Monday, May 30, 2016

What Continues Today from Eras of Miracles? Thoughts on the Non-Charismatic Continuationism

When someone uses the word "continues" like I have in the title of today's post, he does refer to a theological ideology called "continuationism."  It brings the question, should we expect the same occurrences today that we read during eras of miracles?  When I say "eras of miracles," I'm saying the times when God intervened with miracles to confirm His Word to Israel.  They were signs and wonders performed by either prophets or apostles for the purpose of authentication of His message to the Jewish nation.  These eras include Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, Jesus, and then the Apostles.  One more era remains, the time of the Tribulation on earth.  Again then it will be Jews and again as confirmation of the Word of God.

The miracles of the era of miracles had a particular purpose for a particular people.  They were for Jews.  They were for validation.  They did not result in faith, because signs and wonders don't produce faith.  The Word of God produces faith.

Continuationism would bring those miracles, signs and wonders, into a non-era of miracles, not for confirmation of God's Words, and not for Jews, but for Gentiles.  If they are signs and wonders, they also have certain characteristics that fit the profile of miracles and signs and wonders during those eras of miracles.  A Lazarus is raised from the dead.  Astronomical events occur.  A blind man can see.  Jesus reattaches the ear of Malchus.  When people are healed, everyone is healed, regardless of faith.

The Charismatic movement does not fit the people, the purpose, or the profile for a continuation of the eras of miracles.  In other words, it is a fraud.  It's a lie.  It just isn't true.  The Father seeks those who would worship Him in truth.  The Charismatic movement is a lie, so it is false worship, not the actual worship of God.  It's a total impostor.  This evaluation is not intended out of unkindness, but out of a loving warning.

Some today would say that they are not Charismatic, but they are still continuationists.  Charismatics themselves reveal a less than biblical magnitude of signs.  They don't meet the scriptural test of a sign and wonder.  They are false.  The idea with the professing non-Charismatics is that they are in fact not Charismatics, and how you know this is because they have an even lesser significant stature of sign and wonder than the Charismatics.  This is what is supposed to make them legitimate.  Why? What is the point?

The obvious point today is that since men seek signs, those who give them signs will benefit in the short term from the impersonation of them.   Many times this does not take much manipulation. Emotion or lust stirring music very often is enough to fool people that something is happening.  To give people the impression that God is working in their midst, that they have special touch from or favor with God, they contrive a seen or event or scenario that looks like something supernatural occurred.  Sometimes something supernatural may have happened.  When they do these things, this also confirms, albeit in a phony way, that people should join with a group so obviously conjoined to God.  All the continuationism is about satisfying the appetite for signs.

On the other hand, the yearning for signs conveys a dissatisfaction with the sufficiency of the Word of God.  The Bible isn't good enough for the sign seekers.  I'm quite sure almost all of them would say God's Word is number one and really, really most important.  When 2 Timothy 3:16 says that it throughly furnishes anyone to every good work, it really does mean that.  The Bible is sufficient, but it also doesn't work like many people want it to.  They want more than what scripture either promises or actually does in people's lives.

God's Word is sufficient, but so is God's providence.  God's providence is hardly mentioned in my experience among independent Baptists or even unaffiliated Baptists, again, that I have heard.  If you are reading this, and you regularly mention providence, this isn't you, but consider whether it is you.  God works through His providence and it is supernatural, but He works those supernatural works through ordinary means.  God is good.  He heals.  He doesn't heal.  He does what He does and we need to trust Him.  God is doing so many good things at any given time, thousands, that should be good enough.  While we still sin, God keeps saving us.  During this non-era of miracles, we should trust His providence.  He's working.

The Charismatics have their prophetic utterances, where God reveals messages to them directly. There are their tongues of angels, where God speaks directly.  God also talks to non-Charismatic continuationists with the "still small voice" or the "divine call" among other means.  I've heard some say that God gave them an idea or "God told me" or "God gave me this message."  Sometimes when you are reading the passage they are preaching and you see that what they are preaching isn't in the passage, you understand what they mean when they say that God gave them that message.  I've heard that called, "Holy Spirit preaching."  You can't question Holy Spirit preaching because it is close to the level of divine inspiration.   God tells someone who to marry that is part of the "individual will of God."  I'm only mentioning these that I have written, but I've heard others. One of these revelations is very overt and claims Charismatic involvement, but the other doesn't want that association, even though it is continuing to receive revelation from God.  Both are continuationist in the same doctrinal category.

The Charismatics have their divine healings through faith and their healers.  The non-Charismatic continuationists have their prayers for healing that aren't often of the instantaneous variety, but are supernatural healing, that when it occurs, affords a significance that someone has some power or very powerful influence.  The when and how they occur have some strong similarities to Charismatic healings.  They are differentiated by very little from a healing sign or healing miracle.

The Charismatics have their variety of miracles, often very strange.  Some of them have to do with money in the realm of prosperity theology.  God gives incredible amounts of money for extravagant purchases.  The non-Charismatic continuationists have those too.  They very often have stories that might start with God telling someone to do something, he doesn't have money for it, God says He's going to give the money, and the person follows through without the money.  The money comes in, and it's all credited as supernatural.

