Sunday, February 26, 2006

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".


Anonymous said...

Amazing quotes!! How you dig these up! They are particularly interesting and insightful - even though John Owen would not have believed in the ongoing Ephesians 4 Ministries today or indeed the spectacular spiritual gifts.

Smooth stones indeed ...

Dr S J

Anonymous said...

I like that ... "Real Cessationism"!! Yes indeed, rather than bickering pointlessly about what gifts may or may no have been removed from the church life that we are meant to be experiencing, how is it that we never speak of or warn against the REAL danger - that of the Spirit ceasing His work and active Presence among us and withdrawing Himself?

That is the ultimate danger here!

Baxter's Boy said...

The ultimate danger of the Christian church today is that we assume that orthodoxy equals the Presence of the Spirit. Yet Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones said; "Perfectly Orthodox - Perfectly Useless!".

What is the criteria for the Lord pouring out His Spirit? He said it Himself, "If anyone is THIRSTY". That is why I suspect that Toronto is a benefit of His outpouring as are others who may not be reformed or evangelical. Because they thirst!

Don said...

Amen, Dan. God goes where He's welcomed, and given a free hand to work, by broken, humble, hungry & thirsty people. Let's just contrast the "sinners and tax-collectors" who "came to him gladly" and were not turned away for their imperfect theology and spiritual immaturity -- with the scripture-saturated scribes and Pharisees who were "inoculated" against receiving the Word walking among them, by their overfamiliarity with the written Word and traditional interpretations of it.

I nearly burst into tears in 1996 in Philadelphia, as I watched Randy Clark call all the leaders up front and ask the Holy Spirit to come and fill them.

A RC priest was at the front alongside other pastors, and began shaking under the power of the Spirit. Randy saw this, quickly walked over to him, and asked the Spirit for MORE filling for this man. The Body of Christ interceding for itself! A formerly Baptist, Vineyard pastor, calling down blessings and power upon a Roman Catholic priest!!

The joy of God filled me to overflowing, as I watched a tiny speck of spiritual unity attract and keep the attention of the Spirit of Christ. Did God care at that moment about correct doctrine -- or about humility and a desire for more *of God?*

This experience of witnessing God's powerful desire to bless his children -- and particularly to bless his servant-shepherds -- helped me to sing "We will break dividing walls/And we will be one" from my heart.

Do I recognize there are clear doctrinal differences that are not insignificant? Sure -- but I learned there is a unity in the Spirit that allows us to put aside many of those differences, to come together in worship and intercession with other Spirit-filled members of the Body of Christ. I learned not to divide when the Spirit of Christ was drawing together.