Category Archives: Scripture

How to Cope With Cessationism

Yesterday I received a book as a Christmas gift. It was Volume Four of a four-volume systematic theology. One of the topics supported in the theology book is cessationism. The word cessation is the noun related to the verb “cease.” Therefore, I wold have thought that the word means that something has ceased. However, the author defines cessationism as “the view that some of the (spiritual) gifts exist today.” What a wonderful way to spin it!

The author’s deliberation goes this way:

  • Since an Apostle had to be an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ, and since only persons living in the early first century could be eyewitnesses, therefore the New Testament gift of Apostleship stopped.
  • And, since the gift of Apostleship ceased, and since some gifts were unique as sign gifts of Apostleship (healing, raising the dead, laying on hands for others to receive the gift of tongues), therefore tongues ceased as an Apostolic sign gift.
  • And, since the gift of tongues was received exclusively through the laying on of hands by an Apostle, therefore any person speaking in tongues who has never met one of the Apostles is practicing a form of pagan religious gibberish.

While I do agree that some modern tongue-talking is not legit, I don’t agree that the Bible teaches the cessation of speaking in tongues …or loss of the Apostolic gift.

In Second Corinthians 12:12, Paul defended his apostleship by saying, “The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.” He did not say that the signs of an apostle were signs and wonders. He only wanted his apostleship to be seen as analogous to the hyperlian Apostles with their signs and wonders. This is not a statement of an Apostolic requisite.

Hebrews 2:3,4 says, “(This message) was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” This passage is cited as textual proof that outward signs were only needed for the establishment of the Church and then were intended to cease entirely. However, the passage doesn’t contain any indication of such a presumptive premise, the cessation of any spiritual gifts. Other passages of the New Testament indicate that the Church could expect the gifts of the Holy Spirit to continue until the return of Christ.

Acts 14:4,14 say Barnabas was an apostle. “But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles… But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd…”

2 Corinthians 8:23 says there are other apostles. “As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are apostles of the churches, the glory of Christ.”

Philippians 2:25 says Epaphroditus is an apostle. “I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your apostle and minister to my need…”

I can’t find any New Testament passage that binds apostleship to the gift of tongues. An apostle is someone sent supernaturally by the Holy Spirit through the Church. This is exactly what the modern church does by ordaining and sending missionaries. Paul’s apostolic travels are called his “missionary” journeys.

Unfortunately, there is an ugly modern view that apostles are loud-voiced people who have a special anointing giving them the right to dominate over others in the church. (Maybe they don’t get 1 Peter 5:1-6.) If these modern super-apostles are truly apostles, then I am a cessationist. This needs to stop.

Not all kinds of tongues are languages known to men. 1 Corinthians 12:10 says that there are various kinds of tongues. On the Day of Pentecost, tongues was languages naturally known to the hearers but unlearned by the speakers. 1 Corinthians 14 says that there someone may speak in tongues of men and of angels. I doubt if any human can naturally diagnose, interpret, or understand the language of angels. In both cases, it is clear that the person speaking in supernatural tongues would not naturally understand either one, tongues of men or of angels.

False tongues does not rule out genuine tongues. It has been pointed out that some pagan religions exercise speaking in tongues. The poor logic says, “…surely God is not giving a miraculous confirmation of paganism.” I say that counterfeits only exist because of the genuine nature of the original.

The promise was not only to Apostles. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter understood that the promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit that was evidenced and accompanied by speaking in an unlearned language was premised upon the prophecy of Joel. Joel did not make the promise exclusively to the Apostles. He made it to sons, daughters, young, old, male and female servants.

The author states that Acts 2:7 is proof that only the Apostles spoke in tongues on the Day of Pentecost. “And they were amazed and astonished, saying, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?'” Since the Apostles were the “men of Galilee”, and since other members of the 120 in the Upper Room were not from Jerusalem and Judea and not from Galilee, wouldn’t this prove that only the Apostles spoke in tongues? It would not, since the Galilean statement is a quotation of the Jews that were staying in Jerusalem for the feast. The biblical record attests that, true or false, the astonished Jews actually said it, not to the veracity of the statement. It could have easily been an overly generalized assumption about all the Christians since they were in the company of Galileans. In no way would an uninformed statement by anyone limit the scope of the promise of the Holy Spirit to specific recipients or exclude those that were not Galilean.

