Our Father

Today I have been reflecting on fatherhood.Jesus taught us to pray …”Our father”Jesus showed us how God is the perfect Father and also how he is the perfect son.

Today the world is lost, fathers don’t know how to be fathers any more, sons and daughters just don’t know how to be true sons and daughters either. Who and where are our our role models and our mentors?

I was only praying today that none of us can truly walk in the presence of God with out knowing him as father and knowing our role as a child or his son / daughter. We only need to look to Jesus as our role model.

I say today that no matter how good or bad your upbringing was and is, no matter what your own father was or was not like, God is our perfect father, he is for us and not against us, he has good plans for us and wants us to know him as the perfect father.

All of us were and will always be some ones child, and none of us were perfect children, all of us were naughty in some way or rather, some of us were / are cheekier then others as well. The Bible calls it sin, and all of us have fallen short of the glory of God. It doesn’t matter our past, God will allways accept us with open arms , forgiving us through his Son Jesus Christ if only we would repent and turn back to him. In return he will adopt us as his own children.

It is my prayer today that you will truly come to know the only living God as your real heavenly Father and accept what he has to offer you through his son Jesus.



Speaking the Truth in Love.

One of my favorite blogs is T4G which is where four well known preachers from four different reformed denominations and flavors dialog with one another in love, honest disagreement and at the same time unity in the Gospel. The participants are,

Mark Dever Capital Hill Baptist Church and 9 Marks Ministry.

Ligon Duncan First Presbyterian Church.

C.J. Mahaney Sovereign Grace Ministries

Albert Mohler The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

While these four men all minister in different ways and have different theological beliefs to each other they are agreed on the centrality of the Cross and it is on this they are united and because they do recognise this about each other are able to call each other brother and dialog and listen to what it really is each other is saying.
Particularly I have found the way they have and find unity with C.J. Mahaney who labels himself a Reformed Charismatic, where the others come from a more cessationist background very encouraging. While I myself do not consider myself reformed in the way of totally agreeing with T.U.L.I.P , and lean more towards Pentecostal Theology and practice there is much I do agree with them regarding the centrality of the Cross.

One of the things I have normally found though is that most reformed preachers tend to pull down any Pentecostal / Charismatic preaching and theology with polemic and rhetorical arguments that really have nothing to do with what has been really said. And I find this extremely discouraging.

Take for example this You Tube video clip of Mark Driscolls critique of Joel Osteen. I think this is a classic example of someone preaching about an issue and critiquing / comparing it to something someone else did not actually say. Now I have to say I’m not a huge fan of Joel Osteen and have never read his books, or watched his programs. I have read one of his book reviews by Michael Horton, which I found to be a honest critique.

However in Marks sermon I think he speaking against something Joel is not saying.

For example,

  • Joel speaks about this by saying you might have a bank load of money, but what about your family life if it sucks…what are you going to do about it?
  • The same goes with relationships you might have with other people at work…
  • What is your attitude going to be if your bank account is Zilch towards God…
  • Are you going to worry or are you going to give it to God.

Mark strips him apart by using Jesus as the example of having bad relationships with his family, community etc. Mark is totally correct about what he says about Christ, you will hear no disagreement with me there. And the context is that yes we will be persecuted and should expect it when it comes to preaching the good news about the kingdom.

Gods word commands us to live peaceably with all men as far is as possible with us, it gives us principals and guidelines to be Godly fathers, husbands, wives, mothers children and how to live in society. Therefore what O’steen was saying has some Scriptural merit.

Mark talks about the pain of the cross, about the level of anxiety that Jesus faced being so much that he cried tears of blood. Again this is true, Gods word also tells us to cast all our anxieties onto the Lord for He cares for us, and in other places about the peace of God beyond all comprehension filling our minds and so again I find what Joel said about not worrying did have Scriptural support, even if he did not actually quote the scripture and verse.

  • Now Marks concerns about the gospel Osteen preaches are most likely very very true, and to be taken on board, but it is important that the examples we use are truly relevant to the critique we make.

On another forum we have been discussing this very issue and some very important points have been raised. I think it is very important that we actually listen to what it is that someone has said, and not what we think it is they said to make our points.

Another blog / forum that I read often is the Pyromaniacs Team and I must say that I am often in agreement with what they say. And I do agree with what Dan says about not seeking God for any thing that is extra Biblical, though perhaps we both have a different understanding to what Extra Biblical means. Yet they too are guilty of not speaking the truth in love, for their is a level of dishonesty in their posts regarding what people may or may not have asked and their response to it.

Take the example of where I asked Dan a question about whether he would believe a person if they told him they had had a Angelic encounter…..and his response here. He misses what I asked him, and goes into an attack against Christians seeking God for something better than his word….saying that we don’t need more than his word..and then continues into a tirade against charismatics / pentecostals etc… then saying he would doubt them very much about such an encounter.

Personally I find this kind of thing dishonest and think if someone is going to answer a question they need to stick to the question and answer it truthfully. If you read through the comments made to the Pyro post you will see that Dan has not really engaged with others comments about how Angels have helped Christians and in doing so have glorified God, but would rather label every person who had such an encounter as seeking external Biblical truth…whether they were seeking the encounter or not. He then says he would doubt any one who told him they had had an Angelic encounter.

One of the things I found dishonest about his post is that in his polemic against Christians seeking extra Biblical wisdom and not turning to the word of God is that he didn’t turn to the word of God to see what it actually says about Angels.

When we do we will read that though we are not to seek them out, but that God does use them to answer our prayers, such as setting Peter free from jail, telling Cornelius that some one will come and explain the ways of God to him, and that we should be hospitable to strangers because sometimes we might be entertaining angels.

The word of God also warns us that Satan appears as an angel of light and that we are to test the spirits according to the word of God.

Therefore if an Angel came and tried to give us extra biblical information or tells us to do something that was not in keeping with the word of God we should tell it to get nicked in the name of Jesus.

If though we find that we have an encounter with an angel that answers our prayers for provision or protection in any way that is in keeping with the word of God, or one asks us to go to someone to preach the gospel and we do and it bears much fruit then we give glory to God for his leading, provision and guidance.

If great men of God like the T4G group can actually dialog in grace, truth and in love and do it well then we likewise can do the same by being slow to speak and quick to listen to what it is that each person is actually saying.

Charismatic Renewal

This article is from John Marks Ministry

http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/8206.htm Here’s an article on an important modern movement within Christianity I wrote about ten years ago. What has changed?

Charismatic renewal is not going way. According to David Barrett, editor of World Christian Encyclopedia pentecostals and charismatics numbered an estimated 100 million worldwide in 1980. He says that number jumped to about 150 million by 1985.(1)

The word ‘charismatic’ (Greek charisma – a gift of grace) is useful as an adjective but sometimes offensive as a noun. Here we will reluctanly use ‘charismatic’ as a noun, and as an adjective, but with the understanding that every true Christian is charismatic.

We are now hearing about ‘post-charismatics’. They had assumed the experiences in Acts 2,8,10,19 and I Cor. 12 and 14 were normative for all Christians for all times. Having sought an emotional high, they found that their version of the charismatic renewal promised more than it delivered. (2) Let us work through the myths or misconceptions in order.


Those unfamiliar with the mistakes of the past, as Santayana said, are likely to repeat them. Movements of religious renewal are not new. Thet happen when something lost is found: the book of the law (Josiah), prayer and asceticism (Desert Fathers), simple lifestyle (Franciscans), justification by faith (Luther), sanctification (Wesley), spiritual gifts (Pentecostals).

Christian renewal emphasizes the church’s organic, communal nature and tends to idealise the primitive apostolic church. Static institutions are challenged to change and become dynamic.

Traditionalists are usually blind to the disparity between the institution’s claims and its inaffectiveness.

Renewalists often have little – or an idealised – sense of history; God is on their side and against the institution; they don’t realize that they too will set up new institutions which will eventually settle down, preserve a status quo and be challenged again.

