Smooth Stones Taken from Ancient Brooks.
While I continue to read John Owen on "Temptation and Sin" as stated in a previous blog, I was intrigued to read through Owen's Volume on the Work of the Holy Spirit. I would like to emulate C H Spurgeon by providing a number of key quotes that caught my eye with extrodinary relevence I think for us today.
On Real Cessationism.
"Now the cessation of the operations of the Spirit towards men obstinate in ways of sin, after He hath long grieved and vexed, compriseth three things; i) A subduction from them of the means of grace either totally, by the removal of their light and candlestick all the ways of the revelation of the mind and will of God unto them (Revelation 2:5) or as unto the effacacy of the Word towards them where the outward dispensation of it is continuous so that "hearing they shall hear but not understand" (Isaiah 6:9). ii) A giving up of them unto themselves - a consequence of the two former - as to be bound in them "as in chains of darkness". But this is not all. He becomes at length a professed enemy unto such obstinate sinners.
a) He comes upon them as an enemy to spoil them.
b) He will come upon them with spiritual judgements smiting them with blindness of mind and obstinacy of will.
c) He will cast them out of His territories.
d) He will freqently give them a foretaste of the vengence prepared for them.
And then finally iii) A giving up unto themselves or leaving them to their own ways".
"David on his sin feared nothing more than that God would take His Holy Spirit from him. And the fear hereof should influence us unto the utmost care and diligence against sin, for although He should not utterly forsake us - as to those who are true believers - yet He may withdraw His Presence from us, that we may spend the remainder of our days in trouble and our years in darkness and sorrow".
On Spiritual Gifts.
"These gifts, we intend, are not in themselves saving graces, yet they are not to be despised; for they are, as we shall so 'the powers of the world to come' by means whereby the Kingdom of Christ is carried on and propogated in the world".
Warnings to Those Who Would Call Themselves "Apostles".
"Yet I must say, if there be any who pretend to be successors of the apostles as to the extent of their office - power unto all nations notwithstanding whatever they may pretend of such an agreement to take up a portion accomodated unto their ease and interest, while so many nations of the earth lie unattempted as to the preaching of the gospel, they will - one day - be found transgressors of their own profession and will be dealt with accordingly".
Or in other words ... be careful what you title you allow attributed to yourself.
"But what power now over all the churches or authority in all churches, some may fancy or claim to themselves, I know now; but it were wished that men would reckon that care and labour are as extensive in this case as power and authority".
Concerning The Role of the Apostle.
"Wherefore the right and authority of preaching the gospel and converting persons unto the faith, the whole world fell equally under teh care and was in the comission of every apostle".
"The object of apostolic power was two-fold; 1) The World to be converted. 2) The churches gathered of those that were converted whether Jews or Gentiles".
Note; if this was the role of the apostle - may we justifiably ask - HAS the world become converted? If not, then how can the role have ceased with the closing of the canon?
Concerning The Gift of Prophecy.
"To prophesy is nothing, but to declare hidden and secret things by virtue of immediate revelation".
"Only I take it here, both as it signals a faculty of prediction or foretelling things future upon divine revelation or an ability to declare the mind of God from the Word by the especial and immediate revelation of the Holy Ghost".
Is it right then for a pastor to shy away from the predictive place of the gift of prophecy because of the fear of excess?
Concerning the Gift of Knowledge.
"Yet we shall find that it is a perculiar gift and in itself singularly useful however it may be abused ("Knowledge puffeth up") as the best things may be, yea are most liable to".