It has been assumed that the only way to speak in tongues is through the laying on of the apostles’ hands. Acts 8:18, “Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money…” However, this passage is a statement of what Simon the Magician observed without any application upon the rest of the Church. There is no reason to extrapolate such a rule of limitation from this verse… unless you want need to perfect your eisegesis (the art of forcing a text to mean what you want it to mean).

Finally, the Bible says, “as for tongues, they will cease.” The theology book pulls these six words out of context and applies them to the end of the Apostolic age. Take a look at the passage in 1 Corinthians 13:8-12. “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” It is clearly a passage about eternity, about heaven. When we get to heaven, there will be no need to speak in tongues. They will cease.

How to Find Errors in the Bible

A lot of us don’t understand the inerrancy of the Bible. Inerrancy means no mistakes. This would be possible only if the Bible is a supernatural library of books.

Inerrancy applies to the original text given to the original authors of Scripture. Inerrancy does not apply to the human authors, but only to the specific words of the text. When John, Paul, James, and Peter weren’t writing divinely inspired Scripture, the were ordinary imperfect men. That is what makes the Bible miraculous.

Inerrancy does not exempt a copyist from making a mistake when writing a new manuscript from an old manuscript. Remember, before the printing press, copies were made by hand. The more copies of these hand-written New Testament manuscripts that we find, the more likely we are to find these variations. There are an enormous amount of variations in copied texts because we have an enormous amount of existing manuscripts. In 2016, there were 5,856 Greek manuscripts of New Testament books with an average of 450 pages. (By comparison, the average classical Greek author has less than 15 copies of his work in existence today.) The scholars that compare these 5,856 manuscripts can determine that the New Testament is 99.99% accurate to the originals, and the remaining potential inaccuracies do not affect any important Christian doctrine.

Inerrancy does not extend to translations of the Bible into various languages… including the Authorized King James Version.

Inerrancy does not extend to preachers, evangelists, or modern-day super-apostles. When someone says, “Thus saith the Lord,” it means, listen up and measure each and every word that is spoken against the infallible inspired written Word of God… even if they make up fancy words like revelation-knowledge or other bunk to manipulate you.

Inerrancy does not extend to genuine prophetic utterances, messages in tongues, private or public glossolalia, interpretation of tongues, or other gifts of the Spirit. All these must be subjected to scrutiny by the Scriptures.

If God supernaturally inspired the Bible, it contains no errors. If God supernaturally inspired the Bible, it is an authoritative word over our lives. If the Bible originally contained mistakes, it isn’t likely that it came from God, and therefore would not have much authority.

The Bible is a supernatural book in that it is a God-breathed,  collection of genuine prophetic writings, carrying divine authority as the Word of God.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16,17)

(Did you know that when Paul wrote 2 Timothy 3:16,17, the New Testament was still in the process of being written by himself and the other authors. He wrote this about the Hebrew Scriptures that later came to be called the Old Testament by Christians?)

Peace at Any Cost?

 

God tells us to bless those who curse you. In fact, it is reinforced in the New Testament at least three times.

Matthew 5:44. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…”

Luke 6:27-31.  “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.

Romans 12:14. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”

So then, wouldn’t you think that church people are expected to humbly accept every and all forms of abuse and insult? For example, wouldn’t these verses indicate that anyone can come into your church on Sunday morning and start cursing everyone, and all you can do is offer them the microphone and a complimentary glazed donut?

The Bible says to bless those who curse you. However, it isn’t the only thing the Bible says.

