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THE B-I-B-L-E! IS THAT THE BOOK FOR YOU?

This is Part 4 in our series on theologically FirefoxScreenSnapz471quenching the Spirit of God.  We saw in our 1st post that we may theologically quench the Spirit of God when we fail to be Berean believers.  In Part 2 we pointed out that we quench the Spirit when we don’t listen to His speaking to us through other believers.  A third way we quench the Spirit is when we confuse our impressions with the Spirit’s speaking through the Word.

The fourth way we may theologically quench the Spirit of God is when —

IV.  WE DON’T TEST ALL THAT WE HEAR BY THE SPIRIT’S PRIMARY TOOL, THE WORD OF GOD!

We read in I Thessalonians 5:   19 Don’t quench the Spirit, 20 don’t despise inspired messages. 21 But do test everything — hold onto what is good . . .

FirefoxScreenSnapz472How do we “test everything”?  We allow the Bible to have what we seminary professors call “functional authority” in our lives.  We actually use the Word of God to test what we hear, see, are exposed to (or expose ourselves to).  How do we know if a teaching is consistent with the Word of God?  I’ve been helped by —

Three Tests of Biblical Faithfulness:

1.  Does this teaching clearly contradict anything in the Word of God?  If a person says, for example, “I’m not sure I believe in the deity of Jesus anymore” (as Spencer Burke said in his book A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity), he is obviously standing in opposition to what the Scriptures teach about the Person of the Lord Jesus.

2.  Does this teaching challenge a characteristic (or attribute) of God?  Some false teaching is quite subtle. When an Open Theist (someone who does not believe that God knows everything) expresses his error, we should find ourselves vigorously defending the doctrine of God’s omniscience.

3.  Does this teaching push a me-first, prosperity-at-any-cost, FirefoxScreenSnapz473no-suffering-needed view of the Christian life?  Here we must ask what the tenor of Scripture is.  And it is quite clear that we have been granted the privilege to suffer for Him!  The diabolical contagion of prosperity theology has infected many Christian churches — and it needs to be soundly opposed by the clear teachings of Scripture. (to be continued)

 Questions:

1. What teaching have you heard recently which drove you to the Bible in order to test it?

2.  What is one practical way we can teach our youth to use the Word of God for such testing?

 

 
 

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Quench Your Thirst! But For Your Sake Don’t Quench the Spirit!

This is Part 3 in our series on theologically quenching the Spirit of God.  FirefoxScreenSnapz459We saw in our 1st post that we may theologically quench the Spirit of God when we fail to be Berean believers.  That is, when we don’t test all we hear or read or see with the Scriptures, we are effectively disarming the Spirit of God.  We saw in Part 2 in our series that we quench the Spirit when we don’t listen to His speaking to us through other believers.

The third way we may theologically quench the Spirit of God is when —

III.  WE CONFUSE OUR IMPRESSIONS WITH THE SPIRIT’S SPEAKING THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD!

We read in I Thessalonians 5:   19 Don’t quench the Spirit, 20 don’t despise inspired messages. 21 But do test everything — hold onto what is good . . .

I was visiting a friend in Dallas a few days ago and, while I was waiting for him to finish work, FirefoxScreenSnapz466I stopped in at a local Starbucks.  As I began to work on my laptop, I noticed a dark-haired woman, maybe about 40 (always a dangerous thing to guess a woman’s age), packing up her things and getting ready to leave.

As she walked out of Starbucks, she gave me the following note:prophetic note

Now, I don’t know what you think of such things, but I’m not into words of prophecy or words of knowledge, so this took me a bit by surprise.

The note reads:  “Do not allow what you think you see & hear be the reality.  I am God & I work in ways you cannot see but it does not mean I am not working on your behalf.”

How should I respond to this note from a total stranger?  Had she just lost her job at a Chinese fortune cookie factory?  I did not follow her out the door or engage her in any way.  For some reason, she felt she needed to write me this personal note — to encourage me, I guess.

I don’t recall feeling particularly down.  In fact, my strong cup of Starbucks was doing a FirefoxScreenSnapz467pretty good job of bolstering my spirits!

I don’t find much in her note that troubles me.  I don’t see anything that is clearly contrary to Scripture.  But what does bother me a tad is that she thinks she was speaking God’s truth to me at that moment.  How would she know my situation without talking to me, asking me questions, seeing what I was going through or thinking?

I believe the Spirit’s primary way of speaking to us is through the written Word of God, the Bible. I am quite skeptical of those who think they are speaking for God when they don’t use the Scriptures.

We can quench the Spirit when we don’t listen to His speaking to us through other believers.  But we can also quench the Spirit when we follow our own instincts or impressions and believe we are speaking for the Spirit of God.

 Questions:

1.  Have you had a Christian speak to you in a way that made you think they were claiming direct revelation from God?  How did you respond?

