Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Moral Narcissist*

I just want all of you to know that I'm really, really against immorality.  Immorality is bad.  It's heinous.  I'm hugely against it.  I'm not sure anyone is against it more than me.  Just a second while I take a moment to tweet that out.  Oops, I can't blog how much I'm against immorality and tweet it at the same time, despite my skill at multi-tasking.  I do have an appropriate picture that will show everyone that I know how to tell how much I'm against immorality.  It's not one of me, because, of course, I'm very, very moral.  The picture is of Jerry Falwell, Jr. and his wife with Donald Trump in front of a framed photo of Donald Trump on the cover of Playboy.   It would be immoral to show the photo.  In addition, I don't have that image right this moment to portray how much I'm against immorality.  However, I'm asking you to imagine it with me for the purpose of understanding how against immorality that I am.

Pause with me a moment while I tell you how immoral Donald Trump is.  He is.  Hugely immoral. If I were on twitter for you to follow me, you would be receiving incessant tweets informing you of how immoral I think Donald Trump is.  You need to know.  He is.  I think he is.  It's been a very well kept secret, which you couldn't have known, that Donald Trump is immoral.  It's important for you to know that I think that he is too.  Me.  That I'm a major opponent of and exposing agent of the immorality of Donald Trump, something along the lines of John the Baptist confronting Herod's immorality, except for the fact that I'm using a form of social media to tell the whole world how immoral I think Donald Trump is.  I'm applying that example as my basis for writing and tweeting against Donald Trump's immorality.  I'm not threatened in any way like John the Baptist, but if I could be threatened, I would be.  It's scary to think he could be president, and then he'd be looking back at people's tweets to see who wrote them, and he might cut my head off (he believes in torture).

I'm not voting for Donald Trump.  My conscience just won't allow me.  You might interpret that as my having a very scrupulous conscience.  You would be right.  Instead, I'm pulling the lever for Junior Samples.  If "Your Conscience" were running, I'd vote for him, and I still might vote for him or at least "My Conscience."  My conscience stays completely silent, purrs like a pigeon with bread crumbs, when I consider my vote for Junior Samples.   On the other hand, my conscience twists and spins and screams like a Harley at even a whiff of a thought of voting for Donald Trump, mainly because of, of course, my hypersensitive morality.  I have a moral gag reflex to Trump that whiplashes me into major vertebrae damage.  When the light came on, Pavlov's dog salivated, and when Trump comes on, I dismount in the crunch position.

Boris Johnson, prominent British politician who favored Brexit, said, "I have as much chance of becoming Prime Minister as of being decapitated by a frisbee or of finding Elvis."  Junior Samples has an exponentially less chance of being president than Johnson does being Prime Minister, but I've got to make a major, huge point about how much I'm against immorality with my vote.

Don't read into this too much, but here's the point.  My morality says a few things.  One, blow up the Republican party, salt it like the Romans did Carthage, napalm it so that nothing will grow for millennia.  Two, dare Hillary to become president, two terms, three terms, constitutional amendment for more terms even, whatever it takes to teach Republicans a lesson they won't forget.  Three, for good measure, get a Supreme Court with, I don't know, seven liberal justices, two conservative just to watch them suffer -- blow torch gun rights, the right to life, property rights, whatever, important protections of rights, right out of the constitution, turn that document into so many hot fudge sundaes, just so that people will know how seriously we ("I am") are against immorality.

I so hate the immorality of Donald Trump that I could almost vote for Hillary, but only to show him, actually show me, but you get what I mean -- show everyone, me.  I can't vote for Hillary though.  I can make sure she wins the election with the hyper morality of the deniability that I actually caused it.  I didn't vote for her.  "Did you vote for her?" they'll ask.  I'll say, "No."  No way.  No.  I wouldn't do that.  I didn't cause that.  Nope.   She's president and my conscience is intact.  Yesirree.  Bill in the White House again, elevating the racketeering an embarrassment even to banana republics.  Not my fault though.  I didn't vote for her.

As I foresee my crucible of the ballot box in November, in reality my absentee 95 thesis on the Wittenberg kitchen table several weeks earlier, I can't very well say I'm glad that I've got several months to keep telling you how morally repulsed I am, except that I am.  I just can't say it.  You'll know it though....and know it and know it and know it.  And I'll keep telling you long after Hillary and Bill Clinton are president -- through every form of moral social media Mark Zuckerberg has ever invented.
*Term taken from this article.  I hadn't thought of the term, but it fits something I've seen perfectly.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Russell Moore, Exhibit One in Ingratiation of Gospel Hipsterness

Do not hate your instinct to restrict Islam in the United States.  You should dandle that in your mind like the ambulation of a lozenge in your mouth.  At the 2016 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the public-policy arm of the SBC, intelligence shames common sense for the cool guys at school.

As I write this post, I go to the Russell Moore twitter page for a very typical sample from him.

Modern evangelicalism promotes such sycophantic navel gazing.

If I were to evaluate based on my observation of Moore, I would see the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commision as the division of pandering for the Southern Baptist Convention.  Moore has the not very difficult task of finding a way to present the SBC in the most politically and theologically correct fashion, left leaning and effeminate.   To the beavis giddiness of his culturally relevant fanboys, his zeal for the Southern Baptist house erupts on the old right with its regional twang.  He saves his indignation for gay reception refusals, confederate flag waving, and Muslim mosque opposition.   With no shame, he retweets, "This week, we talk with hip-hop duo @socialclubmsfts." This constitutes a new kind of courage, one that chooses to "stand" where it's obvious he'll receive the greatest amount of applause.

I don't believe the Muslim mosque issue in the video above correlates to either a Baptist distinctive or the gospel. Baptists support freedom of religion, but Islam is a difficult decision, contrary to Moore's pandering.   It's not a Baptist distinctive to support Mosque building.   Moore received a lot of publicity for this answer.  I saw references to it all over.  I watched the second half of his answer at least ten times.  I still don't know what he's talking about.  It was biblical and theological gibberish.  I can only interpret the crowd as cheering for expert political fawning.  They remind me of the crowds at a Bernie or Hillary rally.

Moore said, "the bigger issue is that we've been called to the gospel of Jesus Christ."  I can only guess here.   Regulating Mosque building undermines the gospel, and fully tolerating Mosque building promotes the gospel?

A mosque in your neighborhood might mean people are there plotting violence where you live. People blown up by a bomb can't be saved any more.  I've noticed that.  I can't preach the gospel to strewn body parts.  You have to be able to breathe to hear the gospel.  If you try to preach the gospel at a mosque in the United States, several mosque adherents will threaten your life.  If they kill you while you preach to them, you can't preach the gospel to anyone any more.  I can find a crowd of saved people, ones who preach the gospel every week, who would clap loud and long for this paragraph.