Howard Snyder and others have helped us formulate a ‘mediating model’ of the church, which affirms history and expects renewal – both. (3)


Not necessarily. Stolid Anglo-Saxons may not approve of too much enthusiasm, but other culture (Latins, Africans) like it. Two Israelite leaders, Eldad and Medad, got excited when the Spirit fell on them, so Joshua the institutional spokesman told Moses to stop them. Moses retorted by wishing the Spirit might similarly fall on the lot of them (Numbers 11:26-30)!

Experiences of some of the mystics (Richard Rolle, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross), reveal an affinity to modern ‘charismatic’ phenomena.(4)

Whenever the Holy Spirit manifests himself in a person, a culture or an age he produces various attitudes: an ordering attitude, a praying attitude, and a questioning attitude, and an attitude of receiving. Without the receptive attitude the other three dry up. ‘Without mystical experience, without an ongoing awareness of the presence of God, one does not live a full and rich Christian life … the charismatic renewal represents the re-entry into the world of the felt presence of God… it means mysticism, the attitude of receiving, is being renewed for us.’ (5)

In all renewal movements there is a predictable dialectic: a move far enough one way will cause the pendulum to swing back to the other extreme.

The sad history of Enthusiasts illustrates both the dangers of unchecked fervency not centred on the revelation of Jesus Christ, and also the inadequacy of merely institutional or rational authority …. The faith is endangered when Christians have to choose between this uncontrolled fervency and dessicated, authoritative, uninspired orthodoxies in Protestantism or Catholicism. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of love and community, the Spirit of reflection and control. (6)


Not without reason has Pentecostalism been called the ‘third force within Christendom’.

Pentecostalism teaches a necessary second stage in a believer’s relationship to the Lord – ‘baptism in the Spirit’ – whose initial evidence is speaking in tongues. Its mission has been to restore spiritual gifts that had been neglected or opposed by the churches: tongues, interpretation, prophecy, faith, miracles, healing, wisdom, knowledge, and discernment (I Cor. 12:8-10).


The Neo-pentecostal renewal began in a significant way in the historic churches in the 1950s.

Catholic charistmatic renewal (the term ‘Neo-pentecostal’ soon went out of vogue) probably goes back to Pope John XXIII convoking the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), and his prayer that the Holy Spirit would renew the church as by a new Pentecost.

Charles Hummell uses a World War II analogy to explain what happened. Pentecostalists based their pneumatology on the Synoptics and Acts: wasn’t Jesus first conceived by the Holy Spirit, then later baptized in the Spirit? Didn’t the disciples ‘receive’ the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed on them, but were later filled with the Spirit at Pentecost? Traditional theologies, on the other hand, were Pauline. They said you mustn’t build doctrines from these events in the primitive church, but rather ask ‘What do the New Testament letters to various churches teach us?’ And only once is ‘baptizing in the Spirit’ explicitly referred to there (I Corinthians 12:12-13). And so the battle-lines formed, and the troops became entrenched within their fixed positions. It was something like the French Maginot Line facing the equally impregnable Siegfried Line. Each army was safe behind its ramparts but unable to advance. Suddenly the German panzer divisions moved swifly around these fixed positions and rolled into Paris without a pitched battle.

So with our little theologies. We fight our wars, protect territory already won, and are often ill-prepared to take new ground. ‘For decades pentecostal and traditional theologies of the Baptism in the Spirit faced each other along one major doctrinal battle line. Then suddenly the Holy Spirit moved around these fixed positions to infiltrate charismatic renewal behind the lines in mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic churches’. (7)

Catholic charismatic renewal has less emphasis on spiritual gifts and more on nurturing a personal relationship with Christ and on developing Christian community. In 1979 the Australian Catholic Theological Association said that through the movement thousands of Australian Catholic men and women were able to experience a deeper conversion to Jesus Christ; a renewal of faith; an introduction to a serious prayer life; a new appreciation of the Scriptures; and openness to the use of their gifts from the Holy Spirit; a commitment to evangelism. (8)


Peter Wagner, professor of church growth at Fuller Seminary has popularized the notion of a ‘Third Wave’ of charismatic renewal experienced in many churches in the 1980s.

Many historians feel this century has seen the greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit since the first century or two. The first wave came … with the Pentecostal movement. The second came around the middle of the century with the charistmatic movement. The Third Wave is more recent, having begun around 1980, with the same powerful, supernatural acts of the Holy Spirit which have been confined to Pentecostals and charismatics now being seen in a growing number of evangelical churches.

Wagner goes on to talk about his ‘120 Fellowship’ that meets from 7.30 to 9.15 Sunday mornings.

We see signs and wonders on a regular basis. Because of this realize we may be different from some other churches and Sunday school classes, but we do not consider ourselves any better. We don’t teach a ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’ as a second work of grace (many of us have had experiences of what others might call ‘Spirit baptism’ but we simply say it is a filling or anointing of the Spirit which may happen to a person many times). Nor do we permit ourselves to be called ‘Spirit-filled Christians’ as if others in the church were something less than Spirit-filled. We do our best to avoid the Corinthian error concerning tongues. While we do not forbid tongues, neither do we stress (it). We treat tongues as just another spiritual gift, but not as a badge of spirituality. Many pray in tongues, but we do not encourage public tongues in our class.(9)

His conclusion: ‘I see the third wave of the eighties as an opening of the straight-line evangelicals and other Christians to the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit’. (10)

Many mainline churches are now incorporating a ‘soft-side’ charismatic renewing force into their worship/service, sponsoring healing services, for example, or praying for healing and deliverance in their normal worship times. Thousand are attending John Wimber’s ‘Signs and Wonders’ courses in many parts of the world.


‘Baptism in the Spirit’, in the pentecostal and charistmatic traditions, is an effusion of God’s Spirit upon a Christian with power for praise, witness and service. It is an experience ‘which initiates a decisively new sense of the powerful presence and working of God in one’s life, (and) usually involves one or more charismatic gifts’. (11) Pentecostals normally view it as a ‘second work of grace’. Charismatics have come to understand it as a deepening of the faith grounded in the new life received in Christ.

When a person becomes a Christian (and that can happen in many different ways), he or she never realizes all that has happened. A fuller understanding of ‘justification’, for example, may come much later. But it happened earlier. So we mustn’t put dogmtic strait-jackets on this experience. Conversion can be dramatic (if the person was running hard from God beforehand, for example), or quite matter-of-fact.

So with the Holy Spirit. Luke and Paul write about the work of the Spirit from different perspectives. For Luke the Spirit gives believers power for witness in the world – and that can be repeatable. Paul talks about the Spirit incorporating us into the Body of Christ – that’s once-for-all.

Words can have different meanings in different contexts. Paul has perhaps five separate meanings for ‘flesh’. The Bible has many ways to describe the meaning of the death of Christ. ‘Baptism’ is used in the Scriptures as a flexible metaphor, not merely as a technical term. I heard Canadian theologian Clark Pinnock say: ‘So long as we recognize conversion as truly a baptism in the Spirit, there is no reason why we cannot use ‘baptism’ to refer to subsequent fillings of the Spirit as well’.


Every church ought to be open to the full spectrum of the gifts. Spiritual gifts are meant to create truly Christian community. Where there is love, there’ll be gift-giving. God’s gifts are love-gifts — God at work.

Gifts are given freely bythe Holy Spirit to whomever he wishes. They can’t be manufactured byus nor is their presence or absence a sign of Christian maturity.

In a truly biblical fellowship the focus is not on the gifts, but the Giver (but that shouldn’t be a cop-out, ignoring the gifts we aren’t comfortable with).

Here’s a common problem: ‘I had the best hands laid on me, but nothing happened’. Well, what did you expect to happen? Faith-filled prayer believes you have received the Spirit: leave the rest to God’s timing. David du Plessis (‘Mr. Pentecost’) says, ‘Baptism in the Spirit is always easy when Jesus Christ does it for you, but always difficult when you struggle to do it yourself or with the help of others’. (12) And Richard Lovelace: ‘Christians act as though fellowship with the Holy Spirit were very hard to establish. Actually it is very difficult to avoid! All that is necessary is for the believer to open up to that divine Reality in the centre of consciousness which is the most fundamental fact of a Christian’s inner life’. (13)


Western fundamentalism has been infected with ‘dispensationalism’ which sees the activity in the Book of Acts as transitional: the canon of Scripture is now closed, and the curtain has been brought down on all this sort of thing. When Paul says tongues and prophecy will be with us ‘until the perfect comes’ (I Cor. 13:10) they say Paul meant a ‘perfect Bible’; the rest of the church interprets Paul as referring to heaven, ‘when we shall see face to face’.

