Prosperity preachers often make the claim that Jesus healed every sick person with whom He came into contact. They will often cite Matthew 12:15 which says, “Many followed Him, and He healed them all.” It is true that in this instance Jesus did, apparently, grant healing to all of those who followed Him – in this particular instance. There are other occasions, however, in which Jesus apparently did not “heal them all.” In John 5:1-17 we read of the familiar account of Jesus healing the crippled (lame, sick – whichever term you prefer. I’m not particularly politically correct) man at the pool of Bethesda. Note that verse three indicates that at the pool there was a “multitude of the sick, lame, blind, and withered.” A multitude. How many did Jesus heal? One.
This is closely related to the question above. Many assert that cessationists do not believe in miracles or the power of the Holy Spirit. The theological term with which to best answer this assertion is “hogwash.” It is the Holy Spirit Who convicts (John 16:7-11), regenerates (John 3:1-5; Romans 8:11; Titus 3:5-6), indwells (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Romans 8:9), baptizes into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Colossians 1:13), seals (Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30), fills us with the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 3:16), and empowers the preaching of the Gospel (1 Peter 1:12). To say that God no longer does miracles is to say that He no longer saves sinners. The greatest miracle of all is not that of physical healing, but that of salvation.
Absolutely not! This is yet another misunderstanding of cessationism. Unfortunately, many believe that if you are a cessationist then you believe that God is cold and distant and is uninterested and/or inactive in human affairs – almost a Deistic view of God. Nothing could be further from the truth. God is intensely interested and very active. I do not even like to say things to the effect of “Oh – God sure stepped in and intervened here, didn’t He?” People usually mean well when they make statements like this but I do not believe that they are biblically accurate. To say that God intervened in a certain situation implies that most of the time God is up in Heaven twiddling His anthropomorphic thumbs and, on occasion, steps in and “intervenes.” No. Scripture teaches that God “upholds all things by the Word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). In other words every atom in every molecule which makes up every planet, every star, and every living creature is constantly being held together and kept in its proper place by the active and unceasing power of God. We could not take our next breath nor could our hearts take their next beat without God’s constant power.
I receive a surprising number of emails (most from charismatics) inquiring as to my position on female pastors. In short, no, I do not believe that a woman can biblically fulfill the role of pastor, elder, or any position of spiritual leadership or authority in the church. That men and women are of equal value before God is beyond dispute. Galatians 3:28 is crystal clear on this. Genesis 1:26-27 makes it equally crystal clear that both men and women are created in and bear the imago dei, the image of God.
This having been said, though men and women are of equal value before God, He has also assigned to men, and women differing roles. That the leadership in both the home and the church is to be male is beyond dispute. The primary example of male leadership is in the Person of Jesus Christ. That Jesus is a male and came as the Son of God (rather than the daughter of God) is not a random or arbitrary matter – it is a theological matter. Jesus appointed twelve Apostles (Luke 6:13), all of whom were men. These Apostles then, in turn, appointed seven men as servants to care for the needs of the early church’s widows (Acts 6:1-6). Male leadership in the home (Ephesians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:18) is the divine order which is extended to the leadership in the church. Writing under the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:12 states, “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” This was not a cultural consideration, but a theological one as proven by his next words, “For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (vs. 13-14). And for those tempted to argue that this was only a temporary instruction no longer binding today, Paul connects this instruction to women bearing children (vs. 15); a task which is still, of course, exclusively fulfilled by women. In the following chapter, Paul provides the qualifications of elders in the church, qualifications which assume a male subject: An elder is to be the “husband of one wife” and is to “manage his own household well” (1 Timothy 3:2-4).
Men and women are of equal value before God, have equal access to God, and are indwelt by the same Holy Spirit. But to argue as all liberal and most charismatic “theologians” do that these verses are limited to the culture of biblical days or somehow do not mean what they appear to mean is to be intentionally dishonest to the holy writ. If a church has a female pastor or has put women in positions of spiritual authority over men, you can know that no matter how much fidelity they profess to the Word of God, their professions are mere lip service. Female spiritual leadership in the church is a sure sign that that church is well on its way into full blown apostasy. It is an affront to God and, ironically, it is demeaning to women for it puts them into a role for which they were not designed.
The gift of tongues was the ability to speak in a known foreign language but one that was not known to the one speaking it. It would be akin to me being able to instantly speak in Zulu. It is a known foreign language, it is just not known to me.
In 1 Corinthians 13:8 Paul said that tongues will cease. Though it does not state precisely when the gift of tongues will cease, the text does indicate that the cessation of this gift will come before the gifts of prophecy and knowledge are “done away” with the arrival of “the perfect” (1 Corinthians 13:9-10).
There is compelling internal evidence from scripture that the cessation of the gift of tongues (better stated, the gift of languages) occurred in the Apostolic age. The gift of languages was a miraculous gift and the last recorded miracles in the New Testament were the healings on Malta (Acts 28:7-10) that occurred about the year A.D. 58. The gift of languages is only mentioned in Acts and 1 Corinthians. Later books such as Ephesians and Romans also mention spiritual gifts but the gift of languages is noticeably absent.