A greater enemy of the gospel in the SBC is its hunger for relevance.  The gospel and its real effects are replaced by the pretend Christianity of which Moore speaks.  The gospel doesn't need designer glass frames.  It doesn't need the perfect stance on mosques and their construction.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Brexit Validation

Please read Thomas Ross's post below.

This isn't a post per se.  Back when I wrote this post, Brexit wasn't even on my radar.  I hadn't heard the term, although it had been around, it seems, since 2007.  I said, however, this was an election about globalism versus nationalism.  Some are also claiming that British nationalism right now is xenophobic.  A whole post could and should be written on just that type of terminology.  If you are going to preserve or conserve a nation or a culture, one of the threats are foreign nations and cultures. Anyone at this  moment should say, "Duh."  That doesn't make you xenophobic.

Of great interest to me are the United States bandwagon supporters of Brexit, who don't get it, absolutely don't get it.  They can't seem to make the application.

In the post I wrote on May 24, I said this:
Where there is no absolute truth, you can't be better.  If no one is greater than anyone else, then borders don't matter.  You have no culture to protect.  It doesn't make any difference.  The future won't be very bright for a country that doesn't see a reason for its own existence.
I ended with this question:
If nothing can be better, than why conserve anything anyway?
People, pundits, voters, citizens need to decide where they come down on this.  You can parse through every other aspect of this election, but I believe in our present situation, this is how basic this is. It's not about things more complicated, albeit still simple things.  If you don't understand this, then you will be a participant in turning the country over to globalists.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Keswick's Biblical Strengths: where Keswick is Correct, in an Analysis and Critique of So Great Salvation by Stephen Barabas, part 2 of 4

The necessity of experiential communion with Jesus Christ through the Spirit by faith is also by no means a Keswick distinctive.  A host of old evangelical theologians, such as the profoundly influential Puritan John Owen (1616-1683) clearly proclaimed this glorious truth.  Indeed, history demonstrates that, so far from the necessity of communion with Christ being a Keswick distinctive, Christians with a non-Higher Life theology of sanctification have preached and written on the topic with a spiritual vigour that surpasses the productions of the Keswick movement.  Regretably, despite the profound impact John Owen’s works have made on the Christian world’s understanding of the doctrine of sanctification, and the importance many non-Keswick evangelicals and historic Baptists place on his writings as a model of non-Keswick Biblical piety, Stephen Barabas’s extensive bibliography in So Great Salvation does not include even one work by John Owen.  Not a single work by Jonathan Edwards, John Bunyan, John Flavel, Horatius Bonar, Charles Spurgeon, or many other classic writers on sanctification are listed either.[1]  Since Owen’s writings have led many away from Keswick theology to a more Biblical piety,[2] they provide a good example of what the tradition of orthodox evangelical piety that rejected Keswick after its invention had been teaching for centuries before the rise of the Higher Life.  Owen wrote:
[Christians ought to] make this observation of the lively actings of faith and love in and towards Jesus Christ their chiefest concern in all their retirements, yea, in their whole walk before God. . . . [T]he effects of his presence with us, and the manifestation of himself unto us[,] [are as follows:]

(1.) Now the first of these is the life, vigor, and effectual acting of all grace in us. This is an inseparable consequent and effect of a view of his glory. Whilst we enjoy it, we live; nevertheless not we, but Christ lives in us, exciting and acting all his graces in us. This is that which the apostle instructs us in; while “we behold his glory as in a glass, we are transformed into the same image, from glory to glory,” 2 Corinthians 3:18—that is, whilst by faith we contemplate on the glory of Christ as revealed in the gospel, all grace will thrive and flourish in us towards a perfect conformity unto him. For whilst we abide in this view and contemplation, our souls will be preserved in holy frames, and in a continual exercise of love and delight, with all other spiritual affections towards him. It is impossible, whilst Christ is in the eye of our faith as proposed in the Gospel, but that we shall labor to be like him, and greatly love him. Neither is there any way for us to attain unto either of these, which are the great concernments of our souls—namely, to be like unto Christ, and to love him—but by a constant view of him and his glory by faith; which powerfully and effectually works them in us. All the doctrinal knowledge which we have of him is useless, all the view we have of his glory is but fancy, imagination, or superstition, which are not accompanied with this transforming power. And that which is wrought by it, is the increase and vigor of all grace; for therein alone our conformity unto him does consist. Growth in grace, holiness, and obedience, is a growing like unto Christ; and nothing else is so. . . .

This transforming efficacy, from a spiritual view of Christ as proposed in the Gospel . . . [is] the life of religion . . . there must be a view of Christ and his glory, to cause us to love him, and thereby to make us conformable or like unto him . . . [which] is by our beholding his glory by faith, as revealed in the Gospel, and no otherwise. . . . [S]o, unto our stability in the profession of the truth, an experience of the efficacy of this spiritual view of Christ transforming our souls into his own likeness, is absolutely necessary. . . . [T]he beholding of Christ is the most blessed means of exciting all our graces, spiritualizing all our affections, and transforming our minds into his likeness. . . . [I]t is a real experience of the efficacy that there is in the spiritual beholding of the glory of Christ by faith, as proposed in the Gospel, to strengthen, increase, and excite all grace unto its proper exercise, so changing and transforming the soul gradually into his likeness, which must secure us against all [sinful] pretences[.] . . .

[I]f we grow weak in our graces, unspiritual in our frames, cold in our affections, or negligent in the exercise of them by holy meditation, it is evident that [Christ] is at a great distance from us, so as that we do not behold his glory as we ought. If the weather grow cold, herbs and plants do wither, and the frost begins to bind up the earth, all men grant that the sun is withdrawn, and makes not his wonted approach unto us. And if it be so with our hearts, that they grow cold, frozen, withering, lifeless, in and unto spiritual duties, it is certain that the Lord Christ is in some sense withdrawn, and that we do not behold his glory. We retain notions of truth concerning his person, office, and grace; but faith is not in constant exercise as to real views of him and his glory. For there is nothing more certain in Christian experience than this is, that while we do really by faith behold the glory of Christ, as proposed in the Gospel, the glory of his person and office, as before described, and so abide in holy thoughts and meditations thereof, especially in our private duties and retirements, all grace will live and thrive in us in some measure, especially love unto his person, and therein unto all that belongs unto him. Let us but put it to the trial, and we shall infallibly find the promised event. Do any of us find decays in grace prevailing in us—deadness, coldness, lukewarmness, a kind of spiritual stupidity and senselessness coming upon us? Do we find an unreadiness unto the exercise of grace in its proper season, and the vigorous acting of it in duties of communion with God, and would we have our souls recovered from these dangerous diseases? Let us assure ourselves there is no better way for our healing and deliverance, yea, no other way but this alone—namely, the obtaining a fresh view of the glory of Christ by faith, and a steady abiding therein. Constant contemplation of Christ and his glory, putting forth its transforming power unto the revival of all grace, is the only relief in this case[.]