The Charismatics have something they call power evangelism.  The non-Charismatic continuationists have their sort of power evangelism.  They either pray for evangelistic power or unction or just straight out pray that person or a crowd of people are saved.  This is akin to the Day of Pentecost.  Very often a crowd is gathered not through mysterious power, but the very understandable power of marketing and promotion, combined with a big event.  People pray for the big event that a large number of salvations might occur.  An emotional message is delivered and great numbers of professions are made through easy prayers.  It is chalked up to Holy Spirit power that is Pentecostal in nature.

One will not see the same sort of continuationism of the previous paragraph in every branch of continuationism, but it is common in many places to various degrees.  People have called the event or events described, revival.  These events might occur to varied degrees with some of the same qualities, again of assorted amount and intensity.  Just because someone is doing it less doesn't mean he's not doing it.  It's still there.

Just because someone doesn't participate in the Charismatic movement doesn't mean he's not a continuationist.  Both the Charismatic and the non-Charismatic continuationists are continuationists. Both are perverting biblical sanctification and Christian growth and the will of God.  Someone might say the Charismatic is worse, so the non-Charismatic is acceptable.  No.  Both are unacceptable.  Both are  a lie.  If this is going to change, we have to see and then admit that these are in essence the same.  We can't accept either.


Anonymous said...

Are any gifts of the Spirit still applicable today? Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith...


Tyler Robbins said...

Excellent comments on God's providence:

"God works through His providence and it is supernatural, but He works those supernatural works through ordinary means. God is good. He heals. He doesn't heal. He does what He does and we need to trust Him. God is doing so many good things at any given time, thousands, that should be good enough. While we still sin, God keeps saving us. During this non-era of miracles, we should trust His providence. He's working."

Good stuff.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Gifts haven't ceased, just sign gifts. This is called cessationism, that the sign gifts have ceased. Gifts of edification, not authentication, still function. You can see this in 1 Corinthians 13 at the end, among other places.

I believe there are some who have been influenced among certain Baptists to say all gifts have ceased. Their way of dealing with Charismatics is to scorch all the gifts, annihilating tongues on the way. The problem is that many of these still behave and practice like continuationists anyway.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Tyler. We need a return in many instances to the doctrine of God's providence and explain providence as it relates to the will of God.

Jim Peet said...

Mentioned here


Bill Hardecker said...

Dear Paul, (and please Pastor Brandenburg, or anyone else, please feel free to correct me where I am wrong with Scriptures). I was working on a Gifts of the Spirit chart, and my reply would be half of it:

Gifts that are current and relevant for today (this is in no order of importance - only for the sake of order).

1. Evangelist (Evangelism): Eph. 4:11; Acts 6:5; 21:8; 8:40cf.; even those without this gift are to do the work of… 2 Tim. 4:5.

2. Pastor (Pastoring): Acts 20:28; Eph. 4:11; 1 Tim. 3:2; 1 Pet. 5:2.

3. Teacher (Teaching): Acts 18:11, 26; Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28,29; Eph. 4:11.

4. Exhorter (Exhortation): Rom. 12:8; 1 Thess. 2:12; 3:2; 2 Tim. 4:2.

Those four are "speaking" gifts. The following are "serving" gifts - I think the designations are somewhat helpful but we must remember all gifts are for service in the church (which among other things is a local assembly of baptized believers).

1. Helps (Ministry): Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28.

2. Mercy: Rom. 12:8; Acts 9:36; Phil. 2:25,30.

3. Giving: Rom. 12:8; Phil. 4:18.

4. Governments (Ruling): Rom. 12:8; 1 Cor. 12:28.

A couple of thoughts to share:

1. A believer's maturity isn't demonstrated by spiritual gifts but by spiritual fruit (Gal. 5:22-23) - which is what we should be more concerned about.

2. Gifts are worthless if we do not use them in love (charity), 1 Cor. 13.

3. Gifts which are no longer for us today: Apostles (Apostolic office), Prophets (Prophecy), Discerning of spirits, word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, healings, miracles, tongues, and interpretation of tongues.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Jim. I hope people think about it and more.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Bill,

I don't believe everyone gets just one gift. I believe it is a giftedness of the Spirit, dividing severally as He will, so that each church can fulfill the body of Christ. Reasons: (1) The lists of gifts differ, so it seems that the specific gift is not so important. (2) Each church is sufficient as the body of Christ, so God is going to give each church everything it needs. I don't believe the Eph 4 list is spiritual gifts. The Holy Spirit manifests Himself in gifts and in fruit. Unless someone submits to the Spirit, you don't see the gift, so it doesn't matter what gift you have, if you don't submit to Him, you won't manifest it. If fruit of the Spirit shows, so do gifts. Love is greater because it is eternal.

Anonymous said...

