|Back to Main Page|
The Gifts Are For Today - Part IV
Scripture Cannot Be Broken
"Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I said, you are gods'? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came--and Scripture cannot be broken-- do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?" (Joh 10:34-36)
What, precisely, did Jesus mean by "scripture cannot be broken"? In context, it seems He means 'You must accept the full implications of a verse. You cannot shirk a verse, not even a word of a verse, just because it is inconvenient to your position." Here, He refutes their notion that He must be blaspheming, since He refers to Himself as God's Son, by quoting scripture that they say they accept that also refers to men as 'gods'. If they accept that verse, they must own the full implications of that verse.
He used similar reasoning when He defended His disciples for picking heads of grain on the sabbath:
"And he said to them, "Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?" (Mar 2:25-26)
In other words, "You have no quarrel with David, even though scripture shows he broke the Law. So, why are you giving these men a hard time?"
I believe we students of the Bible must consider the ominous truth that we are the people most likely to be tempted to break a verse. The more we own a certain doctrinal position, the more we are tempted to bend, ignore, and, yes, even break scriptures that do not help our cause. On this page, I will consider several passages concerning the gifts of the Spirit: God help us all to "buy the truth and sell it not" (Pr 23:23).
Broken Verse One:
You Christians who do not believe the gifts are for today - who gave you the right to break Ps 103:3? When you admit that you believe God forgives all our iniquities, but don't believe He heals all our diseases, you are contradicting Jesus Christ, who declared 'scripture cannot be broken'. The Word of God is either true or it is not. How long will you halt between two opinions?
It is written, "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded." (Jam 4:8) Notice the order? We are to draw near first. Notice how we 'draw near'? By repenting, especially of our "double-mindedness". Draw near to God by believing His word and He will draw near to you by confirming it.
Broken Verse Two:
How did Paul know God had chosen the Thessalonians? Because the gospel did not come into their midst in word only, but it also came in power and in the Holy Spirit. In other words, "the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs" (Mk 16:20) Again, who do you think you are, saying 'It is enough that the gospel come to people by word and full conviction: We'll preach and they'll repent. There is no need for power and the Holy Spirit to accompany the gospel.'? When you say this, and carry on like this, you are breaking the scripture and contradicting it. Our passage here lists four parts to scriptural evangelism - two are earthly and two are heavenly. We humans preach and we humans experience conviction. Yet, the Holy Spirit anoints our lips to preach, as well as our ears to hear and our hearts to believe. And, that all things might be established by two or three witnesses, God confirms His presence and approval by the working of His power in our midst.
God was there when the man John the Baptist baptized the man Jesus Christ, for His voice came from heaven and His Spirit descended in visible form. He was there when Philip preached in Samaria, for demons came out and the lame were healed (Acts 8:7). The fathers of our faith implored God to be with them so that they might be bold to preach "while you stretch our your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus" (Acts 4:30) Please note this verse does not say "Please keep doing these things until the bible is finished".
Broken Verse Three:
This verse states simply and clearly that God "supplies the Spirit" to us (present tense) and "works miracles" among us (present tense). Further, this verse gives us only two choices for why God gives people His Spirit and works miracles among them... and "living in the First Century" is not one of the choices. When anyone says "God worked miracles in the early Church because the bible wasn't finished yet" that person is contradicting the Word of God spoken by the Apostle Paul. No, God works miracles among those who hear the Word and believe it. If your congregation lacks the open manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit, it is not because it was started hundreds and hundreds of years too late. It is because you have not heard the Word in faith.
Now, I know that much of Christendom is simply ignorant about the gifts - they haven't heard or have been taught incorrectly. But Paul wrote about the gifts in First Corinthians (chapters 12 and 14) precisely because he wanted to dispel that ignorance (1Cor 12:1). Further, the Word tells us God's people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hos 4:6). Better men than you or me struggled and died that we might have a bible in our own language, but you won't read it for yourself and believe it? You'd rather let the guy up front tell you what it says and means. How can God honor that? Or, worse, you have read it, you do know what the Word says, and yet refuse to submit and believe. Perhaps you are like Nicodemus - a company man, who wouldn't buck the system even though he believed. King Saul's son Jonathan was like that, too. He loved David, but wouldn't leave his father. He stayed in the palace with Saul rather than go out to David in the cave. So, he died with Saul. Choices have consequences. Choose this day whether you will believe the Word, or not. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord and tremble at His word, no matter what the rebellious and unbelieving say.
Broken Verse Four:
Very simply, anyone who says "Evangelists, pastors and teachers are valid today, but apostles and prophets are not" breaks verse 11. People do this without any hesitation, even though Jesus Christ, whom they claim as their Savior and Lord, has declared "Scripture cannot be broken".