Some will say, that this must be effected by fresh supplies and renewed communications of the Holy Spirit. Unless he fall as dew and showers on our dry and barren hearts—unless he cause our graces to spring, thrive, and bring forth fruit—unless he revive and increase faith, love, and holiness in our souls—our backsliding will not be healed, nor our spiritual state be recovered. . . . And so it is. The immediate efficiency of the revival of our souls is from and by the Holy Spirit. But the inquiry is, in what way, or by what means, we may obtain the supplies and communications of him unto this end. This the apostle declares in [2 Corinthians 3:18]: We, beholding the glory of Christ in a glass, “are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even by the Spirit of the Lord.” It is in the exercise of faith on Christ . . . that the Holy Spirit puts forth his renewing, transforming power in and upon our souls. This, therefore, is that alone which will retrieve Christians from their present decays and deadness. . . . [The] remedy and relief [of a] . . . dead [and] dull . . . condition . . . is, to live in the exercise of faith in Christ Jesus. This himself assures us of, John 15:4, 5, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.”

There is a twofold coming unto Christ by believing. The first is that we may have life—that is, a spring and principle of spiritual life communicated unto us from him: for he is “our life,” Colossians 3:4, and “because he liveth, we live also,” John 14:19. Yea, it is not so much we that live, as he liveth in us, Galatians 2:19, 20. And unbelief is a not coming unto him, that we may have life, John 5:40. But, secondly, there is also a coming unto him by believers in the actual exercise of faith, that they may “have this life more abundantly,” John 10:10; that is, such supplies of grace as may keep their souls in a healthy, vigorous acting of all the powers of spiritual life. And as he reproacheth some that they would not come unto him that they might have life, so he may justly reprove us all, that we do not so come unto him in the actual exercise of faith, as that we might have this life more abundantly.

(2.) When the Lord Christ is near us, and we do behold his glory, he will frequently communicate spiritual refreshment in peace, consolation, and joy unto our souls. We shall not only hereby have our graces excited with respect unto him as their object, but be made sensible of his acting toward us in the communications of himself and his love unto us. When the Sun of Righteousness ariseth on any soul, or makes any near approach thereunto, it shall find “healing under his wings”—his beams of grace shall convey by his Spirit holy spiritual refreshment thereunto. For he is present with us by his Spirit, and these are his fruits and effects, as he is the Comforter, suited unto his office, as he is promised unto us.

Many love to walk in a very careless, unwise profession. So long as they can hold out in the performance of outward duties, they are very regardless of the greatest evangelical privileges—of those things which are the marrow of divine promises—all real endeavors of a vital communion with Christ. Such are spiritual peace, refreshing consolations, ineffable joys, and the blessed composure of assurance. Without some taste and experience of these things, profession is heartless, lifeless, useless; and religion itself a dead carcass without an animating soul. The peace which some enjoy is a mere stupidity. They judge not these things to be real which are the substance of Christ’s present reward; and a renunciation whereof would deprive the church of its principal supportments and encouragements in all its sufferings. It is a great evidence of the power of unbelief, when we can satisfy ourselves without an experience in our own hearts of the great things, in this kind of joy, peace, consolation, assurance, that are promised in the Gospels. For how can it be supposed that we do indeed believe the promises of things future—namely, of heaven, immortality, and glory, the faith whereof is the foundation of all religions—when we do not believe the promises of the present reward in these spiritual privileges? And how shall we be thought to believe them, when we do not endeavor after an experience of the things themselves in our own souls, but are even contented without them? But herein men deceive themselves. They would very desirously have evangelical joy, peace, and assurance, to countenance them in their evil frames and careless walking. And some have attempted to reconcile these things, unto the ruin of their souls. But it will not be. Without the diligent exercise of the grace of obedience, we shall never enjoy the grace of consolation. . . .

It is peculiarly in the view of the glory of Christ, in his approaches unto us, and abiding with us, that we are made partakers of evangelical peace, consolation, joy, and assurances. These are a part of the royal train of his graces, of the reward wherewith he is accompanied. “His reward is with him.” Wherever he is graciously present with any, these things are never wanting in a due measure and degree, unless it be by their own fault, or for their trial. In these things does he give the church of his loves, Song of Solomon 7:12. “For if any man,” saith he, “love me, I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him,” John 14:21—“yea, I and the Father will come unto him, and make our abode with him,” verse 23; and that so as to “sup with him,” Revelation 3:20—which, on his part, can be only by the communication of those spiritual refreshments. The only inquiry is, by what way and means we do receive them? Now, I say this is in and by our beholding of the glory of Christ by faith, 1 Peter 1:8, 9. Let that glory be rightly stated . . . the glory of his person, his office, his condescension, exaltation, love, and grace; let faith be fixed in a view and contemplation of it, mix itself with it, as represented in the glass of the gospel, meditate upon it, embrace it, and virtue will proceed from Christ, communicating spiritual, supernatural refreshment and joy unto our souls. Yea, in ordinary cases, it is impossible that believers should have a real prospect of this glory at any time, but that it will in some measure affect their hearts with a sense of his love; which is the spring of all consolation in them. In the exercise of faith on the discoveries of the glory of Christ made unto us in the Gospel, no man shall ever totally want such intimations of his love, yea, such effusion of it in his heart, as shall be a living spring of those spiritual refreshments, John 4:14; Romans 5:5.[3]
Such declarations were by no means an exception, centuries before the invention of the Keswick theology, in the Biblically-based piety of Owen and vast numbers of like-minded Christians.  He wrote elsewhere:
The . . . daily exercise of faith on Christ as crucified . . . is the great fundamental means of the mortification of sin in general, and which we ought to apply unto every particular instance of it. This the apostle discourseth at large, Romans 6:6-13. “Our old man,” saith he, “is crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Our “old man,” or the body of sin, is the power and reign of sin in us. These are to be destroyed; that is, so mortified that “henceforth we should not serve sin,” that we should be delivered from the power and rule of it. This, saith the apostle, is done in Christ: “Crucified with him.” It is so meritoriously, in his actual dying or being crucified for us; it is so virtually, because of the certain provision that is made therein for the mortification of all sin; but it is so actually, by the exercise of faith on him as crucified, dead, and buried, which is the means of the actual communication of the virtue of his death unto us for that end. Herein are we said to be dead and buried with him; whereof baptism is the pledge. So by the cross of Christ the world is crucified unto us, and we are so to the world, Galatians 6:14; which is the substance of the mortification of all sin. There are several ways whereby the exercise of faith on Christ crucified is effectual unto this end: —

(1.) Looking unto him as such will beget holy mourning in us: Zechariah 12:10, “They shall look on me whom they have pierced, and mourn.” . . . A view of Christ as pierced will cause mourning in them that have received the promise of the Spirit of grace and supplication there mentioned. And this mourning is the foundation of mortification. It is that “godly sorrow which worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of,” 2 Corinthians 7:10. And mortification of sin is of the essence of repentance. The more believers are exercised in this view of Christ, the more humble they are, the more they are kept in that mourning frame which is universally opposite unto all the interests of sin, and which keeps the soul watchful against all its attempts. Sin never reigned in an humble, mourning soul.