Jesus’ objective was that we live at peace with one another, that we should be peacemakers, but when his disciples were rebuking the children, Jesus did not welcome their poor attitudes. He became indignant (ἀγανακτέω) and corrected them publicly. When Jesus saw that temple worship had been twisted into an opportunity for financial exploitation, he physically blocked people from doing business and flipped their tables and chairs, and rebuked them. Why didn’t he bless them? That is something to think about.

The truth is that Christians are not called to embrace any and all kinds of speech and behavior. It does not promote peace to tolerate everyone who wants to destroy the peace of God that comes through the gospel.

Paul instructed us not to tolerate anyone perverting the Gospel:

Galatians 1:6-9. “ I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

John commanded us not to bless those who sin and deceptively spread false doctrine:

2nd John 9-11.   Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

Paul directed the church to remove a persistently divisive person:

Titus 3:9,10. But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.

Paul gave straightforward instruction on how to deal with a sexually immoral person who calls himself a brother:

1 Corinthians 5:4,5. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

It would be wrong to submit to EVERY kind of opposition just so that we can have peace. There is a time to speak out and act up. At least, Jesus, Paul, and John thought so.

Christians must place a high value on making peace and forgiveness. Please don’t use any scriptures as an excuse to continue unforgiveness toward someone or to display anger and bitterness. Seek peace and pursue it… Pursue peace with all people… Let the peace of God rule in your heart… If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men…

Yet, don’t sacrifice everything sacred upon the altar of peace.

How do we know when to answer with blessing and when to answer with a rebuke? Know the Scriptures. Rely upon the Holy Spirit. Seek wisdom and agreement with mature followers of Christ. Pray.

How to Start a Cult

Recently, a conference speaker said,

“If your experience is exalted above God’s Word, you are wrong.”

In my opinion, this was the most important statement that I heard at the ministers’ conference.

The conference speaker led pastors in an organized session of practicing spiritual gifts, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, visions, laying on of hands, and other experiences of inspired speech and prayer often associated with the Pentecostal baptism in the Holy Spirit. Imagine a meeting room filled with ministers praying in unknown languages and then taking turns speaking any message that God may have placed in their heart. There were all kinds of statements being made by the participating ministers. Some offered direct quotes of Scripture. Some intended to encourage and uplift the hearers. Others intended to admonish us. However, in all that diversity, I did not hear one minister make a statement contradictory to Scripture.

The Prophetic Experiences of Two Different Groups: A Comparison

 

I wish this were true of other meetings in which the participants were encouraged to speak prophetically. Awhile back, in a different setting, my wife and I were eavesdropping on a class for a few minutes. The leader asked the students to listen to the Lord and then speak out what God placed in their hearts. Almost every statement was foolish. One student spoke into the microphone that God wanted her to pray to a dead saint. The leader nodded in agreement and spoke affirmation into the mic. The leader was encouraging the students to seek an experience with God that was, in fact, a revelation of God apart from Scripture.

Was there a difference between the two different groups? What led to such different outcomes?

The first group, the ministers, were all life-long students of the Bible. They were committed to daily reading of the Word. They all had practiced memorization of Scripture with the intent that God’s Word was grafted in to their hearts. Each minister had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit as prescribed and described in Scripture.

The second group, the students, were novices without any working knowledge of God’s Word. They had not committed Scripture to memory. Their hearts were filled with silly ideas or even carnal thoughts. Some just wanted to say something to make the teacher happy. The participants had not experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Some of them had never even professed salvation through Jesus Christ.

The second group was being encouraged to have an experience, a personal revelation from God. They were doing what the leader asked of them, speaking from what was in their hearts, and the contents reflected exactly what was in their hearts.

The group of ministers possessed hearts saturated daily and filled with God’s Word. They had a desire to tell forth God’s Word. (Prophecy is the forth-telling of God’s Word. We learned that back in Bible college.)

One group spoke from their Scripture-saturated hearts as the Holy Spirit led them. The other group spoke from their own unregenerate soul, human intellect and carnal imagination.

God wants to speak from hearts saturated by His Word.