Prophecy is a direct dominical utterance (‘thus says the Lord’) for a particular people at a particular time and place, for a particular purpose. The Divine Word also comes through Jesus, through Scripture, through circumstances, and through visions (more commonly in non-Western cultures). Prophecy gives the church fresh insights into God’s truth (Eph. 3) or guidance about the future (Acts 11), or encouragement (I Cor. 14:3, I Tim. 1:18), or inspiration or correction. It either edifies the church or brings it under judgement (‘God is in this place!’ – see I Cor. 14:25). The biblical prophets combined judgement with hope.


The gift of tongues (‘glossolalia’) is a quasi-linguistic phenomenon, not language in the normal sense of the term. (14)

Tongues-speaking is not an indication of mental imbalance. After fifty years of research the consensus still runs, in the words of Virginia Hine twenty years ago: ‘available evidence requires that an explanation of glossolalia as pathological must be discarded’. (15)

Two decades of research into the discrete functions of left and right hemispheres of the brain appears to show that the dominant cerebral hemisphere (the left, for 95% of the population) specializes in thinking processes which are analytical, linear, logical, sequential, verbal, rational. The right hemisphere normally shows preference for thought that is visiospatial, simultaneous, analog (as opposed to digital), emotional. While speech has been seen to rise from mapped sectors of the left hemisphere, language-formation capacities are probably spread over both hemispheres. (16) Glossolalia may be right hemisphere speech, sharing a location beyond – but not contradictory to – the usual canons of rationality. It is appropriate to think of glossolalic prayer as neither irrational nor arational, but rather transrational: when reason fails in prayer, the Spirit helps (Rom. 8:26,27). It’s spirit to Spirit communication rather than mind to mind. (I Cor. 14:15).

Richard Beyer claims there is a ‘fundamental functional similarity between speaking in tongues and two other widespread and generally accepted religious practices, namely Quaker silent worship and the liturgical worship of Catholic and Episcopal churches’. (17)


Let’s look at the tough questions.

Does God want everyone healed? Pentecostalists usually say ‘yes’ (and if you aren’t, the problem is with your, or your praying friends’ or your church’s lack of faith). Most others would say ‘no’.

Francis McNutt offers a more balanced view:

In general, it is God’s desire that we be healthy, rather than sick. And since he has the power to do all things, he will respond to prayer for healing unless there is some obstacle, or unless the sickness is sent or permitted for some greater reason. (18)

The church today surely needs less pride and prejudice in this area. ‘But what if we pray publicly and they’re not healed?’ is the kind of faithfless question that stymies our maturing in this area. Our calling is to be faithful and obedient. It’s God’s business whether he heals or not!


Naturalism is a view of the world that takes account only of natural elements and forces, excluding the supernatural or spiritual.

This world view has influenced theology in this century principally through Rudolf Bultmann: ‘The forces and laws of nature have been discovered, and therefore we can’t believe in ‘spirits’ …. whether good or evil.’ (19) Against this, the biblical worldview holds that the universe consists of both visible and invisible creatures, angels, demons, and powers. As theologians like Gustav Aulen and Helmut Thielicke point out, the inbreaking of God’s Kingdom in the ministry of Jesus Christ can’t be understood apart from its being a war against the principalities of evil. Emil Brunner says we cannot rightly understand the church of the New Testament unless we break out of the strait-jacket of naturalism and take seriously the dynamic manifestations of the Holy Spirit. (20)

Someone has calculated that 3,874 (49%) of the N.T.’s 7,957 verses are ‘contaminated’ with happenings and ideas alien to a naturalistic world-view. Morton Kelsey notes that the only large group of Christians who take seriously the idea of a direct encounter with the non-space-time or spiritual world are the Pentecostals and the charismatics, ‘and they have come in for derision from every side’. (21)

However, as C.S. Lewis and others have warned us, there are two opposite errors we must avoid: either disbelieving in the devil’s existence, or giving Satan more attention than he deserves. Cardinal Suenens similarly exhorts us to steer a safe course between ‘Scylla and Charibdis, between underestimation and exaggeration…'(22)

Within the church the gift of ‘discernment of spirits’ is very important. The Scriptures suggest various tests to discern the spirits: Is Christ glorified? (John 16:14); the church edified?; others helped? Does it accord with Scripture? Is there love? Is Jesus Lord of the person’s life? Is there submission to church leaders – allowing others to weigh what is said or done?


Divisiveness would head anyone’s list of the issues confronting us in the modern charistmatic renewal.

My observation, however, is that divisiveness is not a function of the presence or absence of certain spiritual gifts, but of insecurity, fear (‘charisphobia’), insensitivity (‘charismania’), or lovelessness on one or both sides.

David Watson talked about tidy churches, with piles of papers neatly in order. The windows are opened, but the fresh wind of the Spirit blows the papers about, so the elders scurry around collecting them all again, and close the windows. ‘You’ve got tidiness, even stuffiness. That’s the picture of many a church. I would prefer to have the windows open with a fresh breath of the Holy Spirit blowing…. Give me untidiness with life every day if the alternative is tidiness and death. One of the tidies places you can find is the cemetery.’ (23)

Let us beware of the error Gamaliel warned about (Acts 5:33-39). If this is of God, we must take the movement seriously.

Certainly the swift stream of renewal often throws debris on to the banks. Old wineskins can’t cope with new wine without bursting. When the Spirit is at work, the devil will be sowing weeds among the wheat.


The success of an experiential theology must be judged by the ease (or lack of ease) with which it moves from Spirit to Word. If Word and Spirit can be held in dynamic union, then experiential theology has the possibility of becoming definitive for the life and witness of the church today. Too often Word takes the place of Spirit. (24) Our traditional theologies run the risk of being rationalistic, contrived conceptual schemas. The Holy Spirit is the subject of a sterile ‘pneumatology’, with little openness to an experience of his power. But, again, an experience-centred theology sometimes stays there. (25) Sometimes there’s an unhealthy identification of truth with a prophetic leader, or a great experience: everything else derives validity through reference to these. Or else the Bible is used as a sanction for one’s independent feelings and experiences. Or perhaps we are not open to the whole of experience. (26)

Thus an unhealthy individualism and a pervasive subjectivism often accompanies pieties of personal experience. As Russell Spittler has put it:

Individualism is a virtue when it assures conscious religious experience, but becomes something of an occupational hazard for Pentecostal-charismatics. Add in some dominant personality traits, take away an acquaintance with the church’s collective past, delete theological sophistication, and the mix can be volatile, catastrophic. (27)

Let us beware of inhabiting simplicity this side of complexity, or complexity the other side of simplicity, but rather move to simplicity the other side of complexity! (28) The security of the slogan is easier than the hard work of discovering the truth. Much of what is written in pentecostal/charismatic books is what Kilian McDonnell calls ‘enthusiastic theological fluff – pink hot air in printed form’. (29)

There is a great need for a thorough-going charismatic theology. For example the justaposition of the ideas of ‘baptism in the Spirit’ and the release of spiritual gifts may be seen to be a most significant contribution to twentieth-century theology, but a lot more work has to be done on it yet.


