Waiting for the Utterance…

75c698b093fbe8504d666901de0a33f5I speak in tongues. I am so thankful to be a Pentecostal believer. I would not want to be without that special experience and the ongoing strength that it brings.

I know that there are many (usually charismatic believers) who have the conviction that one can pray in tongues at will, any time. I am content to leave each to their own convictions and I believe one has to work out, with God, their own approach to spirituality. I rejoice that they speak in tongues! But I for one find great confirmation in waiting on the utterance.

The Language of Utterance

The language of utterance comes from Acts 2:4. Here it is in context:

1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

They began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. The KJV actually says, “as the Spirit gave them utterance.” The idea being, of course, that they did not speak in tongues at their own volition but, rather, that the Holy Spirit made them able to, prompted them, etc. So, the view of classical Pentecostals is that the same principle applies going forward: the Holy Spirit at specific times, with whatever frequency, enables the Pentecostal believer to speak in tongues.

Scriptural Evidence

I once asked someone who believes that one can speak in tongues at will where he found Scriptural evidence to do so. He was unable to answer the question. That’s OK. I offered him an answer for the next time someone asks. I told him that I could see how one might see the giving of utterance as a one time act, good from now on. (I don’t think that interpretation can hold up grammatically. The text implies that they only spoke in tongues as he gave them utterance. The utterance given would seem to have a beginning an an end just as their speaking in tongues did on that occasion. Logically, if the Holy Spirit is always giving utterance wouldn’t we be grieving Him if we are not at all times speaking in tongues?)

At any rate, I know there are those who see it that way. But, here is how I find encouragement and confirmation in waiting for the Holy Spirit to give the utterance. When I am praying, there comes a moment when I recognize the Spirit’s urging to pray in tongues. I don’t pray in tongues because I think it is time to, nor do I pray in tongues because I think it will be more efficient (wouldn’t we need to pray exclusively in tongues if that were the case?). I also don’t pray in tongues because I arrive at the conclusion that I don’t know what to pray for. I pray in tongues when I sense the freedom from the Holy Spirit to do so. In a distinct, unmistakable moment in time I go from not even thinking about praying in tongues to being certain that the Holy Spirit is praying through me. In that moment I know that He, the Holy Spirit, is praying according to the will of God and that “he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will (Romans 8:27).”

The Variety of Language

I believe there is an added benefit to waiting for the utterance and that is that I very often experience and utter a unique language. That is, it is not the same phrases every time, but rather news words that come forth.

Have you ever noticed that some people, when they speak in tongues, always seem to be saying the same thing? Now, I can certainly allow that there would be some things that the Holy Spirit would pray consistently in a person’s life. But, if we are indeed speaking a language, it would seem that there would be fresh words and tongues coming forth as the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and for the world relevant to the times we are in.

Renewed Faith

Over the years, the enemy has tried to convince me to doubt my faith in God and even my belief in God. That’s his job. But one of the things that he simply cannot refute or take away from me is the reality that I have experienced what the New Testament calls the “baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5).” Every time the Spirit gives me the utterance, He confirms Scripture, the reality of the existence of God, and the veracity of the Bible all over again.

The Modern “Turn to the Subject”: An Ongoing Study

scottythinks

This article represents an ongoing study for me and will be updated from time to time.

Western culture is yet awash in a detrimental subjectivism which stems from the impact of the modern turn to the subject. Before defining that phrase and more, it is important to confess my presuppositions. 

Enlightenment Still?

kant1 Immanuel Kant

As mentioned above, Western culture yet lies awash in Enlightenment philosophy and, indeed, is still in the Enlightenment period (though many subsequent and intervening eras have been spawned in response). While, indeed, Western culture may have been in a postmodern trance for a time in response to the Enlightenment era and the subsequent eras it spawned, postmodernism failed to convincingly “occupy a standpoint (‘the view from nowhere’) from which it [might] survey all possible standpoints and find them all ‘relative,’ while at the same time [claiming] that there is no such standpoint.”[1] That…

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Planet Earth in the Midst of a Dangerous Paradigm Shift

imageBible-Believing Christians are getting a look at how things could play out in the last days–whether or not current events are themselves part of the end time scenario or simply what I call a “dress rehearsal.” Three realities are rising to the top.