I have a book written by one of those television evangelists, Charting Your Course By the Dream in Your Heart. “Inside this book is a gold mine of information that will help you develop your full potential and bring into reality your purpose in life.” Yikes. Much of the Bible is about how to stop following your own will, your own heart, because God wants us to learn how to follow His heart. (See Luke 22:42.)

In my opinion, a good way to start a cult is by teaching unfit people to act as leaders. If a person is a non-believer or a new believer (1 Timothy 5:22), don’t encourage or expect them to draw from a deep well and come up with a full bucket. Instead of encouraging them to speak out, let’s ask unfit people to listen quietly and respectfully. (Compare James 1:19 and James 1:21.)

God speaks from a heart that has been faithfully filled with His Word, from a heart that has faithfully listened to His Spirit, from a heart that is dead to sin and alive to God. (See Colossians 3:1-3.)

 

God’s Blessing for You

“God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” Acts 3:26
 (God’s servant is the Christ. 5,000 Jews believed on Jesus after Peter’s message when God had healed a crippled man. The rulers in Jerusalem, the ones who killed Jesus, did not like this, so they detained Peter in hopes of stopping him from teaching in the name of Jesus. Peter answered clearly.)
 
“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:11,12
 There are two categories of people:
1. Those who reject Jesus the Christ.
2. Those who belong to Jesus.
 
Which person receives God’s blessing?
What kind of person are you?
 
Be blessed by turning away from sin and turning to God.

Jesus is Jehovah

I recently took a look at Romans 14:11.

For it is written:
“As I live, says the Lord,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God.”

I saw an argument that since Paul was quoting the Old Testament, and since Isaiah used the word LORD|YHWH, therefore only Jehovah should be worshipped and not Jesus. So I decided to look into that claim.

Paul is citing a passage from Isaiah 45. It is valuable to know that many passages in the New Testament affirm what Isaiah said. Here is a comparison of some New Testament statements alongside Isaiah 45:18-23:

New Testament

Isaiah 45:18-23

Jesus Christ created us:
"and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him," Colossians 3:10

Jesus Christ created the worlds:
"...has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds" Hebrews 1:2

All things are through Jesus:
"For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen." Romans 11:36

The World was made through Jesus:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made... He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him." John 1:1-3,10

Jesus was named GOD the Savior:
"And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

In the same passage, Jesus was also "God with us":
"So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which is translated, 'God with us.'” Matthew 1:22,23

Mary affirmed Jesus as God and Savior:
"And Mary said:
'My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.'" Luke 1:46,47

Jesus is exclusively the Savior
"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12

A good minister of Jesus Christ preaches that He is God and Savior:
"For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe." 1 Timothy 4:10

Paul, who was commissioned by the resurrected person of Jesus Christ, describes Jesus as God and Savior:
"but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior;" Titus 1:3
"...showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things." Titus 2:10
"...looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" Titus 2:13
"But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared..." Titus 3:4

Peter affirmed Jesus is God and Savior:
"Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ" 2 Peter 1:1
For thus says the LORD,
Who created the heavens,
Who is God,
Who formed the earth and made it,
Who has established it,
Who did not create it in vain,
Who formed it to be inhabited:
“I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I have not spoken in secret,
In a dark place of the earth;
I did not say to the seed of Jacob,
‘Seek Me in vain’;
I, the LORD, speak righteousness,
I declare things that are right.

“Assemble yourselves and come;
Draw near together,
You who have escaped from the nations.
They have no knowledge,
Who carry the wood of their carved image,
And pray to a god that cannot save.
Tell and bring forth your case;
Yes, let them take counsel together.
Who has declared this from ancient time?
Who has told it from that time?
Have not I, the LORD?
And there is no other God besides Me,
A just God and a Savior;
There is none besides Me.

“Look to Me, and be saved,
All you ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
I have sworn by Myself;
The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness,
And shall not return,
That to Me every knee shall bow,
Every tongue shall take an oath.

In conclusion…

Paul gives an authoritative statement about the LORD (YHWH or Jehovah) of Isaiah 45:23. Paul wrote to the church at Philippi:

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

That settles it for me. Jesus is Jehovah.