Probably, in retrospect, it will be seen that in corporate worship, ‘in the sphere of liturgy and preaching, that the pentecostal movement will have made its most important contribution, and not in the sphere of pneumatology, as is constantly and quite wrongly supposed’. (30)

Pentecostal/charistmatic worship features are invading traditional churches with a rush! It’s becoming more common for worshippers of all kinds to raise their hands in adoration, as they sing scripture-songs in their morning worship-services. However these songs are as limited as is charismatic theology: there are very few about mission and justice, for example; they’re mostly ‘God loves me and I love him’ songs. Nice, but there’s more; love issues in a life of witness and obedience in a hostile world. (31)

The way forward ultimately is to integrate the unique insights and results of charismatic renewal into the full life of the church, with a submission to the order, tradition, doctrine and spirituality of the church as a whole. It’s not helpful to go ‘underground’. Every special movement needs the whole church body to give focus, direction, discernment and correction; it needs to be tested, evaluated, encouraged, improved and admonished. As Leo Cardinal Suenans says: ‘To be most useful, the charismatic movement must disappear into the life of the church’. (32)


I’m pessimistic on this one. We enjoy sorting others out according to false hierarchies of value. There have always been ‘haves and have-nots’ in the church: only the categories change. In one era a priestly caste takes special prerogatives to itself and we have the evil of clericalism. In others there are ‘heresy trials’ with the orthodox removing the heterodox. In the charistmatic renewal, experience is the watershed: those who have ‘arrived’ have been ‘baptised in the Spirit’ in a discernible experience subsequent to conversion, and speak in tongues. But the New Testament mostly uses ethical rather than experiential categories to define stages of Christian maturity (e.g. Barnabas, was ‘spirit-filled’, ie.. he was a man filled with goodness and faith, Acts 11:24).


It is possible for a miracle-centred theology to become ‘theurgical’ (Gk. ‘theourgia’ – magic). An openness to signs and wonders can easily degenerate into ‘miracle-mongering’.

Miracles are not just for show. ‘Jesus resisted the temptation to work miracles to dazzle people or to seduce them into believing in him…. He refused to give the Pharisees a ‘sign from heaven’…. It was not as a wonder-worker that he desired to be sought after’. (33) John Bodycomb writes: ‘I am uneasy about theological assumptions implicit in either that impassioned roaring heavenward (reminiscent of the prophets of Baal) or in that sycophantic sweet-talk that begins ‘Lord, we just simply ask you to …’ (whatever it is)’. (34) Magic involves repeating formulas (‘vain repetitions’). It’s wanting blessings more for my sake than God’s. It’s manipulating Deity for my ends.


‘If it is charismatic, it s ecumenical’ says ‘Mr. Pentecost’, David Du Plessis. But, he says, there has been a dangerous tendency by Pentecostals/charismatics to criticize the church, leading to the formation of schismatic, independent groups:

The more schismata the less charismata (I Cor. 12:25,26). I have a passion for unity because the prayer of Jesus was for unity that the world may believe. And I have very little hope for the world unless unity comes to Christianity…. (35)


Christians are commissioned to do in their world what Jesus did in his: bringing salvation (‘wholeness’, the ‘reign of God’), where there is pain, sickness, lostness, alienation, oppression, poverty, war, injustice. So the church’s mission has three dimensions: evangelism (preaching good news), works of mercy (relieving persons’ pain), and works of justice (addressing the causes of pain); and three instruments: word (what we say), deed (what we do) and sign (what God does).

Pentecostalists/charismatics have brought the church back to ‘signs and wonders’ and they have generally done evangelism better than others.

But pentecostal/charismatics churches are weakest of all in the justice area. There’s more in the prophets than Joel’s promise of the Spirit on all flesh. The prophets cried out for justice, the redress of wrongs done to the poor.


It isn’t. Antinomianism (living carelessly and ‘lawlessly’) is as much a trap for Pentecostals/charismatics as for anyone.


‘As I observe it,’ says Sherwood Wir the most important gift God has given to the charismatic renewal is a fresh outpouring of love. Not joy, not ecstasy, not tongues, not miracles, not even martyrdom, but love. (36)

And there’s something else the cautious ought to be more afraid of : attributing the work of the Spirit to the devil. That’s a very serious sin, Jesus warned.

Paul sums it up: ‘Make love your aim, while you set your heart on the gifts of the Spirit’ (I Cor. 14:1).

(1) Christianity Today, May 16, 1986, 40.

(2) e.g. Eternity, Feb, 1980, 21ff.

(3) Howard A. Snyder, The Problem of Wineskins (1976), The Community of the King (1978), The Radical Wesley (1980), Liberating the Church (1983), all IVP, Illinois.

(4) Bengt Hoffman, a professor at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in a book entitled Luther and the Mystics, Minneapolis: Augsburb Publishing House, 1976.

(5) Mark Hillmer, ‘Spiritual Renewal in the Family of Lutheranism’ – 6-page paper, date and place of publication unknown.

(6) Roland Walls, article ‘Enthusiasm’, in Gordon S. Wakefield, ed., A Dictionary of Christian Spirituality, SCM, 1983, 133-4. Walls goes on: ‘A growing number of Eastern Orthodoxy which has been at pains to spell out the difference between natural and supernatural enthusiasm. In this tradition, undisciplined enthusiasm arises more from psychic and disturbed emotional sources than from single-minded devotion to love of God and our neighbours … The only fires that can be trusted are those of love of God and our fellows, and the cleansing fire of repentance.

(7) Charles Hummell, Fire in the Fireplace, IVP, 1978, 189.

(8) ‘Charismatic Renewal is a valid form of Catholic Spirituality’, The Advocate, 11 Sept. 1980, 10.

(9) Leadership, Spring Quarter, 1985, 114-115.

(10) Pastoral Renewal, P.O. Box 8617 Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48106, July-Aug, 1983.

(11) a quotation by Father Francis Sullivan SJ in David Parry, This Promise is For You: Spiritual Renewal and the Charismatic Movement, London: Darton Longman and Todd, 1977, 144.

(12) Quoted in Larry Chistensen, Speaking in Tongues, Minneapolis: Bethany, 42ff.

(13) Richard Lovelace, Renewal as a Way of Life, Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1985, 148.

(14) W.J. Samarin, Tongues of Men and Angels, N.Y., MacMillan, 1972.

(15) ‘Pentecostal Glossolalia: Toward a Functional Interpretation’, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol 8 (Fall 1969), 2,217. See also J.P. Kildahl, The Psychology of Speaking in Tongues, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1972.

(16) Russell P. Spittler, ‘Bar Mitzvah for Azusa Street: Features, Fractures, and Futures of a Renewal Movement Come of Age’, in Theology, News and Notes, Fuller Theological Seminary, March 1983, 15.

(17) Richard A. Beyer, ‘Quaker Silent Worship, Glossolalia and Liturgy: Some Functional Similarities’, unpublished essay referred to in Michael P. Hamilton, ed., The Charismatic Movement, Eerdman, 1975, 115.

(18) Francis McNutt, Healing, Indiana: Ave Maria Press, 1974, 84-6.

(19) Hans Werner Bartsch, ed., Kerygma and Myth, London: SPCK, 1953, 69.

(20) Emil Brunner, The Misunderstanding of the Church, London: Lutterworth, 1952, 49-53.

(21) Morton Kelsey, Encounter with God, Minneapolis: Bethany, 1972, 26-36.

(22) Cardinal Leon-Joseph Suenans, Renewal and the Powers of Darkness, London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1984, 115.

(23) ‘David Watson on Spiritual Gifts’, Theology News and Notes, Fuller Seminary, March, 1983, 18-19.

(24) Robert Johnston, ‘Of Tidy Doctrine and Truncated Experience’, Christianity Today, Feb. 18, 1977, 11.

(25) Russell Spittler, op.cit., 16.

(26) See ‘The New Pietism: Plus or Minus? unpublished and undated paper by John Bodycomb, Uniting Church, Victoria. It’s what Bill Burnett, former Arlchbishop of Capetown calls getting stuck in a kind of ‘happy clappy groove’. (Interview by June Coxhead in Vision Magazine, date unknown, p.19). One person commented, ‘I left my Pentecostal church. They wouldn’t let me bring my sorrow to the Lord! They won’t touch a text like Ps. 1219:71 (NIV) : ‘It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I might learn your decrees’.

(27) Russell Spittler, op.cit., 16.

(28) See Rowland Croucher, Recent Trends Among Evangelicals, Sydney: Albatross, 1986, Section One.

(29) ‘Church Reaction to the Charismatic Renewal’ in Arnold Bittlinger, The Church is Charismatic Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1981, 154.

