Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Drawing the Line

One of the arguments against the continuance of the charismatic gifts today is that it would be a challenge to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. Now since I cannot find a basis in Scripture for saying these gifts have passed away, I have to ask it there is a way to avoid this danger. It says in 2 Timothy 3:16,17 that Scripture is profitable for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness that we may be equipped for every good work. That is, the Scripture is the sufficient standard for faith and practice. If someone is claiming to have a new revelation regarding faith and practice, they are claiming to be providing us with new Scripture. If they do so they must pass the Scriptural tests for genuine inspiration, the primary one being that everything they say must square with the Word of God (Isaiah 8:20; Galatians 1:8,9: Deuteronomy 13:1-5). I know of no one who makes such a claim who passes all the tests. But does this answer all the questions?

Now there are other sets of questions that Scripture does not deal with, such as how to cook roast beef or how to use a computer. But there is a set of questions that lies somewhere in the middle. These involve questions such as where should I live, what should I do for a career, praying for someone that God brings to my mind, and numerous other similar issues. These must be decided some way, whether by our human reason and common sense, circumstances, subjective experience, or some combination of these. There is danger in all of these. Scripture warns against too easily trusting in our human wisdom or sense (1 Corinthians 3:18; Proverbs 3:5,6; Colossians 2:8). Nor can we simply follow every impulse, but must carefully test if it is from God (1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1-3; Jeremiah 17:9). Nor can we always trust in circumstances, for God does call us to trust Him in spite of circumstances (Hebrews 11:8-12; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Romans 4:17-22). While all these things should be considered, every individual situation must be carefully examined to discern what God wants us to to do. And while I am convinced God is in control of the world and will direct us to where He wants us to be (Ephesians 2:10; 1:11; Romans 8:28), it is still necessary to decide what we should do next. It is in this area I would understand the charismatic gifts (short of the claim of actual inspiration) to function. And this is where I would draw the line.

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