These 'verse 11 breakers' are totally without excuse, because the rest of the passage not only tells us why the Offices were given, it also tells us for how long they were given. Verse 13 does NOT say the Offices of the Church were given until the bible was finished. Rather, it says they were given until we all attain an awesome list of accomplishments. Now, it is patently obvious that "we all" have not even arrived at a unity of the faith, let alone the stature of the fullness of Christ. Therefore, the Offices of the Church have not yet finished their good work and are still "given". Or, did you forget that great promise of God:
"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, (11) so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." (Is 55:10-11)
If Apostles and Prophets were given to the Church to bring us to complete unity and full maturity, so that we conform to the image of Jesus Christ, and if we have not yet arrived at this blessed state, and if Apostles and Prophets are now gone from among us, then they were given in vain and did not finish the purpose for which they were given. If they are gone, though their work is unfinished, then Isaiah 55:10-11 is wrong: Either Isaiah was a false prophet or God's word has failed.
Rest assured, Isaiah was a true prophet of God and God's word has not failed, for it still impossible for God to lie. Yet, that means Apostles and Prophets are still valid and relevant gifts to the Church. Stop walking by sight; start walking by faith. Stop saying, "I don't see any, so they must be gone" and start saying, "God has promised them to us until the church is completely finished. Thank you, Lord, for these gifts to us!"
Broken Verse Five:
Peter declares that "all" who repent and are baptized will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is the same gift Jesus had earlier told Peter was the "promise of the Father" (Acts 1:4). The is the same gift that caused 120 disciples (not just the first Apostles) to prophesy and speak in other tongues just prior to Peter's declaration quoted above (Acts 2:33). Those 120 disciples had received it because they were God's "sons and daughters" (Acts 2:!7); Peter now held out the same gift to anyone else who would become God's child by repenting and being saved.
Peter was not holding out the gift of the Holy Spirit to only those who heard him that morning, nor even only to those of his generation, for he said "the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself." That would include you and me today.
Further, Peter was not merely offering an inner peace or witness. He was offering what what had been given to him and his fellow disciples. He was offering to us what was true about the Deacon Stephen: That we could be "full of the Holy Spirit". That Stephen, "full of grace and power", performed "great wonders and signs among the people" (Act 6:8).
Peter offered the gift of the Spirit to us for the same reason he had received it: That we might have power to be Christ's witnesses. That we might preach Him with all boldness while God would stretch out His hand to heal, and signs and wonders would be performed through the name of His holy servant Jesus (Acts 4:30).
Therefore, another non-Apostle - the Deacon Philip - "went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. (6) And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. (7) For unclean spirits came out of many who were possessed, crying with a loud voice, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. (8) So there was much joy in that city. (Act 8:5-8)
What Christian is there today that denies 'Deacon' is a valid church office? What Evangelical Christian wouldn't cheer on any Deacon today who went out to proclaim the Christ? Wouldn't they be happy to hear the people "paid attention to what was being said" and that "there was much joy in that city" where the Deacon preached? Well, why did Samaria pay attention to Philip? Why were they so happy? Because they "saw the signs that he did" - demons cast out and the lame healed.
Whoever denies the gifts of the Spirit are for today directly contradicts not only the Apostle Peter, but the Holy Spirit who spoke through him that Pentecost morning many centuries ago. Such a person is attempting to break scripture by rendering it null and void. And, they hinder the very kingdom they say they want to advance by denying the Church a powerful, scriptural, evangelical tool.
They are like foolish King Saul, who wanted victory for God but would not let his warriors eat the honey dripping down from God (1Sam 14). God's gift in that day was dripping honey; in our day it is flowing oil. Just like Saul long ago, they that attempt to hold us back from the gift of God "trouble the land". They ought to be careful, or they may end up like him.
Broken Verse Six:
Again, most Christians would heartily agree with the first half of this verse - that we ought not to get drunk with wine. Further, most would agree with Paul's reasoning as to why to avoid drunkeness; among other things, it leads to debauchery. Yet, as with the other scriptures cited on this page, many Christians defy Jesus Christ by accepting the first half of this verse while rejecting the second half - be filled with the Spirit.
Of course, I am sure many would argue with me, saying they are just as open to being filled with the Spirit as I am, but they disagree with me on how that filling takes place as well as what that filling would look like that. But we Bible believing Christians don't get to just make it up as we go along; we need to submit to the Word by conforming our doctrine and our walk to what it says.
Well, what does the Bible say about people filled with the Spirit? Did they merely experience an inner peace or joy? Did they merely sit and weep quietly before the Lord or worship Him with tears in their eyes? Of course, these things are valid and edifying, but what does the bible say about those filled with the Spirit?
So, when Paul commands us to be filled with the Spirit, it is obvious that we need to prove we are filled by powerfully glorifying God, edifying His people, and confronting the lost with the truth of Jesus Christ - all with the palpable presence of God.
© Matthew Schilling March 2006
|top of page|