(30) Quoted in Walter J. Hollenweger, The Pentecostals, Augsburg, 1972, 466.

(31) I am told some exceptions are now appearing in Graham Kendrick’s songs.

(32) ‘Catalyst’, Mar. 1980, 1.

(33) Alan Richardson, A Theological Word Book of the Bible, SCM, 1950, 153.

(34) J. Bodycomb, op.cit., 7.

(35) Interview with David Hubbard, Theology News and Notes, Fuller Seminary, March 1983, 7.

(36) Sherwood Wirt, Eternity Magazine, Feb. 1980, 26.

Note on Bibliography : An excellent overview of some of the literature on charismatic renewal may be found in Cecil M. Robeck, ‘The Decade (1973-1982) in Pentecostal-Charismatic Literature: A Bibliographic Essay’, Theology News and Notes, Fuller Seminary, March 1983, 24ff.

Experiential theology.

I get a little tired and frustrated at times when the accusation is made towards Pentecostals that their theology is faulty because it is based on experience rather than what the Word of God says. That we put our experience before the Scriptures.

I believe that every Christians personal theology is Experiential. It has to be experientially driven, it has to be experientially based, for our relationship with God is an experiential relationship. God is alive, Jesus is alive, the Holy Spirit is alive, the Father is alive. And every relationship between two living organisms by its very nature is an experiential relationship. It doesn’t matter if we are aware of it or not, it is still experientially based.

God draws us, invites us to join in the community of himself. This communion with himself is experiential once again. It is real, not imagined. It is the purest form of reality as our minds are only the copy of the real, our flesh is only the copy of the real, our spirit is only a copy of the real. Therefore when the real brings life to the created, it brings into being a reality that must be experienced.

The experience of the Holy Spirit who convicts us, is a experiential conviction that convicts us to the depth of the inner man overturning our own rationalizations topsy turvey. The experience of the Holy Spirit comforting us is a real experiential comfort that again goes against what our minds would tell us.

The experience of having a real relationship with the living God is a experiential relationship by its very fact that it is between two living beings, the creator and the created made in the image of God who is the fulfillment of an experiential relationship within themselves.

When God gifts a person to speak, to write, to help, to pray, to be an vessel of his working however he may, that by its very nature is experiential theology in practice, and we are affected, our lives are changed, our perceptions altered through the living experience of community with the living God.

If we then can experience God through community, why are we surprised even frightened to think that God can still speak to us in the way that the Bible records Him speaking to his community? Why does it frighten us to say, or hear people say “I felt the Lord say this”? Should this experience be the normative, and not the exception for His people involved in real experiential community with the living God?

Our relationship is with the God of the Bible. It is real, we are in a real community with him, and not in relationship with the written word. Therefore the word of truth which is the Bible points us, directs us, and is the written invitation to come and drink deeply of him in an experiential way and join in his celebrational dance where true community awaits. It is not the invitation card that we have true relationship with, where our experience of the celebration comes from, it is from actually accepting the invitation to join in the experience of the Trinitarian dance where we find the fulfillment of that invitation.

If we have no experience, if our theology was not experiential then the word of God is not truth, it is a lie.


In this essay I have shown what the value of the gift of tongues is to the individual and to the larger church community, both for the edification of the individual and the larger church body. I have shown how the gift brings about edification and encouragement to the body of Christ and brings glory to our risen Lord in proclaiming the gospel. In showing this, I have made the point that the gift of tongues has a three way dimension to it, and so its purpose is not a selfish one, rather a selfless one for the building of Gods kingdom. Finally I have shown how tongues relate to the Pentecostal doctrine of them being the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and why that is so.


Wagner says,

The Gift of tongues is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ (A) to speak to God in a language they have never learned and / or (B) to receive and communicate an immediate message of God to His people through a divinely -anointed utterance in a language they have never learned.[1]

Tongues are a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, who is the Gift from God. The purpose of this paper is to first show what value tongues has, and secondly how it relates to the Pentecostal doctrine of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

This gift is transformational in regards that once we have experienced and used it, our view of life, our relationship with our heavenly Father, our deep inner personal knowledge of God as Abba Father, Christ, the Holy Spirit and his other gifts, will be changed for ever[2]. Then any derogative thoughts we may have had on this subject will have been dismissed, likely replaced by many more questions, rising from an experiential perspective.

What is the value of tongues?

The value of tongues is that they have a redemptive purpose interwoven within a circular motioned, inwards, upwards and outwards focus. [3]

By redemptive I mean its, Proclamatory Nature in that it is a gift that is spoken forth via the human tongue and we see this happening where the disciples spoke in unlearned languages in a vivid and most spectacular manner in the power of the Holy Spirit, through its initial outpouring into Gods people fulfilling the prophecy of Joel. (Acts 2:14) Chant describes, “They were declaring in majestic fashion the marvels of God”[4]

This appears to signify the reverse of Babel; whereas initially all spoke one language and because they denied God, instead wanting to laud themselves, God scatters the nations, through confusing their language (Gen 11:1-9) and now in Jerusalem all those nations have gathered and through tongues can hear the praise of God in their own language, causing them in turn to praise God. (Acts 2:9-11)[5]

There is a three fold relational aspect and purpose in the gift of tongues; the first is inward, being a gift given to the individual, and is the only gift that does not require a second person for its valid use when used privately. That it is an individualistic gift needs noting now, and expanded on later when we come to discuss its relationship to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Tongues are a gift given to us from God, a manifestation of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. It brings about personal edification (1Cor14:4)… Finally it is a gift that we should desire for ourselves, as Paul desired all should have it. (1 Cor 14:5) while highlighting his own use of the gift, (1 Cor 14:18) commanding that none should forbid it, (1 Cor 14:39)[6] and I question, “Why”? When I hear others make a sweeping blanket statement in saying, “It is not for them.”[7]

Once received, its focus is upward enabling the user to worship, praise and pray to God in a manner previously unknown.[8] The ability to worship God is mentioned by Paul to the Ephesians and Colossians in the context of singing spiritual songs. (Eph 5:19, Col 3:15) and again speaks of its God ward direction, in involving praise and thanksgiving (1 Cor 14:16) It is a gift that is God focused, a humbling gift that requires childlikeness in prayer,[9] having childlike faith that indeed spiritual mysteries that only God can understand are being spoken. (1 Cor 14:2) Finally it’s intercessory or prayerful nature is shown again in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. (1Cor 14: 14-15)

Thirdly its focus is outward in that it outwardly signifies that the recipient has indeed been baptised with the Spirit of power. It is missionary directed in drawing others into relationship with God through Christ. (Acts 2:11) Its communal building in the building up, knitting together and releasing other gifts within the community of God, through its prophetic ability to speak Gods revelatory word in a way that needs either the speaker or another to use the gift of interpretation to speak forth Gods prophetic word that ultimately causes the hearers to praise God in the understanding of it. (1 Cor 14:5-6) In this communal setting tongues cease to be an individualistic gift, and become part of its corporate unity, its usefulness shown not only through its prophetic nature, its intercessory nature is made to the Romans (Rom 8:26-27) as well as been mentioned in the previous point. It is important to note that the gift like all the other gifts do not distinguish between race, sex or societal position[10], (Acts2:17 -18) Lord.[11] Lightner argues against this, in saying women were commanded to keep quiet in the church, and God would not have given women this gift.[12] Dunn shows he is wrong through Paul’s positive direction regarding women prophesying in church.[13] (1Cor 11:5) This is one of the groundbreaking traits of Azusa Street, and indeed stems back to Pentecost in that people of all races, sexes and class came together as one to worship the Lord.

The person, deity and work of the Holy Spirit

It is worthwhile to look briefly at the person, deity and work of the Holy Spirit, so as we can have a better understanding of how tongues relates to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. .

