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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Are tongues speaking, daily conversions and self-sacrifice marks of a Biblical Church?

My last post got way too long before I addressed all of Lem’s comments from a few days ago. So here are the rest of Lem’s remarks (in black) and my response to them (in blue)….
“The book of Acts has many references to speaking in tongues. There are counterfeit ones and genuine ones. In other words, we would truly see God's glory a lot more in such a church.”
Lem, am I right to assume from your comment above that you feel that, if the genuine gift of tongues was being exercised in a church, people would see God’s glory a lot more?   I’m wondering….why would you think that the exercise of the gift of tongues would manifest the glory of the Lord more than the exercise of any other gift of the Spirit?
Consider with me the wide array of spiritual gifts that God has given to the Body of Christ…
In Ephesians 4 we have 5 kinds of people who are given as gifts to the church: (1)apostles or sent ones, (2)prophets, (3)evangelists or Gospel preachers, (4) pastors or shepherds and (5)teachers.
Then in Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12 we have a list of 15 abilities which are given by God for the edifying of the Body of Christ: prophecy, ministry or service, teaching, exhorting, giving, ruling, showing mercy, the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, discerning of spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues.
Does the exercise of one gift bring more glory to God than that of any other? Or is it not God’s purpose and desire to be glorified in all that we do all the time (I Cor.10:31)?
The apostle Peter, in 1 Peter 4:10&11 teaches the following about God’s purpose to be glorified in the exercise of every believer’s spiritual gift:  “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

So there are a variety of ways in which God may be robbed of His glory and believers may be robbed of the edification that God intends relative to the exercise of spiritual gifts:
(1)if we acknowledge a distinction between clergy and laity and thus place all the
   responsibility for ministry upon one member, rather than many (Romans 12:3-5)
(2) if we forbid the exercise of a particular spiritual gift (i.e. tongues I Cor.14:39)
(3) if we seek preeminence for ourselves and lack consideration for others (Philippians 2:3-5)
(4)if we are not good stewards of the grace of God and refuse to minister to others what God has entrusted to us. (I Peter 4:10,11)
(5) if we seek to exercise any spiritual gift in violation of specific scriptural instructions given to the apostles through the Spirit of God Himself!  (I Cor.14:23-40)

So, in churches whose practices and traditions are truly biblical, the people of God will vigilantly guard against all of the above. They will seek to practice apostolic traditions which bring glory to God and edify His people!

Lem continued: “The book of Acts also says, numbers of believers were added daily. Can you imagine that..DAILY! Some churches only get one every year.”
You are right, brother, and glorious days those were. Keep in mind that “the church” referred to in Acts 2 was the church in the city of Jerusalem. (It was not a church in a steeple house.) On the Day of Pentecost, that church numbered well over 3,000 people and by Acts 4:4 (likely within a few days or weeks) there were about 5,000 males in the Jerusalem church. So if women were also included it would have easily numbered over 10,000! But none of that adding of believers to the church was done by the efforts of men. Adding believers to the church is always the work of the Lord! It is simply our responsibility to preach the Gospel to those around us, to obey what the Lord has commanded us and to leave the results to Him.  I would also suggest that, in very many cities today, the Lord is daily adding believers to His church! We don’t see the extent of that for we don’t see the extent of Gospel work and testimony that is being done by all the saints in our cities! But may we seek God’s face that we might have a far greater compassion for the lost and be more diligent in bearing testimony for Him!
“Finally there is the self-sacrificing spirit of the people, willing to consecrate their entire lives, life savings and possessions for sole purpose of reaching the poor and needy, and spreading the gospel.
Lem, (while  there is no apostolic traditions that says we must have tongues speaking or tongues speakers in every church and there is no apostolic tradition that says we must be seeing people saved every day) you are absolutely right here… believers and churches which are seeking to obey apostolic traditions are not seeking to amass earthly wealth, possessions or property! Rather they are marked by sacrifice and generous giving to meet the temporal and eternal needs of those around them. BTW, the very common tradition of men known as “saving” is soundly forbidden by the Lord Jesus and the apostles!  The scriptural equivalent of “saving” is described in the words of the Lord Jesus as, “laying up treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupts and where thieves break through and steal”! (See Matthew 6:19-21)
In the words of the apostles it is taught in these words:
1 Corinthians 16:1,2  Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as  God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

2 Corinthians 8:13-15)  For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.

2 Corinthians 9:6-9)  But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

May the Lord search our hearts and may we be willing to abandon any and all traditions of men which are contrary to commands of the Lord Jesus passed down to us by the apostles!

(I’ve been planning for some time to discuss apostolic traditions relative to finances and giving. Consider the above as a brief intro to that subject to be considered more fully in blogs to come.)

Lem concluded his comments with these words:
Otherwise, if none of these fruits exist (signs and wonders, tongues speaking and daily conversions), I'll have a hard time believing that God is with such an ekklesia.
Dear brother Lem,  whether or not the Lord’s presence is with a particular ekklesia has never been the question!  Where ever there are believers in the Lord Jesus and where ever believers gather, the Lord is with them!  He has guaranteed that by His promise in Hebrews 13:5.  Our discussions here have not been for the purpose of determining whether or not God is present in our gatherings. Rather, the purpose of our discussions has been to consider whether or not our practices are biblical or unbiblical, i.e. are they obedient to apostolic traditions or disobedient to such,  in other words how much do we love the Lord?  The acid test of our love for Him is our answer to this question: “Are we obedient to His commands given to us through the apostles?”  (See John 14:15,21;  15:10; I John 5:2,3 and II John 1:6)
I hope this answers the questions you have posted so far, brother.  And I hope you’ll continue to join in the discussions of these important matters!
Your brother in Christ,  Bruce

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