A WORLD WAITING FOR PEACE

First, and interestingly, Donald Trump’s speech at the AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) convention demonstrated just how a treaty might look. In his speech, he was tough and very committed to making a deal between the Palestinians and the State of Israel. It doesn’t matter what one’s opinion of trump is. What is of interest is that he put it in terms of a “deal.” As I listened, I imagined what condition the world would need to be in for such a “deal” to have the impact the Bible says that it will. I pondered the escalation of radical, militant Islam and how impactful it would be if a man could broker a deal between the radicals engulfing the world and Israel. How the world would welcome such a deal if indeed the this radicalism continued to escalate to a global level! Such an agreement would be welcomed as one of the most significant peace accords ever agreed upon!

THE WORLD’S SECURITY FORCES BECOMING OVERWHELMED

Second, like everyone else in the civilized world, I awakened to news of a terrorist attack in Brussels, Belgium, home of the European Union. As I listened, I heard commentary that described how the attacks had overwhelmed the Belgium police force, and how terrorism seems to be overwhelming security forces at a global level. Imagine Paris, and San Bernardino, and Brussels multiplying to London, Sydney, Washington D.C., Tokyo, Berlin, etc. (some of these have already had serious terror attacks).

THE SPIRIT OF ANARCHY

Third, and another reality the world is facing but particularly to be found in America, is the rise of anarchy. I say this because, it seems that at every point people are ready to revolt. A few years ago, Occupy Wall Street was a thing. I remember seeing some of the remnants of that movement as they demonstrated in Union Square in Manhattan. A man at a table was supplying literature on anarchy. While many laughed off this movement, it seems evident that the sentiment is still out there and growing. In a similar way, it seems that ISIS terrorists are able to hide in plain sight, protected by people who are sympathetic with them. I am suggesting that there is more at work than racism, classism, or even religious radicalism. There seems to be a growing thirst for anarchy.

THE MAN OF LAWLESSNESS

Daniel 7:25 speaks of a spirit of anarchy that will mark the approach of the antichrist to the world:

He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws.

Paul speaks of this man in vivid terms:

Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed…The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing…God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness (taken from 2 Thes. 2)

A DANGEROUS PARADIGM SHIFT

What we are presently experiencing in America is not temporary but is rather a paradigm shift and is part of a shift that is happening globally. This shift is setting the stage for the antichrist.

And Now a Word from Ralph Waldo Emerson . . .

 

Now society in towns is infested by persons who, seeing that the sentiments please, counterfeit the expression of them. These we call sentimentalists,—talkers who mistake the description for the thing, saying for having. They have, they tell you, an intense love of nature; poetry,—O, they adore poetry, and roses, and the moon, and the cavalry regiment, and the governor; they love liberty, “dear liberty!” they worship virtue, “dear virtue!” Yes, they adopt whatever merit is in good repute, and almost make it hateful with their praise. The warmer their expressions, the colder we feel; we shiver with cold. A little experience acquaints us with the unconvertibility of the sentimentalist, the soul that is lost by mimicking soul. Cure the drunkard, heal the insane, mollify the homicide, civilize the Pawnee, but what lessons can be devised for the debauchee of sentiment? Was ever one converted? The innocence and ignorance of the patient is the first difficulty: he believes his disease is blooming health. A rough realist, or a phalanx of realists, would be prescribed; but that is like proposing to mend your bad road with diamonds. Then poverty, famine, war, imprisonment, might be tried. Another cure would be to fight fire with fire, to match a sentimentalist with a sentimentalist. I think each might begin to suspect that something was wrong.[1]Emerson_seatededit

What grabbed my attention in this passage of Emerson’s essay, Social Aims, is the line, “talkers who mistake the description for the thing, saying for having.” Emerson called these people sentimentalists—people who “adopt whatever merit is in good repute.” For my purposes, it helps me to describe Christians who mistake their faith profession for the thing itself.

Unfortunately, modern Christian spirituality is such that if it expects anything to happen at all it expects it to happen instantly with little to no effort. Because of this, we frequently allow ourselves to be satisfied with our faith profession. That is, instead of pressing through until we receive an answer, we simply say, “Well, by faith I receive the answer,” and we walk away from the place of prayer unchanged. This . . . taps into our repulsion against anything that makes us feel inadequate or lacking in any way. We bristle against the idea that we are lacking in anything. Rather than allowing the pain of spiritual lack to drive us to prayer, instead we walk away with only our faith profession.