The Holy Spirit is not an IT,[14] nor an inert power; rather he is the third person of the Godhead, showing personal characteristics such as; speech, hearing, emotions, and preforming functions such as searching, teaching, rebuking, convicting, encouraging, comforting and empowering.[15]

Space does not permit more than to say that scripture clearly shows the Holy Spirit is God, being eternal, all knowing, all powerful, and omnipresent.[16]

His work involves convincing the non believer to come to a place of regeneration, sanctification and empowering for service. Regeneration meaning the event that takes place where one becomes a new believer in Christ. Sanctification means the new Christians beginning and subsequent continual walk of holiness displaying the fruits of the spirit. [17] (Gal 5:22-23) And thirdly He is Gods power in us, which enables us to testify of Christ. (Acts 1:8)

The 3 actions of the Holy Spirit in the work of the believer is interwoven in the Inwards, Upwards and Outwards value of tongues in that Regeneration is the inward work of God, Sanctification is related to the upwards focus towards God and the Testifying of Christ is shown in the Outwards focus in building Gods kingdom and the pattern starts again in bringing others into a Redemptive relationship.

What is the relationship of Tongues to the Pentecostal Doctrine of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?

The Pentecostal doctrine regarding the Initial evidence of the Holy Spirit can be summarised as a second experiential blessing or empowerment of the believer subsequent to becoming a Christian, accompanied by the sign of speaking in tongues.[18]

It is interesting that studies have shown that in the American Assemblies of God movement, between 35 – 40 % of its congregations do not speak in tongues [19] while it is the Assemblies of God movement who mainly hold to this doctrine of Initial Evidence. Other Pentecostals who don’t, and yet are favourable towards the gift of tongues, consider the doctrine an embarrassment at best and in serious theological error at worst. [20]

All Pentecostals however believe that the purpose of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is power for service and that that power comes only from on high, and is distinct work of the spirit apart from conversion.[21]

Macchia notes that there is little theological reflection regarding the doctrine of initial evidence hence the purpose of his paper.[22] While there may not be much theological reflection regarding the doctrine of Initial Evidence, what is available is enough to seriously reflect on and make a solid case for its Biblical, Traditional, Experiential and Denominational validity.

That it is Biblical can be pointed out of the five specific cases in Acts that show that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, three were accompanied by tongues, and that in the other 2 cases scripture is silent regarding what actually physically happened, only that something indeed did happen. Norling[23] points out that the 12 disciples who received the Holy Spirit had a mixture of manifestations of tongues and prophecy (Acts 19:6) and if any thing perhaps the doctrine is too narrow in regards to Tongues only, as Tongues is a speaking language and perhaps inspired prophecy could be a form of Tongues spoken in the speakers native language, though Peter the Apostle alludes to the initial Pentecost tongues as prophecy, (Acts 2:16-17) and Davids says that the prophesying of Saul was a glossarial language,[24]

1Sa 10:6 The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed

into a different person.

Note the similarities between 1Sam 10:6 and Acts 1:8, for the enabling power of the Spirit. There is ample precedent that inspired prophecy in known languages is more effective in edifying the church over unknown tongues.[25] (1 Cor 14:3) Certainly Cruz, in responding to Menzies shows this is a possibility.[26]

One can not cut its self of from its traditional roots, and we draw on the tradition of the movement, dating back to Azusa Street in that Gods people expected to be Baptised in the Holy Spirit, they expected to be endued with power from on high and the result of this endowment of Power included the gift of Tongues, showing indeed that they were Baptised in the Spirit.

The Experiential value of tongues can not be ignored and without having to re-state the inwards, upward, and outwards aspects of them, it is worthwhile noting that the gift enables the individual to both participate in and partake of the presence of God through the gift of the Spirit (Tongues) by the Gift of God, who is the Spirit of God. Pentecostalism is not a tongues movement, it is a Spirit movement, wanting all Christians to be experientially baptised in the Holy Spirit, and both traditionally and Biblically it is shown that tongues shows outward evidence of receiving the dumanias power of the Holy Spirit.

And finally by Denominational while it could be argued this is more of a pragmatic polity rather for doctrinal reasons, the doctrine can help stem the risk of nominalism. Veli- Matto Karkkainen when asked about the dangers of nominalism within Pentecostalism replied,

“There was indeed a danger, especially in the USA where church attendance is seen as something one does for social status and something we need to watch out for.” [27]

The doctrine of initial evidence can help the movement to expect its members to be Spirit Filled, and indeed should be seen as an encouragement to tarry and expect God to endow one with Power from on high, and in doing so guard against nominalism.


That the gift of tongues is invaluable to the individual for personal edification has been shown in this paper, and in return this same individual is part of the greater body of Christ, and how much more built up and edified the body would be, if all individuals who made up this body were baptised in the Holy Spirit. It is for the reasons shown and discussed that the doctrine of initial evidence is valid for today, and is needed to be more widely taught within the congregational church structure as to why it is so. May we tarry for the continual blessing and infilling of the Holy Spirit for ourselves and those who are yet to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and may Gods people look to God expectantly to fill them afresh and show this through the evidence of tongues.


Chant, Barry. Spiritual Gifts: A Reappraisal: A Biblical and Practical Handbook. (Sydney Australia: Tabor Publications, 1993)

De la Cruz, Roli G. “Salvation in Christ and Baptism in Spirit: A Response to Robert Menzies, “Evidential Tongues: An Essay on Theological Method,”” Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies 1:2 (August 1998)

Davids, Peter H. “Tongues” in Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments. ed. Ralph P. Martin and Peter H . Davids. (Downers Grove, Ill..:InterVarsity Press, 1997)

Dunn, James D.G. The Theology of Paul the Apostle. (Grand Rapids, Mich. Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1998)

Fee, Gordon D. The First Epistle to the Corinthians. New International Commentary on the New Testament. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1987)

Horton, Stanley M. Systematic Theology. rev. ed. (Springfield Missouri: Gospel Publishing House, 1995)

Karkkainen, Veli-Matti. Pneumatology: The Holy Spirit in Ecumenical, International, and Contextual Perspective. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2002)

Lightner, Robert P. Speaking in Tongues and Divine Healing. 2nd. ed. (Dallas Regular Baptist Press, 1978)

Macchia, Frank D. “Groans Too Deep for Words: Towards a Theology of Tongues as Initial Evidence,” Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies 1:2 (August 1998)

Norling, Allan. Jesus the Baptiser with the Holy Spirit. (Sydney: Alken Press, 1994)

Pinnock, Clark H. Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit. (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1996)

Robeck, Cecil M., Jr. “Tongues” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. ed. G. F. Hawthorn, R. P. Martin and D. Reid. (Downers Grove, Ill.:InterVarsity Press, 1993)

Sproul, R. C. Essential Truths of the Christian Faith. (Wheaton, Illinois Tyndale House 1992)

Tan, Ling May. “A Response to Frank Macchia’s “Groans Too Deep for Words: Towards a Theology of Tongues as Initial Evidence,”” 1:2 (August 1998)

Wagner, C. Peter. Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow. (USA, Regal Books, 1985)

[1] C. Peter Wagner, Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow, (USA, Regal Books. 1979)p. 233[2] Barry Chant, Spiritual Gifts, A Reappraisal A Biblical and practical hand book, (Sydney Tabor Publications, 1993) p. 134[3] I first heard this comment “Upwards, Inwards, Outwards, spoken by Dudley Ford, retired Sydney Anglican Bishop, spoken at an in house local church training weekend – though his talk did not have any thing to do with tongues, it was on worship and relating to God.

[4] Barry Chant, Spiritual Gifts, p. 134

[5], Peter H Davids. “Tongues” in Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments. ed. Ralph P. Martin and Peter H . Davids. (Downers Grove, Ill..:InterVarsity Press, 1997)

[6] Robeck, Cecil M., Jr. “Tongues” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. ed. G. F. Hawthorn, R. P. Martin and D. Reid. (Downers Grove, Ill.:InterVarsity Press, 1993)

[7] Are they saying that they don’t want it, and therefore grieving the Holy Spirit by not desiring his gifts, or is it because they have asked God for it and have not received it, and so they say it is not for them.

[8] Barry Chant, Spiritual Gifts, pg. 134

[9] Clark H. Pinnock, Flame of Love, A theology of the Holy Spirit (1996Downers Grove, Ill Intervarsity Press) p. 173.

[10] Note that Mary the mother of Jesus and other women were among the 120 who received the gift of tongues on the day of Pentecost, as described in Acts 1:14 & 2:1.