I was directed to this forum because of another forum where I like to read comments. It is refreshing to see some common sense. I've heard people say "I was led of the Lord to" (take this job; make this move; marry this person; etc.) Such hogwash! At least there are people who know better than this. I don't believe god "talks" to us or "speaks" to us today at all. Anyone who says this probably should be in a nut house. I go to church on Sunday and take it seriously, but believe me, New York ain't in the Bible. Such a crock that someone says "God led me to move to New York to [take a job on Wall Street, for example]." God gave us a brain and expects us to use it and to use common sense. This idea that the "spirit" can "lead" us is just bizarre and it's good to see that people are being called to the carpet on this weird teaching.

KJB1611 said...

I have heard the "everyone gets one gift" thing also, but have never seen it in Scripture.

Do you think one's gifts can change if God adds one to a different church?

Anonymous said...

KJB, I wouldn't worry about it. As so many others have alluded to, we are too caught up worrying about such things and we are making ourselves look like morons. I heard a televangelist say on tv once that "God is calling you to run your heart around....(bla, bla, bla)." I've heard others say that they "commune with God" in the wilderness, at church, etc. This also is bunk. No one "communes" with God because God does not speak to us. I am from the south and we have a lot of Baptists around. They run the gamut from the ignorant hillbilly types who believe that "God's spirit moves me" to the more sane, traditional high-church type. If anyone claims that God can speak to mankind, please run from them, don't walk. But back to KJB's question, I would say to not even worry about it and don't even be concerned about it. Anyone who talks of this mythical "spirit" of God that "moves" people and "speaks" to them is to be avoided. I am glad to see that my fellow Americans are joining me on this.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Anonymous,

The fact that sign gifts have ceased absolutely does not mean that believers do not commune with God. He is a real three-Personed Being, and believers can say, "truly our fellowship [same Greek word as communion] is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3), and they also know the "communion of the Holy Ghost" (2 Cor 13:14). You are absolutely and dangerously wrong to state that no one communes with God, and if you do now know God experientially (John 17:3), you are not saved, and will join those to whom Christ will say "I never knew you" (Mt 7:21-23). We are not joining you on this, and your idea is at least as dangerous as charismatic fanaticism.


Anonymous said...

TDR said, "and if you do now know God experientially (John 17:3), you are not saved, and will join those to whom Christ will say "I never knew you" (Mt 7:21-23)."

I think he meant, "and if you do not know God experientially (John 17:3), you are not saved, and will join those to whom Christ will say "I never knew you" (Mt 7:21-23)."

Hope that helps.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I'm not sure anonymous isn't a Roman Catholic or something like that -- I'm talking two comments up -- and I would be interested in knowing. It's difficult to distinguish anonymous comments.

I can't defend someone saying he doesn't "commune" with God, when "commune" in essence is fellowship with God, which we have through His Word and prayer. God does talk to us, through His Word, and His Word is sufficient. God also provides wisdom through His Spirit, which means He helps the right application of scripture -- the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. This is not speaking to us when we get the right application of scripture. It is another work of God's providence in our life.

However, my read on this comment is that when some people use the word "commune," they really do mean that God is talking directly, like inspiration, and the Person talks back, sort of like the book, Conversations with God, that became a bestseller several years back. We might need to be critical of someone who says he "communes with God." I'm pretty sure the transcendentalists, like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, and others, would have said that they communed with God.

KJB1611 said...

Yes, "not" not "now"; please pardon the typo.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'll bite. I have heard even Baptists say things like "God moved me to be nice to my neighbor and mow his lawn because he is 90 years old and senile." Or, "God moved me to not take this exit. Two days later, I found out there was a shooting in the parking lot at the restaurant at that exit."

I agree with people on this blog that these are examples of pure garbage. Scripture does not mention lawnmowers and it also does not mention freeways and exits. If anyone says "God told them" what do to in these situations, they are a charismaniac nutjob. We need to avoid people who believe in things like this. As others have said, God gave us common sense and a brain and we need to use them. It's common sense to mow your senile neighbor's lawn because he is going to drag down the value of the neighborhood by ignoring it. As far as which exit to take or not take, that is just pure luck and God is not involved in these trite decisions and certainly does not "tell" us what to do.

KJB, I think you are off track. By the way you are talking, unless I'm misunderstanding you, you sound like you believe God can "commune" or "talk" to us. Are you sure you are on the right blog and didn't mean to go to some televangelist's site instead?

Anonymous said...

And to kill two bird with two stones, any sane person would respond to the previous article with one word: NO (In reference to the question "Are there miracles today?") Nuff said about that topic.........The closest thing to a true miracle I've seen in the last few years is the Bears not making the playoffs when they should have. It was almost a "miracle" that they could have flubbed the season so bad on certain years when they had as much talent on the team as they did.

Anonymous said...

KJB, I recommend you do as I do. It's really very simple; about as simple as can be. If ever deciding whether to support a church, a school, a ministry of some other type, a minister, etc., I look for two words: Miracle and Supernatural. If a website, teaching material or any other information about a ministry has these two words anywhere in them, I immediately write them off as fruitcakes who don't deserve support. It makes life so much easier.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Anonymous,

Please explain:

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 Jn 1:3)

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. (2 Cor 13:14)

Thank you.