Now don’t get me wrong! I am not suggesting that we should not walk by faith. Nor am I suggesting that every time we go to prayer we leave the secret place having experienced every possible experience. But we must remember that, in prayer, we genuinely come into contact with the Living Lord! Prayer is not therapy or emotional catharsis. It is real and will have real results! Pray until you experience real results![2]

 

[1] Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims, (Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1876), 94-95.

[2] Adapted from, C. Scott Fowler, Contending for the Habit of Daily Prayer, (Smithtown, NY: Issachar Imprints, 2016), 112.

A Word about Donald Trump (You’re Not Gonna Like It!)

It’s time that a few things were said about Donald Trump and the next President of the United States.

trump election article

First, let me clarify a few things:

I am writing to Evangelicals—that’s the group I belong to and understand the most.

Second, I am aware of all of the things that are distasteful to Christians about Donald Trump. I get it: he’s rude, arrogant, his language is bad, and he’s not Christian by our definition. Some would say he is racist, but these days everyone gets labeled racist, and I am not willing to allow a wall and protection against Muslim terrorists to be equated with racism. But, hey, I get it.

With these qualifications in mind, let’s get on with what needs to be said.

My Biggest Concern

My biggest concern is that Donald Trump is going to split the party. I don’t think that means what it used to in a party that is already divided in at least three ways. Nevertheless, there is the real threat that he will form his own party, siphon off conservatives from the herd, and a la Ross Perot, the democrats get their man (or woman in this case). But, even if Trump does not go independent and intentionally split the party, at the rate we are going, because of the sensibilities of various groups who simply cannot imagine themselves pulling the lever for Trump, the party is likely to split itself on principle.

Now, as I said above: I get it. Trump is not a holy man. Here’s my thing though, as it stands right now, I am not prepared to label “holy” anyone  in the current race for the White House. That’s not as judgmental as it sounds. I don’t think American Evangelical Christians do a very good job of discerning the “holy” candidates from the unholy ones. Sure, we are good at recognizing adultery and abortion and same-sex support, and believe, I care about those things. But after that, we get upset at language, etc. Goodness, in our own churches we quibble over the most trivial things and divide ourselves over personality issues! Let me say this: If we think we are going to elect a candidate who is somehow going to legislate Christianity from the Oval Office, or that America’s spiritual problems could even be solved in this way, we have proven we have learned nothing. Between two equally qualified candidates for president, would I choose a Christian over an atheist? Yes, because I believe spirituality and morality matters. Is it possible, hypothetically speaking, that there could be an atheist qualified to be a good president or a Christian completely unqualified to be president, or vise versa? Absolutely!

But let’s get down to what we are after and what we can reasonably expect in 21st century American politics. Personally, I think that, in the past, when we Christians thought we had “found our man,” we were kidding ourselves (with the exception of Ronald Reagan, although even he was more in line with the morality of Christianity like a Lincoln more than he was any kind of overtly genuine evangelical, which I do not believe he was). Going forward, I think we are naive to think that anyone in the field of candidates is a “shoe in” to become our evangelical hero in the White House, and those who we may be convinced have a genuine faith will not likely be able to be effective.  Like it or not, America is not open to an overtly evangelical Christian in the White House. But now, on the brink of a split party because of our Christian principles, we may help America to elect a socialist or, more likely, the heir to the Clinton dynasty.

The Pendulum

Here’s another of my big concerns. We live in a country that was foolish enough to elect Barak Obama not to one but two terms in office! That reality comes with its own reprisals! But, from a conservative standpoint, Mr. Obama has all but destroyed America (some may not like that language but that is how Christian conservatives, particularly evangelicals, feel). He has taken the country in the wrong direction and drastically so. Is Donald Trump drastic in his own right? Yes! But it may take someone conservatively drastic just to offset the damage done over the last eight years! I personally think that anyone less drastic than Trump will likely not make a dent in Washington or have a hope of pointing America back in the right direction.

Final Note

For those afraid or embarrassed to support Donald Trump, be careful that you are not intimidated or influenced by a sophisticated media that knows how to throw its voice and sound like it cares about morality. For those who have disagreements with Trump on principle, let me ask you a question: would you rather have Trump or Clinton? Because I believe that’s what it will come down to. In that scenario, I would choose Trump, but I don’t trust America to do so. Welcome to the White House, Madame President!