Don't get pedantic on pronunciation and mispronunciations of Yehoshuah/Yeshua/Jesus/Iesus or YHWH/GOD/LORD/Jehovah. I have made it clear about whom I have written.

Divisions Are Not Always Bad

by A. W. Tozer
God Tells the Man Who Cares, c 1970, Christian Publications Inc, pp 45-48

When to unite and when to divide, that is the question, and a right answer requires the wisdom of a Solomon.

Some settle the problem by rule of thumb: All union is good and all division bad. It’s that easy. But obviously this effortless way of dealing with the matter ignores the lessons of history and overlooks some of the deep spiritual laws by which men live.

If good men were all for union and bad men for division, or vice versa, that would simplify things for us. Or if it could be shown that God always unites and the devil always divides it would be easy to find our way around in this confused and confusing world. But that is not how things are.

To divide what should be divided and unite what should be united is the part of wisdom. Unions of dissimilar elements is never good even where it is possible, nor is the arbitrary division of elements that are alike; and this is as certainly true of things moral and religious as of things political or scientific.

The first divider was God who at the creation divided the light from the darkness. This division set the direction for all God’s dealings in nature and in grace. Light and darkness are incompatible; to try to have both in the same place at once is to try the impossible and end by havng neither the one nor the other, but dimness rather, and obscurity.

In the world of men there are at present scarcely any sharp outlines. The race is fallen. Sin has brought confusion. The wheat grows with the tares, the sheep and the goats coexist, the farms of the just and the unjust lie side by side in the landscape, the mission is next door to the saloon.

But things will not always be so. The hour is coming when the sheep with be divided from the goats and the tares separated from the wheat. God will again divide the light from the darkness and all things will run to their kind. Tares will go into the fire with tares and wheat into the garner with wheat. The dimness will lift like a fog and all outlines will appear. Hell will be seen to be hell all the way through, and heaven revealed as the one home of all who bear the nature of the one God.

For that time we with patience wait. In the meanwhile for each of us, and for the church wherever she appears in human society, the constantly recurring question must be: What shall we unite with and from what shall we separate? The question of coexistence does not enter here, but the question of union and fellowship does. The wheat grows in the same field with the tares, but shall the two cross-polinate? The sheep graze near the goats, but shall they seek to interbreed? The unjust and the just enjoy the same rain and sunshine, but shall they forget their deep moral differences and intermarry?

To these questions the popular answer is yes. Union for union’s sake, and men shall be brothers be for a’ that. Unity is so devoutly to be desired that no price is too high to pay for it and nothing is important enough to keep us apart. Truth is slain to provide a feast to celebrate the marriage of heaven and hell, and all to support a concept of unity which has no basis in the Word of God.

The Spirit-illuminated church will have none of this. In a fallen world like ours unity is no treasure to be purchased at the price of compromise. Loyalty to God, faithfulness and truth and the preservation of a good conscience are jewels more precious than gold of Ophir or diamonds from the mine. For these jewels men have suffered the loss of property, imprisonment and even death; for them, even in recent times, behind the various curtains, followers of Christ have paid the last full measure of devotion and quietly died, unknown to and unsung by the great world, but known to God and dear to His Father heart. In the day that shall declare the secrets of all souls these shall come forth to receive the deeds done in the body. Surely such as these are wiser philosophers than the religious camp followers of meaningless unity who have not the courage to stand against the vogues and who bleat for brotherhood only because it happens to be for the time popular.

“Divide and conquer” is the cynical slogan of Machiavellian political leaders, but Satan knows how to unite and conquer. To bring a nation to its knees the aspiring dictator must unite it. By repeated appeals to national pride or to the need to avenge some past or present wrong the demagogue succeeds in uniting the populace behind him. It is easy after that to take control of the military and to beat the legislature into submission. Then follows almost perfect unity indeed, but it is the unity of the stockyards and the concentration camp. We have seen this happen several times in this century, and the world will see it at least once more when the nations of the earth are united under Antichrist.