[11] Frank D. Macchia Groans too Deep for Words: Towards a Theology of Tongues as Initial Evidence, Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies 1: 2 (August 1998)

[12] Robert P.Lightner,., Speaking in Tongues and Divine Healing (Dallas Regular Baptist Press 1978). p.24

[13] James D.G. Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle, © 1998 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. USA. p. 588

[14] I need to note that in my calling the Holy Spirit an He, I am not meaning to be gender specific, rather to note the personhood of the Spirit.

[15] R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, (Wheaton, Illinois Tyndale House 1992). p.111

[16] Ibid., p. 110

[17] Ibid., p. 117

[18] Stanley M. Horton, Systematic Theology, revised edition, (Gospel Publishing House 1995) p. 425

[19] Matti Karkkainen Pneumatology, the Holy Spirit in ecumenical, international, and contextual perspective, (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2002). p. 96-97

[20] Frank D. Macchia Groans too Deep for Words: p. 2

[21] Stanley M. Horton, Systematic Theology, p. 451

[22] Frank D. Macchia Groans to deep for words. p. 2

[23]Allan Norling, , Jesus the Baptiser with the Holy Spirit, (Sydney, Alken Press 1994) p. 32

[24] Davids, “Tongues” in Dictionary of the Later New Testament…”

[25] Gordon Fee, The New International commentary on the New Testament, The First Epistle To The Corinthians 1987, (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1987) p. 656

[26] Roli G. dela Cruz Salvation in Christ and Baptism in Spirit: A Response to Robert Menzies, “Evidential Tongues: An Essay on Theological Method” Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies 1:2 (August 1998)

[27] I asked him the question regarding the danger of nominalism throughout Pentecostalism, during a series of lectures by him, held at Southern Cross Bible College, Chester Hill Sydney Australia, in 2006.

Predestination and the Elect – What the New Testament says.

Over the years I have had many discussions with Christians over the doctrine of Predestination. It can be a heated topic, one that can get Christians hot under the collar, and seeking the Lord regarding the truth of the matter. So the purpose of this essay is to look at what the New Testament says about Predestination.

There are four verses in the NT that translates the Greek into Predestined,
1. Rom 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
2. Rom 8:30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
3. Eph 1:5 he[3] predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
4. Eph 1:11 In him we were also chosen,[5] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,

There are two other verses that translate it as determined and destined,
1. Act 4:28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.
2. 1Co 2:7 No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.

As Christ centred theologians, it is important that we look at the context surrounding these scriptures to find what it is they are really saying. Starting with Acts; the background is that Peter and John were jailed for preaching Christ Act 4:1 after they healed a man from his lameness. In the course of his sermon, Peter clearly speaks of the death and resurrection of Christ. Then speaks of what it was that God predestined, and that was that Christ would die through the hands of mankind, and would raise to life again.

Turning to Romans

Rom 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Rom 8:30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

The key verse to understanding God having predestined us is in the word Foreknew . Paul says that it is those he foreknew who he predestined, and who was it that he foreknew? So a faithful translation of the text would be,

Those he glorified, he had justified, those he justified he had called, those he called he had called he had predestined; those he predestined were those he knew would accept his Son Jesus Christ and what he done for them.

Is important to have the understanding of Gods foreknowledge in mind when we think about the elect. Who are the elect?

Another important word in determining what Scripture is truly saying is the word Foreknowledge. It is used twice in the NT.

1. Act 2:23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,[4] put him to death by nailing him to the cross.

2. 1Pe 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 1Pe 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

In Acts Peter speaks of Christ being handed over, that God knew it would happen. Indeed Jesus often spoke of his impending death, explaining the Scriptures to his disciples. In the 1 Peter passage, Peter is telling the Christians that they are Gods elect according to His foreknowledge, and from the Romans passage we have the explanation as to what elect means. Peter is encouraging those who suffered through the dispersion, knowing that their suffering has been a result of their obedience to Christ. Then he tells them that the Spirit has sanctified them, Christs shed blood, reminding them of Christs own sacrifice.

Moving onto the Ephesians passage we need to look at the whole passage and what it is that Paul is truly saying.

Eph 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Eph 1:2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Eph 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us
in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Eph 1:4 For he chose us
in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love
Eph1:5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in
accordance with his pleasure and will–Eph 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace,
which he has freely given us in the One he loves. Eph 1:7 In him we have redemption
through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s
grace Eph 1:8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.Eph 1:9 And
he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he
purposed in Christ, Eph 1:10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached
their fulfilment–to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head,
even Christ. Eph 1:11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,

In verse 5, he is saying that God had predetermined that there would be an adoption through Christ before the creation of the world, and indeed we read a reference to this in Genesis when God tells Eve that her seed would crush the serpents head. God had determined that there would be salvation of mankind and it is in this context that Paul is speaking of Predestination – or that God had already determined that Christ would come, Christ would die, and Christ would live again.
In verse 11 the context is in that Paul is speaking of the Jews being the first born to receive the hope of Christ. God had determined that it was the Jews whom Christ would come. God determined before the creation of the world that indeed Christ would come. God determined that Christ would come through Abraham and that through him a great nation would grow.

Finally we need to look at 1Co 2:7 No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.

The word destined is the same word translated Predestined, and here it speaks of Christ being Gods wisdom for the sinfulness of mankind. Again Paul is consistent in saying that God had determined Christ would be our savior before time began.

Therefore we can confidently say that the NT does not speak of predestination in that God chooses some to be saved and not others, rather it says that God knows who will be saved and accept his message and that it was Christ who he predestined, 1Ti 2:6 to give himself as a ransom for all.


In this discourse, on the practice and nature of prayer, I am going to look at prayer as being the major part of the relationship we have with God, which brings much glory to him. I will use the analogy of two people deeply in love, or perhaps it is more like a suitor pursuing us winning us over with their love for us, and as we become more aware of that love for us, we too in kind start reciprocating that same love back to our suitor. Like any good relationship, there are needed at least two individuals or groups of people to be involved in some form of active communication, both with their individuality and common bonding as well. To use a coin as an example;

The first side of the coin having the royal head imprinted on it represents God and his sovereignty. Here I will explain this as the, “Nature of Prayer”, looking at the Trinitarian aspect of relationship within the Godhead, and how God draws us to himself in relationship, and prayer is the dialog within that relationship.

The opposite side of the coin is imprinted with Gods creation, and here I will speak about our human side of prayer, how we pray, why we pray, labelling this, “The Practice of Prayer”. It is my aim to show that the practice of prayer is the only means through which we can truly glorify God.

Like all money, a coin is only representative of worth, and so thirdly I am going to look at what I will call the Results of Prayer, or the Worth of Prayer, which is what, happens when both parties come together in healthy relationship with each other. Here I will show that the result of prayer is the means to which we enjoy God. We enjoy God through basking in his presence, enjoying his company throughout life, putting into practice what Brother Lawrence learnt to do, in practicing the presence of God, [1] as well as enjoying all that God wants us to enjoy.

Nature of Prayer.

Pinnock says, “That the Spirit of God is known through prayer”[2], and that each member of the Trinity gazes their eyes on each other in unadulterated love. Therefore prayer is the means to which we join in the celebration of the Trinitarian dance adding a 4th dimension to it, through the invitation of God[3] to come and partake in him. It is the means in which we commune with our living God, and it is the means through which we receive from God. This invitation to pray is both individualistic and corporate, God woos us to himself, to come and spend time with himself, to receive from himself and he also beckons us to come together corporately whether it be only two or three people coming together to pray, or a whole congregation /s of his people coming together to seek him out, for he also promises to be in our midst. (Matt 18:20)

Gods invitation to us to come to him and spend time in communion with him is a open ended invite, one in which he expects that we will boldly come to him any time, any place. He is continually calling and drawing us to himself through the person of the Holy Spirit. In prayer we dialog and commune with the fullness of the God head, we pray to the Father, in the Holy Spirit, through Jesus the Son.

