Friday, November 18, 2005

Squabbling Under the Christmas Tree ...

Crikey ... it seems when I stumbled across Phil Johnson's "Finale" on the 'fact' that C H Spurgeon was a cessationist, this was just the tip of the iceburg ... check out this "pillow-fight" blog entry that details very accurately all the bloggers who are raging to and fro, back and forth on spiritual gifts, and whether or not they continue!!

It's quite a list, and one that doesn't look like it's gonna end very soon. Oh, and Mark Heath weighs in with his 'open-but-cautious-yes-prophecy-might-exist-but-the-Word-is-better' entry:

How these people have the time to read all these blogs beats me, I only get to write when I'm on night shifts!!

So my primary interest is back to C H Spurgeon and his 'cessationism' because that's what caught my eye. The issue at stake seems to be that Christians on both sides of the debate - cessationist and charismatic, seem to love nothing more than finding and claiming heroes who are dead that seem to support their position. I am guilty of exactly such a thing. Nothing thrills my heart more than when I turn the page of a dusty Puritan tome and there in print seems to be words that would back up what my heart believes. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. We are meant to learn from those who have gone before, and thank goodness their words are preserved for us in print. Thank God for those who invested their time in writing and not just "coffee time"!!

But the point is ... can ANYONE really prove that such and such a hero was either a cessationist or a charismatic??! The hero is in glory!! And also ... so what?? Spurgeon was a cessationist ... big deal! (Or in my case boo-hiss-boo). Or Spurgeon was a charismatic ... big deal! Does it really change my beliefs? Unless he brings illumination into the Word of God that is utterly convincing that the gifts of the Spirit have irrevocably ceased, then I can still benefit gloriously from his awesome ministry, but I will gloss over those quotes Phil Johnson dug up. Am I making myself clear?

So back to the question ... was Spurgeon a cessationist? I dunno. Johnson's quotes seem quite convincing and it would fit in with the time frame of those particular writers. Quite a few of the Puritan writers such as Jonathan Edwards were as well, and that doesn't cause me a problem.

But what I DID find and discover ... and what DOES make a difference for me was that C H Spurgeon TOTALLY and UTTERLY believed in the awesome and dynamic power of the Holy Spirit coming down in a flood to change a believer by sealing him or her, baptising him or her, filling him or her, whatevering him or her!! And to me - that's what counts. Yes I love and cherish the gifts of the Spirit, but I'm just not liking the obsession with them at the moment, and we have the Third Wavers to thank for that (and SGM although they don't seem to be keen on affections at the moment ... see Bob Kauflin's "God isn't my boyfriend" comments).

Over to C H Spurgeon:

"Am I not so happy as to have in this audience some who will immediately ask for this blessing? I pray that some who have never received the Holy Spirit at all may now be led, while I am speaking to pray; "Blessed Spirit, visit me, lead me to Jesus".

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones comments: "He is here referring to unbelievers who have not received the Spirit at all and he is exhorting them to pray there and then as he was preaching".

C H S continues:

"But especially those of you that are the children of God, to you is this promise especially made".

Lloyd-Jones butts in: "He is referring to the promise of having this blessing of the Spirit which will lead to rivers of living water flowing out from the inward parts".

C H S continues:

"Ask God to make you all that the Spirit of God can make you, not only a satisfied believer who has drunk for himself, but a useful believer who overflows the neighbourhood with blessing. I see here a number of friends from the country who have come to spend their holidays in London. What a blessing it would be if they went back to their respective churches overflowing; for there are numbers of churches that need flooding; they are as dry as a barn floor and little dew ever falls on them. Oh that they might be flooded! What a wonderful thing a flood is!

Go down to the river, look over the bridge and see the barges and other craft lying in the mud. All the kings horses and all the kings men cannot tug them out to sea; there they lie, dead and motionless as the mud itself. What shall we do with them? What machinery can move them? ... No it cannot be done! Wait till the tide comes in! What a change! Each vessel walks the water like a thing of life. What a difference between the high tide and the low tide. You cannot stir the boats when the water is gone, but when the tide is at the full see how readily they move, a little child may push them with his hand. Oh for a flood of grace! The Lord send to all our churches a spring tide! Then the indolent will be active enough and those who are half dead will be full of energy. I know that in this particular dock several vessels are lying that I should like to float but I cannot stir them. They neither work for God nor come out to the prayer meetings, nor give of their substance to the Gospel.

If the flood would come, you would see what they are capable of! They would be active, fervent, generous, abounding in every good word and work. So may it be! So may it be! May springs begin to flow in all our churches, and may all of you who hear me this day, get your share of the streams! Oh that the Lord may now fill you and send you home bearing a flood of grace with you. It sounds oddly to speak of a mans carrying home a flood with him, and yet I hope it will be so, and that out of you shall flow rivers of living water. So may God grant for Jesus' sake".

Ref: CHS, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol 28 (1882), pp 311-12

and D M L-J's Commentary on CHS: Romans - Exposition of Chapter 8:5-17 "The Sons of God" (pp322-323).

So with a prayer like that, a preacher like that and a sermon like that, my heart is full!! THAT is the Holy Spirit I believe in!! That is the Holy Spirit I long for and expect for and hope for!! Yes, lets talk about spiritual gifts, but they are just a mark of His Presence. Surely the goal must be His Presence itself!! Surely the main thing is the 'passing by' of the God of Moses!

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