(2.) It is effectual unto the same end by the way of a powerful motive, as that which calls and leads unto conformity to him. This is pressed by the apostle, Romans 6:8-11. Our conformity unto Christ as crucified and dead consists in our being dead unto sin, and thereby overthrowing the reign of it in our mortal bodies. This conformity, saith he, we ought to reckon on as our duty: “Reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin;” that is, that you ought so to be, in that conformity which you ought to aim at unto Christ crucified. Can any spiritual eye behold Christ dying for sin, and continue to live in sin? Shall we keep that alive in us which he died for, that it might not eternally destroy us? Can we behold him bleeding for our sins, and not endeavor to give them their death-wound? The efficacy of the exercise of faith herein unto the mortification of sin is known unto all believers by experience.

(3.) Faith herein gives us communion with him in his death, and unites the soul unto it in its efficacy. Hence we are said to be “buried with him into death,” and to be “planted together in the likeness of his death,” Romans 6:4, 5. Our “old man is crucified with him,” verse 6. We have by faith communion with him in his death, unto the death of sin. This, therefore, is the first grace and duty which we ought to attend unto for the mortification of sin.[4]
The precious Biblical truths set forth by Owen are by no means the peculiar prerogative of Keswick theology, since he wrote of them centuries before the Higher Life entered into the world.  Owen’s declarations that the “efficacy of the exercise of faith . . . unto the mortification of sin is known unto all believers by experience” illustrate the indubitable historical fact that the necessity of faith for sanctification is by no means a Keswick distinctive.

See here for this entire study.

[1]              Barabas’s lengthy bibliography includes nothing at all by Thomas Adams, Archibald Alexander, Richard Baxter, Joseph Bellamy, Andrew or Horatius Bonar, Thomas Boston, Charles Bridges, John Broadus, Thomas Brooks, Anthony Burgess, Jeremiah Burroughs, John Calvin, B. H. Carroll, Thomas Chalmers, Stephen Charnock, R. L. Dabney, John Dod, Thomas Doolittle, Ebenezer or Ralph Erskine, Jonathan Edwards, John Flavel, Samuel H. Ford, William Gadsby, Thomas Goodwin, William Gouge, William Gouge, J. R. Graves, James Haldane, Robert Hawker, Thomas Hooker, Charles Hodge, Balthasar Hubmaier, John Angell James, Buell H. Kazee, Benjamin Keach, F. W. Krummacher, D. M. Lloyd-Jones, Thomas Manton, Robert Murray McCheyne, Matthew Meade, D. L. Moody, George Mueller, Asahel Nettleton, John Newton, J. I. Packer, J. M. Pendleton, J. C. Philpot, Arthur Pink, William Reid, John R. Rice, A. T. Robertson, Samuel Rutherford, Richard Sibbes, Charles Spurgeon, Solomon Stoddard, Gilbert Tennent, R. A. Torrey, Robert Traill, Thomas Vincent, Thomas Watson, Francis Wayland, George Whitfield, Thomas Wilcox, Octavius Winslow, or many others with valuable compositions on sanctification or Christian devotion and piety.
               As for historic Baptist works in particular, in addition to the absence of the Baptists in the list above, and with the sole exception of the theological liberal F. B. Meyer, concerning whom one can note the chapter in this composition dedicated to him, the only work in Barabas’s bibliography by a Baptist published before 1900 is by Alvah Hovey, who wrote against the Higher Life in his “Higher Christian Life Examined,” Studies in Ethics and Religion, Boston, 1892.  While it was appropriate for Barabas to focus most of his reading on specifically Keswick works in light of his subject matter, before making statements such as:  One has to go back to the book of Acts for a parallel to the exaltation of the Holy Spirit found in the meetings at Keswick” (pg. 38, So Great Salvation), or “the most widely-held view of sanctification” among Christians “is that it is to be gained through our own personal efforts . . . sanctification by works . . . mere moral processes to overcome sin” (pgs. 74-75, Ibid), he would have done well to have performed much more extensive reading in the history of evangelical Christian spirituality.
[2]              E. g., “J.I. Packer’s . . . earliest personal Christian experience [was] marked by frustration with Keswick piety then liberation through the influence of John Owen” (pg. 181, The Theology of the Christian Life in J. I. Packer’s Thought, D. J. Payne).  Note that while elements of Packer’s doctrine of Christian sanctification are superior to those of Keswick, his theology as a whole contains serious errors.
[3]              Pgs. 146-154, Meditations and Discourses Concerning the Glory of Christ, in His Person, Office, and Grace, John Owen.
[4]              Pgs. 36-37, A Treatise of the Dominion of Sin and Grace, John Owen.  Note that in Owen’s day “virtue” meant “power,” as it does, at times, in the Authorized Version (Mark 5:30).

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Hypocrisy of Marijuana Opposition from Alcohol Supporters

Unrelated to this post is the availability of a sermon I preached at the 50th anniversary of Bible Baptist Church, Grand Forks, ND, available at our website here.  It was on the theme of the conference, the zeal for God's House.  Enjoy.


Douglas Wilson drinks.  He's a drinker.  He imbibes. He's into alcohol.  He's a Christian.  He'll let you know that Christians can drink alcohol.  Various brews.  Dark.  Light.  Stout.  Lager,  Amber.  The Bar.  The Pub.  Tip them back.  Nurse them.  Marijuana, however, no.  He says, no way.  No tokes. No drags. No puffs.  Grass is bad.  Uh-huh.

With a classic Wilsonesque title, "Two Birds With One Stoner," he writes on June 11 about his beloved alcohol:
Now while Scripture warns us against the abuse of alcohol, that same Bible sets alcoholic gifts before us as legitimate gifts from God—aesthetic gifts, gifts for your thirst, sacramental gifts, and so on.

"Alcoholic gifts."  You won't find anything close to that in the Bible.  Alcohol isn't called a gift.  The only reference to actual alcohol in the Bible, since there was no word for alcohol available for the biblical writers, is in Proverbs 23:31:
Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.
"When it is red" and "moveth itself aright" are descriptions, since a word didn't exist.  They mean "alcoholic."  "Look not thou upon the wine when it is alcoholic."  My favorite gift in his list is "and so on," equal to the others in his list in veracity.  Wilson's next line reads:
It is noteworthy that the only thing that pot does for you—get you buzzed—is the one use prohibited concerning alcohol.
I'm sure marijuana users could also speak of aesthetics at least, and so on.