2.  “The Lord spoke to me and told me to tell you” is not a new phenomenon.  Read over Job 4:12-17 and see how Job’s friend Eliphaz took this approach with Job.  How would you have responded to Eliphaz?

 

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2014 in I Thessalonians 5:19

 

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An Excellent Way to Theologically Quench the Spirit of God!

This is Part 2 in our series on theologically quenching the Spirit of God.  FirefoxScreenSnapz456We saw in our 1st post that we may theologically quench the Spirit of God when we fail to be Berean believers.  That is, when we don’t test all we hear or read or see with the Scriptures, we are effectively disarming the Spirit of God.  If His primary tool in our lives is the Word of God, the Bible, not to take the Bible seriously concerning all matters of life and belief (theology) inevitably quenches His work in our lives and thinking.

The second way we may theologically quench the Spirit of God is —

II.  WE DON’T LISTEN TO HIS SPEAKING TO US THROUGH OTHER BELIEVERS.

The late John R.W. Stott in Authentic Christianity put it this way:  “We need to repent of the haughty way in which we sometimes stand in judgment upon Scripture and must learn to sit humbly under its judgments instead. If we FirefoxScreenSnapz457come to Scripture with our minds made up, expecting to hear from it only an echo of our own thoughts and never the thunderclap of God’s, then indeed he will not speak to us and we shall only be confirmed in our own prejudices. We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior.”

How does the Word of God “confront us”?  How does it “disturb our security”?  How does it “undermine our complacency and overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior”?  God’s Word can certainly do those things when we individually read and study what it says, but so often those outcomes are the result of God the Holy Spirit using other believers in our lives.

I believe that much of the work of the Holy Spirit which He does He does mediately, not immediately.  “Immediately” here does not refer to time but to directness.  In other words, much FirefoxScreenSnapz458of His work (conviction of sin, illumination of our minds, assurance of our adoption into God’s family) is done through the Spirit using God’s people.  He works mediately through the people of God to convince us of our need to call sin sin and to repent, to aid our understanding and receptivity to what the Word of God is saying, and to remind us that our place in God’s family is neither earned nor retained by our own goodness. (to be continued)

 Questions:

1.  What do you think?  Why are we so reluctant to listen to the voice of God’s Spirit through other believers?

2.  Some make claims today that the Holy Spirit is speaking directly to and through them.  How do we test such claims?

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2014 in the church

 

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How Does One Theologically Quench the Spirit? Let Me Count the Ways . . .

In his book Joy Unspeakable, Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones FirefoxScreenSnapz448made the following comment:

“Our greatest danger, I feel today, is to quench the Spirit. This is no age to advocate restraint; the church today does not need to be restrained, but to be aroused, to be awakened, to be filled with a spirit of glory, for she is failing in the modern world.”

How do we theologically quench the Spirit?  I want to suggest five areas in which we are (or might be) quenching the Spirit of God and attempt to respond to each biblically.

The first way that we quench the Spirit is —

I.  WE FAIL TO BE BEREAN BELIEVERS!

We read of the Berean believers in Acts 17:

10 As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

When we allow other fallible, fallen, finite men and women to do our theological thinking for us, we are failing to be like the Berean believers.  Notice that their eagerness to receive the message Paul was preaching was not eliminated by their commitment to check out his teachings with the Old Testament Scriptures.  It is always right to test what we hear, read, or see with what God’s Word actually says.

In a fascinating essay entitled “There Is No Substitute for Theology,” A.W. Tozer compels us to be engaged with the Word of God.  He writes:

“Whatever keeps me from the Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be.  Whatever engages my attention when I should be meditating on God and things eternal does injury to my soul.  Let the cares of life crowd out the Scriptures from my mind and I have suffered loss where I can least afford it.  Let me accept anything else instead of the Scriptures and I have been cheated and robbed to my eternal confusion.”

Confusion is a pretty good description of much that marks today’s contemporary church.  FirefoxScreenSnapz433We are often blown hither and yon by every new book advocating someone’s experience of visiting heaven or hell (or somewhere inbetween), by the latest video series which challenges us to our best life now (instead of being willing to suffer for Jesus), by the latest Christian celebrity de jour who is attacking Christian orthodoxy and never seems to lack a receptive audience.

Like the Bereans, we need to utilize the Word of God as our touchstone for all we believe, for all we teach, for all we embrace.  If the Word of God is the Spirit’s primary tool of sanctification (see John 17), then it must be our primary tool of evaluating all ideas, systems of thought, pronouncements of “truth.” (to be continued)

Questions:

1.  Why do Christians fail to test what they hear and read with the Scriptures?  Is it simply because it is work to do such testing?

2.  How central in your thinking are the Scriptures?  When you hear a new idea or a innovative thought, do you ask, “What does God’s Word say about this?”  Why or why not?

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2014 in Martin Lloyd-Jones

 

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