For it is the Holy Spirit whose role is to convince us of our need for God’s redemption, it is the Holy Spirit who brings about the truth of Christ into our inward parts, as well as showing us the judgement of the devil. (John 16: 8-14) It is the Holy Spirit who deposits into our hearts the gift of faith to believe in him (Eph 2:8). And it is the Holy Spirit who is the ultimate gift to us from God, who dwells within us, who empowers us, who gifts us, who prompts us to pray, continually calling us to him self. True prayer then is initiated by God; His Spirit makes known to us Gods thoughts, who then after we have prayed (Rom 8:26) God hears them as we have prayed according to his will and will grant what we have requested. (1Jo 5:14-15)

God is also absolutely faithful, there is no deceit within the Trinity, and is bound together with love and this same faithfulness and love also extends outward towards us in that he is completely trustworthy according to his word to us, calling us with arms open wide ready to embrace us.

The Practice of Prayer.

Prayer is the initial action in which we glorify God by being truly humble before him, and the greatest way to humble ourselves before God is to boldly come to him, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, seeking Gods mercy and provision in a time of need, and not only for our own needs, also for the needs of the community and world in which we live. [4] Prayer is our communication to our Living God, and to truly be effective it involves an ever deepening level of honesty from within us.

Our prayer life should represent two people in love spending time with one another. It involves non verbal communication like two people who are communicating to each other on a spiritual / emotional plane. (Rom 8:26) as well as using our vocal abilities of confessing wrongdoings, asking for forgiveness, asking for help, singing praises, allowing ourselves to allow our emotions full reign and giving thanks to the lover of our souls for what ever it is he has done for us.

Prayer is to bring glory to God, and never to our selves and it ensures this through the action of our humbling ourselves before him. Prayer is the first fruit of humility and while the way we live our lives, showing forth the fruit of the Spirit, living in harmony with each other also brings glory to God, we can only do this through living prayerful lives, and is the only evidence of our dependency upon God.[5]

True humility means that we want and desire for ourselves all that God wants for us, and not only just for ourselves, we are to desire for our families, communities, nation and the world in which we live to have all that God desires for them, bringing their true needs to God in prayer.

Therefore to come to God in true prayer we must first have the mindset of what it is God wants for us, and then we can be sure of receiving the very thing we ask for. (Jam 1:5-6, 1 Jo 5:14)

The very first step of humility is when we acknowledge our need for forgiveness, in that place where we become born again. E. M Bounds describes this perfectly in saying,

Humility is born by looking at God, and his holiness,

and then looking at self and mans unholiness.[6]

Ones prayer life must always be continued in the attitude of being humble before God, and in fact prayer can and will be meaningless ritual when we take our eyes of the majesty of our living God and how he wants to continue in relationship with us. This attitude of humility must also be born out in community, where Gods people live, and worship together, each loving their neighbour and in this state of humility God promises to answer all our prayers. (1 Jo 3:21-23)

The Result of Prayer.

Piper in his book, “Desiring God” which is about Christian Hedonism, writes “…that the pursuit of our joy, and the pursuit of Gods glory are meant to be one and the same is the teaching of Jesus on prayer in the Gospel of John…”[7]

The result of prayer is unbroken communion with God. An important element of relationship is in the doing things for each other, living a certain way that is pleasing and beneficial to the other, trusting one another and a result of prayer is that we find what pleases God and when we ask God to provide things that pleases him to do so, we know he will do it, in the same way that we also start to live a live pleasing to God. The difference being is that we are sinful and God is not, we will fail, while God will never fail, we can be faithless while God is and will be always faithful.

Prayer is what brings about revival, renewal, sustenance and empowerment in our individual lives and corporate gatherings as well as into our communities and the world in which we live. It is through prayer that we truly come to know the character and nature of God; it is through prayer that we come to the personal knowledge of God and not just knowledge about God. God promises that if we truly make him the desire of our hearts, then we will receive that very desire. (Pro 8:17)

Another result of prayer is that it brings about deeper and committed relationships between those who pray together and for one another. True prayer helps us to stop judging and criticising others; instead it builds love in our lives by directing us to pray for the building up of the other person/s and our selves as well as changing the community in which we live. [8]

True prayer causes us to live within a life that shows the truth of what is known as the Lords Prayer (Matt 6:9-13) It brings about relationship with our living God, it brings about a knowledge of and obedience to of Gods will, it brings about a honesty within ourselves, acknowledging our lack as we ask God to provide all that we need, accepting his feeding and providing for us on a daily basis, forgiving us and helping us to forgive others, strengthening us against temptation and delivering us from the evil one instead of relying on our own pitiful weakness to live the Christian life in our own strength.


I have been keeping to the theme of Prayer being the dialog between two people in love, the reason being is that for far to long Christians have thought of prayer as being something they have to do, and with that mindset come to God in a state of legalism, and whenever we come under legalism there can be no enjoyment in what ever it is we do.

Prayer by its very nature has to be experiential and I would like to share a deep and personal experience I had about this very issue.

In 2001 I was walking down the back paddock of the property we were renting, holding my then three year old sons left hand, and a huge feeling of pride and joy welled up within me, as we talked about the clouds, the grass, the animals and life in particular and I truly enjoyed my sons company, proud to be his dad, when my left hand suddenly was lifted up and I had a vision of God walking down the paddock holding my left hand, while I held my sons left hand and felt him say to me, “Craig, in the same way you love your son and appreciate his company in a way he can never know, I too love you and enjoy your company more then you can ever know”

The Westminster Confession of Faith states that, “Mans chief and highest end is to glorify God and fully to enjoy him forever.”[9] This statement I believe captures the essence of prayer, and that we are to enjoy God, we are to enjoy his company through out life and that God enjoys our company in return, and like two people deeply in love with each other we too are to hold Gods hand, as we walk through life, talking to him about ourselves, what is happening in our lives, what is happening in the life of others, and in the community and world in which we live, and not only just talk, but also exercising the gift of listening, allowing God to speak back to us, allowing him to share his love, and his answers to our prayers. The result of prayer is that each looks out for the best interests of each other, which brings about the glorification of God in doing this. God is glorified by looking after us, and we Glorify God through the way we live our lives keeping in step with God.


Bounds, E.M., The Complete Works of E. M. Bounds on Prayer (Grand Rapids Mi, Baker Books 1990)

Carson, D. A., A Call to Spiritual Transformation (Grand Rapids Mi, Baker Books, 1992)

Castelli, Jim., How I Pray (New York, Ballantine Books, 1994)

Copeland, Germaine., A Call to Prayer (Oklahoma, Harrison House Inc, 1987)

Eastman, Dick., No Easy Road (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 1971)

Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, Confession of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechisms

Harper, Michael., Let My People Grow (Great Briton, Hodder and Stoughton, 1977)

Laurie, Greg., Wrestling With God ( USA, Multnomah Press, 2003)

Maxwell, John., Partners in Prayer (Nashville, Thomas Nelson 1996)

Murray, Andrew., The Prayer Life(Moody Press, USA)

Pinnock, Clark H., Flame of Love (intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, 1996)

Piper, John., Desiring God (England, Intervarsity Press, 1986)

Revell, Fleming H., The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 1958)

Rinker, Rosalind., Prayer Conversing With God (Grand Rapids, Zondervan Publishing, 1974)

Torrey, R.A., How To Pray (U.S.A, Whitaker House, 1983)

Wagner, C. Peter., Praying with Power (California, Regal Books 1997)

Watson, David., Discipleship (Great Briton, Hodder and Stoughton, 1981)

[1] Fleming. H. Revell, The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 1958) [2] Clark H, Pinnock, Flame of Love (intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, 1996) p. 13[3] Ibid., p. 46[4] David Watson, Discipleship, (Great Briton, Hodder and Stoughton, 1981) p. 121

[5] Pinnock, Flame of Love, p. 146

[6] E.M. Bounds, The Complete Works of E. M. Bounds on Prayer (Grand Rapids Mi, Baker Books 1990) p. 88

[7] John Piper, Desiring God (England, Intervarsity Press, 1986) p.137

[8] David Watson, Discipleship, (Great Briton, Hodder and Stoughton, 1981) p. 131

[9] Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, Confession of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechisms