. It conveys absolutely nothing at all. It is simply a popular Christian buzzword, a cliché, completely devoid of any meaningful content. The reality is that intimate fellowship must be defined as SENSORY EXPERIENCE. You’ve got to see, hear, or feel the other person in some form or fashion. Therefore to say that a Christian experiences fellowship with his heavenly Father implies that, at minimum, he occasionally feels the divine Presence distinctly stirring him with joy, peace, and love. If you don’t even experience that much sensation, then you basically have no fellowship with God at all.
Now it also follows logically from the foregoing, that the MORE you see Him and hear Him, the more fellowship you have. Therefore a person who has a VERY intimate relationship with God – a person who is the friend of God – is someone who sees him face to face on a regular basis. In the Bible, two men in particular are depicted as friends of God. The first is Abraham, and the second is Moses. Rather interesting is the fact that these are the two most prominent heroes of the NT, in the sense that the NT writers mention them more often than all the other OT saints. Also interesting is the fact that both men are called prophets, and in fact Abraham was the first man in the Bible to whom the Hebrew word for ‘prophet’ was applied. Genesis chapter 18 clearly illustrates why Abraham was called the friend of God. In that stunning chapter God came over to his house for supper. Abraham baked him some bread, fired Him up a beef steak, and then watched Him chew the meal. Then Abraham and God sat around chatting away the afternoon. Folks, that’s fellowship. That’s sensory experience. That is the purpose for which God created you. And frankly it’s really no different than the NT scenarios where the resurrected Christ appeared to the disciples, eating bread and fish face to face with them, while chatting away the afternoons and evenings in friendly conversation.
Exodus chapter 33 verse 11 clearly indicates that Moses, just like Abraham, was the friend of God. In that verse we read, “And the Lord spoke with Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his FRIEND.” Note how this statement logically connects the concept of friendship with face to face communication. I’ll read it again. “And the Lord spoke with Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his FRIEND.” This strongly suggests that we should define a friend of God as someone who speaks with Him face to face. God created us for intimacy and therefore intends to reveal Himself in all varieties of sensation. In fact He must be willing to do this to avoid all varieties of conceptual idolatry. Therefore He even wants us to taste Him. I submit that in heaven we will eat and drink of Christ for all eternity. I further submit that the disciples consumed Christ at the Last Supper in the forms of bread wine.
Hebrews chapter 11 is relevant to seeing God face to face. Let’s pick it up at verse 1 sometimes translated as follows, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” The term “substance” is a poor translation because faith is clearly not a substance. I can’t pour you a glass of faith. Obviously faith is a state of mind. The Greek word at issue here has two possible meanings. The first is substance. The second is certainty or assurance, and this is the better translation, as seen in some versions of the Bible. The other phrase in question is “the evidence of things unseen.” This too is probably a poor translation. The Greek word used here probably refers to a strongly held conviction or belief. Therefore I would translate the verse as follows, “Faith is feeling certain of things hoped for, the state of feeling convinced about things unseen.” To feel certain about things unseen sounds like blind faith. And we know that blind faith is foolish. How do we resolve this tension? As follows.
In one sense we may classify God as invisible and unseen because, generally speaking, people DO not and CANNOT see Him. But this is not true of the man with saving faith. The new birth provides a vision whereby God is SEEN. This is not blind faith but, on the contrary, faith based on what is seen. Hebrews 11, then, is defining true faith as certainty resulting from seeing the unseen. The best example is verse 27 which states that Moses persevered in the faith because he saw Him who is invisible. Moses saw Him face to face. Likewise verses 10 and 16 claim that Abraham looked forward to the heavenly city. He saw it during those face to face visions of God. Verse 7 states that God warned Noah of flooding not yet seen. If I talk to you about flooding, you’ll see mental images of flooding as I speak. This is even more true when God speaks about flooding, because it is the Holy Spirit’s mission to provide visual content. Therefore Noah saw visions of the upcoming flood as God spoke to him. And the divine voice always imparts certainty. Noah’s faith, then, was a certainty based on having seen the unseen flooding yet to come. Verse 13 summarized the dynamic by stating that the saints saw the promised things from a distance. This means that the saints saw the promised things in visions. Paul put it like this at 2cor 4:18, “We fix our eyes not upon what is seen but upon what is unseen, because what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” My mentor Andrew Murray had the same understanding. He wrote, “[Faith] is the ear which has heard God say what He will do, the eye which has seen Him doing it.” Andrew Murray added, "I must HEAR the person who gives me the promise: the very tone of his voice gives me courage to believe. I must SEE him: in the light of his eye and countenance all fear as to my right to take passes away.” Thus in Andrew Murray’s view, faith is based on seeing and hearing God, and faith increases as the vision and voice become more loud and clear.
Another passage in favor of seeing God face to face is John chapter 12 verses 40 and 41. Here the apostle John is commenting on Isaiah’s vision in the temple. On that day Isaiah went up to the temple and saw God face to face. As John reminds us, Isaiah said the following words in reaction to the vision. “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, so that they should not see with their eyes nor understand with their heart.” In other words Isaiah was stating, “Now that I can see God face to face, I realize what it means to be blind.” In the next verse John confirms that this is in fact what Isaiah meant, for John says that Isaiah spoke of blindness because he saw the glory of the Lord. A spiritually blind person, then, is someone who cannot see the glory of the Lord as Isaiah saw Him. This is not to suggest that the Christian is completely blind. It’s a relative term, for there are varying degrees of blindness. On the other hand our goal, as Christians, should be to have perfectly healthy eyes delivered from all blindness. We are supposed to see the glory of the Lord face to face, just as Isaiah did.
Another relevant passage is John 5 verse 37 where Jesus complains of the Jews, “Ye have neither HEARD the Father’s voice at any time, nor SEEN his shape.” The fact that He mentions both seeing and hearing is significant because, if you read the whole chapter for yourself, you’ll find that He made this statement in a discussion about witnessing. An excellent witness is someone who has both seen and heard that which he is testifying about. I’ll read that verse again. “Ye have neither HEARD the Father’s voice at any time, nor SEEN his shape.” As far as I know, this translation of the Greek is undisputed among scholars.
Folks, spiritual blindness is not a good thing. That’s
why Moses mourned of
Many Christians are unaware that Christ’s long speech at John chapters 14 to 16 contains several allusions to seeing God. Let’s pick it up at John 16:16, “In a little while you won’t see me any longer. Then after a little while, you will see me again, because I go to the Father.” John Calvin, who was the leading theologian of the Protestant Reformation, insisted that this verse is describing a vision of Christ available to all believers. Calvin also felt that verse 14:19 says the same thing. An evangelical commentary called the Four Fold Gospel Commentary drew the same conclusion about both verses. As for the second verse, 14:19, a slew of evangelical commentaries drew the same conclusion including Vincent’s Word Studies; Robertson’s Word Pictures; John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible; Albert Barnes’ Notes; Jamieson-Fausset-Brown; Grant, Darby, and Coates in the Online Bible Anthology of Commentaries; and The Matthew Henry Commentary. Moreover Henry, Pink, Vincent, and Barnes understood verses 14:21-23 the same way, that is, as an indication that we are supposed to see Christ.
And yet none of these commentators fully grasped how radical Christ’s statements were, although John Gill came close. Therefore I’ll read verse 16:16 again, “Then after a little while, you will see me again, because I go to the Father.” Jesus is making a proximity statement. What He’s really promising them is that they are going to see a vision of the Father. But since at that point Christ will be in proximity to the Father, seated at His right hand, they will see Christ as well. An example of this proximity is found at Acts 7:55 where Stephen “looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” And it gets even more radical still. Let’s pick i4t up at John 16:25: “These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father.” Here Christ promises to provide their minds with accurate content about the Father. This implies that they will see the Father clearly, as though face to face. Up to this point He had only spoken to them in proverbs, that is, in puzzling statements, but soon He will speak to them in plain language. John Gill realized that Christ was about to promote them to the status of Moses as defined at Numbers 12:6-8. There God said that He spoke to ordinary prophets in puzzling statements, but He spoke to Moses in plain language and face to face. What is more, Jesus is telling His apostles that when they see the Father face to face, they need no longer address their petitions to the Son. Instead they are to petition the Father directly. Jesus referred to this kind of petitioning as Asking the Father in His Name. Let’s pick it up at verse 16:23:
And in that day ye shall ask me nothing [!] Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Up to this point ye have asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but will show you plainly of the Father. In that day ye shall ask in my name: I am not saying that I will pray the Father on your behalf. The Father himself loves you, because ye have loved me.
A person who sees the Father face to face is so strongly under the influence and control of divine inspiration that even his petitions are inspired. Hence the Father can grant any petition asked. This kind of power in prayer is what enabled the Apostles to heal the sick and raise the dead.
To summarize this lecture, Scripture identifies two qualifications for the office of evangelist. The first is an anointing for prophetic utterance. The second is the status of witness defined as someone who has seen and heard Christ face to face.
Here ends lecture number four entitled, “The Qualifications For the Office Of Evangelist”
This was lecture number four in the series entitled, “Why we Need a Second Reformation.”
This is lecture number five in the series entitled, “Why we Need a Second Reformation.”
First I will briefly summarize my theory of the new birth and sanctification. During conversion God outpoured a measure of the Holy Spirit upon part of your heart. This part of your heart is therefore holy and thus born again, whereas the remainder of your heart is the sinful nature. Sanctification is simply a matter of waiting in prayer for outpourings upon the rest of your heart, as to gradually fill your heart with the Holy Spirit. This process will complete only in the next life. My mentor Andrew Murray summarized, “More of the Spirit is the one thing needed for the Church.” Therefore, said Andrew Murray, “Let every believer, who longs to be holy, join in the daily prayer that God would visit His people with a great outpouring of the Spirit of holiness.” Okay, so much for the summary; now the supporting arguments.
What do I mean by the heart? After all, some theologians speak of man’s heart, his spirit, his mind, his emotions, his will, and his soul. First of all let me say that I am a dichotomist, which means that man is only two parts, the outer body and the inner man. It really does not matter what title or label you use as the title of the inner man. You can refer to it as the mind, the soul, the heart, the conscience, the volition, the will, or the emotions. It really does not matter because it’s all one and the same inner man. The majority of theologians would agree. Historically, all theologians have been dichotomists with but a few exceptions. In the last 30 years or so, however, a huge number of pastors, and even a small number of professional theologians, have begun to teach Trichotomy based on 1 Thessalonians 5:23. In this view man consists of three parts called spirit, soul, and body. As early as the year 800 A.D. mainstream Christianity had already considered trichotomy and rejected it. Let’s pick it up at 1Thess chapter 5 verse 23: “And may the God of peace sanctify you wholly; and your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The trichotomist wants you to believe that, just because three items are mentioned here, man must consist of three parts. The problem with this hermeneutic is that it cannot be applied consistently, because Mark chapter 12 verse 30 mentions four items instead of three, “And thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” And these four items are not even the same list of items found in the other verse. The result is that we now have a total of six items, namely mind, soul, heart, strength, spirit, and body. Other verses mention the conscience, which brings the total to seven. Trichotomy is based on a hermeneutic that simply does not work.
There are different versions of trichotomy, so I will try to make this critique as generalized as possible, thereby hoping to refute all the versions at once.
The major problem with Trichotomy is that it is unintelligible, that is, incoherent. One cannot make any sense of it. When faced with a choice between two theories, the one more intelligible than the other, we should be inclined toward the one more intelligible. The reason for this is that if new theories keep appearing, each of them less and less intelligible, we’ll end up with total incoherence, complete gibberish, if we keep gravitating toward those theories less and less intelligible. It will soon become apparent that trichotomy is far less intelligible than dichotomy.
The preceding lecture provided a definition of conscious experience. Consciousness is being conscious of something, and thus refers to the mind perceiving some kind of CONTENT. The absence of content would be the end of consciousness. Consciousness is thus the mind perceiving content, perceiving it in the form of sensations loud and clear such as the visions commonly called mental images. The most important mental image is a vision of God necessary to avoid conceptual idolatry. The conscious mind is God’s only concern, for that which acts unconsciously, such as the protoplasm constituting the human body, is of no relevance either to sin, or the new birth, or sanctification. The only thing that matters is the conscious mind. It consciously perceives temptation as part of the content, and then consciously chooses either to submit to the temptation or depart from it. Part of the content is a loud and clear feeling or sensation of desire for the object of temptation. The new birth must operate directly on the mind, eradicating this desire while substituting holy desires as part of the new content. Thus the plan of redemption only concerns itself with addressing and healing one entity, the same entity that sinned, which is the conscious mind. Trichotomists want TWO separate entities, one of which is this conscious mind, and the other typically called the human spirit. Note what this implies. To speak of two different entities, one being the conscious mind, and the other being the human spirit, is to imply that the human spirit is unconscious, just like the body’s protoplasm, in which case it could have no real relevance to sanctification. Allow me to reiterate this argument. It is the conscious mind that perceives all the CONTENT, whether that content be a face to face vision of God, or a face to face vision of our fellow man, or a face to face temptation of some kind. To then speak of an entity OTHER than this conscious mind, called the human spirit, is to imply that the human spirit is an entity unconscious and thus as dead as a rock. Such a dead entity could have no significant bearing on the issues of sin, the new birth, and sanctification.
The same problem occurs with regard to the will. The mind consciously chooses, as an act of free will, whether to reject the temptation presented to it as content. God is therefore concerned with the mind because it has free will. He is not concerned with entities which lack free will. Yet the trichotomist wants to say that the human will is only ONE of our parts, and thus we have a second entity, called the human spirit, which apparently has no will. Such an entity with no free will would be of little or no concern in the plan of redemption, because it could have no significant bearing on the issues of sin, the new birth, and sanctification.
Furthermore, evangelicals supposedly believe in only two types of substances, the material and the immaterial. If the body is material substance, and the mind is immaterial substance, what then is this third entity? How can there be a third type of substance? Here again, trichotomy makes no sense.
Furthermore all trichotomists, as far as I know, postulate some kind of interaction between the spirit and soul. Yet they neglect to provide us an intelligible account of the dynamics of this interaction. That is to say, how does the spirit know what’s going on with the soul, and vice versa? And how can they comprehend each other? After all, comprehension is a capability of the mind, and only one of the entities is the conscious mind. Even if the trichotomist tried to maintain that both spirit and soul are conscious, problems remain. For example, if spirit and soul represent two different types of consciousness in the sense of two totally different types of content, here again we must ask, how can spirit and soul possibly comprehend one another?
As David Nannery pointed out, Scripture usually speaks of two entities rather than three. For example Jesus suggests that God can throw both your soul and body in hell. He does not say that God can throw your soul, your spirit, and your body in hell.
Another problem is that trichotomists identify only one of the entities, typically the soul, as the sinful nature. Then they will usually claim that the OTHER entity, the human spirit, gets reborn. This is totally ridiculous, because this means that the sinful nature, which is the one that was sinning, does not get reborn. In other words the entity that needs the new birth does not even get it. The divine grace does not even target it. This seems to contradict Paul’s claim that the new birth puts the sinful nature to death. See for example Philippians 3:3, Colossians 3:11-13, and 2cor 5:17. The last of these, 2Cor 5:17, states, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation, the old is gone, and the new is come.” Scripture also describes it as a washing. When you wash an object, you don’t wash only the clean parts and leave the dirty parts still dirty. And yet that’s exactly what trichotomists want us to believe.
Having rejected trichotomy, I will now explain my own view. The inner man extends throughout the entire human body from head to toe. My mentor Andrew Murray, in his book entitled Divine Healing, argued that the human soul fills the entire human body in the same way that an entire plant, from top to bottom, is said to be alive.  A good example of this principle is the sensation of pain in my feet. I cannot explain it away as a brain signal because the pain is actually felt in my feet rather than in my brain.
The inner man is the conscious mind. However, if you prefer, you can refer to it as the soul, or the heart, or the spirit or the will. Call it whatever you want. Indeed you can even assign a name to each subsection of the mind, even as the various parts of the body have different names. Perhaps Paul used the name “spirit” for the subsection of the mind most intelligent, and the name “soul” for the subsection least intelligent because the latter is presumably more animalistic in disposition. Nonetheless the inner man is mind and mind alone, it is simply the conscious mind, so assigning different names to the parts is probably unnecessary and can cause needless confusion.
The first point I wish to make is that the new birth makes your inner man holy. About 60 times the NT refers to believers as “the saints”. The Greek word used here is the word holy. The saints are thus “THE HOLY” which can also be translated “the holy ones.” My mentor Andrew Murray wrote, "In the New Testament they are called saints, the holy ones." Andrew Murray concluded, “We are not only counted holy; we are holy.” The word “holy” as used for the saints 60 times is the same Greek word used an additional 90 times in the title “the Holy Spirit.” Thus all believers are holy even as the Holy Spirit is holy which implies that the new birth is to be defined as holiness. A slew of verses indicate that the new birth purges the heart of evil tendencies. (Deut 30:6; Ps 51:10; Jer 24:7; Jer 31:33; Jer 32:39-40; Eze 11:19-20; Ezek 36:25-20; Mat 5:8; Mat 12:33; Mat 7:17-20; Jn 3:3, Jn 3:5-8; Jn 15:3; Acts 15:9; 1Cor 6:11; 2Cor 5:17; 1Ti 1:5; 1Tim 3:9; 2Ti 1:3; 2Tim 2:22; Tit 1:15; Tit 3:5; 1Pe 1:3; 1Pet 1:22-23; 2Pe 3:1, and 1Jn 3:9.
Another way to show that the new birth is holiness is to point out that Scripture knows only two kinds of children, namely children of the devil versus children of God. Scripture defines the devil’s children as those people who have the following characteristics. They walk blindly in darkness, are evildoers, walk in death, are dead to God, have no light, hate God, hate their brother, hate truth, and disobey God. You can find all this at Lk 11:34-35; Jn 3:19-21; Jn 5:42; Jn 11:25; Jn 12:39-40; Rom 1:21; Rom 11:10; Rom 7:5, Rom 7:9-11; Col 1:13; 1Th 5:4-5; 1Jn 1:6; 1jn 2:4, 1jn2:9-11, 1jn 2:15-16, 1jn 3:8-15; 1jn 4:8 and 1jn 4:20). These verses DEFINE the unbeliever as evil.
In a similar way, Scripture DEFINES the children of God as those with the following set of characteristics. They walk in the Light, are alive to God, do good deeds, love God, love their brother, fellowship with God, and love truth. You can find all this at Mat 5:14-16; Mat 6:22-23; Lk 1:79; Lk 2:32; Luke 16:8; Jn 1:4-5; Jn 3:19-21; Jn 5:21, Jn 5:24; Jn 6:35; Jn 8:12; Jn 12:35-36, Jn 12:46; Acts 26:3, Acts 26:18; Rom 6:5, rom 6:13; rom 13:13; 2Cor 4:4-6; 2Cor 6:14; Col 1:12; Eph 5:8-14; 1Th 5:5; 1Pet 2:9; 2Pet 1:19; 1Jn 1:7; 1Jn 2:4; 1jn 2:8-9; 1Jn 3:3:6-9, 1jn 3:14, 1jn 3:17, 1jn 4:19; 1jn 5:1, and 1jn 5:18).
As a matter of fact, all evangelical theologians, as far as I know, define the new birth as holiness. One way to grasp the implications is to consider God’s holiness. When we say that God is holy, we automatically exclude the possibility of a sinful nature, because we sense that it is a contradiction to construe an entity as both holy and sinful at the same moment. The one excludes the other. For those of you who enjoy mathematics, picture a horizontal line. This is often called an x-axis. The left side of the line stands for evil, the right side for holiness, and the midpoint is a neutral position. The farther you are to the left, the more evil you are. The farther you are to the right, the more holy you are. The left side represents a person classified as evil because he rejects God. You cannot be a Christian if you are on the left. On the other hand, if you have become a Christian, you are now on the right, you are now a person who abides in the state of accepting Christ, and therefore you can no longer be defined as a person who is on the left. Here again we see that the one state excludes the other state. You cannot say I am a holy man with a sinful nature. That’s like saying God is a holy man with a sinful nature. At least you can’t say this on the evangelical assumption that the mind is an immaterial substance indivisible into parts. Whereas I maintain that the mind extends throughout the entire human body and thus can be understood in terms of parts or subsections. What I am saying is that the persistence of sin indicates that the new birth only occurred within part of the inner man, within one of his subsections. That small part is holy. The remainder of the mind is still addicted to sin and thus continues to be the sinful nature.
Again, Paul stated that the new birth eradicated the sinful nature, putting it to death. This dynamic must have occurred only in part of the inner man, because we still sin. If the entire inner man had been reborn, then the entire inner man would be holy by definition of the new birth, and would remain holy by definition of the new birth, and therefore would never sin. The only way to explain the persistence of sin is a heart divisible into parts.
Thus the new birth is to be defined as the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Holiness, upon a small part of the heart, making it holy. Sanctification is the posture of waiting prayerfully for God to send more outpourings upon the heart, that is, upon those parts of the heart which are still sinful for lack of Him. These outpourings gradually fill the heart with the Holy Spirit. This is what it REALLY means to be a Spirit-filled Christian. It literally means a volume of the Holy Spirit filling the human body from head to toe. As Paul says, the human body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. This will all become more apparent in the upcoming lecture on biblical metaphysics. By and large, then, most Christians including myself have only received a light sprinkling of the Holy Spirit so far. As a result we are spiritually immature. We are typically lazy, greedy, selfish, anxious, irritable, impatient, unforgiving, depressed, and lustful.
My theory that the new birth is only a light sprinkling of the Holy Spirit is in fact the explicit teaching of Scripture. The Bible tells us that Christ sprinkled us with His blood. And it tells us that His blood cleanses us from all sin. I’m going to say that again in case you missed it. I’m not talking about those verses which refer to how Christ’s blood ATONED for our sins. I’m rather talking about the biblical claim at Hebrews 9:12-14, 1 Jn 1:7 and Revelation 1:5 that His blood CLEANSES us of sin. This implies an actual outpouring of the Blood into the sinful human heart, cleansing it to make it holy, and the specific phrase actually used in Scripture to describe this outpouring is “the sprinkling of His blood.” You’ll find this at 1 Pet 1:2 and Hebrews 10:22. Upcoming lectures on biblical metaphysics will actually define Christ’s blood in clear, concrete terms.
Let’s take a look at some of those verses which define the new birth as holiness. I just want to reaffirm here that the new birth must be understood as the impartation of holiness. 1Jn 3:6 states, “Whosoever abides in God does not sin: whosoever sins has not seen God, neither known him.” I’ll read that verse again. “Whosoever abides in God does not sin: whosoever sins has not seen God, neither known him.” The new birth is a vision of God. What John is telling us is that a Christian is someone who, having seen God during the new birth, no longer sins. Period. End of story. John must be referring to the part of the heart which has actually seen God – only the small part that was sprinkled has actually seen Him. This is the part of you born again; this is the Christian that John is referring to, and he is simply reminding us that it cannot sin. Verse 9 confirms, “Whosoever is born of God does not sin, for God’s seed abides him; he CANNOT sin, because he is born of God.” How much more clear can John make it? He’s telling us that a person who is born again CANNOT sin. Period. End of story.
Due to the influence of Plato’s philosophy, mainstream Christianity has always held that the mind is an immaterial substance unbreakable into parts. Later I will demonstrate that the mind is a physical substance divisible into parts. For the moment, suffice it to say that science has already established the flow of physical currents of thought within the human brain. The brain consists of parts. Thus it can possess multiple holy currents of thought while simultaneously possessing multiple sinful currents of thought. The sinful currents of thoughts are the sinful nature. The holy currents of thought are the new man. This is the new birth. The new birth is not a matter of God adding new currents of thought to the mind or body. Rather God begins with our existing currents of thought and purifies them to make them holy. Let’s keep in mind, however, that there are actually three positions on the moral spectrum, meaning that a subsection of the heart can either be evil, holy, or neutral. Evil currents of thoughts constitute the sinful nature and will probably choose to walk in sin continually. Holy currents of thought constitute the new birth and will always choose to walk in righteousness. In order to provide a real freedom of choice, God presumably establishes several neutral currents of thought which, at any moment, may have to freely decide between following the evil thought-currents or the holy thought-currents.
Obedience should be fairly easy, then, right? After all, the neutral section has no sinful tendencies. Therefore it suffers a degree of temptation far less intense than what is felt in the evil section. Does not this make obedience very easy? No, for the following reason. Let’s suppose your sinful nature is very incensed because someone just made you angry. Your right arm is now rearing up to throw a punch. Now assume for the moment that about 70% of your right arm is still evil, 15% holy, and 15% neutral. Thus you’ve only got a max of 30% on the side of righteousness which is not enough to pin that arm to your side. This means that the 70% that is evil will need to help in the task of resisting the temptation. Being evil, however, it is very reluctant to resist the temptation, and hence it has a very difficult battle on its hand. The temptation can be resisted, but only with great difficulty; it will be a very miserable agony of temptation. You might be thinking, “Wait a minute. The 70%, being evil, is always going to throw that punch.” Not necessarily. Even non-Christians, although 100% evil, can resist many temptations. The evil heart is probably always engaged in evil, but not necessarily the worst possible evil. It can often choose the lesser of two evils, although with great agony of temptation in so doing.
The point I wish to make here is this. Suppose you’ve been faithful in prayer for many years, seeking the face of God. In other words you’ve been seeking loud and clear revelations of Him. Unfortunately Christians generally haven’t sought God in this manner over the centuries; they don’t seek His face because theologians have convinced us that He is in immaterial spirit who does not have a face and generally can’t be seen, felt, or heard. Anyway imagine for a moment that your arm, as the result of seeking God’s face, is now very much filled with the Holy Spirit. Let’s say that you can now summon 80% to the cause of righteousness. Guess what? There won’t be much pull on your arm to throw that punch. In other words you won’t suffer much agony of temptation because now most of your arm IS righteous. Obedience will be a whole heck of a lot easier than before. In fact it will be like a walk in the park. In fact, things can get so good that it actually becomes, in many circumstances, HARDER to sin than to obey! The result is rest, joy, and peace. Jesus put it like this at Mat 11:28: “Come unto me, all that labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Earlier Isaiah had said the same thing. Let’s pick it up at Isaiah 40:31: “Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, and they shall walk and be not faint.” Notice to whom this promise is given. It does not say, “Those who open up their Bibles, find a bunch of laws and commands to obey, and set about to do them will be blessed.” The blessing is for those who wait upon the Lord. Wait on Him for what? For Him to appear, to manifest Himself to you, to shine His face upon you, to reveal Himself to you in all manner of sensations loud and clear. My mentor Andrew Murray wrote, “A man may often have a measure of the power of the Spirit, but if there be not a large measure of the Spirit as the Spirit of grace and holiness, the defect will be manifest in his work...It was with new prayer and fasting, with more prayer and fasting, that this company of [early] disciples carried out the command of the Holy Ghost, ‘My soul, wait thou only upon God.’ That is our highest and most important work. The Holy Spirit COMES in answer to believing prayer.” End quote.
It takes quite a huge outpouring to experience the kind of rest that Christ and Isaiah were promising in those passages. One mistake of Charles Finney, the greatest American evangelist, was to assume that this kind of outpouring is readily available to all believers in all generations. Well, ideally that’s true, it’s supposed to be that way, but it’s not so because the church is currently too distant from God. Finney lived during a period of special mercy, a nationwide spiritual awakening. In his day, any Christian could obtain such mighty outpourings with only a little time spent in prayer. And it did not take much prayer for Finney to hear God speak promises regarding evangelism in new territories. He could awaken in the morning and begin praying for victorious evangelism in a particular village and then, by evening, God had already answered him. He would then go forth to preach in that territory, knowing in advance that he would succeed.
One might suppose that being filled with the Holy Spirit implies Christian perfection. In one sense this is true, but in another sense it is a bit more complicated than that due the physical dynamics at work here. Imagine a room filled with light or a container filled with gas. Is the room REALLY full of light to the max? Is the container REALLY full of gas to the max? The room would not be filled with light to the max even if you added the light of a thousand more bulbs. The container would not be completely filled with gas even if you added to it all the smoke of a great forest fire. Thus a container that is full from top to the bottom is not necessarily filled to the max. No one will be filled to the max in this life, and therefore there is no such thing as Christian perfection. As my Mentor Andrew Murray wrote, “Can the full blessing of Pentecost be still further increased? Can anything that is full become still fuller? Yes, undoubtedly”.  End quote.
What I’ve been arguing is that sanctification is a sovereign work of God. There is not much we can do other than wait patiently upon the Lord for Him to do the work. In fact the documented accounts of spiritual awakening imply as much. In a spiritual awakening, such as occurred in Finney’s day, entire communities become transformed overnight meaning that, suddenly, virtually every conversation in the neighborhood is about Jesus, even among people who did not previously know Him. Addictions to drugs, alcohol, and sexual promiscuity disappear from the neighborhood overnight. People lose interest in sporting events and other types of entertainment because they only want to worship, pray, read the Bible, and attend church. The fact that all this happens suddenly proves that human effort has absolutely nothing to do with it. Holiness is a sovereign work of God in which man is generally passive. Failing to grasp that human effort cannot sanctify, evangelical writers, even today, are still publishing millions and millions of books proposing various steps to take for growing in sanctification. These books have titles similar to the following:
“How to live a godly life.”
“How to build a healthy self image.”
“How to walk in the Holy Spirit.”
“How to improve your marriage.”
“How to overcome fear.”
“How to live a victorious life.”
“How to tear down demonic strongholds.”
“The Ten steps for Growing in Grace.”
to Prosper in the
“How to develop a sanctified character.”
“How to plant churches.”
“How to minister to hurting people”
“How to overcome generational curses.”
“How to conduct prison ministry.”
“How to engage in godly thinking.”
“How to overcome adversity.”
“How to resist temptations”
“How to preach effectively.”
“How to use your time effectively.”
“How to organize your life for Christ.”
“How to set spiritual goals and attain them.”
“How to exercise your spiritual gifts.”
“How to excel in seminary.”
“How to increase your faith.”
“How to recognize deception.”
“How to claim the promises of God.”
“How to win the battle of the mind.”
Etcetera, Etcetera, Etcetera, Etcetera, Etcetera. Folks, I’ve got news for you. It’s all fluff. These books won’t bring you even one iota closer to the goal of complete sanctification because human effort has absolutely nothing to do with holiness. And I’m now going to demonstrate this fact from Scripture.
You may recall from an earlier lecture that Galatians chapter 3 is Paul’s discussion of the Abrahamic covenant of hearing God’s voice speak promises. Verse 29 stated that we are Abraham’s seed. Verse 16 stated, “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed”, which means that we, as Abraham’s seed, hear promises spoken to us. Let’s now back up several verses, because Paul’s emphasis on hearing God’s voice actually begins at verse 2. Verses 2 thru 6 argue that we receive outpourings of the Holy Spirit, for sanctification, when we hear God’s voice. Thus a believer who waits upon God to speak promises is, in effect, waiting upon outpourings of the Spirit for sanctification. This is precisely how Andrew Murray, my mentor, understood this chapter. He said the whole point of this chapter is to demonstrate the need to wait in prayer for outpourings from on high. In this part of the chapter, that is, in verses 2 thru 6, Paul’s terminology for hearing God’s voice is the expression “the hearing of faith.” Most Bible scholars recognize this translation as the literal rendering of the Greek. And that’s how the King James Version renders it. Overall the King James Version is quite good with this passage, but nonetheless I’ll translate a couple of words myself to yield a better reading. So let’s pick it up at verse 2. “Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” Here Paul implies that the Spirit is received by hearing God’s voice. Why? Because God speaks to us by releasing from His mouth the divine Word who then functions as an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In Isaiah God put it like this, “My word that goes out from my mouth shall not return void, but shall accomplish the purpose for which I sent it.” All this will be explained in the lecture on biblical metaphysics.
Continuing our study of Galatians chapter 3, let’s move on to verse 3: “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made mature by the flesh?” This verse makes two important points. First of all, it tells us that Paul is dealing here with the Spirit of maturation, that is, the Spirit of sanctification, because it speaks about maturity. Secondly it tells us that the process of sanctification is merely a continuation of the original dynamic whereby we began the Christian life. That is to say, in the beginning we received the Spirit through the hearing of faith. He came to us in the sense of an inward witness speaking promises to our heart as He did for Abraham. Thus we received an outpouring of the Spirit at the time of hearing God’s voice. Paul is now saying that sanctification is simply a matter of proceeding in the same way that we began. Thus we are to mature by receiving the Spirit through the hearing of faith. Gordon Fee made the same argument. He is one of the most esteemed Pauline scholars of our generation. In his large textbook on Pauline pneumatology, he argued that this passage defines sanctification as receiving the Holy Spirit again and again and again.
Almost every Christian makes the same mistake as the Galatians. The Galatians had become Bible-centered. Likewise Christians of today open up their Bibles, find some laws and commands to obey such as the command to evangelize, and then go forth to execute them. This is sanctification by law. Sanctification by grace skips the good works, and goes straight to prayer crying out, “Pour out a sanctification, oh Lord, even though I did nothing to earn it, and promise me victory in evangelism, even though I did nothing to earn it.” The Galatian epistle is not emphasizing justification. It’s emphasizing sanctification. My mentor Andrew Murray wrote: “Though the Galatians had been justified by faith, they were seeking to be sanctified by works…Almost every believer makes the same mistake as the Galatian Christians.”  Andrew Murray went on to mourn that the church is still depending on human effort instead of waiting for more power from on high. He complained, “Human effort and human arrangement take a much larger place than in the waiting on the power that comes from on high.”
Let’s move on to verse 5. This is Galatians chapter 3 verse 5. “When God supplies you His Spirit, and works miracles among you, does He does this because you obeyed the law, or does He do it according to the hearing of faith?” This confirms that the hearing of faith is also for miracles, not just for sanctification. If I want a miracle, I am to wait in prayer until I hear God promise to do the miracle. I’ll read verse 5 again, “When God supplies you His Spirit, and works miracles among you, does He does this because you obeyed the law, or does He do it according to the hearing of faith?” The next verse is verse 6 which begins like this: “Consider Abraham.” In other words Abraham is introduced here into this discussion as Paul’s key EXAMPLE intended to prove everything he was arguing in the preceding verses. A considerable number of scholars agree that this is why Abraham is mentioned here, including John Calvin and Martin Luther, who were two of the most important theologians of the Protestant Reformation. Calvin himself was very explicit that Abraham is introduced in this passage as proof that the Spirit of sanctification and miracles comes to us through the hearing of faith. To prove Calvin’s point, let’s read the remainder of verse 6. “Consider Abraham. He believed God, and God credited to him as righteousness.” Here Paul is directly quoting Genesis chapter 15 verse 6 where God credited Abraham’s faith to him as righteousness. Let’s therefore turn back to Genesis chapter 15, which opens with the following statement. “The word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram.” Notice how it says that the divine Word CAME to Abraham. In other words this is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The immediate effect of the outpouring is that Abraham heard God speak. Thus Abraham received the outpoured Holy Spirit through the hearing of faith. That’s Paul’s point in Galatians. The Spirit is received through the hearing of faith, and Abraham becomes the paradigm for all believers.
Precisely what did God say to Abraham? Keep in mind Paul’s claim at verse 16, “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed.” Thus if you read Genesis 15 for yourself, you’ll find that God spoke promises to Abraham, including the promise of a son in his old age. It takes a MIRACLE for a barren elderly woman to have a son. Thus the Book of Genesis establishes that the hearing of faith has provided Abraham two distinct realities, namely an outpouring of the Spirit plus a series of miracles.
Recall that Paul was teaching the Galatians how to mature in the faith. Let’s read verse 3 again, “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made mature by the flesh?” Maturity of course means sanctification. So the only remaining question is this. Why does Paul assume that the outpouring upon Abraham at Genesis 15 was for sanctification? After all, the term that Paul uses in verses 8 and 11 is not sanctification but justification. And as a matter of fact, in Romans chapter four, Paul appeals to this very same outpouring in Abraham’s life as proof of justification by faith. As a result, the entire Protestant Reformation, somewhat understandably, held that the Galatian epistle, just like the Book of Romans, emphasizes justification. And I am certainly not going to argue differently about the fourth chapter of Romans. This chapter certainly does emphasize justification.
But as for Galatians, it turns out they were dead wrong, as Gordon Fee has demonstrated extensively. He appealed to a variety of passages throughout the Galatian epistle as to demonstrate that the context being established throughout the epistle is sanctification. He concludes that when the Book of Galatians uses the term “justification”, it is really referring to sanctification. Whereas when the Book of Romans uses the term “justification” it really does mean “justification.” This will all become perfectly more clear in a moment. Both Romans and Galatians cite Genesis 15:6 as the key verse, which states, “Abram believed God, and he credited to him as righteousness.” According to Romans this was justification by faith, for faith cometh by hearing. Abraham heard God speak promises, he believed what he heard because the voice imparted certainty, and God credited his faith to him as righteousness. Thus he was justified by faith, meaning he was declared righteous before God based on his faith. Now here’s the problem. ABRAHAM WAS ALREADY A BELIEVER PRIOR TO THIS POINT !!! Hebrews 11:8 makes it clear that Abraham’s faith came into being when he first heard God’s voice calling him out of his homeland. That was a long time ago. Given that he already possessed justifying faith, how is it that he was justified by faith again at Genesis 15:6? It is rather conspicuous that evangelical theologians haven’t addressed this apparent contradiction. They can’t resolve it because their metaphysics is all wrong. Their metaphysics does not permit multiple justifications by faith. Allow me to explain.
The outpouring whereby you were born again only fell upon part of your heart. This is the only part of your heart that heard God’s voice loud and clear. Faith came by hearing, but only to this small part of your heart. Technically, then, this is the only part of your heart that is justified by faith. Each time God sends you another outpouring for sanctification, it will fall upon yet another part of your heart, thereby creating justifying faith in this next subsection. In other words, justification is a process; we are justified by faith again and again, or rather incrementally more and more, and this ongoing process of justification may also be called sanctification. The Protestant Reformation tended to assume that justification meant that God merely DECLARED you righteous. In reality it also means that He sanctified you, that He MADE you righteous. Because the part of your heart that received justifying faith is also be sanctified at that same moment. Justification and sanctification can therefore be called coterminous, which is to say that these terms are fully overlapping in their scope of meaning.
As my mentor Andrew Murray wrote, “The generations to which the Reformation brought the gospel of justification by faith found it difficult to understand that sanctification is as much by faith.” Allow me to explain what Andrew Murray meant. The cry of the Protestant Reformation was that good works don’t justify. There’s no point in observing a bunch of biblical laws and commands in the hope of being admitted into heaven on the basis of good works. Justification by faith, then, means, justification apart from good works. Andrew Murray recognized that sanctification is likewise by faith, which means, sanctification is also apart from good works. Again, he wrote, “Though the Galatians had been justified by faith, their error is that they were seeking to be sanctified by works…Almost every believer makes the same mistake as the Galatian Christians.” According to Andrew Murray, the Galatian epistle is urging us to wait for power from on high precisely as the disciples waited in prayer for Pentecost. . He wrote, “[Until we] cease trying by human effort do God’s will and wait upon the Holy Spirit to come…the Church will never be what God wants her to be.”
To summarize, the outpouring received by Abraham at Genesis 15 must have been a secondary justification by faith, because he already possessed justifying faith prior to that point. Again we must ask, why does Paul presume this secondary justification to also be a sanctification? James tells us that even the demons believe and shudder. The kind of faith which demons possess is not pleasing to God. The Lord would never credit it to them as righteousness. Whereas at Genesis 15 the Lord credited Abraham’s faith to him as righteousness. Therefore it must have been a faith-that-works, it must have been holiness. By hearing God’s voice Abraham instantly received true faith, the kind that always does good works. This is instantaneous holiness. Precisely the same dynamic can be found in Moses’ life. He went up on the mountain to pray for 40 days, and God spoke to him during that period. He came down from the mountain shining with Light. Thus he received outpourings of the divine Light through the hearing of faith. His whole body, from head to toe, became visibly sanctified, it became visibly holy, simply because he waited on the Lord in prayer.
At this point you might ask, since most of my heart still is not justified by faith as yet, does not this mean God could send it to hell? Theoretically the answer is Yes, but it would generally seem out of character for Him to do such a thing. Personally I’ve prayed about it and feel a peace about it. I feel very confident that He will save my entire being, so I’m not in the least worried about it, although I couldn’t lie to you and say that I have 100% certainty on this issue. I don’t have 100% certainty on any issues.
When Christ began to speak promises to your heart, He promised you Himself. He is the ultimate Promise. He is your inheritance. You received Him during conversion but not in fullness. You are still waiting to receive Him in fullness. The promised Holy Spirit, therefore, is an inexhaustible promise. It was in effect for all the OT saints and remains inexhaustibly in effect today. According to Galatians 3:14 Christ redeemed us in order “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” This is why Paul calls it the “inheritance” at verse 18. Children inherit blessings previously enjoyed by their parents. Therefore the fact that we inherit the Spirit proves that Abraham had already received Him. In a word, the promised Holy Spirit is central to the Abrahamic covenant, and therefore Joel’s inexhaustible promise of the Spirit of prophecy was merely a re-articulation of the Abrahamic covenant. Again, the covenant is inviolable. Nothing can be added to it according to verse 15, which means that OT and NT saints get the same set of blessings.
Eph 3:17 confirms that sanctification is a series of outpourings. The Ephesians were already Christians. As such, they must have received at least one outpouring already dwelling in their hearts. Yet here Paul prays that Christ come to dwell in their hearts. The Greek word for “dwell” is used 42 times in the NT and always refers geographically to an address of residence. It would not make sense, therefore, for Paul to pray that Christ dwell where He was already dwelling. That would be a stupid prayer. Clearly Paul has in mind those parts of the heart where Christ had not as yet come to dwell. This is consistent with his earlier prayer at verse 1:17 that God grant the Ephesians the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, a prayer which John Calvin recognized as a petition for a larger measure of the Holy Spirit. Most English Bibles have the word “spirit” in lower case at 1:17, but this is unfortunate given the many evangelical scholars who would capitalize it, including A.T. Robertson, Marvin Vincent, Albert Barnes, and Jamieson-Fausset-Brown. After all, if God were to give you a spirit of wisdom, lower case letters, He would be giving you a second soul, which does not make sense. Therefore capital letters are preferable here. He desires to gives to each of us the Holy Spirit of wisdom and revelation.
Given that the Holy Spirit is everywhere, why does God outpour Him? According to mainstream theologians God occupies space repletely, which means He fills all space to the max. In other words at every point in space He already resides there to the maximum degree possible. On this assumption a change of location could have no meaning and thus an outpouring of the Spirit would be an impossible concept. Thus mainstream theologians are asking us to accept a metaphysics flatly contradicted by Scripture itself.
Isaiah 55:11 provides crucial information about metaphysics. Here God states, “So shall My Word be, which goes out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall certainly do what I sent it to do.” The evangelical scholars Keil and Delitzsch wrote one of the most esteemed OT commentaries in Protestant history. On this verse they commented that the divine Word is a substance which departs from God’s mouth, performs the needed miracle, and then returns to Him when the work is complete. But is not there always more work for Him to do? Yes. So why does He return to God knowing that all the work is not completed? The verse itself supplies the answer. It indicates that the divine Word is sent for one single task at a time and then, when that task is completed, He returns to God instead of sitting around doing nothing. He is always active. He is never a sit-around-and-do-nothing kind of Presence. Thus an evangelical is sadly mistaken when he says, “I already have all the Holy Spirit needed, and I just need to activate Him for the tasks at hand.” This implies that He is sitting around and doing nothing which is contrary to Scripture. In reality the divine Presence activates itself immediately for the task at hand. Stated differently, He is efficacious grace. When God sent you an outpouring to make your heart holy, therefore, it IMMEDIATELY became holy. This outpouring will never return to God because the task of preserving holiness in your heart is an ongoing assignment. When God is ready to sanctify another subsection of your heart, He will send another outpouring to immediately perform the task.
On the other hand, God performs many miracles which are NOT ongoing. For example a prophetic utterance is a short-lived temporary task separate and distinct from instituting holiness. This implies a fresh outpouring of the divine Word who inspires the prophetic utterance and then returns to God. That is why Scripture records the divine Word coming to the prophet Jeremiah over and over and over again. In other words, outpourings for miracles are usually temporary. For example, the book of Judges was careful to record that the Holy Spirit fell afresh on Samson every time he needed supernatural strength.
From the time of creation a volume of the Holy Spirit has filled our whole universe. This volume is everywhere, even within unbelievers, but does nothing with respect to sanctification because it is assigned only to the task of upholding the universe. That’s why God pours out fresh volumes for Christian sanctification. The point is that even unbelievers have a volume that does nothing for their sanctification. God is not going to give a do-nothing volume to the Christian. That would be pointless since even unbelievers have a do-nothing volume within them. Therefore we cannot conclude, just because Paul told Timothy to fan into flame the gift within him, we can’t conclude from this that Timothy had a do-nothing volume. A fire is fanned into flame by an outpouring of more fire, wind, or fuel. In other words Timothy had a volume for an ongoing ministry but much of it had probably returned to God due to neglect or lack of prayer. I simply do not believe that Timothy had a do-nothing volume.
In the long run you will probably fail to pray regularly if you think of prayer primarily as a difficult labor, work, or chore. Think of it more like eating food. Is it a difficult chore to eat? Should we pay you money for eating? Eating is especially easy when we feel a need for it, that is, when we feel hungry. In other words prayer is for those who feel a need. Until you see yourself as weak and weary, you will probably never pray consistently. Therefore when you pray, bring to God all your weakness, especially your weakness in prayer, like this, “Lord, I feel far too weak of discipline, character, and zeal to even spend an hour in prayer. Therefore I bring to you all my weakness, waiting for more power from on high so I can even begin to pray more.” You might feel, “I don’t know what to say when I pray.” One possible approach is to simply meditate on the greatness of God, giving Him praise as you do so.
Now that I’ve explained my own theory of sanctification, it’s time to consider the evangelical theory of sanctification. How are we to grow in holiness according to evangelicals? Most would say that sanctification is a matter of yielding to the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit. In other words it works like this. Jesus speaks to your conscience, asking you to do something, and then you either obey or disobey the voice of conscience. The moment that you choose to obey, the power of God for sanctification becomes immediately available to you. He fills you with His Spirit in other words, which is another way of saying that He empowers you for the task. As a result, Christians who obey the voice of conscience may be called Spirit-filled Christians. That’s the evangelical theory of sanctification, in a nutshell.
Although I do of course agree with the principle of obeying conscience, this theory of sanctification does not really address the dilemma of sin. After all, why do we sin? Many years ago I had a Christian roommate with an amazing knowledge of Scripture. He had memorized an incredible number of verses from Genesis to Revelation. But he couldn’t even hold down a job due to the most severe case of alcoholism I had ever seen. The root cause is that he was suffering so much from loneliness and depression that he continually craved alcoholic intoxication as a means of relief. Telling him to obey his conscience is just like telling the non-Christian to obey his conscience. The Christian and the non-Christian are in the same dilemma, namely that they have difficulty obeying their conscience because the sinful nature – their set of evil desires – is pulling them in the opposite direction. In other words the evangelical theory of sanctification essentially strands the Christian to the very predicament of the non-Christian. Even if my alcoholic roommate could have resisted the temptation to drink, the agony of temptation would have continued to torment him the remainder of his life. He would still have remained miserable. He would never have reached a state of rest, joy, and peace. It is therefore unbiblical to define sanctification principally as resisting temptation. Sanctification must primarily be a matter of waiting prayerfully upon God to replace our evil passions with holy passions as to reduce the agony of temptation.
If evangelicals were correct that God automatically grants
us full sanctifying power when we obey the voice of conscience, there would be
no need to pray for power and strength. Obedience to the voice of conscience
would be the only task necessary to acquire the power of God. But this
contradicts the biblical examples where men of God did IN FACT pray for
strength to resist temptation. For instance let’s pick it up at Ephes 3:14,
“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father…asking that he would grant you,
according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power by his
Spirit in the inner man.” Here Paul prays that God strengthen the Ephesians
instead of simply commanding them, “Just say Yes to the voice of conscience in
order to receive the power of God.” When
Jesus was about to face His most difficult temptation, the temptation to reject
the cross, He devoted Himself to prayer in the
Once again, the evangelical theory is that we are empowered the moment we yield to the Holy Spirit, that is, the moment we say Yes to the voice of conscience. This empowerment, they say, is what Paul meant when he said, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit.” In other words a Spirit-filled Christian is anyone who yields to the Holy Spirit. But this results in three problems. First, it implies instant maturity. Allow me to explain. The Christian can yield to either the Holy Spirit or to the sinful nature. To be yielded to the one means he is NOT under the control of the other. If he is under the power and influence of the Holy Spirit, he is therefore not sinning. Such instant maturity does not comport well with Scripture, for Hebrews 2:10 indicates that even Christ matured and learned discipline over a period of time. Second, there is no way for the sinful nature to regain control of such a Spirit-filled Christian, for his will is now holy, because he’s now under the control of the Holy Spirit. He’s never going to sin ever again. That’s what the evangelical view implies, even though evangelicals would deny this implication. Third, it contradicts daily experience to suggest that a person is instantly filled with holiness when he says Yes to the voice of conscience. Take for instance my roommate who was steeped in the agony of temptation to drink. Saying yes to the voice of conscience did not instantly fill him with holy desires, remove the agony of temptation, and replace his depression with joy inexpressible. It simply did not happen that way.
Here ends lecture number five entitled, “The New Birth and Sanctification.”
This was lecture number five in the series entitled, “Why we Need a Second Reformation.”
This is lecture number six in the series entitled, “Why we Need a Second Reformation.”
1Corinthians chapter 12 verse 28 defines a church in the following way. “And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, and diverse tongues.” In light of this definition, I find it odd that so many theologians presume apostles and prophets to be phenomena of the past. After all, for a period of 400 years up till the birth of Christ, God did not create any new books of Scripture. Then, finally, He produced the various NT epistles and the Book of Acts to help His people understand what a church is supposed to look like. And then theologians conclude that the NT model already expired in the first century? It expired two hundred years before the NT was even assembled into one book? Folks, is not that conclusion a little weird?
The theory that Apostles, prophets, and miracles came to a cease at the end of the first century is called Cessationism. Cessationists argue that miracles were needed only to authenticate the apostles and prophets so that the church would accept their writings as Scripture. Now that Scripture is written, it is no longer strictly necessary for the church to have Apostles, prophets, and miracles. For starters, this argument is highly misleading because in reality NOTHING is strictly necessary. The only thing necessary to build a church is the Holy Spirit. God absolutely has no need of Scripture, pastors, elders, deacons, workers of miracles, Apostles, prophets, and teachers. God uses these offices only by virtue of personal preference, and since He is the same Yesterday, Today, and Forever, these offices will remain in place. There is no need to regard these offices as something unique to the NT, because OT saints who were led by the Spirit fulfilled the same offices even though the OT did not specifically mention them.
Again, Cessationists argue that miracles were necessary to authenticate the apostles and their writings. Now that Scripture has been authenticated by miracles of the past, miracles are no longer strictly necessary today. This is a totally ridiculous argument, for two reasons. First of all, the miracles done 2000 years ago cannot suffice to authenticate Scripture for us to today. They are useless for helping today’s agnostics to embrace the Scriptures. Why should an agnostic base his conversion on the rumor that 12 apostles supposedly performed miracles 2000 years ago? Secondly, even if I had lived at the time of the apostles and seen men doing what SEEMED to be miracles, why should I have presumed them to be apostles of the true God? Such men could be expert deceivers or magicians. The reality is that miracles were NEITHER necessary NOR sufficient to authenticate the apostles. What authenticates an apostle in my eyes is a feeling of certainty, and although miracles can and do increase the degree of certainty, they are insufficient in themselves to raise the degree of certainty to the level needed for conversion. Whereas the inward witness of the Holy Spirit is both necessary and sufficient to raise our level of certainty to the level needed for conversion. Given that miracles are neither necessary nor sufficient, why then did God perform them? Again, it’s a matter of personal preference. This is what He prefers, and He is the same Yesterday, Today, and Forever. Therefore the appropriate question is not, “Are all these spiritual gifts strictly necessary today?” but rather, “Are these things good?” because Jesus said, “How much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.” Cessationism in other words misconstrues the Father as denying His children good gifts.
My position, then, is that Apostles and prophets are indeed necessary because God, as a matter of personal preference, has insisted upon an apostolic model. Therefore a congregation spawned without Apostles and prophets is not really a church in the strict sense and consequently will not receive a full supply of power from on high.
At Ephesians 2:20 Paul claimed that a local church is built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets. Here the Greek text is ambiguous as to whether the foundation is the apostles and prophets themselves, on the one hand, or whether the foundation is rock laid down BY the apostles and prophets on the other. However, a few parallel passages clearly indicate that the foundation is indeed rock laid down by the apostles. For instance at 1Cor 3:10 Paul declared, “As a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it”. Thus the apostle is a masterful engineer who lays down the foundation with supreme expertise. Who would want to step into a building whose foundation was laid down by unskilled workers? The next verse informs us that Christ is the actual rock laid down, as the foundation, by the Apostles. It states, “For no other foundation can be laid down other than the one being laid down, which is Christ.” The foundation can’t be the books of the NT because the NT wasn’t even assembled for another 200 years later. Nor is the foundation something laid down only once but rather was laid down afresh for each new church planted according to Rom 15:20 where Paul states, “I strived to preach the gospel in places where Christ was as yet unknown, because I did not want to build upon another man’s foundation.”
In what sense does the apostle lay down Christ more expertly than unskilled builders? Apostles and prophets could often perceive the thoughts, attitudes, and character of men insofar as the Holy Spirit revealed this information. Hence they were best equipped to decide who should be elected to serve as pastors, elders, and deacons. They also had wisdom from God for handling church finances, resolving disputes, dealing with rulers, and advising the congregation on their own personal finances and affairs. Most importantly, they arrived with authority from heaven to usher in an enormous flow of power from on high for building up the body, healing the sick, and conducting evangelism.
I will now begin to develop an argument that the first epistle to the Corinthians defines spiritual maturity as a superabundance of spiritual gifts. Evangelical theologians have missed this fact for a very understandable reason, namely that verse 1:7 in this epistle SEEMS to say that the immature Corinthians already possessed a superabundance of gifts. However, if they already possessed a superabundance of gifts, why then does chapter 14 keep urging them to zealously seek the gift of prophecy? And why does chapter 12 urge them to seek the greater gifts? Therefore I suspect that the best translation of verse 1:7 is this, “You are not devoid of any gift.” Thus the Corinthians had received all the gifts by virtue of Paul’s apostolic authority, but not necessarily in superabundance. Some believers probably had no gifts at all, and others probably manifested their gifts infrequently.
Oddly enough the key to unlocking this first epistle to the Corinthians is the frequent usage of the simple two letter word “We”. Most scholars recognize that Paul was using the term “we” in the sense of “We apostles and prophets.” One of the best examples is verse 4:9 which states, “God has positioned US THE APOSTLES last, as though appointed only to suffer and die for Him, for we have become quite a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men.” Let’s now consider chapter 2 verses 6 thru 16, which begins as follows, “We speak wisdom among those that are mature.” Again, this means, “We Apostles and prophets speak wisdom among those that are mature.” Notice how Paul is beginning to build a contrast between the mature and the immature. He is saying that We mature apostles and prophets speak words of spiritual wisdom to other mature believers, people who are mature like we are.” At Verse 13 he states, “These things we speak, not in words of human wisdom, but in words given to us by the Holy Spirit.” Apostles and prophets receive words from the Holy Spirit. In fact a considerable number of scholars believe that chapter 2 refers to the special revelations given to apostles and prophets. This chapter spills over into chapter 3 where he immediately calls the Corinthians immature, unspiritual babes unable to receive solid food. Apparently, then, solid food involves special revelations typically reserved for mature apostles and prophets. Paul certainly gave Scripture to the Corinthian babes, for instance he gave them this epistle, but he wasn’t permitted to give them solid food.
Again, Paul used two separate contrasts to describe the Corinthian state. Ultimately it all means the same thing, although different Greek words are involved. The first contrast is between the mature and the immature. He implied that We apostles and prophets are mature while you Corinthians are immature babes. That’s the first contrast. The second contrast means the same thing. The second contrast is that we Apostles and prophets are spiritual, whereas you Corinthians are unspiritual. This usage of the word “spiritual” is really just another way of classifying the Corinthians as immature, but it’s very important because it sheds some light on Paul’s definition of maturity. At this point it is already becoming apparent that a spiritual man is one who abundantly experiences the special revelations typically given to apostles and prophets.
On that note verse 14:37 is important because it confirms this definition of ‘spiritual man.’ It states, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. ” Most evangelical scholars recognize that this verse uses the term “spiritual” somewhat like the term spiritist, meaning someone who is receiving a steady flow of messages or supernatural power from the invisible realm. Obviously an apostle or prophet would fit this description. Evangelical scholars who could be cited on behalf of this particular interpretation are Gordon Fee, John Gill, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown, John Wesley, and Albert Barnes.
A spiritual man, then, is one who is rich in the supernatural. This is how Paul is defining spiritual maturity. And an unspiritual man is someone highly ignorant of the supernatural for lack of experience with these things. Since Paul did not want the Corinthians to remain highly ignorant of the supernatural, he begins chapter 12 like this, “Concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.” People who are highly ignorant of a topic need a full discussion of that topic. That’s why this epistle provides the longest discussion of spiritual gifts found anywhere in the New Testament. In fact Paul is even more direct than the translation just given. The word “gifts” is actually absent from the original Greek in the verse just read. The translators tend to add this word because they think it fits. Again, the usual translation of verse 12:1 is this, “Concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.” Although this insertion of the word gifts is somewhat legitimate, it actually obscures the full significance of this verse. The literal rendering of the verse is this, “Concerning spiritual things, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.” In support of this translation I could cite scholars such as Howard M. Ervin, Gordon Fee, and Albert Barnes. For instance Barnes stated, “The Greek refers to “spiritual” things in general, or to anything that is of a spiritual nature.” I’ll read that again. Barnes stated, “The Greek refers to “spiritual” things in general, or to anything that is of a spiritual nature.” Thus Barnes is saying that it means spiritual things. Again, the literal rendering of the verse is this, ““Concerning spiritual things, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.” Why is this distinction important? If you ask evangelical Christians, What does it mean to be spiritual, and What are the spiritual things, many will reply with a list of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Whereas Paul gives us HIS list of spiritual things here in chapter 12. It’s a list of supernatural giftings. The Corinthians were unspiritual. They needed to become rich in spiritual things. Paul is implying that they needed to become rich in the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit. Naturally, then, chapter 14 begins like this, “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.” Then, just three verses later, Paul tells us that prophecy builds up the church. The Greek word for “builds up” is the same word used at chapter 8 verse 1 which states, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” In other words both love and prophecy build up the church, and thus prophecy has largely the same effect on the church as love. This is consistent with Paul’s command, “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.”
Let’s now move onto chapter 13, particularly verses 8 to 12. The key to unlocking this passage is that it contains the word “babe”. It’s the same Greek word that Paul used in chapter 3 when he called the Corinthians unspiritual babes. This suggests that Paul is merely continuing his effort to define spiritual maturity as a superabundance of the supernatural. In fact the word “mature” already seen in chapter 2 reappears a second time here in chapter 13. Let’s pick it up at verse 11 where Paul describes his own experience of maturing from a babe to a man. “When I was a babe, I spoke like a babe, I understood like a babe, I thought like a babe, but when I became a man, I put away baby things.” Here Paul mentions three baby activities, namely speaking, thinking, and understanding. He says he put away these baby things when he became a man. Taken at face value, however, Paul’s claim makes absolutely no sense, for he certainly did not cease from those three activities. He did not stop thinking, speaking, and understanding. There was no cessation of these things; they did not come to a cease. In what sense, then, did he put away these baby things? He put away the immature versions of them. He continued to do the same three activities but only in a more mature manner. This passage is not proposing cessation. It is proposing maturation of the gifts. What came to a cease, then, was the immature versions of these three activities. He put away the baby versions of them in order to walk in mature versions. Far from experiencing a cessation of the gifts, Paul experienced a quantitative increase of them as he matured.
The three baby activities correspond to three revelatory gifts mentioned in the passage, namely prophecy, knowledge, and tongues. Paul is calling the immature Corinthians to mature in these gifts, and he is simply noting for the record that, as they mature, the immature versions of them will come to a cease. In other words verse 8 can be read like this, “Where there is immature prophecy it will be abolished, where there is immature tongues, it will cease, and where there is immature knowledge, it will surely pass away.” The next verse, which is verse 9, begins with that crucial two letter word “We” which means we “We apostles and prophets.” It states, “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when the mature comes, then that which is in part will come to a cease.” Paul is saying that we apostles and prophets currently prophesy only in part, and thus we are looking forward to a state of maturity in which we shall prophesy in full. At that point the prophesying in part will come to a cease. Paul’s goal, then, was to prophesy in full. Note this implies a quantitative increase in prophetic revelation. He had only been prophesying in part, but he wants to prophesy in full, quantitatively speaking.
Now here’s the interesting thing. Earlier he had called the Corinthians babes. And yet here in chapter 13 he implies that he himself is a babe still looking forward to a maturity where he will prophesy in full. How can he be both a babe and a mature man at the same time? The answer lies in a concept that evangelical scholars rightly refer to as relative maturity. Relative to the Corinthian babes, Paul was mature. But relative to Christ, he was still a babe. The upshot is that Paul is telling the Corinthians that they need to be aspiring to a level of prophetic revelation even far surpassing his own level. The goal in other words is to become more and more like the prophet Jesus Christ every day.
I have just provided you with MY interpretation of chapter 13. Should there be any lingering doubts as to whether my reading is sound, I’m going to eradicate them right now, by simply pointing out that my opponents in this debate, the leading cessationists scholars themselves, fully agree with the reading I just outlined. They themselves have admitted that this chapter defines spiritual maturity as a quantitative increase in the revelatory gifts of prophecy, knowledge, and tongues. For example here’s a direct quotation from the cessationists scholar Robert Thomas. He wrote, “By what criteria may maturity in the body of Christ be gauged?…The criterion before Paul in 1Corinthians 13…centers in knowledge, tongues, and prophecy...for special revelation.” End quote. That quote was from an article he wrote in a seminary journal called the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. These cessationaist scholars emphasize that the phrase “in part” is a quantitative expression, just like I was saying, that defines maturity as a quantitative transition from prophesying in part to prophesying in full. For instance the cessationist scholar Myron Houghton stated, ““In the quantitative contrast in verses 9 and 10 the partial is contrasted with the complete (or perfect)…The nature of the partial gifts of prophecy, tongues, and knowledge…is that they are revelational in quality. Since this is so, ‘the perfect’ (the mature) must also be revelational.” I could likewise quote several other leading cessationist scholars such as Weaver, Farnell, and Gentry.
In other words these scholars found themselves forced to admit precisely what they were hoping to refute. They admitted that Paul had in mind a quantitative increase of prophetic revelation. In order to remain cessationists, then, these scholars had to find a way to dodge the implications of their own admission. Here’s how they generally do it. They typically claim that the NT writings constitute the latest and greatest quantitative increase in revelation. In other words we no longer need prophetic revelation, they say, because we now possess full biblical revelation. But this conclusion flatly contradicts their original analysis of the chapter. Allow me to explain why.
This chapter does not even use the term “revelation” because Paul is being far more specific than that. He is specifically dealing with three particular revelatory gifts, namely prophecy, knowledge, and tongues. The cessationists admit that these three gifts are revelatory. After all, if they weren’t revelatory, the cessationists would not bother to challenge them. That’s where cessationists have a problem; they have a problem with the idea that special revelations are still available today. However, Paul is not defining maturity as a quantitative increase in revelation. I realize that such is what he is IMPLYING, but it’s important to emphasize, once again, that he is far more specific than that. He is specifically defining maturity as a quantitative increase in the three revelatory gifts called prophecy, knowledge, and tongues. The cessationists themselves already admitted that this was his contention. Maturity, therefore, is not a cessation of these three gifts but, on the contrary, a quantitative increase of them. Yet now, after the fact, the cessationists would have us conclude that these gifts ceased at the advent of the NT canon. This flatly contradicts their own admission that Paul was picturing a quantitative increase of these three gifts rather than their cessation. And there is yet another problem with this conclusion. If prophecy were a kind of immature revelation replaced by the NT writings as the mature revelation, then the prophet Christ – this would imply that Christ was immature since He lacked a copy of the NT. This would imply that Christ never experienced the degree of maturity common to all those who own a copy of the NT. This is heresy. We simply cannot accept that conclusion. Moreover Paul’s anticipation of a day when he would prophesy in full was not fulfilled at the advent of the NT cannon but is rather fulfilled in heaven.
Incidentally, quite provocative is Paul’s description of maturity at verse 12, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then we shall see face to face.” One scholar argued that this verse is a clear parallel to Numbers 12:8-10 where the spiritual maturity of Moses is associated with his seeing God face to face.
One of my favorite passages in this epistle is chapter 4 verses 18-20 where
Paul is pondering some Corinthians who were boasting arrogantly. He tells them that the real evidence of high
status in the
At this point I want to draw a crucial distinction between power and influence. Power compels change and is often irresistible. Influence seeks change but does not compel it. For example suppose I extend my hand and push you to the ground. That’s an exertion of power. My hand forced you to fall to the ground against your will. Now suppose I merely ASK you to fall to the ground. I ask you this by opening my mouth and uttering sounds. In this case I am merely blowing ordinary air from my mouth toward you, without sufficient momentum to FORCE you to fall to the ground. As a result, my words are merely exerting influence rather than power. Of course if I happen to be a very influential person in your life, you might very well freely choose to fall to the ground in obedience to my words. But ultimately the choice is yours. The new birth, however, was a divine exertion of power rather than divine influence. God did not merely ASK you or ADVISE you to become holy. He actually reached out, extended His hand into your heart, and FORCED it to become holy. This is power.
And yet after 2000 years of Bible-study, mainstream Christianity still hasn’t recognized this basic distinction between power and influence. When a leader stands up and preaches the Bible, he is releasing ordinary air from the mouth. As I just pointed out, this blast of air is too weak to exert power; it merely exerts influence. It does not FORCE the congregation to behave in a holy manner. Preaching the Bible, therefore, is absolutely powerless to sanctify the congregation. Leaders who preach Scripture as a means to sanctify and mature the congregation have embraced a RECIPE FOR FAILURE. As a result of this flawed approach, precious little sanctification occurs in the church. This is why the divorce rate in the church is the same as in the world. The moral character of the average Christian generally is not much better than that of a typical non-Christian. My Andrew Murray commented, "The letter of the Word, however we study and delight in it, has no saving or sanctifying power” because, said Andrew Murray, “the written Word is powerless.”
In fact Paul explicitly counseled us that depending on Scripture for sanctification is a recipe for failure. Indeed he went so far as to argue that Scripture often has the negative influence of enticing people to sin. The term he used in these statements, however, was not “Scripture” but “the law.” The phrase “the law” appears about 160 times in the NT in three related senses. First, “the law” sometimes refers to the entire OT. Second, “the law” sometimes refers to the five books of Moses. Third, “the law” sometimes refers to all the commands of God as recorded by Moses. What all three connotations have in common is that the law refers to Scripture.
Here’s what Paul had to say about the law. I’ll pick it up at Romans chapter 7 verse 5: “For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions aroused in our body by the law brought forth fruit unto death.” He is saying that the law tends to inflame our passion for sin because, in commanding us to resist temptations, it has to take the time to MENTION all those delightful temptations, which affords us a fresh opportunity to be enticed into sin. He reiterates this point at Verses 7 and 11, “I had not known sin, except through the law: for I had not known coveting, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet: And sin, finding occasion, produced in me through the commandment all manner of coveting...and thus sin, finding occasion through the commandment, deceived me, and put me to death.” This is what Paul is telling us about Scripture. Accordingly he called the law a ministry of death at 2Cor 3 verses 6 thru 7. Folks, like it or not, Paul is telling us that preaching scripture is a ministry of death. On the other hand Paul, Peter, and Luke all allude to the task of preaching the Word of God. What did they mean by this? Clearly they weren’t talking about preaching the Bible. The upcoming lecture on biblical metaphysics will explain what it means to preach the Word of God.
Here ends lecture number six entitled, “A Church With No Foundation.”
This was lecture number six in the series entitled, “Why we Need a Second Reformation.”
This is lecture number seven in the series entitled, “Why we Need a Second Reformation.”
Metaphysics is simply the discipline of forming a general theory as to what types of substances exist. Obviously there are several different theories as to what types of substances exist. How do we decide which theory is correct? Earlier I pointed out that when faced with two possible theories, the one more intelligible than the other, we should tend to gravitate toward the one that is more crystal clear. For if we keep gravitating in the opposite direction, we’ll eventually end up with a theory that is complete gibberish, a theory that serves no real purpose because no one even make any sense of it.
For the last 2000 years the church has held that a mind, whether human or divine, is an intangible, immaterial substance called spirit. To see why this claim is very questionable, suppose I extend my hand and attempt to push you to the ground. And assume that my hand is an immaterial substance completely intangible, somewhat like thin air. In this case I couldn’t possibly manage to tangibly impact your body as to push it to the ground. I would be utterly powerless in all situations. Thus the theory of intangible spirits renders the concept of power unintelligible. In fact the more closely we examine the mainstream definition of spirit, the more unintelligible it appears. For instance it asserts that a spirit has no extension in space which means it has no size and shape. It is not extended to the right, to the left, toward the sky, or toward the ground. It is zero inches tall, zero inches wide, and zero inches thick. This is totally unintelligible, for two reasons. Firstly, the human mind cannot conceive a substance devoid of dimensions. Any substance that I conceive will appear in my mind with some size and shape. Secondly, according to Scripture God is present throughout the universe. I fail to see how His presence can extend throughout the universe if it has no extension in space. Thirdly, the human mind is present within the human body. I fail to see how the mind can exist at a location within the human body if it has no extension in space.
Since a physical substance is one that can be broken into parts, the mainstream holds that God, being non-physical, has no parts. His substance cannot be divided into parts. This contradicts John 16:7 which pictures Pentecost as Christ trading places with the Holy Spirit. In other words Christ was about to leave earth and ascend into heaven followed by the Holy Spirit leaving heaven as to arrive on earth. The two would be trading places. In fact at Acts chapter 1 the disciples actually watched Jesus ascend into the clouds before their very eyes. The picture painted here, therefore, is that the Father and Son tend to remain on their heavenly thrones while the Holy Spirit proceeds from them to the earth. These localizations indicate that the godhead does indeed subdivide into three distinct parts called Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The mainstream admits three persons but regards them as three personalities generated from one indivisible substance that cannot be broken into parts. As I said, this contradicts the very notion of an outpouring of the Spirit where Jesus remains on the throne and sends His Holy Spirit to the earth.
Let’s continue to discuss
power. Assume for the moment that God wants to throw your body to the
ground. Perhaps He creates an invisible,
intangible force like gravity that magically exerts a push upon your body. The
problem is that the concept of an intangible force is itself unintelligible.
Isaac Newton was the brilliant scientist and mathematician who formulated the
theory of gravity. He recognized that
some kind of power was pushing objects to the ground, and he named this power
“gravity.” This came to be understood as an intangible force whereby one body
of matter exerts a gravitational pull on other bodies of matter. What some
people don’t realize, however, is that
Well the second theory actually accords better with Scripture, for two reasons. First, we know that gravitational dynamics uphold the universe by keeping the planets in their respective orbits. And yet Scripture suggests that God is the one who upholds the universe. Therefore gravity is probably the hand of God pushing and pulling all objects as necessary to uphold the universe, keeping the planets in their respective orbits, and keeping the world stabilized to its present state. Second, suppose I could push your body to the ground by an act of magic or sorcery, and thus affect you from a distance without actually touching you. In this case it would be pointless for me to approach you. In other words, I would bother to approach you, I would make the effort to approach you, only if I am a physical being who needs to physically come into proximity to you in order to physically shove your body to the ground. And this is precisely how Scripture portrays God. According to Scripture, when God executes a miracle, He does not perform it magically from a distance. Instead he actually arrives on the scene. He approaches the object that is the target of the miracle. In Scripture this is recorded as the descent of the Holy Spirit into the region. He sends forth His Spirit to do the work. The Holy Spirit therefore functions as the hand of God extended forth to physically manipulate the object targeted. For example He sends the Holy Spirit into your physical body to accomplish the new birth. As Paul said, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. All this implies that God is a physical being because, if He were doing all this by magic, He would not need to come into proximity of the objects being targeted.
However, if God is a physical being, why is the Third Person called the Holy Spirit? How can a spirit be a physical being? Actually that’s not His name. The “Holy Spirit” is not His real name. After 2000 years of Bible-study, the church still does not even know the Third Person’s real name. Christians still think His name is the Holy Spirit. This is absolutely amazing to me. In these lectures I’ve been using that name only to avoid confusing you. But it’s actually a mistranslation of the Greek and Hebrew. Allow me to explain.
The OT term for the Third Person is the Hebrew word ruach, and the NT term is the Greek word pneuma. They both mean the same thing. Mainstream Christianity claims that the proper translation of these terms is the English word “spirit” or, alternatively, the word “ghost”. For instance the King James Version often refers to the Holy Ghost as well as the Holy Spirit. However, both the Hebrew term and the Greek term generally meant breath or wind. For example the English phrase pneumatic tool means an air-powered tool, based on the Greek word pneuma meaning breath or wind. Therefore I’m now going to demonstrate that the Third Person is a physical Person whose real name is the Holy Breath or the Holy Wind as opposed to the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost.
After all, it is a fundamental principle of hermeneutics that the unclear passages ought to be interpreted in light of the clear passages. In the clear passages, the proper translation of the Greek and Hebrew terms in question here is breath or wind. Nobody disputes that. For example Baker’s Dictionary of Evangelical Theology, which is a very famous reference work among evangelical scholars, reports that wind is the proper translation 113 times in the OT alone, not to even mention the NT. Since the clear passages indicate breath or wind, we ought to be inclined to this interpretation in any unclear passages. You might be wondering, “Is not breath or wind a rather weird classification for a soul?” Well it won’t seem all that weird once you reflect on what Moses had to say in the second chapter of Genesis. Let’s pick it up at Genesis chapter 2 verse 7, “And the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” The esteemed evangelical theologian Charles Hodge commented on this verse that God breathed Adam’s soul into his nostrils. If you breathe a liquid or solid into a person’s nostrils, you’ll probably kill him. Therefore the soul inbreathed into Adam’s nostrils evidently had a physical constitution much like breath or wind as opposed to a solid or liquid. In other words it is to be CLASSIFIED as breath or wind. Allow me explain what I mean by “classified.” Moses saw a burning bush whose flames are CLASSIFIED in the Bible as Fire on account of physical characteristics SIMILAR to those of ordinary fire. In the same way, Gen 2:7 is classifying the human soul as breath or wind on account of physical characteristics similar to those of breath or wind. Now admittedly, once Adam’s soul entered into his body and became merged with it by divine power, it may have ended up with a texture very solid or very liquid. In other words the texture may have changed. Nonetheless Scripture classifies the human soul as wind or breath. To summarize, Gen 2:7 depicts the divine Breath as physically pushing Adam’s breath-like soul into his body. This implies that Adam’s soul was physical, because one cannot physically push an immaterial soul into a body. It won’t push. Also relevant here is Gen 6:17 where God used the following words to warn Noah about the flood: “I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which there is the breath of life.” Here God classifies men and animals as those creatures filled with the breath of life. The Hebrew word used in the phrase “the breath of life” is the same word used for the human soul, which is the same word used for the Third Person throughout the OT. This strongly suggests that the Third Person’s true name is the Breath of God instead of the Spirit of God or worst yet the Ghost of God. My mentor Andrew Murray was very insistent that the Holy Spirit is the breath of God.
Given this background, I really only need one decent prooftext to corroborate my position. That is to say, I only need to find one passage where the context clearly favors the translation “the Holy Breath” as opposed to “the Holy Spirit.” An excellent example is John 20:22 traditionally translated as follows: “Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, Receive ye the Holy Spirit.” In this context Jesus was literally blowing breath from His nostrils into the disciples. If context is permitted to have any say in the matter, the verse should be translated as follows, “Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, Receive ye the Holy Breath.” After all, evangelicals insist that God gave us the Bible for didactic purposes, that is, for the sake of instruction. If God were an intangible, immaterial being, the LAST thing He would want to do is provide us a verse indicating that He is physical Breath. There would really be no point in misleading us that way. Therefore the fact that this verse associates the Third Person with Christ’s breath is very significant. And at this point it is also worth mentioning what Thomas Oden had to say about this verse. Evangelicals recognize that Thomas Oden’s systematic theology textbook is an important textbook, because it deliberately strived to refrain from contributing new insights. In essence it is a list of those teachings unanimous among Christian Bible-scholars for the first 1500 years of church history, and even into the Reformation. According to Oden, translating this verse as “the Holy Breath” is acceptable in light of classical hermeneutics. In fact that’s precisely how Oden himself says it should be rendered. He wrote, "Jesus himself chose the expression 'Holy Breath’ to designate the Comforter to follow.'" John Gill is another famous evangelical commentator who rendered the verse as “The Holy Breath.”
2 Tim 3:16 reports that all Scripture is God-breathed. Scripture is the product of inspiration, and this verse reveals that the source of inspiration is the divine Breath. Based on this verse, the evangelical theologian Edward Young published an article in Grace Theological Journal entitled “The God-breathed Scripture.” He argued that Scripture clearly defines God’s speech as His exhaled breath.
As noted earlier, breath and wind were interchangeable concepts in the Hebrew mind. On Pentecost the disciples heard the sound of a mighty rushing wind. So what were they filled with, if the context is permitted to have any say in the matter? Were they filled with the Holy Ghost? Filled with the Holy Spirit? Hardly. Again, that would be a contextually irresponsible translation. They heard the sound of rushing wind. Therefore they were all filled with the Holy Wind. Had God wanted us to read the text as “the Holy Ghost”, He would simply have neglected to mention the sound of rushing wind, as to avoid needless confusion. He mentioned the rushing wind PRECISELY because He wanted us to read the text as saying “They were all filled with The Holy Wind.”
When God split apart the
waters of the Red Sea on behalf of Moses and
According to 2Thess 2:8, Jesus will one day overthrow the enemy by the Breath of His mouth.” Although most translations of the Bible construe this as the “Spirit of his mouth”, the American Standard Version is an example of a translation that properly renders it as “the Breath of His mouth.”
The Fire and Wind that fell upon the disciples at Pentecost parallels Psalm 18 where David had a vision of the Lord breathing out Smoke and Fire from His nostrils. David specifically referred to this Smoke and Fire as a blast of breath from God’s nostrils. The Hebrew word used by David for the breath of God’s nostrils is the same word used for the Spirit of God throughout the OT.
Mat 3:11 is usually translated, “He will baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with Fire.” The better translation is, “He will baptize you with the Holy Wind, and with Fire.” I say this for two reasons. First, the very next verse mentions the farmer’s fan which used wind to separate the wheat from the chaff to be burned in fire. Secondly, on Pentecost the disciples saw Fire and heard the sound of a mighty rushing Wind, in direct fulfillment of this promise.
Defining the Third Person as
God’s Breath or Wind is the key to unlocking an important NT verse perplexing to Bible-scholars for the last
2000 years. That verse is John 3:5 which is usually translated like this,
“Unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot see the
As mentioned earlier, when deciding whether to translate a verse as Wind and Breath, on the one hand, or as spirit and ghost, on the other, we need to look for clues in the context. In other words, in regard to John 3:5, usually translated as I said, “born of water and Spirit”, does the context mention breath or wind? If so, this would confirm my translation “born of Water and Wind.” Just three verses later, at John 3:8, Jesus makes a statement about wind. No scholar, as far as I know, denies that verse 8 is talking about wind. However, scholars have assumed it to be a reference to ordinary wind used as a metaphor for the Holy Spirit. I strongly disagree. I think Jesus is still talking about the divine Wind. At verse 5 He said we are born of divine Water and Wind. Here again, at verse 8, He simply repeats His assertion that we are born of divine Wind. In other words I read verse 8 like this, “The divine wind blows where it pleases, and you hear the sound, but you don’t know from whence it came or where it is going. So it is of every one who is born of the divine Wind.” But why does the verse indicate that all Christians heard the sound of divine Wind at the time of the new birth? For either of two possible reasons. Keep in mind that every day you hear thousands of sounds, including the blowing of wind, without realizing it. Only in the quiet stillness of the night do you finally realize how much noise was clamoring all day long. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that at the moment of the new birth you heard the divine wind blowing so gently that you never realized it. Or perhaps you did hear it distinctly but presumed it to be ordinary wind. The second possibility is that we hear the sound of the divine Wind only in the sense of hearing Christ’s voice. God speaks to us by blowing Wind from his mouth. An excellent example of this principle is Psalm 33:6 which states, “By the spoken word of the Lord were the heavens formed, the starry hosts by the breath of His mouth.” The Hebrew word used in the phrase “the breath of His mouth” is the same word used for the Spirit of God throughout the OT. The various English Bibles translate this verse correctly in this case, that is to say, they do indeed render it as “the breath of his mouth”, instead of “the spirit of his mouth.” This verse is also a reference to the divine Word. I’ll read it again. “By the spoken word of the Lord were the heavens formed, the starry hosts by the breath of His mouth.” The divine Word, then, is the divine breath emitted from God’s mouth when He speaks. For example at Gen 15:1, “The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision” whereby he received the Holy Breath by the hearing of faith according to Galatians chapter 3.
Understanding the divine Word as the Breath of God’s mouth is the key to understanding what it means to preach the Word of God. Earlier I argued that the church has been preaching Scripture instead of preaching the Word. Stated differently, the church has been preaching the written Word instead of the divine Word. The divine Word, being God Himself, existed from the very beginning according to John chapter 1, whereas Scripture is merely a textbook written by inspired men 2000 thousand years ago. Admittedly it’s a perfectly accurate textbook, because God supervised the authors, but nonetheless it will never be on a par with the divine Word. The book of Hebrews best describes the difference between the written Word and the divine Word. According to Hebrews the written law was merely a Shadow of the heavenly realities. In other words imagine an excellent painter who, seeing God face to face, paints a picture on a canvas. He then hands you the canvas. Did he hand you God? No. Did he hand you the power of God? No. Did he hand you a shadow of God? “YES”. That’s all he gave you. It’s just a shadow. For centuries evangelical preachers have held up the Bible, waved it before the congregation, and exclaimed, “Study your Bible because it is the power of God for holy living !!!!” No. No it’s not. It’s just a canvas. That’s why God did not mind waiting five thousand years to create publishing houses. He was in no hurry to spread the Bible around the world because it simply is not necessary for godly living.
As revealed in chapters 14 thrugh 16 of John’s gospel, the Son of God abides in a ministry of intercessory prayer. He continually petitions the Father for outpourings of the Holy Breath who then proceeds from the Father, through the Son, and to the earth. In mainstream theology this is called the processionof the Holy Spirit. He proceeds from the Father, through the Son, to the earth. He does this in response to the petitions of Jesus who petitions the Father for the Holy Spirit, for outpourings. You were created in the image of the Son, and He therefore glories in watching you mimic on earth His heavenly ministry of sending forth the Holy Breath. In other words you are to petition the Father for outpourings designed to charge your body for the purpose of being discharged to others as a blessing to the world. Thus there is supposed to be a continual procession of the Holy Breath from your own body to the world. These outpourings for the sake of discharge are distinct from those given for your sanctification. Any such release of the Holy Breath from your body is what it means to preach the Word of God. Today’s preachers are only blowing ordinary breath from their mouths, because their lungs are not charged with outpourings of the Holy Breath. That’s why today’s sermons are ineffective. They exert a small degree of influence but utterly fail to exert power.
Let’s keep in mind that that we can discharge the Holy Breath from any part of our body, not just from our lungs. Let’s now consider some biblical examples of discharges. At Numbers chapter 11 Moses cried out to God for assistance in governing the people. In response God descended in the Cloud to charge his body with the Holy Breath who was then discharged from his body to seventy elders. Thus the pillar of Cloud was itself the Holy Breath who descended upon Moses’ body as to charge it, and from there He discharged Himself to the seventy elders.
Another example is the light
radiating from Moses face. This too is the procession of the Holy Breath; it is
the preaching of the divine Word. And we know that the Light in Moses’ face was
physical, because he had to put a physical veil over his face to avoid blinding
Another example of bodily discharge is that various handkerchiefs and aprons in contact with Paul’s body released healing power to sick people and cast out devils. You’ll find this at Acts 19:12.
When Jesus was healing people in a large crowd, a woman reached out to touch him. He obviously felt a discharge of healing power from His body, for he said, “Who touched me? I know that power has gone out from me.” You’ll find this at Luke 8:46.
At one point there was so much healing power flowing from Peter’s body that the people felt they only needed to get within a shadow’s length from him in order to be healed. You’ll find this at Acts 5:15.
Jesus classified Himself as a preacher of the divine Word at Jn 15:3 where He claimed that His spoken words had cleansed the hearts of the disciples. Similarly at Jn 6:63 He stated, “My words are breath, and they are life.” This is really no different than what He said at John 20:22 as I pointed out before. He breathed on the disciples and said, Receive ye the Holy Breath. He was discharging the divine Breath from His lungs into the disciples.
Luke affords the most prolific pattern of preaching the divine Word. Earlier it was pointed out that the expression “Filled with the Holy Spirit” is virtually distinctive to Luke-Acts. Of course now we know it really means “Filled with the Holy Breath.” If your lungs are charged with the divine Breath, the most natural way to discharge it is to orally preach the divine Word. Take for example the outpouring at Acts 4:30-31: “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Breath, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” The same dynamic is found at Pentecost. After hearing the sound of rushing wind, “They were all filled with the Holy Breath, and began to speak in other languages, as the Breath gave them utterance.” Such verses indicate a discharge of the divine Breath from the lungs or voicebox. At Acts 19:6 Paul laid hands on some men as to discharge the Holy Breath from his own body. The text tells us, “And when Paul had laid hands upon them, the Holy Breath came on them; and they spoke in other languages, and prophesied.” Thus when the Holy Breath has charged your lungs, the most natural release is prophetic utterance.
The rest of this lecture will be devoted to providing more biblical proof of materialism.
The expression “filled with the Holy Breath” is important because sound hermeneutics simply will not permit us to interpret the word “filled” in any arbitrary manner that suits our fancy. Scripture uses the term “filled” in only two ways – the same two ways that people use this word today. First, a filling can be emotional such as when a person is filled with joy. An emotion is a state-of-mind rather than a substance, for I cannot pour you a glass of joy. Second, a filling can be the event of one substance filling another substance. This involves a volume of substance. It is volumetric. Anything else would be incoherent. That is to say, even in everyday life we cannot imagine one substance being filled with another substance in a purely emotional sense. That’s simply not how the term filling is used. God is more than an emotion and certainly more than a concept. Mainstream theology already admits that He is an existing substance, and it admits the same thing of the human heart. Scripture tells us that people were filled with the Third Person. Since both parties are existing substances, being filled with the third person must be volumetric by nature. This is particularly self-evident if the Third Person is a physical Wind or Breath. Furthermore this reaffirms my theory of sanctification, because when Paul commands, “Be filled with the Holy Breath”, he implies that a filled person is holy, but we now know for sure that this is a volumetric filling. Thus becoming holy is a matter of receiving volume after volume of the Third Person until our hearts are filled volumetrically with Him. Toward this goal there is very little we can do other than wait upon God in prayer for outpourings.
Let’s take a look at some verses verifying that Scripture uses the term “filled” in a volumetric sense. 2Chron 7:1 states, “Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.” There are several important lessons here. First, Solomon’s act of praying is what outpoured the divine Glory. Elijah prayed down fire from heaven in a similar manner. This confirms that prayer outpours the fiery Holy Breath. The “work of the man of God”, said my mentor Andrew Murray, “is to bring fire down to earth.”  Secondly, the Fire consumed the sacrifices on the altar. Here again, this is just like extending my hand to push your body to ground. That is to say, the Fire came into direct physical contact with the sacrifices in order to consume them. This demonstrates that God operates physically from proximity rather than magically from a distance. Thirdly, the Fire also filled the temple volumetrically. The temple was a symbol of the human body. According to Paul your body is the temple of the Holy Breath. Paul was implying that the glory of God is supposed to fill your body volumetrically.
In David’s vision the Holy Breath came forth as fire
and smoke. Rev 15:8 uses the word filled
volumetrically. It states, “The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of
God and His power.” Suppose I walked up to an evangelical and said, “I just
learned that the glory of God is a physical substance that gets hot, kindles
into a fire, and then gives off smoke.” He would likely reply, “Not a chance,
because God is an immaterial spirit.”
Therefore I’d better read that verse again. This is Rev 15:8. It states,
“The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and his power.” You’ll
find the same dynamic at Exodus chapter 19 where the divine Fire descended upon
At Luke 24:49, Jesus promised to clothe the Twelve with power from on high. The Greek word used there means to literally clothe someone with a garment from head to toe. It’s a volumetric term in the sense that you cannot clothe someone who is zero inches tall. Thus the Fire and Wind that fell on Pentecost filled the bodies of the disciples volumetrically.
Were the OT manifestations of Light, Fire, Smoke, and
Cloud God Himself? At times
For example, Scripture indicates that Paul saw the Lord when the divine light shined into his eyes. After all, men see ordinary physical objects in virtue of light shining into their eyes. Typically, then, God shines His own light into the eyes of men in order that they may see Him. For instance at Acts 7:55, “Stephen looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.” At that time Stephen’s face was radiant like an angel because the divine Light was shining into his eyes. But in order to see Christ, he still had to turn his eyeballs directly upward facing the light. This is generally how God gave the prophets visions – He simply shined His light into their eyeballs. The end result is no different than watching a movie screen or a television set. You can see all kinds of movies and motion pictures in virtue of light shining into your eyes. God often creates visions in the same way. Of course God also has another option: He can bypass the eyeballs by directly stirring the brain electrochemically with visions. This has the same effect as ordinary light, in the sense that ordinary light stirs up electrochemical movements in our brain. Therefore God can bypass the eyes and go straight to the brain as to stir up visions electrochemically.
The evangelical theologian Charles Hodge admitted that the glory of God shines in Christ’s face. Rev 1:16 states that His face shines like the sun. Naturally, then, Moses blessed the people in the following way at Numbers 6:25, “May the LORD make his face shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee. May the LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” Similarly David indicated at Psalm 89:15 that the saints walk in the Light of God’s countenance. The writers of the psalms prayed that the Lord’s face shine upon them. You’ll find this at Psalm 4:6; Psalm 31:16, Psalm 67:1; Psalm 80:3, Psalm 80:7; and psalm 119:135. Indeed sanctification can be defined as a gradual unshading of God’s face unto us.
Redactive criticism shows that Luke emphasized that
prayer is what outpours the Holy Breath. For example the Transfiguration of
Christ’s face into a bright light was recorded in several gospels, but Luke was
the only writer to depict the Light as an outpouring given specifically in
response to prayer. Let’s pick it up at Lk chapter 9 verse 28: "Jesus went up
into the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the fashion of his
countenance was altered, and his raiment became white and dazzling." This
is really no different than when Moses went up to the mountain to pray, and
then returned with a face too bright for
As noted earlier, the Holy Breath often fell upon Samson as to impart supernatural strength. Imagine Samson attempting to lift a heavy object. There are two possible ways for this to work. The first possibility is that the Holy Breath actually made Samson stronger. The second possibility is that Samson remained weak, but while he went through the MOTIONS of lifting, the Holy Breath within him did most of the actual lifting. In this case we’d say that his strength was a DERIVED strength rather than an actual strength. This concept of a derived characteristic clarifies the biblical usage of the term holy. Proper hermeneutics compels us to use the term “holy” in precisely the same way that Scripture chose to use the term. Scripture ascribes holiness to God alone, for Revelation 15:4 states that God alone is holy. Created entities, therefore, are holy only in a DERIVED sense; holiness is for us a DERIVED characteristic. It works like this. When God has outpoured the Holy Breath onto a created entity and taken control of it for divine purposes, that entity is said to be holy. As a result, holiness in the strict sense is not obedience. Rather, holiness is any location where the Holy Breath has taken up such a controlling abode. This is precisely the definition given in my mentor Andrew Murray’s book entitled, “The Believer’s Secret of Holiness.” He wrote, "obedience is not holiness," but rather, "Where God is there is holiness," for “God alone is holy.”. For example, God said to Moses, “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.” In what sense was the ground holy? Was the ground freely choosing to walk in obedience to God? Again, obedience is not the definition of holiness. The ground was not holy in virtue of choosing to be holy or choosing to obey. The ground was holy in virtue of the divine Fire in the burning bush. As noted earlier, fire illuminates the surrounding environment by radiating light-particles in every direction. As a result, even the ground at Moses’ feet had become holy because of the light radiating upon the ground. And that’s how my mentor Andrew Murray understood the burning bush. This system implies that sanctification is volumetric. That is to say, only those parts of the human body upon which the Holy Breath has fallen are currently holy. The human body will be FULLY holy only when the Holy Breath has volumetrically filled it from head to toe. For example, at Exodus 29:43 God told Moses that His glory would make the tabernacle holy. Then at Exodus 40:34 we read, “Then the Cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the Glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” In other words the tabernacle became holy when the divine glory filled it from head to toe, so to speak.
A committee consisting of some two hundred evangelical scholars produced an important reference work called the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. In defining the glory of Yahweh it emphasized the apparition where the Lord said to Moses, “You can see my back parts, but my face must not be seen.” However, it did not rely on this particular passage alone to define the glory of Yahweh but rather traced the term throughout the entire OT. Here is what it concluded, “The glory of Yahweh is clearly a physical manifestation, a form with hands and rear parts, of which Moses is permitted to catch only a passing glimpse, but the implication is clear that he actually does see Yahweh with his physical eyes.” Augustine made similar statements, and he is perhaps the most esteemed church father in the history of Christianity. He insisted that the glory of God as manifested to the saints was regularly a physical phenomenon. Here’s what he said, “Whoever saw that dove [descend upon Christ] and that fire [at Pentecost], saw them with their own eyes….in physical forms.” Equally physical, he said, was the fire of the burning bush, the pillar of cloud or of fire, and the lightnings in the mountain.
The Book of Exodus records an interesting vision.
Let’s pick it up at Exodus chapter 24 verse 9: “And Moses went up the mountain,
along with Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of
At Genesis chapter 32 Jacob wrestled physically with God for an entire evening. Jacob named that place Peniel which means the face of God because, he said, “I have seen God face to face.” He walked away with a limp due to a physical bruising from that wrestling match. In other words, the doctrine of a physical God is so important that the Lord was willing to let Jacob suffer bodily injury just to prove it to the rest of us. Another lesson here is that the Lord wants to fellowship with His children in the same intimate way that a human father playfully wrestles with his own children.
There is plenty of evidence that angels are physical as well. For example the NT records that an angel exited heaven, arrived unto Mary, spoke with her, and then departed. The same thing happened to Cornelius. Such arrivals and departures of angels are quite significant because they indicate a need for physical proximity. In other words Mary began to see the angel and hear his voice only when he came into physical proximity. When he departed, she could no longer see and hear him. This confirms that angels operate on physical principles rather than by immaterial magic. Why don’t we see angels more often? And why don’t spacecraft collide with heaven? Because God usually hides these things from us, until we become spiritually mature.
An angel physically pushed the stone away from Christ’s tomb and then physically sat upon it. In fact God fetters angels in chains to keep them in prison according to 2Pet 2:4, Jude 1:6 and Rev 20:1. Hebrews tells us that men entertained angels without knowing it. This means that men embraced angels, shook hands with them, felt their garments, and watched them chew meals. None of this makes any sense in an immaterial metaphysics. Scripture implies that angels are tangible enough to stand around the throne (SEE Rev 5:6-11), tangible enough to strike Peter in the ribs (SEE Acts 12:7), tangible enough to walk ahead of Peter (see Acts 12:9), tangible enough to draw a sword from its sheath (see Jos 5:13 and 1Chr 2:27), tangible enough to open prison doors (see Acts 5:19), tangible enough to wear garments (see Mk 16:5 and Lk 24:4), tangible enough to ride horses (see Rev 6:1-8), tangible enough to open scrolls that were sealed shut (see Rev 6:1-8), tangible enough to carry weight-scales (see Rev 6:5), tangible enough to sound trumpets (see Rev 8), tangible enough to play harps (SEE Rev 5:8), tangible enough to hold bowls of incense (see Rev 5:8-9), tangible enough to shout in thunderous voices (see Rev 10:1-4), and tangible enough to rapture away human bodies (see Mat 24:31).
It’s important to keep in mind that the Hebrew and Greek words for Breath are used for all three parties in question here, namely angels, men, and God. Thus if any one of the three parties can be shown physical, in this case the angels, then the other two parties are probably physical as well, because all three parties are classified as Breath in Scripture.
A few theologians have acknowledged some degree of materialism. First and foremost, the church father Tertullian was a staunch materialist. He insisted upon full-blown materialism as early as 200 AD. He argued that the translations Breath and Wind are decisive over “spirit” and “ghost”. He also blamed the philosopher Plato for inventing the theory of immaterialism. Second, in the year 1941 Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, founder and president of Dallas Theological Seminary, published an article defending a purely physical constitution of angels, because wind and breath, he said, are better translations than spirit and ghost. Third, about 30 years ago Millard J. Erickson, who is one of the most popular evangelical theologians of our generation, admitted that the human soul has a physical presence within the human body. Fourth, about 30 years ago the noted Pentecostal theologian Howard M. Ervin claimed that Luke defined the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a physical outpouring of the divine Presence. He pointed out that only a physical presence of the Holy Spirit could physically stir up the gift of tongues in the human voice-box. Ervin also understands the Last Supper as the disciples having occasion to eat and drink Christ in the physical forms of bread and wine.
After all, Jesus said in John chapter 6, “The bread that I will give you to eat is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” This verse is not a metaphor. An example of a metaphor would be this, “My boss is very intimidating. He’s a roaring lion.” Notice that there is no real lion present in this context. If you wanted use the word flesh in a metaphor, it would go something like this, “That imitation meat has a very nice taste and texture. It’s pure flesh.” Since this is imitation meat, which is fake meat, there’s no real flesh in this context, and therefore the statement is a metaphor. However, in the verse just cited Jesus said, “I will give you to eat my flesh.” His flesh was physically present on the scene in this context and therefore it wasn’t a metaphor. He was a bit more specific, however; He said that His flesh would be given in the form of bread. When you eat ordinary bread, your digestive system converts it to flesh and blood. Jesus can do the reverse, that is, take His own flesh and blood, convert it to bread and wine, and then feed it to you. However, I believe it is His divine flesh and blood that He converts to bread and wine and then feeds to us, not His human flesh and blood. On earth His body was a mixture of human flesh and divine flesh. That is to say, His soul was the divine Word made flesh. Thus His soul consisted of divine Flesh, but it was physically merged with ordinary protoplasm in the shape of a human body. More on this in a moment.
In the writings of John, “Life” is a technical term for the new birth. It means regeneration. That’s why 1john 5:12 states, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” If you don’t have Life, you are not a Christian. You are still dead in your sins. So how do we get Life? Jesus claimed, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no Life in You.” This implies that the Son came into your body during conversion, not just as Water and Wind, but also as flesh and blood. He’s can’t be referring to His natural flesh and blood, for earlier He told us that the natural flesh counts for nothing. He is simply alluding to the physical nature of the Godhead. Father and Son are seated on heavenly thrones as physical figures rich in divine liquids such as the Living Water and therefore rich in blood. Even human blood is mostly water. Jesus is telling us that during conversion He gave us a measure of His divine flesh and blood. He may have put some in your food while you chewed it, or He may have fed it to you intravenously. In the same way, when He took the bread and wine and said to the Twelve, “This is my body broken for you, and this is my blood poured out for you.” He was referring to the divine Flesh and blood, some of which was nailed to cross and spilled for our sins. The words, “This bread is my body” can’t be a metaphor because His body was physically present on the scene. As already argued, a metaphor does not point our eyes to the objects at hand. Rather, the words tell us the ingredients of the bread. For instance when I say, “This bread is wheat flour”, I mean that wheat flour is the main ingredient in the bread. Thus Christ’s words, “This bread is my body”, mean that His body was the main ingredient in that bread. However, I do NOT accept the Roman Catholic doctrine that ordinary bread and wine can become God. Rather I believe that God can shape His divine Flesh and Blood into bread and wine and then secretly replace the original elements. Also, I do NOT believe that the church should currently be practicing ceremonies such as communion, water-baptism, and anointing the sick with oil, because God hates religious ceremonies. He hates religion. He hates all the rituals found in all the religions of the world. When He institutes a ceremony, therefore, it’s not really a ritual. It’s fellowship. It’s physical interaction with Him, for instance as bread and wine. Therefore Christian leaders should abstain from the ceremony until 100% certain that God is physically present in the elements. They shouldn’t be serving communion until 100% certain that the bread and wine are the divine Flesh and Blood. They shouldn’t be baptizing people until 100% certain that the water is the Living Water. They shouldn’t be anointing the sick with oil until 100% certain that the oil is the divine Anointing. I realize that Jesus said, “Do this in memory of me”, but He said this to the Apostles, and His voice imparted unto them a feeling of 100% certainty. Those of us who lack 100% certainty are merely performing these ceremonies in presumption.
Does water baptism regenerate us? Titus 3:5 refers to the washing of regeneration. Historically, the majority of Bible scholars understood this to be a reference to water baptism. For example the noted evangelical theologian Donald Bloesch wrote, "Bible scholars generally agree that the washing of regeneration refers to the rite of baptism.” Paul made a similar statement at Colossians 2:12 when he claimed that our old man was buried with Christ in baptism. He told the Romans the exact same thing at Romans 6:4. Let’s pick it up at verse 3: “Do you not know that as many of us as who were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, so that even as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father; even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Here Paul is asking the Romans to remember their occasion of baptism and reflect on its significance. Most likely they would have understood this to mean water baptism, not some kind of Spirit-baptism. Now here’s the problem. In both Romans and Colossians, Paul is equating this water baptism with the new birth. He said that the baptized person emerges into newness of life. How do we make sense of this? First, Paul was providing genuine baptisms into the Living Water who washed the sinful heart clean. Second, water baptism is regeneration only in the sense of sanctification. It is not the initial new birth instituted at the moment of saving faith.
One easy way to demonstrate that the human mind is physical is to discuss the biblical usage of the term “flesh.” The Greek word for flesh is sarx. It appears about 162 times in the NT. The King James Version translates it as “flesh” about 150 times and “carnal” about 12 times. Even the English word carnal has the word flesh as its Latin root. You can see this in the Spanish phrase Chili Con Carne which means Chili with flesh or meat. A typical Spanish Bible, therefore, will use the word “carne” in each of the 162 verses in question. And even in present-day English, the word “flesh” consistently means meat when used in reference to an existing substance. And that’s precisely how the Greeks used the term. Suppose you are a philosophy professor who happens to believe that the human mind is an immaterial substance. In an article on metaphysics, what term would you use for the immaterial mind? Would you call it the flesh? Of course not. Flesh would be the worst possible designation for an immaterial mind, on account of its distinctly physical connotation. And yet Paul refers to the sinful nature, the evil human heart, as the flesh. This proves that the human body, the human flesh, is a mixture of two physical substances, namely ordinary protoplasm on the one hand, and the evil human heart on the other. Romans chapters 6 thru 8 constitute Paul’s longest discussion of the sinful nature. Here he used the word flesh about 15 times. And about six times he used the Greek words for “body” and “members”, notably at verse 7:24 which states, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of this death?” Verse 6:12 refers to the lusts of the body. Note that it does NOT say the “lusts of the immaterial mind.” Ordinary protoplasm is not a soul. It is dead matter. It cannot experience desire or lust. Yet Paul tells us that the body does in fact lust. Therefore your body is, in part, your lustful heart. Even more decisive is verse 8:3 which states, "God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh". This statement implies that the flesh – what theologians call the sinful nature – actually has a physical shape. It is the shape of the human body, a shape which Christ assumed on earth. I’ll read that verse again: “"God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh". This is the literal rendering of the Greek according to Vincent, Hodge, and Jamieson-Faussett-Brown. Paul made this statement right smack in the middle of his discussion of the flesh as the sinful nature. Also relevant is verse 8:13 which refers to the evil deeds of the human body. Note Paul did not say, “the evil deeds of the mind within the body.” Rather he implied that the body itself is the agent of evil. At verse 8:10 he said that the body is dead because of sin. Biologically dead? No. It’s spiritually dead, and needs to be made spiritually alive. Ordinary protoplasm can’t be spiritually dead, nor can it be spiritually alive. Therefore your body must be something more than just ordinary protoplasm. Colossians 3:5 commands, “Put to death your members.” Here the word “members” is a Greek word that appears about 24 times in the NT. In every case it means the members of a body. The command, “Put to death your members” implies that your body is the sinful nature to be put to death.
The third chapter of James provides additional evidence that the human body is a mixture of protoplasm with the evil human heart. In this chapter James stated that the human tongue is too evil for any of us to tame. If the tongue were merely a neutral substance, he would have put all the blame on the evil human mind for failing to control the tongue. Instead he put the blame on the tongue itself, he specifically called it evil in this passage. Let’s pick it up at James 3:6, “The tongue is a fire, a world of evil among our members. It defiles the whole body, sets our nature on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” That kind of language is far too strong for a neutral substance. For instance when a murder occurs, would you describe the weapon as a world of evil inflamed by hell? Of course not, because the weapon is neutral rather than evil. Normally we assume that our brain is the pilot that steers the whole ship. But verses 3and 4 imply that that the tongue often seizes control as to begin steering the whole ship. Verses 7 and 8 imply that the tongue is actually alive, that it is a living animal, a living creature, which no man can tame. Here James wrote, “For every kind of beast and bird, and creeping thing and creature of the sea has been tamed by men. But no man can tame the tongue because it is a restless evil full of deadly poison.” This explains Isaiah 6:6 where an angel carried a live coal aflame with holy Fire directly to Isaiah’s mouth. His tongue needed a sanctification because it was evil.
Mainstream Christianity has been living in a state of denial for the last 2000 years, because the evidence before our very eyes clearly indicates a physical human mind. This evidence is known historically as the classic mind-body problem. If the mind were intangible, throwing a punch in its direction would only strike thin air; the punch would not tangibly collide with the mind as to damage its reasoning processes. Yet in fact I CAN damage your reasoning processes by striking your head physically. This proves that the mind is a physical substance. It works like this. Physical currents of thought are flowing in your brain. When the brain is damaged, therefore, some of its thought-currents either subside entirely or at least begin to flow in chaotic directions, thereby decreasing comprehension. Another way to decrease comprehension is to consume alcohol or drugs. This too has a physical impact on the flow of thought-currents in the body and brain. Even fatigue has an impact. For example imagine a college student taking a difficult final exam after staying awake for several days. In fact, if the body had no impact upon the mind, it would play no role for human beings in the created order, and so there would be no reason for God to have even created it. The role of the body, especially the brain, is to organize our thought-currents, causing them to flow in directions conducive to rational thinking, accurate sensory perception, and emotional well-being. God created the human body because He glories in the fact that He is the only one capable of creating a machine sophisticated enough to mechanically organize thought-currents without excessively restricting our freedom.
The converse is also true. That is to say, just as body has a physical impact on the mind, so too does the mind have a physical impact on the body. For example suppose I begin forming, in my mind, a mental image of a beautiful woman in the nude. Can you predict the physical effect this will soon have upon my body? I think you can. Or suppose I am sitting in a chair and make a mental decision that I should exit the room immediately. Suddenly my body will begin rising from the chair, as if by magic, and then will begin walking to the door. It works like this. Thought-currents in the brain and body must be self-propelling, that is, they must have the ability to move at will. If they weren’t self-propelling, that is, if they only flowed as a result of an external impetus pushing them, then God could never blame the mind for sinful thoughts. I am not to blame when external agents push me. My mind is to be blamed for its thoughts precisely because, by an act of free choice, it self-propels its thought-currents into action. It is this self-propelling power that moves the human body out of a chair. You won’t find this conclusion in the physiology textbooks, because they would have us continue believing the LIE that the only force that moves the human body is the muscular energy created from food combustion. If food-combustion were the only force propelling my body, you would have to blame my meals for any crimes that I commit. You couldn’t blame me. You are warranted in blaming me for my crimes only if I move my own body by the power of my own free will. Even God performs His own tasks by the power of His free will.
The esteemed evangelical theologian Charles Hodge admitted that he has no solution to the classic mind-body problem. He acknowledged that no theologian can hope to explain how an immaterial mind supposedly influences the material body, and vice versa. Hodge was not a materialist. He accepted immaterialism even though he could not make any sense of how it is supposed to work. Most evangelical scholars don’t even mention the classic mind-body problem in their theology textbooks. As early as 200 A.D. the church father Tertullian, a staunch materialist, argued that the classic mind-body problem proves that the human mind is physical. Moreover, here too I can invoke a proximity argument. That is to say, if the mind can influence the body magically from a distance, then God did not need to position it within the human body. The fact that He placed the mind within the body indicates that the mind influences the body physically from proximity rather than magically from a distance.
John 1:14 tell us, “The Word became flesh.” This is the undisputed literal rendering of the Greek, as far as I know. It is a bit of a problem for the mainstream Doctrine of God. The essence of a physical substance is tangibility. It is tangible by definition. A physical substance cannot be intangible. In a similar way, the essence of an immaterial substance is intangibility. It is intangible by definition. An immaterial substance cannot be tangible. It certainly can’t become flesh, because flesh is a tangible substance. In fact the word “become” implies change, contrary to the mainstream assumption that God is an immutable being, that is, a being insusceptible to change. It’s difficult to imagine a change more dramatic than an immaterial being becoming a physical substance called flesh. Whereas asserting that a physical substance became flesh is far more intelligible. For example, when I eat a loaf of bread it becomes flesh because my digestive system converts food into cellular protoplasm. Therefore when John says, “The Word became flesh,” the most reasonable interpretation is that the divine Word is a physical substance that assumed the shape and texture of human flesh. To be more specific, the Son presumably released from His mouth, in an act of speech, a measure of Himself as spoken Word who descended to the earth in the form of flesh. Thus the divine Word became flesh.
Up to this point I’ve provided a considerable amount of biblical evidence for materialism. Please be aware that immaterialism has no substantial support in Scripture. It rests almost entirely on the assumption that “spirit” and “ghost” are valid translations of the relevant Greek and Hebrew terms, as opposed to “Breath” and “Wind.” Aside from this questionable translation, immaterialists probably have less than a half-dozen verses that even remotely support their position. For example Jesus said, “A spirit does not have flesh and bones as I have.” In reality, however, this statement does not prove that angels are intangible. It merely proves that they lack human protoplasm and they lack bones.
Immaterialism should be rejected because it can’t explain anything at all. It explains absolutely nothing. It’s completely unintelligible. Just ask an evangelical scholar for the specifics on regeneration, sanctification, miracles, the incarnation, inspiration, demonic warfare, revivals, God’s voice, etc., etc., etc. Here’s what he’ll reply, “I can’t give you specifics on how anything of these things are accomplished, because they are all inscrutable.” In theology, “inscrutable” is a technical term for an incomprehensible dynamic. It means “humanly unintelligible.” After all, an immaterial substance is by definition a substance without substance. This makes no sense. That’s how an immaterial substance is defined, at least that’s what they imply, that it is a substance without substance, a substance that has no real substance to it, at least nothing tangible. This makes no sense to the human mind.
The next question, then, is this. Precisely how intelligible is materialism? Admittedly it cannot fully clarify our somewhat mysterious psychological traits such as free will, our sense of humor, and our emotions. No one has been able to fully clarify these realities. They are somewhat of a mystery. However, to deny free will is to end up with contradictions. Therefore I don’t really need to explain it. I simply take it as an axiom, a foundational assumption. Aside from such axioms that don’t need to be explained, materialism can provide a reasonably satisfying explanation of all other phenomena. To date the only phenomenon that materialism cannot seem to shed light on is the boundaries of space. For if space extends an infinite distance, does this mean it is still growing? Growing into what kind of outer region? On the other hand if space only extends a finite distance, what exists at the boundaries? No one has been able to solve this problem. In fact most professional philosophers, historically, did not even bother to speculate on this problem.
To demonstrate that materialism is fully intelligible, I’ll now build a theory of the new birth. Let’s start with an explanation as to how God knows our thoughts. It’s very simple. He hears them. To understand how this works, suppose I want you to know what I am thinking. This is merely a matter of opening my mouth and speaking to you what’s on my mind, issuing sound vibrations toward your eardrums. You will then know exactly what I am thinking. God hears my thoughts even BEFORE I open my mouth, because each of the thought-currents flowing in my brain and body is already in motion and therefore creates vibrations much like sound waves. Accordingly He listens to the sound of every thought-current that passes through my mind. He hears all my thoughts. One of His main strategies for accomplishing regeneration is to physically force my thought-currents to flow in new directions, for instance toward faith in Christ. To reveal His love, He pours out His Light all over my body as a shower of light-particles that continually cover my soul, on a microscopic level, with gentle, tender, affectionate kisses, caresses, and tickles of joy. A good example is when Moses went up the mountain and walked straight into the pillar of Fire. After the Father had intimately loved on him for forty days and nights, he came down shining with God’s glorious light. God also heals our emotions by correcting chemical imbalances that contribute to dysfunctional dispositions. In short, regeneration is perfectly intelligible in materialism. Even though we don’t know all the details, the new birth makes perfect sense in materialism, it is perfectly intelligible.
The divine substance and the human substance are two separate realities. As such, God will never be inside my mind in the sense of being a part of it. He will never be part of my mind because I will never be God, and He will never be me. Therefore God can indwell the human mind only in the sense of physically penetrating it in a manner analogous to sexual intercourse, where a man and a woman join bodily as to become one flesh. At Ephesians 5:31 Paul put it like this, “The two shall become one flesh. However, I am speaking of Christ and the church.” That’s what Paul said. He said it again at 1Cor 6:16 like this, “Do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute is one body with her? For the two shall become one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one breath with him.” Just as the physical interpenetration of a man and a woman climaxes in ecstasy, the Lord aims to foster a far greater ecstasy by penetrating and caressing our souls at millions of microscopic points on our bodies. However, note that the man ultimately remains external to the woman during penetration. In the same way, God remains external to you during penetration. Therefore He is not really inside your mind, because His thought-currents will never be your thought-currents since you will never be Him. Since He is external to us, just like a friend, we should never presume our own internal thoughts to be His voice. Instead we should be expecting external sensations loud and clear. For instance the prophet Jeremiah could not keep silent because the divine Word lacerated his bones and body with burning heat. Another example of external sensations is the Apostle John who heard God and angels in loud, thunderous voices throughout the Book of revelation. Stated differently, God created us for fellowship, which can only mean physically stirring us with sensations loud and clear.
In a debate with me one person cited John 4:24 which the King James Version renders as follows, “God is a spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” He failed to realize that I was debating precisely such a translation. Scripture simply does not classify God as a spirit, much less as a ghost. It classifies Him as Wind. He is invisible like the wind, mysterious like the wind, ubiquitous like the wind, and powerful like the wind. Consider for example Acts 8:39 where the Third Person carried Phillip away. Could an intangible ghost pick up a physical body and carry it off? That’s a ridiculous reading of the text. The proper reading is that the Wind of God carried him away. After all, a strong wind such as a hurricane or tornado can easily carry away bodies. Going back to John 4:24, I read it like this: “God is an invisible Wind, and those who worship Him must worship in Wind and in truth.” Maybe this reading sounds strange to us, but that’s because, for 2000 years, the church has been indoctrinating us about spirits and ghosts, whereas the Book of Genesis classified souls as wind or breath.
Here ends lecture number seven entitled, “Biblical Metaphysics.”
This was lecture number seven in the series entitled, “Why we Need a Second Reformation.”
This is lecture number eight in the series entitled, “Why we Need a Second Reformation.”
Theodicy is a defense of God’s justice in the face of all the evil and suffering in the world. I’ll say that again. Theodicy is a defense of God’s justice in the face of all the evil and suffering in the world.
About 20 years ago, a friend of mine dedicated a team of intercessors to pray for my conversion. A few months later I surrendered my life to Christ. My friend asked me, “How do you feel about your new relationship with Christ? Are you excited?” I replied, “EXCITED? You taught me that God condemned the whole world for Adam’s sin. As far as I can see, I have every reason to hate Him. I simply cannot see how I am ever going to love Him like you do.”
For 2000 years Catholics and Protestants have taught that God condemned the whole world for Adam’s sin. Even the Eastern Orthodox view of Adam’s transgression traps the whole world in sin. In a nutshell, mainstream theology implies that God is unjust.
A few evangelicals have claimed that theology does not even need to defend His justice because He defines His own moral standards. However, this sort of response leads to two contradictions.
First, if God defines His own moral standards, if He makes up the rules as He goes along, if He simply does whatever He feel like doing, He could put anyone in heaven regardless of sin. There would be no need for the atonement, and in this case He sent His Son to suffer and die for no reason at all.
Second, if He defines His own moral standards, then we have no hope. For instance if He defines integrity differently than I do, such that it could include deceit, then I have no hope. Indeed the biblical promises would then become self-contradictory, because they champion His kindness and integrity as our basis of hope, but such virtues are actually cause for alarm if He defines them differently than we do.
Ezekiel chapter 18 proves that God defines justice the same way that we do. According to this chapter, each man is guilty for his own sin. A son shall not be forced to pay for the sins of his father, nor vice versa. Each man is to pay for his own sin. Therefore God cannot expect the sons of Adam to pay for the sins of father Adam. That would contradict what Ezekiel 18 is trying to teach us.
At this point evangelicals would call my attention to certain OT verses that depict the sins of the parents as falling upon the children. My reply is twofold. First, you are not entitled to an interpretation of Scripture that leads to logical contradictions. It is your responsibility to find a way to read those verses in a way consistent with justice. In true justice, each man pays for his own sin, not for the sins of someone else, unless he volunteers to atone. Second, it’s fine for God to visit the sin of the parents upon the children if the children are already guilty in Adam. In other words the real problem here is Adam.
Evangelicals claim that Adam was our first representative and Christ our second representative. Actually that’s completely false. Christ was not our representative. He atoned for our sins. Allow me to explain the difference between representation and atonement. With representation, the status of the rep defines our own status. If he sins, our status is guilt, and if he abstains from sin, our status is innocence. The notion that Adam was our first representative, and Christ our next representative, leads to three contradictions. First, it implies that individual sin has no judicial status, because all that matters is the status of the rep. This flatly contradicts the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation where God is said to punish men for their specific individual sins. Second, if Christ were our representative, then He would not have needed to die on the cross, for we would already have been innocent by representation, in virtue of His innocence. All that matters in representation is the status of the rep. Individual sin has no judicial status. Therefore if Christ were our rep, we would all be innocent by representation, even without the cross. Third, biblical salvation is by faith whereas representation is not a faith-based concept. I don’t need faith in Adam to be condemned in him. If Christ were our rep, therefore, we would not need faith in Him to be saved. All men would be saved by His representation, and thus no man would go to hell. The faith of an individual comes into play only in a system where our status is reckoned individually as opposed to a representational reckoning.
A few evangelicals claim that Adam was the PERFECT rep, that we all would have made the same choice that he made, given the opportunity. In other words we all act just like Adam, we all behave exactly alike. However, if we all act exactly alike, then it must be on account of how God made us, in which case He is to blame. Stated differently, this view is too deterministic. It does not really allow for free will where each individual freely chooses how to act. Angels serve as a good example of the fact that people with free will do not all act alike. Some of the angels freely chose to sin, and the rest remained holy. Moreover, if we all act alike, then you are equally guilty of any sins I commit. And in heaven we should all get the same measure of reward, if we all act alike.
Representation leads to an absurd concept of justice. For example Eve should have murdered Adam before he had a chance to sin. Having died innocent, Adam would have rendered Eve innocent by representation.
Even the evangelical theologian G.C. Berkouwer, who was reputed to have an acumen exceeding that of Karl Barth, recently admitted in his 600 page book on the topic of sin that no theologian has ever managed to defend God’s justice in Adam as our representative. Berkouwer believed that Romans 5 teaches representation in Adam, but not even he, with all his vast knowledge of theology, could find a way to defend representation against the charge of injustice.
In sum, for 2000 years mainstream theologians have struggled to solve the problem of Adam and have come up completely empty-handed. In order to appreciate this failure, you need some inkling of how brilliant these scholars are. Some of these professors know forty or fifty languages. And if an average of 100 new professors arise in the world each year, that’s 200,000 professors over the last 2000 years. All these scholars studied the problem of Adam but failed to solve it. They were smart enough to realize that materialism could solve it but they were too biased in favor of immaterialism.
Materialism easily solves the problem as follows. God created one, and only one, human soul named Adam. Even Eve’s soul was taken from Adam’s ribs and was therefore part of Adam’s soul. After he sinned, God withdrew most of his sin-stained soul into a place of suspended animation. He lived out the rest of his days with a soul that was only a very small subsection of his original soul because the rest of it was now in suspended animation. At every human conception, God extracts a portion of the sin-stained soul from suspended animation and merges it with the embryo. This is why we are all born with a sinful nature. What I am saying is that you are Adam. You are part of the soul that originally sinned 6000 years ago. YOU were in the garden and YOU chose to eat the forbidden fruit, even though you don’t remember it. God is not unjust. He punishes the GUILTY. He can punish you for Adam’s sin precisely because you are the Adam who freely chose to commit that sin, or at least you are a part of him.
This is the only way to explain why all men are born with a sinful nature. Donald Bloesch is a noted evangelical theologian of our generation. He’s an immaterialist. He recently admitted that no immaterialist can explain how all men are born with a sinful nature. Here again, immaterialism affords no solution after 2000 years of effort. As I warned earlier, it does not explain anything at all. It does not afford any solutions to any theological problems whatsoever. It merely pushes them to a realm beyond human understanding. All they can say is, “It’s all inscrutable.”
You lived once as Adam and yet
here you are again. How many lives will you live before this is all over? You
probably won’t live again, but the Israelites have been living again and again
since the days of Moses. According to
Let’s take a look at some verses suggesting that the Israelites of Moses day were an everlasting generation still alive today. In Deut chapter 30 Moses told the Israelites, “God will scatter YOU to the nations if you disobey Him.” Did the people disobey? Yes. But when did the scattering occur? Not until hundreds of years later. Either Moses was incorrect or his generation was everlasting. Moses was not incorrect. His generation was still alive to experience the scattering hundreds of years later.
Several NT passages indicate that the disciples would still be alive to see the second coming of Christ. Let’s pick it up at Mathew chapter 16 verse 27. “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There are some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” Here Mathew refers to the Son of man coming in his kingdom. In a span of just three chapters, Matthew used the word “coming” 13 times in reference to the return of Christ. And he used it in each of the two verses I just read to you. I’ll read those two verses again. This is Matthew chapter 16 verses 27 and 28: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There are some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”
These verses are so clear that we only have two choices if we intend to be theologically responsible. Either admit that the disciples will still be alive when Christ comes, or conclude that He already came back. I’m the only one taking the first option. A considerable number of evangelical scholars have accepted the second option and thus are claiming that Christ already returned. He returned in what sense? They say He returned spiritually in the year 70 A.D. even though there will still be a great resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. One problem with this idea of a spiritual return is that it has no intelligible meaning, as far as I can see. If we had to identify a spiritual return of Christ, the best candidate would be the outpouring on Pentecost, because He had left the disciples in body only to return to them, in a sense, in the spiritual form of an outpouring. Another problem is that the passages dealing with the end times do not even hint of an invisible spiritual return but rather anticipate visible signs in the sky. This theory that He already returned spiritually is called preterism. Even R.C. Sproul, who is one of the most widely esteemed evangelical theologians of our generation, has become a preterist.
Mat 10:23 is another verse
indicating that the disciples would be alive when Jesus returned. In this
passage He commissioned them to preach the gospel throughout the cities of
Mathew chapter 24 is the Olivet discourse where Jesus spoke about the end times, the tribulation, and His coming back. At verse 34 he affirmed that his own generation of Jews would still be alive when He comes. He said, “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” If you trace the phrase “this generation” throughout the NT, you’ll find it always means the Jews of Christ’s day. So He was telling us that His generation of Jews would still be alive to see all the end time things.
In Luke’s version of the Olivet discourse, Jesus forewarned the disciples about His return in heavenly clouds. Realizing they would still be alive to see it, He told them at Lk 21:28 to turn their faces upward as these heavenly clouds begin to appear, expecting Him to appear as well. He said, “And when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws nigh.” Indeed if you examine the three parallel versions of the Olivet discourse, you’ll find that He always speaks to His disciples as though they will be alive to see all these end time events.
As already noted, in Mat 24 He remarked that “this generation” , His own generation, will be alive to see all these things. In Mat 23 He indicates that “this generation” was also alive in the past. His long speech in that chapter was a harsh rebuke of the Pharisees. At the end of this speech He blamed them for killing all the prophets, and promised that they will pay a penalty for it. This implies that the Pharisees were alive in the past.
And yet how can the Israelites live again and again if man is only appointed to die once? God created Adam’s soul before the foundation of the world. At that point the Lord had already committed Himself to the task of saving selected parts of Adam’s soul should it eventually fall into sin. These preselected parts are referred to in Scripture as “THE ELECT” Given Paul’s claim that Israel is God’s elect, we can assume that every Israelite of Moses’ day had a soul that was probably 99% or possibly 100% elect and maybe 1% non-elect. God can certainly allow the 1% to die and go to hell while extracting the elect part just before death. God does not let it suffer death as yet because man is appointed to die but once.
What now of the Gentiles? The Gentiles are NOT God’s
elect. Their situation is probably the reverse of
Two of the main passages on election are Ephesians 1 and Romans 9. Particularly forceful is Romans 9, so I’d like to make a few comments about it. Verses 11 through 13 claim that God elected Jacob unto heaven, and his brother Esau to hell, before they had done anything bad or good. Many Calvinists take this as proof that God created numerous souls just to condemn them to hell. However, no Christian is entitled to such a self-contradictory reading of Scripture. It is a contradiction to say that a God who is good, honest, and just creates men just to glory in condemning them to hell. The key here is verse 15, “For God said to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” The term “mercy” indicates prior guilt. The holy angels don’t need any mercy because they aren’t guilty of sin. In what sense, then, did Jacob and Esau sin? We have to keep in mind that Romans 5 precedes Romans 9. At Romans 5 the whole world sinned through Adam according to Paul. As a result, Jacob and Esau were born already condemned to hell, and therefore God had every right to elect Jacob unto heaven and Esau unto hell. God made this election before Jacob and Esau had done anything bad or good as Jacob and Esau. However, they HAD already done something bad as Adam. And when God says, “Jacob I loved and Esau I hated,” we cannot read this as hate because it would contradict a loving God. For instance take a look at Luke 14:26 where the word hate clearly does not in fact mean hate. Let’s move on to verse 22 which is likewise offered as proof that God created many innocent people for hell. Here Paul asks, “What if God, wanting to show His wrath, and to make his power known, endured with great patience His vessels of wrath formed for destruction, to reveal his glory to His vessels of mercy formed in advance for glory.” This verse is using the same terminology cited above. It contrasts the vessels of mercy with the vessels of wrath. Wrath is for people who have already sinned in Adam. It’s not for the innocent. I’ll now try to clarify the verse a little more. When intercessory prayer is at a low ebb in the church, God already knows that many souls will never have a real opportunity for salvation. He has every right to fashion these children in the womb unto a destructive outcome for His own glory. As a case in point, verses 17 and 18 refer to Pharaoh whose heart God hardened for His own glory. He probably lets the devil do the hardening.
I will now identify a few more weaknesses in mainstream theology. Then I will present my own Doctrine of God which solves all these problems.
Understandably, mainstream theologians were concerned that if God could change, for instance if He could become weak, ignorant, and unholy at any moment, our eternal hope would be unsure. As a result, they concluded that He is immutable, meaning He cannot change. An immutable God, however, could never become man, as this implies change. In the Incarnation God did in fact become a man ignorant, temptible, weak, and subject to fatigue. If God were an entity inherently holy, that is, holy by nature and thus immutably holy from the outset, He couldn’t have suffered temptation, whereas Christ did in fact suffer temptation in the wilderness. In other words the temptation in the wilderness wasn’t just for show. It wasn’t a lie and a farce. It was real temptation. Therefore God cannot be defined as a being immutable by nature. He must be capable of change.
In fact a God immutably holy by nature would have no merit and thus would merit no worship. Allow me to explain. A poor man who labors to become rich certainly merits praise for his diligent efforts. However a man lucky enough to inherit a fortune merits no praise for his possession of wealth. It cost him nothing in terms of labor and sacrifice. Look at it this way. You merit no praise for being human because you were born as such. You started off that way. In the same way, God merits no praise for how He started off. He has merit only insofar as He had to labor and suffer over an enormous period of time to acquire knowledge, skill, and a noble character. God is therefore capable of learning, as God the Son demonstrated before our very eyes when He arrived on earth as an ignorant infant expected to learn the Hebrew language. When my mentor Andrew Murray claimed that Adam was to be a self-made man like God, he was alluding to the fact that God had to undergo a process of learning and self-development to become the supremely knowledgeable, supremely skilled, supremely virtuous deity that He is today. Andrew Murray wrote: “[Since] man was really to be like God in the power to make himself what he was to be, he [needed] the power of free will and self determination….Man was to be a creature made by God, and yet he was to be, as far as a creature could be, like God, self made.”. I’ll read Andrew Murray’s statement again. “[Since] man was really to be like God in the power to make himself what he was to be, he [needed] the power of free will and self determination….Man was to be a creature made by God, and yet he was to be, as far as a creature could be, like God, self made.. End quote.
How did God become man? The mainstream theory of the Incarnation is completely unintelligible. The evangelical theologian Charles Lee Feinberg admitted, "No sane study of Christology even pretends to fathom it." End quote. In other words only an insane person would claim to understand it because it makes absolutely no sense to the human mind. In fact I could cite a number of prominent evangelical theologians who admit that the mainstream theory of the Incarnation makes no sense at all to the human mind, including Charles Hodge, Millard J. Erickson, Thomas Oden, Lewis Sperry Chafer, and Norm Geisler. Geisler even admitted that any attempt to explain the mainstream theory of the Incarnation in human language results in logical contradictions. He was not denying the mainstream theory but was simply pointing out that no one can make any sense of it. The root of the problem is that a God defined as an immutable entity, an entity insusceptible to change, cannot change Himself into a man. In trying to solve this insoluble problem, the mainstream theory only compounds the contradiction. The mainstream theory of the Incarnation is called the hypostatic union. It begins with the ridiculous assertion that God became human in the strictest possible sense of becoming human. That is to say, Christ’s soul was a created human soul rather than the uncreated divine soul. Literally this means that His soul was one of us. In other words God could have selected your soul to be the Christ, in which case you would now be a member of the Trinity. Well, it would actually be a Quadrinity since you would be the fourth person. I think you are beginning to hopefully see why the mainstream theory of the incarnation is completely unintelligible. Furthermore, to claim that Christ’s soul was a created human being in the strictest possible sense implies that he was a descendant of Adam and, as such, guilty in Adam, stained with original sin, and in need of a savior. The evangelical theologian John F. Wal-voord admitted that the mainstream theory of the Incarnation has no solution for this apparent contradiction.
The first element in the mainstream view, then, is a created human soul. The second aspect is a merging of this created soul with the divine Son whereby the divine Son supposedly partakes of humanity. This makes no sense. The mainstream wants to imply that He underwent a real incarnation, that He underwent a real change whereby He experienced human weakness, human ignorance, and human temptibility. But the notion of change contradicts the mainstream assumption that God is by nature an immutable being insusceptible to change. The problem becomes even more apparent in the end result. The end result of this merge or union of the human soul with the divine soul, which they call a hypostatic union meaning a union of substance, is that the Son is BOTH ignorant AND all-knowing at once. Why do they conclude this? Because they say that God is immutable, and therefore He didn’t lose all His knowledge during the incarnation. He was both ignorant and all-knowing simultaneously. However, to say that Christ was both ignorant and all-knowing at once is like saying, “My friend is a genius at math. He knows all math. But he is also fully ignorant of all math.” It’s a contradiction in terms. Only a physical God divisible into parts can be both ignorant and all-knowing simultaneously. That is to say, one part of Him could be knowledgeable, and another part ignorant. And yet mainstream Christianity insists that God is an immaterial spirit indivisible into parts. On this assumption the Incarnation is a logical impossibility.
Mainstream theology does not
have a humanly intelligible definition of time. It claims that God is timeless,
but this claim results in the following problems. First, consciousness is a
series of loud and clear sensations occurring over time, and the termination of
these sensations would be the death of consciousness. A timeless God would
therefore be unconscious. Second, the biblical evidence confirms that His
consciousness is an ongoing series of sensations occurring over time. For
example Scripture often indicates that He became angry at those times when
In fact mainstream theology lacks a humanly intelligible doctrine of creation. Suppose I said to you, “I pulled this hammer out of a toolbox full of tools.” This statement is fully intelligible. Now suppose I said, “I pulled this hammer out of an empty toolbox.” This statement is humanly unintelligible because I can’t conceive of to how to create a hammer out of nothing. Mainstream theology claims that God spoke the world into existence out of nothing. This does not fit well with Scripture, because Scripture paints a picture of divine speech that is just like human speech, that is, a release of Breath from the mouth. In the biblical view, then, the Holy Breath is regularly released, not to create new realities out of nothing, but rather to have a physical impact on existing realties. Psalm 33:6 said it best: “By the spoken word of the Lord were the heavens formed, all the stars were formed by the breath of His mouth.” Thus the Holy Breath simply took a lump of clay and formed and shaped it into the present order of things. He did this over a period of seven days according to Genesis. Consider for example Genesis 1:9 which states, “And God said, Let the waters that are under the heaven, be gathered together into one place: and let the dry land appear. And God called the dry land ‘Earth’.” In this verse God’s voice creates the earth, not by speaking it into existence out of nothing, but on the contrary by forming and shaping existing liquids into dry land. A slew of esteemed evangelical scholars have already admitted that God formed the earth out of preexisting liquids, including Adam Clarke, Keil and Delitzsch, Albert Barnes, and John Calvin. Peter indicated the same thing at 2Peter 3:5 where he summarized, “Long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.” That’s 2Peter 3:5.
Genesis simply does not afford a clear basis for creation out of nothing. In fact Gen 1:26 applies the two Hebrew words for create to God’s act of forming and shaping Adam from the dust of the earth. Adam wasn’t created out of nothing. He was certainly created, but he was created from the dust of the earth according to the book of Genesis. Therefore the word created does not necessarily mean crated out of nothing. The evangelical theologian Charles Hodge admitted that the two Hebrew words for create can both mean to form and shape from preexisting material. You’ll find the same admission in the Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon, which is an esteemed evangelical dictionary of Hebrew words. Some scholars feel that the eleventh chapter of Hebrews suggests creation out of nothing when it says that the world was formed from things unseen. Actually this verse merely supports Peter’s claim that the world was formed from liquids currently unseen, although God can and does show His people visions of unseen things such as visions of Himself.
The mainstream Doctrine of God insists that He is infinitely powerful and therefore perfectly self-sufficient. In other words He did not need us at all and thus created us only for His good pleasure. But why would He need us for pleasure? A self-sufficient God could supply Himself with pleasure. The upshot is that mainstream theology has God, for his own good pleasure, needlessly and cruelly enduing human beings with enough free will to hang themselves and crucify the Son of God. It’s a contradiction to say that a perfectly benevolent God would be so cruel. The root of the problem is that the mainstream Doctrine of God is based on an unrealistic philosophical ideal. That is to say, mainstream theologians began with their own opinion as to what the ideal God would be like. In their opinion the ideal God, in addition to being immaterial, is a being infinite in every respect. He is infinite in kindness, infinite in power, and infinite in knowledge. Mainstream theologians were so obsessed with such ideals that they did not stop to ask whether such a God is even logically possible or historically actual. Let’s consider two of those ideals. Is God infinitely kind? If so, Christ would have suffered enough to atone even for the demons. And He would have atoned enough to forgive even the sin of rejecting His salvation. No one would end up in hell. Period. And let’s consider infinite knowledge. Is God’s knowledge infinite? Inasmuch as infinity is not a discrete quantity, we can only picture it as an endless growth. In other words it seems to imply that He is still growing in knowledge, which is precisely the opposite of what the mainstream wants to establish. For instance to claim that God knows an infinite number of languages seems to suggest that He is still learning new languages every day. Basically, infinite knowledge is not even a humanly intelligible concept.
Over the last 30 years, a considerable number of evangelical theologians have rightly accepted a doctrine known as Open Theism, I agree with them on this point, according to which God does not know the future. This implies that He learns something new every day, in the sense of learning about today’s events only when they happen instead of foreknowing them. This doctrine is quite correct and very easy to prove. After all, suppose you wanted to eventually give birth to three kids of your own but were given the following choice. You can either have three kids foreknown to condemn themselves to hell, or three kinds foreknown to make it to heaven. If you are a dark, sadistic person you will probably choose the three hell-bound kids. But if you are kind, generous, and loving you will definitely choose the three kids foreknown to reach heaven. Therefore if God had the ability to foreknow, and assuming that He is good, He would have created only those men and angels foreknown to freely choose to abstain from sin. After all, why put His Son through the agony of the atonement, and throw millions of men and angels into hell, given that foreknowledge could easily have prevented all this misery, by simply creating those beings that He foreknew in advance would abstain from sin?
Admittedly He does foreknow in a weak sense, that is, He foreknows all events that He has decided to enforce, as well as those events inevitable. He foreknew the atonement because He decided in advance to atone. He decided to enforce this event. And He foreknew that Peter would deny Him three times, because He knew the level of temptation that Peter’s flesh could endure.
The very fact that God has free will indicates that He cannot foreknow. Making a free choice involves a period of time spent reflecting on the various options because you are still unsure which one you will choose. In other words the outcome of a free choice is not something foreknown but is rather determined as a process of deliberation occurring over time. God Himself makes free choices and this implies that He lacks foreknowledge.
I have now identified all the major problems in the mainstream of Doctrine of God. I will now present my own views. First, in my opinion there is no such thing as time, as ordinarily conceived. The only reality is movement, that is, physical substances in motion. For example, suppose I drive a car to the east cost. Then I take a second trip, this time to the west coast. Most people would say that the two trips transpired over a period of time. Although I myself use often the word “time” in this traditional way for the sake of convenience, it is technically speaking a fabricated concept in my opinion. There is no need to suppose that time has transpired. All we really have here is two motions. The movement to the east coast occurred first. Then the movement to the west coast occurred last. There is no need to speak of a third element called time, and then claim that time is passing, as though it were some kind of existing river flowing by over our heads. When the earth has spun a complete rotation on its axis, this movement is called a day. Calendars therefore simply count movements, just like the movement to the east coast and the west coast and so forth; the existence of a calendar does not prove that a river called time exists and is flowing over our heads, passing by. Clocks likewise count movements rather than time. Furthermore, a flowing river of time is not a very intelligible concept and does not do much to explain aging. There is a simple explanation for aging. When Adam fell, God decided to make this life temporary rather than eternal. As a result, He is no longer willing to repair all of the body’s normal mechanical failures. This is the cause of aging. Presently He is only willing to heal us of major diseases, defects, and deformities.
A simple thought-experiment will help us recognize that time is not real, that there is no flowing river of time as such. Let’s suppose that you wake up one day to find everything around you moving five times as fast. You are the only reality still thinking and moving at the normal speed. You are now too slow to keep up with people when they walk, and you can’t understand them because they talk too fast. Now suppose you awake the next day to find that everything seems to be moving at normal speed again. How did things get back to normal? Well, actually it could have happened in either of two ways. The first way is that everything else slowed down to the original speed. The second way is that you too have now speeded up. Let’s assume that you have now speeded up. Everything now seems perfectly normal even though moving five times faster than before. As a result, at your job, because everything still seems normal, eight hours on the time-clock will still seem like eight painfully slow hours even though they are actually transpiring five times faster than before. So this raises the question, how fast are we really moving today? The same speed as yesterday? Or perhaps five times faster than yesterday? Perhaps a 1000 times faster than yesterday? In other words, how much time is REALLY transpiring when 8 hours transpires on the time-clock? There is no way for us to know. In other words the question is totally irrelevant and without meaning. The question does not even make sense because it has no relevance. The only that matters, I’ll say it again, is motion, physical substances in motion. Time itself is a meaningless concept. I am not saying we should stop using the word time. It’s a very handy word, a very convenient word, for exposing the sequence of events. For instance I can tell my boss that I punched the time-clock at 8:00 A.M. and then punched out later at 5:00 PM. Therefore it’s okay to say that time has passed, that we are in time, and that time has transpired, as long as we bear in mind that time, ultimately, is merely a series of movements.
There must have been a first movement. And only a finite number of movements have occurred thus far. After all, if an infinite number of movements had to transpire before my birth, then I would never have been born. Therefore only a finite number of movements have occurred to date, and the first of these in the sequence is my concern at the moment. In other words I will now begin to speculate on the nature of that first movement. Science tells us that matter is never created or destroyed. This is a reasonable assumption, and it suggests that, at the time of the first movement, the totality of physical substance already existed. In other words the total quantity of physical substance has neither increased or decreased since that first movement. That’s a reasonable assumption. For the sake of this discussion, let’s collectively refer to the total mass of existing physical substance as THE TOTALITY. The Totality, then, is the sum total of physical substance. I suppose we could classify it as matter as long as we don’t mean matter in the modern sense of the term. In modern physics, matter refers to a special composition of electrons, protons, and a nucleus. The electrons orbit around the nucleus. All this is an invention of God that occurred long after that first movement. That’s not my concern right now. Right now I am only concerned with the very beginning of things, with the Totality’s first movement. Even when the Book of Genesis refers to the beginning, it only means the beginning of our universe, that is, the beginning of electrons, protons, and nuclei. This is not my concern at the moment. Here I am concerned with very first movement which is the VERY beginning of things.
The Totality’s first movement was not just a flow of substance; it was actually a thought-current. I say this because we must classify the Totality as mind, for consciousness cannot arise from dead substance. A flow of dead matter will always be precisely that – merely a flow of dead matter. It will never be conscious. In fact dead substance probably could not have precipitated a first movement because dead matter probably would not be self-propelling. Dead matter seems to be the kind of thing that is by nature inert, that is, the kind of thing that needs a push causing it move. Therefore an external agent would be needed as the source of this push, as the source of the causality. Whereas in an earlier lecture I pointed out that free will is itself a causality. It CAUSES the body to move. Stated differently, a conscious mind is a self-propelling substance. Thought-currents self-propel by an act of free will.
Understand that I am NOT saying that the Totality is one mind. Especially at the time of its first movement, its first current of thought, its parts cannot be regarded as one mind because they have not collaborated as to form any partnerships as yet. I am simply saying that the Totality must be classified in a general sense as mind, or rather, as cognitive. How long, for how much time, was the Totality lingering in a state of limbo before self-propelling its first current of thought? Again, this kind of question about time is meaningless, because time is not real. The only thing real is motion. There was no time transpiring in the beginning because no motion had occurred as yet. The next question is, WHY did the Totality freely choose to make that first motion? Well mind is by nature curious. The first motion, then, was probably a movement of curiosity, much like the activity of an ignorant fetus probing around the womb out of curiosity, attempting to discern its surroundings. And just like a fetus, at this stage the Totality has no knowledge, it is completely ignorant because it is only now undertaking its first thought-current. It has not undertaken any extensive education as yet.
A fetus grows. It accumulates physical substance and thus grows larger and stronger even as its intelligence is developing. In a similar way the first thought-current, as it tunneled through the Totality, presumably amassed unto itself large quantities of the Totality, growing larger and larger, strong and stronger, eventually accumulating into the supremely powerful being that we now know as God. How did He acquire all His knowledge? He learned by sensations loud and clear. Allow me to explain. Suppose I want to transfer some information from my mind to your mind. I simply speak to you, blowing air from my mouth toward your body, and the momentum sets in motion a series of thought-currents in your mind. You experience each such current of thought as sensations loud and clear, that is, you’ll see mental images revealing the concepts conveyed in my speech. God has two sources of sensations, just like we do. The first source consists of objects in his environment physically impacting his frame as to set in motion His thought-currents. This produces sensations. His second source of sensations is self-propelled thought-currents, that is, those He sets in motion Himself by freely choosing to meditate on various issues as a means of learning and educating Himself.
As a result of physical sensations, even a blind man is not totally blind. He perceives a great many aspects of his environment by simply probing around him physically. He can even read Braille books. Thus he can see, and his sight improves with practice over time. Such was God’s experience. In a sense He was originally blind, but now He can see with perfect clarity, especially by sending forth His own self-propelling Light-particles to illuminate every physical object in the Totality. For example, if He wants to see all the objects in His own environment around Him, He can send forth rays of light in every direction. The light strikes the objects around Him and then rebounds back to His eyes and frame with a momentum that sets in motion currents of thought within His mind. He experiences these currents of thoughts as a stream of mental images whereby He sees all the objects in His environment, and thus He sees in precisely the same way that men can see. In fact at some point He surely became even more advanced, meaning that the Light-particles no longer need to bounce back to Him because they function as a divine Hand which directly reads the objects just like the blind man reads Braille.
How long was it before He sensed that He was knowledgeable enough, and holy enough, to merit the title God? Again, time is not real, so we’re really talking about His total number of motions, the total price He paid in terms of labor and suffering to become the holy entity that He now is. The price paid is His total merit. This is the reason He deserves worship. It probably involved more eons of time than we can even imagine, where eons is to be understood as an enormous number of consecutive motions, and enormous amount of labor, in other words an incredibly tedious duration of laboring for a cause. As a result of God’s enormously long history of walking in righteousness, Daniel 7:9 refers to Him as the Ancient of Days.
When Scripture describes God as all-knowing, it does not mean infinite knowledge, for that is an unintelligible concept. It rather means that He sees and understands every event that transpires in the Totality, and He has the skill and power to intervene as needed. He is all-powerful, and infallible in knowledge. All the math, science, and biology textbooks in the world, put together, don’t even begin to scratch the surface of his transcendent wisdom, learning, and understanding. No phenomenon can take Him by surprise, no opposition can stand against Him, and no one under His full protection can suffer harm. He is everything He needs to be, and in fact a whole heck of lot more than He needs to be, to function adequately as our God .
Up to this point I’ve defined God as a being who freely chose to walk in righteousness. Suppose for the moment that He still has enough freedom of the will to freely choose unrighteousness. In that case the Totality would never be a safe place for us and therefore He was lying when He guaranteed us a secure future. Actually He wasn’t lying. James assured us that He no longer has enough freedom of the will to choose unrighteousness; it assures us that He cannot be tempted with evil. Therefore He must have found a way to restrict His own freedom for the safety of the Totality. I can conceive of only one possible method whereby He managed to restrict His freedom enough to rule out the possibility of experiencing temptation. I call this theory, this proposed solution, the divine Immune System. Allow me to explain.
The doctrine of original sin is probably correct and teaches that Adam’s one sin ingrained our own souls with an addiction to sin and a habit of sin. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that God’s innumerable acts of righteousness steadily ingrained in HIS soul an addiction to holiness even far more compelling than our addiction to sin. So strong is our addiction to sin that even the course of an entire lifetime is probably insufficient for any of us to reverse it. In a similar way, it would probably take God eons of time to undo His holy addictions. His holiness is therefore exceedingly stable, and this stability was the foundation, it was the first step, for restricting His own freedom. The second step requires some explanation. As I pointed out earlier, His frame flows with liquids that Scripture classifies as His blood. To a significant extent our own blood is an immune system that protects our body from germs. God’s solution, then, was to establish a similar kind of immune system within His own blood. The type of germ targeted is not, however, biological but moral. In other words it monitors all of His substance, remaining on the lookout for any microscopic thought-currents that have declined even one iota in holy zeal. Upon finding one, it will target it with a sanctification very similar to the sanctifying outpourings of the Holy Breath upon men. I care not to speculate as to whether God’s Immune System has ever actually found such a germ in His own being. The point is that the system is firmly in place should a need for it ever arise.
Why can’t God simply deactivate His Immune System by an act of free will? Well it is safe from deactivation in virtue of several addictions. His addiction to holiness also addicts Him to preserving His Immune System. Eons of time would therefore be necessary for Him to gradually reverse His addiction to it and commitment to it. But such a project of reversing it could never even get off the ground, because even the slightest decline in zeal for preserving it would itself be a germ immediately targeted, even if the decline in zeal occurred within a thought-current of the Immune System itself. It must be kept in mind that God is not passive in regard to holiness, but rather He is continually engaged in re-sanctifying Himself, even in those thought-currents were a critic might be inclined to think it unnecessary. The end result of all His diligence and vigilance is a system perfectly stable. The worst possible scenario is the occasional appearance of a germ immediately targeted. Consequently He has been immutably holy, utterly incapable of sin, for more eons than we can imagine. Accordingly Hebrews states that He was the same Yesterday, and Today, and Forever.
However, given that God is immutably holy, how did the Son suffer temptation in the wilderness? The Immune System is God Himself, it is fully intelligent and thus was predisposed, from the outset, to permit the Incarnation and atonement if needed. Therefore it permitted God the Father, for the purpose of the Incarnation, to isolate a subsection of the Son, diminish its addiction to holiness, and send it to earth. As a result the incarnate Christ, or at least part of Him, had enough freedom of will to suffer the agony of temptation. Had this part of Christ sinned, the rest of His soul would still have atoned for His own sin and for those of the world. God wasn’t going to send part of His own Son to hell. And even though the Immune System permitted Christ to suffer temptation, under no circumstances would it ever permit the entire Godhead to become temptible. It will not allow this because its one and only mission is to preserve the Godhead in its holy state.
How did the Son become ignorant during the incarnation? God’s knowledge is bound up with His ongoing flow of thought-currents. Therefore God the Father simply scrambled the Son’s thought-currents enough to birth Him into a state of ignorance on earth.
What exactly is the Trinity? A physical mind is by nature both one person and many people at the same time. The Godhead can be understood as the three persons Father, Son, and the Holy Breath. These three Persons are exhaustive subsections of the divine substance. The Father is a human-shaped figure seated on a throne. At His right hand is His Son shaped in His own image and likewise seated on a throne. The Third Person is the remainder of the divine substance, including the fiery Breath of Christ’s mouth, the rivers of Living Water in heaven, and the rivers of Fire proceeding from the throne. That’s the procession of the fiery Holy Breath from the Father through the Son to the earth. Daniel reported at verse 7:9, “As I watched, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took His seat. His garments were white like snow, and His hair like pure wool. Both His throne and its wheels were ablaze with flames. A river of fire issued forth from His throne.”
From where did God obtain the physical substance needed to create the world? There are two possibilities. Possibility One. The first possibility is that some of the Totality never experienced any appreciable thought-currents during God’s self-development. In other words this section of the Totality never awakened and thus remained essentially dead. As dead matter, it cannot be identified as God because it never partnered up with Him, never participated in His thought-currents, was never privy to His thought-content, and never labored with Him to become holy. It is merely raw material that He eventually utilized to create our universe and form our souls. He was justified in doing this if His conscience permitted it.
Possibility Two. The second possible source of raw material is His own substance. In other words it may be that a small subsection of the Godhead volunteered to sacrifice its own life, to undergo full erasure of personality, to return to a state of dead matter, as to become a supply of raw material for creating the universe.
Regardless of whether it was Possibility One or Possibility Two, it is reasonable to conclude that the dead matter all around us can actually be classified as mind. Ultimately it’s all part of the Totality and therefore is mind, even though presently in a very dead, unawakened sate. God can awaken it to full consciousness at any moment. Accordingly Isaiah promised that one day all the trees of the field shall clap their hands, and the mountains shall break forth with singing.
Given that all existing substance is part of the Totality, does not this imply that the creator and the created are ultimately the same Mind? In other words, is pantheism implied here? That’s a moot question. It’s completely irrelevant because each thought-current is freely self-propelling and therefore accountable for its own individual behavior. Adam is a subsection of the Totality that freely chose to sin. Only the subsections that sinned deserve punishment. God is the only subsection that labored for a number of eons so countless that He merits worship. Furthermore He instituted within us a conscience that morally obligates us to obey Him. If we disobey, we self-evidently merit punishment for disobeying our conscience. God is a particular subsection of the Totality which has never violated its conscience. Given these irreversible facts, there is no point in wrestling with the irrelevant, abstract philosophical question of whether the entire Totality is in some sense one mind. That question has no bearing on practical matters, because each subsection of the Totality is individually responsible for its own freely self-propelled actions and thoughts.
By the way, in my opinion the torment of hell is probably temporary instead of everlasting. Certainly the Fire of hell is eternal, and the smoke of the torment is eternal, because the Fire and Smoke are God Himself. But I’m guessing that He will eventually allow the reprobate to fall asleep, after a very long period of suffering hellfire. I say this because I doubt that a finite, temporary crime calls for an infinitely long punishment.
Earlier I pointed out that God must have needed us, for otherwise it would have been needlessly cruel to create human beings with enough freedom to hang themselves and crucify His own Son. I believe He needed us in the following sense. At the outset He had to decide whether to undertake the ineffably difficult, ineffably tedious, ineffably laborious task of becoming the fully knowledgeable, fully skilled, fully holy Being that He is today. His conscience probably did not demand that He volunteer such an enormous amount of effort. His conscience was probably only asking Him to abstain from wrongdoing, but He apparently was interested in going the extra mile as to insure the long-term safety and well-being of the Totality. Most likely He couldn’t bring Himself to make such a hellish commitment without first promising Himself some kind of minimal reward at the end of the tunnel. The reward He chose for Himself is the church as His bride, defined as a body of people who have made a number of freely willed decisions to love and obey Him in accordance with their conscience. With this reward in view, He managed to commit Himself to the dreadfully difficult task of becoming immutably holy, and to the task of atoning for the church if needed. This was all He could bear. In other words He couldn’t bring Himself to also commit to atoning for the fallen angels as well. He certainly fulfilled His potential for kindness and generosity, but unfortunately that potential simply wasn’t infinite. This notion that God is infinite kindness, and so forth, it’s just a myth. There’s no basis for that.
How big is the Totality? Is it infinite in extension? At every moment I see substances finite in size. Thus the concept of a finite substance seems very intelligible to me. When I try to conceive a substance of infinite size, I find myself feeling very confused. As usual, I tend to opt for the theory most intelligible and therefore conclude that the Totality is a finite mass of substance.
What exists outside the boundaries of the Totality? As I pointed out earlier, philosophers have generally abstained from even attempting to speculate on this kind of difficult question. No one has been able to produce an intelligible theory regarding the boundaries of reality. I did produce a theory, if it even deserves to be called a theory, but I would hardly consider it intelligible. My theory goes like this. Given that the Totality is the sum total of all reality, it follows that there is nothingness beyond its boundaries. I don’t mean empty space. I mean nothingness, that is, nothing at all. What does this imply? Let’s assume that you are standing at one edge of the totality. If you take another step, there is nothing there, and the size of nothing is zero inches. Thus the distance to the opposite boundary is zero inches, and therefore you will immediately emerge at the opposite end of the Totality when you take that step. In other words there is a continuum. You won’t even realize that you are at the boundary because, from the standpoint of experience, it immediately continues over to the opposite end.
Evangelicals are still in sharp disagreement as to the question, “For whom did Christ die?” I myself have taken a very radical position on this issue. God is not sloppy. He is very professional. He wasn’t going to let Christ suffer any more than necessary. The problem is that He had no way of foreknowing how much sin would be committed. Therefore Christ suffered more than enough to atone for the minimum number of souls required to fulfill the godhead’s need for a bride. When Christ said, “It is finished”, He was only referring to Himself as a small subsection of the Son, who will never suffer death again. Christ died once and for all. However, if intercessors pray enough people into the kingdom as to exhaust the benefit of Christ’s blood, I suspect that the remainder of the Son will, as needed, suffer behind the scenes at the hands of demons, as to atone for even more people. This is probably why Hebrews 6:6 warns that Christians who sin excessively re-crucify the Son of God. To summarize, Christ died for the whole world, but if His sacrifice turns out to be insufficient to cover all Christians, the remainder of the Godhead will compensate by suffering more behind the scenes and unknown to us.
How old is the earth? The scientific community insists that the earth is four billion years old, and the universe 13 billion years old. A few dozen evangelical scientists continue to write books insisting that the earth is only 6000 years old, and for about 15 years I believed them. Then about five years ago I was rudely awakened to the strong evidence for an old earth. But how can we reconcile the seven days of the Genesis creation account with an old earth 4 billon years old? Here I’ll provide a brief sketch of the solution. Genesis starts out by defining a day as a period of darkness followed by a period of light. Thus it does NOT define a day as a 24 hour period. Again, it defines a day as a period of darkness followed by a period light. That’s it. What was the light source for each of the seven daylights? It was not the sun, because the sun wasn’t put in place until the fourth day of the seven days. And with no sun in place, Moses couldn’t possibly have been talking about 24-hour periods, because a 24-hour day is based on the earth’s rotation with respect to the sun, which was not at yet in place At 2Cor chapter 3 Paul was discussing the light in Moses’ face. A few verses later, at 2Cor 4:6, he implied that the light of Genesis 1 was the light of Christ’s face. Therefore Christ’s face provided the seven daylights constituting the creation period. It works like this. God wanted to create a paradigm of working six days and resting on the seventh day. Therefore six times He shined His light into the entire galaxy for a period of time and then quenched it, resulting in six galactic days and nights. These galactic days and nights jointly spanned the entire 4 billion years comprising the earth’s history. During the first three galactic days, His Light had to provide the earth’s plants with photosynthesis for lack of a sun. Even during the galactic nights He must have kept a small divine lamp upon the earth as to sustain photosynthesis by divine Light. On the fourth galactic day He put our sun in place and thereafter desisted from supplying His own Light to the plants. Today we are still in the seventh galactic daylight, for the seventh day is eternal, and consequently Genesis does not record a nightfall after the seventh daylight. God rested on the seventh day from all His work of creating, and He will continue resting from this work forever. Accordingly Hebrews 4 exhorts us to make every effort to enter into His rest.
For the moment, let’s use the term HUMANOID for any species closely resembling the human beings of today. Although GOD created a number of humanoid species over the last 200,000 years, it was only six thousand years ago that He finally created Adam. Adam was the first real man because he was the first humanoid whose soul was stamped with a conscience and a knowledge of God. Adam’s sons and daughters did not marry each other; they did not commit incest. What happened, rather, is that, after Adam’s fall, God put some of his sin-stained soul into the offspring of other humanoids so that they too finally became real men and women like him. In other words Adam’s sons and daughters did not have to commit incest because they obtained their mates from humanoid families unrelated to Adam and Eve.
Most likely the reason for
the old age of our universe is that God was taking time to verify His own
degree of knowledge over a period of 13 billion years. He wanted to be
absolutely sure that He had learned all the sciences perfectly and that nothing
in the universe could ever take Him by surprise. Therefore the old age of our universe does
How can a holy God let innocent animals suffer and die for hundreds of millions of years? There are a couple of possible solutions to this problem. The best solution is to conclude that animals aren’t innocent. The souls within animals are actually demons. This is not to suggest that animals are evil. They are morally neutral because an animal body is not designed to foster conscience and moral freedom. Nonetheless the souls of animals originally were followers of Lucifer. When Jesus cast the 2000 demons out of the possessed man into a herd of 2000 pigs, He wasn’t being cruel to a bunch of innocent pigs. He was simply reuniting the demons with their own evil brethren inside the pigs. If animals were innocent, God would not allow us to eat them or harm them in any way, for He is holy, righteous, and just. The souls of animals will be cast into the lake of fire on the day of judgment.
Here ends lecture number eight entitled, “Theodicy, Christology, and Cosmogony”
This was lecture number eight in the series entitled, “Why we Need a Second Reformation.”
This is lecture number nine in the series entitled, “Why we Need a Second Reformation.”
I certainly don’t envy your situation if you are a pastor who, having listened to these lectures, now sees the need for a Second Reformation. Accepting my doctrinal corrective could spell the end of your pastoral career because most of the Christian community is still doctrinally arrogant and intolerant. I frankly can’t advise you on how to deal with the resistance. Here I feel utterly helpless to assist you.
I can only offer a couple of practical suggestions to get the church moving in a more positive direction. Ideally we want God to run the church, but that’s not likely to happen anytime soon because our generation is too distant from Him to receive direction loud and clear. Therefore you will have to rely, for the time-being, on man-made strategies intended to increase corporate prayer. You can certainly continue the traditional Sunday service, but you will probably want to add some other strategies as well. In that regard I’d like to propose a program called Family Fellowship.
Dedicated prayer-buildings are ineffective. Inviting people to sessions of corporate prayer is a little more effective but probably not effective enough. The weakness of these two strategies is that prayer tends to be a lonely activity, even in a corporate setting, and can therefore seem unattractive. Loneliness tends to be draining rather than energizing. On the other hand fellowship is typically energizing because it’s fun and therefore recreational.
The greatest obstacle to fellowship is a deadly disease called social inhibition, and the greatest antidote is you yourself as the church leader. Allow me to explain. Suppose for example that I am sitting in a church pew. It may be that I would like to chat with those around me and may even want to give them a hug. So what’s stopping me? Social inhibition. I am afraid of what they might think, or I am afraid of disturbing them. Then you as the leader announces, “I want every one of you to hug three people right now.” Suddenly social inhibition disappears. Everyone feels comfortable giving a hug to those around them. Thus the leader is the only person in the building with the power to eliminate the deadly disease known as social inhibition.
This disease plagues our entire society, not just the church. For instance teenagers lonely on account of social inhibition often hook up with wrong crowd just to make friends. The end result is juvenile delinquency. Fighting this disease should probably have been a top priority for the last 2000 years, and yet the church continues to do very little about it. Moreover a great deal of sexual immorality is probably the result of loneliness caused by social inhibition. For instance lonely women, even in the church, become easy prey to men who aggressively creep into their homes.
I call my program Family Fellowship. I chose this title because the members of a family do not suffer any social inhibition but rather jump into each other’s conversations uninvited. That’s the kind of dynamic I’m attempting to cultivate here. As the leader, you can run Family Fellowship for a couple of hours before a service, or for a couple of hours afterwards, or any time during the week. Ideally you will eventually build it up to 24 hours a day. Don’t advertise this program to the members in an insulting way, that is, as a rehab for social outcasts. That’s not what it is. It’s first and foremost a ministry of intercessory prayer. It’s a form of ministry where I, as a church member, can contribute to the body in the following ways. I can participate in corporate prayer, I can provide a listening ear for those who need one, I can provide words of encouragement to the discouraged, I can provide advice on practical issues, and I can provide fellowship to the lonely. In effect, each member of the body begins to function somewhat like a Christian counselor. Potentially this could ease some of the burden currently placed on the church leader.
The leader does not even need to be present for Family Fellowship to operate, but there must at least be a proctor, because a leader of some kind is the only effective antidote to social inhibition. Here’s how it works. Every ministry has rules. For instance I can’t volunteer to serve as an usher and then do whatever I feel like doing. I have to follow the rules given by the head usher. The same principle applies here. No one will be forced to participate in this ministry, but those who volunteer must follow the rules. The purpose of the rules is to defeat social inhibition. And it won’t succeed unless the proctor makes an effort to enforce the rules. The rules only apply during the hours designated for Family Fellowship and only within the designated building. The building should be equipped with plenty of chairs. The rules are as follows.
Rule One. No one is permitted to sit alone. Upon entering the building a participant must look for a group of people to fellowship with and join the conversation. He can leave the group at any time but must then either find another group or exit the building. The conversation does not need to be religious. It just needs to be friendly.
Rule Two. When a participant joins a group, the other members will introduce themselves immediately unless currently engaged in prayer.
Rule Two. If anyone in a group requests prayer, the others in the group must be willing to join in. However, no one is permitted to lay hands except those individuals designated by the person requesting prayer.
Rule Three. All prayer will be verbalized aloud and will be group prayer. There will be no solitary praying and silent praying. When the audible prayer comes to a halt, the praying is to cease and friendly conversation is to resume. The person who requested prayer can also bring it to a cease by announcing that he has had enough.
Rule Four. On a table will be sign-up forms for social activity. Suppose you are a participant who wishes to attend a movie, restaurant, or bowling alley tonight. Fill out a form indicating the time to rendezvous at the table. Anyone who sees your form can sign up. The form will allow you to specify that you need transportation. However, none of the attendees should feel obligated to transport you, as they might consider you a stranger who cannot be trusted.
Rule Five. Participants are to assume that any greetings, conversations, and invitations initiated by the opposite sex are purely for friendship, purely non-romantic unless the initiator explicitly states otherwise.
Rule Six. Once or twice on the hour the proctor has the right to call for a five-minute period of corporate worship or prayer. Here the prayer should probably be a petition for spiritual awakening in the immediate community and also throughout the entire nation.
Ok, so those are the rules. One additional rule that I still feel undecided about is to ask singles to commit to seeking equal fellowship time with males and females. This could alleviate some of the social inhibition between males and females. In addition, the leader probably should also stipulate that only those who consider themselves born-again Christians can participate.
Let your congregations know that you need their help in this ministry, and that you expect it to be one of the central ministries of your church.
Here ends lecture number nine entitled, “Theodicy, Christology, and Cosmogony”
This was lecture number nine in the series entitled, “Why we Need a Second Reformation.”
 Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer (
 Andrew Murray, The Secret of True Obedience (Grand Rapids: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 1999-9-29, v1.0), public domain, from the chapter “Of the Voice of Conscience.”
Often God withholds His voice/Presence to spare rebellious believers judgment (Ex 33:4-5) and as a penalty for insufficient prayer.
 Andrew Murray, The Believer's Secret of Holiness (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1984), p. 199.
 “The wise and the prudent are those who [mistakenly] have confidence in their [analytical] reasoning ability to help them in their pursuit of spiritual knowledge.” Andrew Murray, The Inner Life (Springdale: Whitaker House, 1984), p. 70.
 Andrew Murray, The Believer's Secret of Holiness (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1984), p. 57
 Andrew Murray, The Secret of True Obedience (Grand Rapids: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 1999-9-29, v1.0), public domain, from the chapter “The Secret of True Obedience),
 Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer (
 Ibid., from the chapter “Have Faith in God.”
 Andrew Murray, In Search of Spiritual Excellence (Springdale: Whitaker House, 1984), italics mine, p. 108.
 Andrew Murray, The Believer's Secret of Holiness (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1984), p. 207.
“I can dwell in a house without its
becoming part of my being. I may leave it without suffering; no vital union
exists between my house and me. It is not thus with the presence of our soul
and spirit in our body. The life of a plant lives in and pervades every part of
it; and our soul is not limited to dwell in such or such part of the body, the
heart or the head, for instance, but penetrates throughout, even to the end of
the lowest members. The life of the soul pervades the whole body; the life
throughout proves the presence of the soul. It is in like manner that the Holy
Ghost comes to dwell in our body. He penetrates its entirety. He animates and
possesses us infinitely more than we can imagine”, Andrew Murray, Divine
Healing (public domain, from the chapter “Your Body is the
 Andrew Murray, Abide in Christ (Springdale: Whitaker House, 1979), p. 61.
 Andrew Murray, The Believer's Secret of Holiness (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1984), p. 66.
 Andrew Murray, Absolute Surrender, from the chapter “Separated Unto the Holy Ghost,” italics mine, public domain,
 Andrew Murray, In Search of Spiritual Excellence (Springdale: Whitaker House, 1984), italics mine, p. 81.
 Andrew Murray, The Two Covenants, from the chapter, “The Two Covenants in Christian Experience,” italics mine, public domain,
 Andrew Murray, The Spirit of Christ (Springdale: Whitaker House, 1984), italics mine, pp. 192-93.
 Andrew Murray, The Believer's Call to Commitment (Minneapolis:
Bethany House Publishers, 1983), p. 85.
On page 19
 Andrew Murray, The Two Covenants, from the chapter, “The Two Covenants in Christian Experience,” italics mine, public domain,
 Andrew Murray, Absolute Surrender, from the chapter, “Separated Unto the Holy Ghost,” public domain,
 Ibid., from the chapter, “Lacking the Fruit of the Spirit.”
 Andrew Murray, The Secret of True Obedience (
Based on Rom 10:17, Heb 1:3, and Heb 4:12, Christians insist that the written Word is divine power for both sanctification and evangelism. What kind of power? The sinful nature is the exorbitant desire for wrongdoing. Hence divine power would be an effective, life-changing desire for doing good things such as repenting, praying, and studying the Bible. (Entire communities suddenly became so dedicated during historic revivals). Thus if the preached written Word were power, congregations would regularly be so dedicated whereas in reality most Christians never read their Bible, pray little (except perhaps for their own needs), and show little evidence of full repentance. Divorce is higher in the church than in the world, as is pornography – because the written Word/law stirs up sinful passions (Rom 7:5)! The Pharisees were more saturated with written Word than any Jew – and thus more sinful! Let’s continue to study and preach the written Word, but let’s keep in mind that it is actually harmful when unaccompanied by a substantial outpouring of the Spirit. Praying that God respond loudly and clearly to our petitions is what precipitated outpourings in both testaments.
Furthermore, if the written Word were God’s power, how did He have power before the world began? How did the Word exist before the world began (Jn 1:1)? Here’s a good illustration of how powerless the written Word is. Suppose the Spirit inspired me to realize a certain truth such as 2 plus 2 equals 4. I then write down this truth. What I now have is a written Word. In fact the Book of Numbers was named after such number-based truths (censuses). Now suppose I traveled the world preaching this written Word, telling everyone that 2 plus 2 equals 4. Isn’t that what any math teacher does? Where then is the sanctifying power? The Bible/law is truth, but truth and power are not necessarily the same thing.
 Andrew Murray, The Believer's Secret of Holiness (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1984), p. 53.
 Ibid., 31.
 Ibid., p. 77.
 Andrew Murray, The Two Covenants, from chapter II, “The Two Covenants: Their Relation,” italics mine, public domain,