I would argue that alcohol is as much or more a problem than pot.  Maybe pot smokers violently beat their wife and children.  I hadn't heard.  I know alcohol users do in great numbers.  Murderous alcohol users, also the ones who drive their cars into innocent victims like heat seeking missiles.  And the statists redistribute their alcohol tax in exponentially greater amounts than the cannabis cash.

Belly up to the hypocrisy.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Wisdom and Signs: Two Characteristics Rampant in Churches

The just shall live by faith.  Faith comes from hearing the Word of God.  Without faith it is impossible to please God.  By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.

We live in a faithless world, a world where the Bible isn't enough.  When Jesus comes, will He find faith on the earth?  People would say they live in a world where the evidence is against God, where God has just made it more difficult to believe in Him.  The world says it is justified in unbelief by the lack of evidence.

The Bible says the knowledge exists.  It isn't an intellectual problem, but a volitional one.  Men know God.  They suppress the truth.  They are scoffers, walking after their own lusts, denying the Lord Who bought them.

Scripture is sufficient.  Unless men believe scripture, they won't believe.  It is a wicked and adulterous generation that wants more.

Because the Bible isn't enough for a faithless generation, what do men embrace and pursue instead? The Apostle Paul gives two categories of so-called "evidence" that men elevate above and even with which they replace scripture.  A vast majority of churches seem to be embarrassed that scripture is all they have to buttress, sustain, and support their faith.  They want more or something else that they see as more credible than the Bible.  Those two categories seen everywhere still are "wisdom" and "signs."  You see these two written by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1-3, introduced in 1 Corinthians 1:19-22:
19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom.
What is "wisdom" in the above verses?  A good synonym for today is "evidence."  It is intellectual evidence that people want to "prove" Christianity.  The other one is in v. 22, "a sign," which is a miracle.  There are two categories given by Paul that can be difficult to distinguish from the other. You could group the two into one big category, that being "extrascriptural evidence."

I live in what a lot of people would agree is a very intellectual region of the world.  Our area is full of what some think are very smart people.  Maybe so.  This area really does show you how inadequate 'being smart' is.  Here we've got Stanford, University of California-Berkeley, and the Silicon Valley, the hi-tech capital of the world.  We have google, apple, yahoo, intel, oracle, facebook, twitter, symantec, intuit, salesforce, ebay, netflix, hewlett-packard, pixar, tesla, solarcity, paypal, and many others.  I talk to many "smart" people every week, who know how smart they are.

Smart people won't believe, and they say they won't, because they need more proof.  That is the "wisdom" Paul is talking about.  If you just give them "wisdom," then they'll believe.   This is the "wisdom of this world," to distinguish it from biblical or godly wisdom.  The problem with this proof or wisdom is that they can never get enough of it, really because it isn't a basis of faith, and the bar of evidence keeps rising higher.  This "wisdom of the world" is the currency of an unbeliever.  He justifies his unbelief with it.

The unbeliever who requires "wisdom" is the person who needs more evidence of a young earth.  He presupposes naturalism.  Someone must come along to prove that wrong.  He needs the smoking gun, the proof of God that he requires.  God doesn't give that "wisdom," as Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 1.  These people won't believe even if you gave them the proof they say that they need.  He also explains that later.  Even if they could believe with that proof, God isn't going to give it to them, because then the proof and the person who convinced them of that proof would receive the glory (read later in chapter 1).

An aspect of the wisdom category is acceptance of multiple positions on almost any and every doctrine and practice.  Churches allow for multiple positions except to a very limited number of essentials or fundamentals, and even those find multiple acceptable definitions.  Pastors use multiple Bibles.  They rely heavily on philosophy, tapping into popular intellectual leaders to turn their sermons into near lectures on par with a good professor at an Ivy League school.  Like Christians compete with the secular world with their own entertainers, they have their thinkers, who can give the world's thinkers a good run for their money. The idea here is that scripture won't sound smart enough, but you can make it sound smarter by associating it with intellectualism.  This will make it acceptable to intellectuals by trying to make the Bible sound smart.  'It obviously needs a lot of help in this way.' Christian intellectualism abounds now as a lure to those who require wisdom.

Signs are the other category, and signs are some kind of special category of supernatural experience. Men in their experience want more than what scripture gives them.  They want God to talk to them directly.  They want a divine healing.  They want a miracle.  The Bible isn't good enough.

Churches can't do miracles.  They aren't providing miracles, so what occurs is that the churches provide fake supernatural experiences, dumbing down the biblical definition of miracle to give people the supernatural experience they covet.  They also give men a feeling that they can interpret as a movement of the Holy Spirit.  They do that with music and the environment that they produce in the meetings of their churches.  Preaching style also can give people the impression that God is moving in some way.  All of these fall under signs.

If I were to get technical in separating the two categories Paul supplies in 1 Corinthians 1, I would call "wisdom," intellectual proof, and call "signs," emotional proof.  "Wisdom" does something to the mind.  In Paul's day, this is what the Greeks required.  They weren't looking for something that would titillate their feelings, but something that would convince them intellectually.  With "signs," you could feel something, have a sensation that would tell you that God was working.  I understand that there is overlap between the two, some occurrences straddling the gap between wisdom and signs. Overall, however, wisdom and signs are extra-scriptural.  They are provided because the Bible just isn't good enough.

The leaders of churches know men seek after wisdom and signs. They don't want to lose people for various carnal reasons, so they supply them to the extent that they will work.  I have called the provision of these carnal weapons, cheating.  You've heard the phrase, "if you aren't cheatin', you aren't winnin'?  If you want your church to succeed, you've got to cheat a little, fudge a little.  Sure, these are not supernatural acts.  These are extra-scriptural, but if you don't want to lose a crowd or if you really want to get a crowd in this era, you've got to have a show or make it really, really smart for the smart crowd.  Men are tempted to do these, and they do to various extents.

The men who use wisdom are clever men.  I hear their strategies everywhere, including among unaffiliated Baptists, the churches with whom our church fellowships.  The Apostle Paul later writes in 2 Corinthians about what they are doing in 4:2:
But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
We should just preach the Bible.  People don't like that.  It doesn't succeed.  Professing Christians get discouraged, so these clever men, these ingenious men develop strategies.  This is rampant.  These techniques are dishonest.  They are not straightforward.  God does not get the glory.  These men get the glory.  I see it all over.

Over not that much time, wisdom and signs scorch the earth.  The seed falls on ground ruined by wisdom and signs, and men won't take the Bible any more.  They have been conditioned that it isn't good enough.  The Bible is effective, but this is a type of blindness, to where men won't receive scripture, because they have become desensitized to it by wisdom and signs.

I have criticized men using wisdom and signs.  They become angry.  Why?  It's not because God is not being honored.  It's because they are being questioned.  They don't think they should be questioned.  This is fertile soil for deceit.  They promote wisdom and signs, and when they are questioned, they treat it like you are questioning God.  They are essentially saying that their strategies and techniques, not in the Bible, not derived from the Word of God, are on par with God.  You are as good as attacking God when you attack them.