When confused sheep start over a cliff the individual sheep can save himself only be separating from the flock. Perfect unity at such a time can only mean total destruction for all. The wise sheep to save his own hide disaffiliates.

Power lies in the union of things similar and the division of things dissimilar. Maybe what we need in religious circles today is not more union but some wise and courageous division. Everyone desires peace but it could be that revival will follow the sword.

Aiden Wilson Tozer (April 21, 1897 – May 12, 1963) was an American Christian pastor, preacher, author, magazine editor, and spiritual mentor. During his lifetime, he was described as "a 20th century prophet." Tozer exhorted the Church to act as those who belonged to the kingdom of God. His legacy is the library of over 40 books written from his heart to the Church.

“Swearing is a sign of rhetorical strength.”

Someone recently published, “Swearing is a sign of rhetorical strength.”
The opposite is true.
 
Swearing is oratorical incontinence, a symptom of profound immaturity, and an indication of shallow, selfish thoughtlessness.
 
The simple and obvious truth is that cursing is a sign of weakness in many forms. It requires no creativity or intelligence to blurt out an obscenity. Swearing is intended to offend, insult, hurt, defame, disparage, blaspheme, bully, manipulate, dishonor and disrespect others.*
soapmouth
I have heard the excuse, “I just had to let it out,” which is actually just a confession of self-serving intemperance. I have heard the excuse, “I was only repeating what I heard,” which is a admission of unintelligible repetition of vulgarity through the deliberate neglect of critical thinking.
Swearing does not make any person cute, but it can make an attractive person ugly. It does not make a person clever, but can make a bright person sound trashy. Cursing does not improve a conversation, but it vandalizes the listener. Vulgarity is a sign of a limited vocabulary and pathetic communication skills. Whenever a professional inserts expletives into their speech, they sound mediocre or less intelligent.
Words can be powerful. Be deliberate in how you handle them. Sharpen your tools. Refine your presentation.
Rhetorical strength is displayed by graciously-seasoned speech. Swearing is an abandonment of grace. 
Ephesians 4:26,2,29

Be angry but do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger. Do not give place to the devil.
…Let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth, but only that which is good for building up, that it may give grace to the listeners.

Ephesians 4:29

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. [The Message]

Colossians 3:8

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.

Colossians 4:6

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you should answer everyone.

Proverbs 18:21

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

James 3

My brothers, not many of you should become teachers, knowing that we shall receive the greater judgment. We all err in many ways. But if any man does not err in word, he is a perfect man and able also to control the whole body.
See how we put bits in the mouths of horses that they may obey us, and we control their whole bodies. And observe ships. Though they are so great and are driven by fierce winds, yet they are directed with a very small rudder wherever the captain pleases. Even so, the tongue is a little part of the body and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles. The tongue is a fire, a world of evil. The tongue is among the parts of the body, defiling the whole body, and setting the course of nature on fire, and it is set on fire by hell.
All kinds of beasts, and birds, and serpents, and things in the sea are tamed or have been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the image of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring yield at the same opening sweet and bitter water? Can the fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a vine, figs? So no spring can yield both salt water and fresh water.
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show his works by his good life in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, do not boast and do not lie against the truth. This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, and devilish. For where there is envying and strife, there is confusion and every evil work.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Exodus 20:7
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold guiltless anyone who takes His name in vain.

*While swearing and obscenities are fine tools for bullies, this is not intended as an endorsement of censorship by governments or ecclesiastical councils. It is an appeal to each one of us to exercise personal strength in communication, making censorship unnecessary. I don’t want to take away your right to inappropriate or indecent speech. I simply hope to correct the false tenet that obscenity improves life. It simply does not. I laugh when someone implies that anyone is shocked by obscenities. The practice is just so commonplace. In fact, my proposal would bring back the shock value of expletives.

How to Euthanize Your Fervor

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The nineteenth verse of First Thessalonians chapter five advises us:

Do not quench the Spirit.

