Sunday, October 29, 2006

Cessationism and Apostles

Just been preaching on Acts 4v23-37
Don’t let anyone mislead you that miracles and signs and wonders were just for the 12 Apostles and for just back then in NT days. Stephen in Acts 6v8 was doing signs and preaching with authority, and he was just a waiter at church. Philip was just a deacon too and in Acts 8v6 he is doing signs and preaching powerfully. It wasn’t just the Apostles. It is not just the regenerating and transforming work of the Spirit making our characters like Christ that continues up to today, but the power and gifts to do healings, prophesy, deliverance and to do signs and wonders – they’re all the Spirit’s work for today too. All to glorify Jesus' name.
Some people claim 2 Cor 12v12 means signs and wonders were only done by the 12 Apostles.
Paul is speaking and he says "The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works." I did logic as part of my course at Uni and just because signs and wonders are a necessary sign of being an Apostle doesn't prove no one else can do them anymore! All its saying is you can't have been an Apostle without having done them. If I say "all dinosaurs must have scales, all dinosaurs are extinct, therefore no animals have scales anymore", that is not logically proven is it?
I was recently at a CU meeting where 8 people got healed when the CU members started praying for each other. There certainly weren't any apostles there!

Now we must be careful. Whilst 8 people did get healed a couple of weeks ago, others that were prayed for didn’t. Healing is not always the answer God gives. The obvious thing to say is everyone dies – so clearly God doesn’t always heal. We must be sensitive. My sister was in a car crash 5 years ago and was in a coma. We got hundreds of people around the world praying for her whilst we went and prayed earnestly by her bedside. But she died. God doesn’t always heal. We must let God be God and trust in his infinite wisdom and love as to why he doesn’t. We must never dictate to him. But just because he doesn’t always heal, don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater – don’t not pray for the sick at all. Acts 4v30 actively encourages us to be praying for such things.

God's awesome sovereignty!

Acts 4v25-28
"'Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? 26The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed'
27for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place."

What does the conspiring of mankind and plotting in crucifying Jesus in v25-27 achieve?
V28 it ends up doing whatever God’s hand and plan had predestined to take place.
It fulfils God’s eternal plan.
God is sovereign. He is totally in control. We can’t catch him out.
God is so in control of this universe that the whole world coming together against him and executing his Son, far from defeating his plans, fulfils his very salvation plan from the beginning of time!
We wave our puny fists in God’s face and try to overthrow Jesus’ kingship and all along we just end up fulfilling God’s plan.
That is why it is utter folly to oppose God. That is why the peoples plot in vain. That is why the Lord laughs at the Kings that unite together in opposing him.

If the sovereign Lord of the universe is on your side and all his opponents efforts just fulfil his plans – what is there to fear?
Think of a few chapters on in Acts. Stephen gets martyred for his faith in chapter 7. This leads to the church scattering to Samaria and people getting converted there… fulfilling 1v8. Jesus’ commission to take the gospel to Jerusalem, Judea and then Samaria. Opposition leads to God’s plans being fulfilled. So don’t fear it, but be bold.
Stephen’s angelic-like behaviour at his stoning is also a factor in Saul’s conversion who then gets converted and ends up writing half the New Testament whilst taking the gospel to the ends of the earth – again fulfilling 1v8 - Jesus’ commission to take the gospel to Jerusalem, Judea and then Samaria and then the ends of the earth.
Opposition, in God’s sovereignty, ends up fulfilling his purposes. So don’t fear it, but be bold, trusting that in ALL THINGS, positive and negative God is working for the good of those who love him and achieving his grand salvation purposes! Wow - what a God! Let's never diminish his sovereignty - it is to his glory!

John doesn't pull any punches

1 John 2v22 is very striking:
"Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son".
Islam denies the Trinity. It denies the Son - that Jesus is God's Son. Who is behind such teaching according to this verse?

Why being evangelical is essential

1 John 4 is very striking
"1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.... 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error."
The "they" of v5 in the context is the "false prophets" of v1. The test of being a true Christian who "knows God" according to v6 is "listening" to the "us" and "we" of v6. Who is the us/we? Well again the context of the letter in Ch1v1-4 is the Apostles who spent 3 years with Jesus and "heard", "saw" and "touched" him. So as 1v3 suggests and ch4 clarifies, if we are not in fellowship with their teaching then we are not in fellowship with God! We must hold fast to what all of the Apostles taught - which is what the New Testament is. We mustn't pick and choose which bits of the NT to follow!

Father's love letter

If you've never read "The Father's love letter" - I'd highly recommend it. Here's the link.