A major reason the gospel isn't being preached everywhere is because men have lost confidence in the gospel.  Church leaders know it is foolishness to the lost.  They don't want to look foolish before the world at using such a loser work as preaching, so the lost don't get the free offer of the gospel. Churches are too busy catering to wisdom and signs.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Free Flight to Europe, Biblical Evangelism, Odds and Ends

In this post, I will cover a variety of miscellaneous items, one of which (not necessarily the most important one) is how to get a flight to Europe free, for your missionaries, your family, and so on, and which I have mentioned in the title to this post.

1.) A number of people have asked me about printing good tracts.  The one here is, in my opinion (which may be biased since I wrote it, but it meets Scriptural criteria, such as those laid out by Pastor Brandenburg here, for a Biblically sound tract), good.  You can see that it can be made to look sharp below:

To personalize it for use in your church, you can contact a Baptist printing ministry (e. g., here, here, or here) or a local printer in your area.  Why pass out tracts that are philosophically "1-2-3, pray after me, 4-5-6, hope it sticks" when you can pass out something better?  Dr. Paul Chitwood in his doctoral dissertation on an aspect of evangelistic methodology notes that tracts in the 1800s were much more detailed than the typical ones used today--even ones used before around the 1960s were much better than those generally employed later.  Do you think that is because we have become more Scriptural in our evangelism?

2.) A number of months ago I had the privilege of debating Dan Barker, President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the largest atheist organization in the United States, on the question of whether the Old Testament was fiction or fact, at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, in a debate sponsored by our church's campus ministry, as well as the campus philosophy club and the Secular Student Alliance (affiliated with the FFRF).  I believe that the debate went very well, and if the debate video is not available by the time this post is published, it should be, Lord willing, soon thereafter, at the link here.  In relation to this debate, I could use some help.  Having the debate transcribed will help search engines find it--and will, as a result, lead a great many more skeptics, atheists, agnostics, and other unbelievers find the debate, where their atheist evangelist had his nonsense soundly refuted.  Transcribing the debate is not that hard--you just listen to the audio and type.  There may even be computer programs that can help with this, although trying to fix where they make mistakes may be more time-consuming than helpful.  One of the saints had volunteered to do the transcription, but after doing about the first hour of the debate, the person just stopped doing it. There is only about an hour of the transcription left to do.  If you have a church member that would be willing to help with this, please have this person contact me by clicking here, and I can get the debate audio to you.  I believe this would be a very useful work for advancing the kingdom, and anyone who can type--whether old or young, healthful or not-so-much, could help with it.  (I would like to have the gospel video that we are working on, called "The Most Important Message," transcribed also, if someone wanted to do that.)

3.) If you wish to get a missionary your church sent out or supports a trip to Europe, or be a blessing to your pastors, or take a nice family trip, or send a young person on a missions trip, a free ticket to Europe certainly can help--"free" is much better than "expensive."  How can you do this?
      A.) Sign up for Air Berlin's frequent flier program by clicking here, and make sure that you accept that you will receive their e-mail newsletter.  (You can cancel it after you get the first e-mail, but you need to sign up in order to get the 1,000 miles.)

     B.) You can also sign up by clicking here.  (In either case, you can change the webpage to "English" if it comes up in German--look at the top right.)

        C.) By doing steps "A" or "B," you will earn 1,000 Air Berlin frequent flier miles.

        D.) You can then refer your friends.  For the first friend you refer, you will earn 500 more miles--while your friend earns 1,000--as long as your friend agrees to receive the Air Berlin e-mail newsletter.  (Your friends can also use my links on this page, but then, while they will get the 1,000 miles, you will not get 500 more.  If you use the links here then I (or my wife for letter "B") will be your referral and will get the 500 extra miles)

      E.) You can refer up to 10 friends a year--after the first one, you get 1,000 miles for each friend who signs up.
      F.) Thus, for referring 10 friends, you would get 9,500 miles.  Adding the 1,000 you received for signing up, you would have a very easy 10,500 Air Berlin miles!  That is enough for a one-way ticket within Europe.  If your spouse, or brother, or sister, does the same, you would, together, have enough miles for a ticket from the United States to Europe! (See their award chart here--and note that sometimes they have special discounts to make flights cost even fewer miles. For example, in a recent sale one could fly to Europe from Los Angeles for only 12,500 miles.)

     G.) I believe that this is an easy way to get a free ticket to Europe.  Furthermore, missionaries in other parts of the world, such as Africa or the Middle East, may have significantly cheaper flights from Europe to their countries of service than if they flew directly from the United States.  (This method of flying to Europe for free was originally published here.)

4.) I would like to do a public debate with a major figure who takes the anti-repentance position of the Sword of the Lord under Curtis Hudson, or of one of the Bible colleges in the Hyles orbit.  If you know of a pastor of such a Bible college, a professor at an anti-repentance/anti-Lordship school, or someone else of similar character who would be willing to do such a debate, please feel free to contact him to ask, and have him contact me, and we will get it set up.  I would love to do something like:

"The lost must repent, that is, turn from their sins, or they will perish eternally."

Affirm:  Thomas Ross
Deny:  The other person

As far as I can see, while there are "Baptist" Bible colleges pumping out the vile heresy that denies the proposition above, and the Sword promotes it, and many other organizations, such as the King James Bible Research Council, do not take a stand against it, not one of its advocates has done a public debate with an advocate of the Biblical and Baptist doctrine of repentance, that is, of the true gospel

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Let's Think about Romans 6:23 in Its Context for a "Gospel Presentation"

Just a few months ago, I gave analysis to an online podcast type video plan of salvation done by Kurt Skelly (pt. 1, pt. 2).   My purpose was to show the perversion of the gospel found among independent Baptists.  Men accept it, and they shouldn't.  Here's my paragraph from my analysis about what he said about Romans 6:23:
Romans 6:23 doesn't tell how to "receive the gift of eternal life."  Skelly though tells you that receiving the gift of eternal life is "trusting Jesus as your Savior," that's how you receive it. Romans 6:23 doesn't say that, but it is what Skelly reads into the verse.  Since "receiving the gift of eternal life" is "trusting Jesus as your Savior," then how do you "trust Jesus as your Savior?"  You "call upon the name of the Lord to be saved," which means "praying a scripted prayer to trust Jesus as your Savior."  This instruction follows from something that wasn't in the verse in the first place.  The first step isn't biblical and then none follow from the other.  If someone does any of what Skelly teaches, it's because he trusts what Skelly is telling him is true.  He's not starting with the Bible, but with Skelly.
My point for this post isn't again to deal per se with Skelly's presentation.  Many men use Romans 6:23 in a "Romans Road" of salvation, but they are likely not thinking about what Romans 6:23 means.  You will not get the right interpretation of Romans 6:23 by pulling it out of its context.

Romans 6:23 works in a plan of salvation.  It does.  Usually it is used for the second point in the plan, something about the "penalty for sin."  The penalty for sin is "death," and someone turns to Romans 6:23, which says, "the wages of sin is death."  There we go.  It works.  The wages of sin is death. That is true.  Do we know what Romans 6:23 is saying though?  Most, I believe, couldn't care less about that.  They like how it reads, so they can use it like they want.  It comes in very handy for them for what they want with it.

In Skelly's presentation, he also parked on the "gift of God" aspect of Romans 6:23, to turn salvation into "asking for a gift."  You ask for a gift and God gives it.  That is false.  That's not salvation, but it is a common turn from Romans 6:23 that many in evangelicalism, fundamentalism, and independent Baptists take.  I get it too.  They want to simplify the plan to the extent that they get professions, that is, they get results.  People want to receive a gift.  The idea that it is a gift is very appealing to someone, so this offer brings more often a positive response.

The idea here is, isn't God good?  He wants to give you a gift.  How could you refuse a gift from God?  And guess what?  The gift is eternal life.  Who wouldn't want eternal life?  Come on!  Take the gift!  How can you refuse the best gift ever, eternal life, when God wants to give it to you?

I'm pretty sure that the statistics, the percentages, on prayers prayed go exponentially upward with this approach.  Who do you think wants to accept a gift?  About everyone.  If the gift is eternal life, who wouldn't want to have that?  No one.  People use Romans 6:23 because it seems to sit there right on a proverbial platter for using it in that way.  Someone doesn't have to receive his wages for sin, because instead he could just take this gift of eternal life.   This simplifies salvation and provides the lure for asking for the gift, which is praying the prayer.  The whole process of which I speak is very horrible.  Horrible is bad.  Very horrible is worse.  I can't use enough "very" in front of horrible.

Is Romans 6:23 about salvation?  It isn't in its context, unless you are including sanctification as an aspect of one's justification, which is true.  Sanctification comes out of justification, and since that is true, Romans 6:23 could be about salvation, but in a technical sense it is not.  Romans 6:23 is speaking to already saved people.  They are already justified.  The audience of a Romans 6:23 is saved people and Romans 6:23 is helping those already saved people in a church at Rome in their sanctification.  The Apostle Paul wants the saved audience in Rome to understand how they are to live the Christian life.

The believers in the church at Rome had a problem in their sanctification that Paul dealt with in Romans 6.  Many through the centuries since Romans 6 was written have had a similar problem to the church at Rome.  Salvation was by grace, but they interpreted or used their grace in the wrong way.  They misunderstood grace as it applied to their own practical righteousness, its relationship to their Christian living.

Paul writes about the righteousness of God in Romans.  Righteousness comes by grace through faith, which is the gospel.  The righteousness that comes by grace through faith should also be lived for a Christian.  Salvation doesn't stop for a Christian when he is justified. He keeps being saved by grace, which keeps producing righteousness.  However, he also needs to cooperate with the salvation through the gospel.  He has a responsibility to keep living by grace through faith the life of righteousness to which he has been saved.

I'm only going to go as far back as the previous few verses (vv. 20-23) in Romans 6 in order to understand verse 23 in its context:
20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The people to whom Paul is speaking "were the servants of sin" and "free from righteousness" (v. 20). They "are now ashamed" (v. 21) of that former state and practice.  When they were "the servants of sin," what fruit did they have from that?  Their fruit, which was sin, led to its end, which was "death" (v. 21).  Now that they are in a different state since their justification, "being made free from sin, and become servants to God" (v. 22), they have their "fruit unto holiness" (v. 22).  That means they live a life after the nature of God, which is righteousness.  The end of the former fruit, sin, was death, and the end of their present fruit, righteousness, is "everlasting life" (aionios zoe, v. 22).

Romans 6 explains why someone would not live in sin even though he has saving grace in his life. To sum it all up in v. 23, death is the payment or wages of sin.  The servant of sin has earned through his works, his evil deeds, the wages of sin, which is death.  He was paid what he deserved.  The servant of righteousness, the servant of "Jesus Christ our Lord," who has Jesus as His Master, doesn't earn eternal life.  He receives it by grace through faith, so it is a gift of God.  Death is a wage of sin and "eternal life" (aionios zoe, v. 23, identical to "everlasting life") is a gift of God.  The former is earned and the latter is not.

Upon faith in Christ, God set a man free from his slavery to sin, the end of which is eternal life.  He doesn't serve sin anymore, which is why he has eternal life.  Servants of sin die and servants of righteousness live.  If someone takes Romans 6:23 in its context, he can't separate it from repentance, habitual righteousness, the fruit of holiness, and Jesus Christ our Lord.  Someone should know that if he is a servant of sin, he doesn't have the gift of eternal life.  The end of the fruit of holiness is everlasting life.

Let's say you know someone who is living in habitual sin.  You ask him if he is saved?  He says, "Yes, because I received the gift of eternal life."  According to Romans 6:23, the gift of eternal life is a life of holiness.  He isn't living a life of holiness.  He obviously doesn't have the gift of eternal life, because that is slavery to righteousness that keeps on going right into eternity.  The life and the righteousness or mutually inclusive.

To pull the language "gift of God" out of Romans 6:23 and then say it teaches to pray to God and ask Him for the gift of eternal life misses or more likely twists or perverts the entire point of Romans 6:23.  The slavery to sin is the problem.  Slavery to sin is the habitual practice of sin.  A person practicing sin is earning the wages of sin, which is death.  Obviously, the person no longer a slave to sin, because of the gift of God, practices holiness, which end is eternal life.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Does the Holy Spirit Lead Believers by Talking to Them Directly?

Speaking of the Lord as one's Shepherd, Psalm 23:2 says, "He leadeth me beside still waters."  When we follow Jesus Christ through His Word in the Bible, He is leading us.  Then in Romans 8:14, the Apostle Paul writes, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."  He also writes in Galatians 5:18, "But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law."  The idea of being led by God, by Jesus, and by the Spirit is true.  Believers are led by God, by Jesus, and by the Spirit.

Last week I was sitting with another pastor and he told me the story of how he came to his church. Someone asked him to come to pastor where he was, and this man said he would pray about it. When the one asking called back later, this pastor said that he had silence from the Holy Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit had not told him anything.  When the Holy Spirit did begin to talk to him, He told him to go someplace else.  I never asked him follow-up questions, but is this an experience we should expect, and if the Holy Spirit is talking to people, how is this occurring today?

From conversations I have had with other independent Baptists, it isn't unusual that some, perhaps many, believe that the Holy Spirit talks to them directly and in a very specific way.  Very often, if you question one of them, he will react like a Charismatic does when challenged about his experience. On many various occasions, a young lady has said to me that a young man had informed her that the Holy Spirit had told him to marry her.  A young lady doesn't agree, but how could she question God? He apparently told the young man to marry the girl.

Parallel to the "leading of the Spirit" is also "the Spirit teaching."  1 John 2:27 says, "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things," and 1 Corinthians 2:13, "Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth."  What I've heard here is that when someone looks at a passage in sermon preparation, he prays and the Holy Spirit "gives him a message" or "tells him what to say."  A never before heard teaching very often emerges from this tack.  Ordinary means of word usage, grammar, and syntax give way to what the Holy Spirit reveals someone.

What is the basis for believing a voice in your head is the Holy Spirit talking to you, telling you something, or teaching you?  As you look at the above few passages, that's not what they are saying. That goes beyond what they are saying.  We have a scriptural basis for not believing that is how God works.  That teaching from those verses contradicts other scripture, so that can't be what they are saying.

The Holy Spirit is a Person, so He can speak, but He is not continuing to reveal a message directly to anyone since the completion of the canon of scripture (Jude 1:3, Heb 2:3-4).  The man in the office of the prophet and then the apostle was given direct revelation on par with scripture.  Scripture itself is that to which 1 Corinthians 2:13 refers.  That did occur at one time, but only before AD96 -- not since then.  1 John 2:27 says that you can understand the Bible on your own and in a technical, doctrinal way, this has been called illumination.  Illumination does not function apart from the ordinary means of study. However, believers filled with the Holy Spirit are not closed off from comprehending what the Bible teaches.

To what should one attribute a voice in one's head?   No one should assume that the voice given credit as the Holy Spirit speaking is in fact the Holy Spirit speaking.  We don't have any basis for either knowing or not knowing whether the voice we hear is the Holy Spirit.  We do know that the "sword of the Spirit is the Word of God" (Eph 6:17).  We know that in verbal gifts, that it is the Holy Spirit when someone speaks as the oracles of God (1 Pet 4:10-11).  If it is what the passage from scripture says, then we know it is the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is not going to tell you who to marry.  He isn't going to inform you of the brand of toilet paper you should buy.  He won't tell you whether you should build a new auditorium or not.  He won't counsel you on when to buy a new car.

The voices in your head are either your conscience or your talking to yourself.  If it is your conscience, the message will still be whatever is your highest perceived standard, which might be teaching you've heard in the past, whether scriptural or unscriptural.  The voice can tell you that you're doing something wrong when you aren't doing something wrong.  The conscience functions as a warning device that operates according to a regulation already plugged into your brain.  It won't feed you something that isn't already there.

If the voice is your talking to yourself, then it can be a lie.  It is especially lying if it is telling you that it is the Holy Spirit talking.  That is yourself believing something that isn't true.  The voice might be telling you the truth, but it isn't the truth that the Holy Spirit is saying this directly to you.  If you are controlled by the Holy Spirit, you are controlled by the Word of God, which is content that has already been written for two thousand years (Eph 5:18, Col 3:16).

When someone decides to build an auditorium, he wanted to build the auditorium.  It wasn't the Holy Spirit telling him to build it.  He wants to build it, but he's telling people that the Holy Spirit told him. The Holy Spirit will not tell you who to marry.  You marry who you want to marry.  Can you know if the marriage is scriptural?  If it is scriptural, then it is scriptural.  You have to look at scripture to see if something is scriptural.

Someone might ask, "What about the conviction of sin?"  Again, the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to do that.  He does not skirt around scripture to convict anyone.  It all comes right from the Bible.   There is no basis for your knowing whether it is your conscience, you talking to yourself, or the Holy Spirit helping you remember and then apply scripture.  What matters in the end is if it was biblical.

What if someone wants to go to Thailand and he really shouldn't go?  We have many different checks and balances against doing something that God doesn't want us to do.  Pastoral leadership might have scriptural reasons for not going.  We don't have the right to disobey church authority.  The rest of the church may know of character deficiencies.   Someone may not fulfill the qualifications.  Others may have good reason to say that it is an unwise decision, using biblical principles.  Perhaps someone else preaching the gospel lives just down the street in Thailand, to where we think we should go.  God isn't telling anyone to go to Thailand today.

What about the Apostle Paul?  Didn't God send him places?  Didn't God send Jonah to Nineveh?  I've said this before, but God doesn't function in an identical way through all history.  God is the same, but He does things differently depending on the era in which we live.  God spoke directly to prophets and apostles.  Now we base what we do on the completed Word of God.  God has told us that He is finished revealing new things, so when we say that we are getting something new like Paul did, then we are not trusting what Paul wrote.

Some of what people say the Holy Spirit told them is actually good.  What it is that "God told them to do" is actually the right thing to do.  They say God told them to pastor.  God already said that the desire to pastor is a good desire.  Someone might desire that, but God didn't tell the person to do it.  We read the Bible and it talks about the necessity of pastors.  People can read that and desire it.  They know that there is a reward for faithful pastors.  They still might not be one, because other people have to see that they could be one, that they fulfill the qualifications.

This claim that God speaks to you directly is wrong and it is dangerous.  It adds or takes away from scripture and from the sufficiency of the Bible.  It is a lie, not necessarily on purpose, but we won't really know what the motive is.  God either causes or allows everything, but that doesn't mean that He approves of what we want to do, the thing that we are saying He told us to do.

If you need a new building, don't pray that God will direct you to a new building.  Make a good decision based upon what God already said.  Getting a new building might just be what you want to do.  The feeling you get, that you are saying is Him, might just be your own feeling.

Many unscriptural ideas revolve around these revelations people say they get from God.  You can get a new building, for instance, but it might be a waste of money.  It might make things more convenient for people, but Christianity itself isn't convenient.  If someone won't come, because he needs his church to be more comfortable or a larger choice of seating, that's not a good reason.  He should be dealt with for his disobedience or wrong attitude.

While talking to a man from a new-evangelical church, he testified that God gave them new property for a huge new auditorium right next to the highway.  He was convinced of it.  Shortly thereafter the city built a highway exit right by their property to make it more convenient than ever.  Was this God sending everyone a message about their legitimacy?  This man testified that it did.

It is my opinion that many professing Christians trust this mystical voice more than they do the Bible. They would rather consider what they think Jesus would do than what the Bible says He did do. They like the concept that God is telling them things.  They feel more important from that and, of course, more spiritual too.

From listening to many pastors through the years, I know they don't know how to prepare a sermon. They don't know how to study the Bible.  They are flawed in many different ways, but they still keep preaching unscriptural ideas, because they think they got them from the Holy Spirit.  A lot of false worship is justified because of how it makes them feel, a feeling they attribute to the Holy Spirit. What I'm contending is that this doctrine of continued direct revelations from the Spirit has led to many false beliefs and either damaging or destructive practices in churches.