I quickly thought of six ways that we can put out the flame:

  1. Lack of communication
  2. Starvation
  3. Isolation
  4. Distraction
  5. Misinformation
  6. Lack of participation

matches

Lack of Communication

When we neglect to talk with God, it is like withholding oxygen necessary for combustion. Prayer is not a dull religious duty, it is a privilege provided for those who want to talk to God. Don’t waste the privilege. Eventually, a prayer-less follower of Christ stops following Christ.

Starvation

The Word of God is like spiritual nourishment. When we eat candy bars and potato chips, we can kill our appetite for healthy food. In a similar fashion, we will do harm to our spiritual health when we neglect the Bible. Sermons are good, but not a good substitute for personal reading. Bible-reading is not a dull religious duty. God gave us His Word for our benefit. It will keep us from spiritual starvation.

Isolation

Fellowship with like-minded believers will provide opportunities for learning, sharing, praying, worshiping and much more. When we do not consistently meet together with other believers, as in a local church body, we are separating the wood in the fireplace. Eventually, the isolated sticks will flicker out and grow cold.

Distraction

Devotion can be directed to anything or anyone. When we devote our resources of time and finances to games and entertainment over opportunities to know God and His Word, we will grow cold. However, when we make a commitment to God, devote our resources to His purpose in our live, and diligently follow through, our hearts will be able to maintain their spiritual heat.

Misinformation

We need good teaching. A bible phrase for good teaching is “sound doctrine.” Do you honestly think that Christians should get their doctrine from FaceBook memes? Study to show yourself approved to God as a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. When you don’t know what you believe, your flame can be huffed out so easily.

Lack of participation

It is easier to be a spectator rather than a participant, but it is not as exciting. We are members of the body of Christ, not observers. We must be doers of the Word, not hearers only. We need to walk worthy of our calling, not sit and watch the world go by. Action-less faith is not living faith. Get involved. Be active. Participate.

 

How to Preach Foolishness

Preaching is rightly dividing the Word of God with a view to persuasion – a balance of all things that make a preacher one who is persuasive.

In 1941, J. Harwood Patterson defined preaching:

Preaching is the spoken communication of divine truth with a view to persuasion.

Patterson explained his definition had three aspects:

  • THE MATTER: divine truth | what to preach
  • THE MANNER: spoken | how to preach
  • THE PURPOSE: persuasion |why we preach

Patterson modeled after Guthrie’s Three P’s:

  • Proving
  • Painting
  • Persuading

Preaching must be more than a lecture or a talk. A sermon must tell us how to live and convince us to act appropriately. Daniel Webster said,

I do not go to church to learn history, but to be reminded of duty.

Preaching must be greater than philosophical pondering out loud. The preacher is a messenger who delivers the Word of God to his flock, not intellectual doubt, not speculation, not negativity, but a confident statement of God’s expectations.

Longfellow said,

To me, a sermon is no sermon in which I cannot hear the heart beat.

Luther said,

It is no light thing to speak before men in the place of God.

 

…just because the ocean is so vast and his vessel so small, no sailor should attempt to compass his tack in one voyage.

 

The Preacher’s Vital Relationship With God

The preacher, as a man of God, must thoughtfully embrace the meaning of salvation, must know what is involved, what a personal relationship with Christ is.

The preacher must be in a place with God where he has sensed the Holy Spirit bearing witness with his spirit so he knows he has His touch on his own life. The preacher must experience what he is saying.

The preacher must have had that message touch his own life –  the message has been practical to him. The minister must have a high degree of honesty in applying the Truth that God gives to his own life and family.

The Preacher’s Vital Relationship With the Human Race

The preacher, as a man of his times, to be effective, must always be a learner. Read, watch, see. Know the news. Don’t bottle yourself up in as study. Know your community and your congregation.

The preacher must know the times, the issues, and the people in order to learn fresh themes, discern proper doctrinal emphasis, apply proper illustrations and pertinent applications.

The preacher should be the most knowledgeable person in the community. Read a reputable news source. Invest 30 minutes each evening listening to the local news. Spend 2-3 days a week rubbing shoulders with people in the marketplace.