Church history also provides compelling evidence that the gift of languages (and the sign gifts in general) ceased with the closing of the Apostolic age. After the year A.D. 58 there is scant evidence that any genuine believers spoke in tongues. The only ones who spoke in tongues were heretical groups like the Montanists, the Jansenists, the Quakers and the Shakers. Then in the very early 20th century Charles Parham and William Seymour began the Azusa Revival and also claimed to speak in tongues. The Azusa Revival eventually gave rise to today’s modern charismatic movement.
In none of these examples, including that of today’s charismatics, is the genuine gift of languages demonstrated. Modern charismatics speak in unintelligible, ecstatic gibberish, not known foreign languages. Speaking in unintelligible gibberish is a pagan practice and can easily be learned. Speaking fluent Zulu instantaneously when not one word of Zulu is known beforehand is not.
If the gift of languages continued to be operative in the church then why is it that since the Apostolic age ceased that only fringe, heretical groups claimed to have the gift? Why is it today that the Word-Faith/New Apostolic Reformation movements, home to the most brazen false prophets, heretics and manifestly obvious charlatans, are the ones who speak in tongues and yet good, doctrinally sound churches known for their consistent exposition of scripture and practice of church discipline have no tongue speakers?
It is because the genuine gift of languages has ceased. Though spiritual gifts such as mercy, teaching, administration, exhortation, hospitality, giving, etc. have always been operative in the church and continue to be operative today, the Apostolic gifts ceased with the closing of the Apostolic age.
Anytime someone asks me that I always respond with a question of my own: What is your understanding of what a Calvinist is? With rare exception the people who ask me if I am a Calvinist do not have a proper understanding of Calvinism.
For this reason and also because I am not a disciple of John Calvin, the namesake of the theological position, I do not call myself a Calvinist. I am very appreciative of the great majority of Calvin’s work though I do not agree with every position he took.
If the question were framed thusly, “Do you believe in the doctrine of election?” I would respond with a resounding Yes.
Any adequate treatment of this issue would require far more space than what I can devote to it here. In short, though, God has always been in complete control over His own creation. Everything that has ever transpired in all of history has been under His sovereign control (Isaiah 46:10). God has chosen Israel (Deuteronomy 7:6; Psalm 135:4) and angels (1 Timothy 5:21). He even refers to Jesus, His own Son equal to Him in deific nature and yet man, His “Chosen One” (Luke 9:35).
Most have a caricatured view of Calvinism as God trying to keep people out of Heaven. They picture throngs of people trying to enter Heaven but God with His anthropomorphic arm outstretched, palm outward-facing as His eyes scan the mass of humanity saying, “No, no, not you. Not you. Ok, you in the back in the red shirt, you can come in. But you over there, no, no, not you either.”
But that is not the proper view of man, God, regeneration or election. The biblical view is that all people are running to Hell as fast as their little fallen feet will carry them because that is what they want. Left to our own fallen state that is what we all want. We love the darkness of our sin and hate the Light that threatens to expose it (John 3:19-20).
But God, being rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4-8), has chosen to save some. He is stretching out His arms and plucking some from their Hell-bound race, drawing them to Himself and saving them. There is nothing about those among God’s elect that is inherently better than those who are not elect. Just as there was nothing special about the nation of Israel among the other nations to make God choose her, there is nothing special about any of the elect to make God choose us over others. God chooses His elect for the simple reason that it pleases Him to do so.
God chose His elect by sovereign decree in eternity past (Ephesians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13) and gives us as a gift to His Son, Jesus (John 17:2, 6, 9). He did not, as those opposed to the doctrine of election assert, simply look down through the corridors of time to see who would and would not choose Him. Such a concept subjects God’s decisions to those of men and is completely foreign to scripture.
The most common objection to Calvinism is that it is unfair to those God does not choose to save. Try thinking of it from a different angle, though. Ask yourself this question: If God allowed all of us to go to Hell would He be unjust in doing so? Most people who have even a basic understanding of the Gospel would reply, “no.” If, then, it is true that God would be perfectly just to allow all people to go to Hell, is He somehow less just if He chooses to save some?
God is sovereign in salvation, but men are also accountable. Everyone who goes to Hell will go there because he or she chose to do so. The Bible teaches both God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, and these twin truths are often seen side by side (Matthew 11:27-28; Acts 2:23). This is difficult for our finite minds to reconcile, but that is just it – we are finite and fallen. Our minds, intellect and reasoning are finite and fallen. God is infinite and holy.
We must preach both the sovereignty of God and the accountability of man. The Bible teaches both. Both are true.
This is one of the most often asked questions I receive.
Some false teachers are blatant hucksters and snake-oil salesmen (and women). Some like Robert Tilton, Manasseh Jordan, Peter Popoff, and Dayna Muldoon are such obvious charlatans that not even TBN will put them on (though you will find many of them on The Word Network and BET).
Others, though, both know that they are deceiving people and are being deceived themselves. The Apostle Paul makes an interesting statement in 2 Timothy 3:13, "But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived." Some false teachers are both actively deceiving people and yet are being deceived themselves. Benny Hinn, I believe, is a perfect example of this. I have studied Hinn for over 20 years now. I know that he is actively deceiving people. He knows that when he claims his father was the major of Jaffa, Israel, that he really wasn't. He knows that when he claims that he along with an Episcopal priest healed every sick person in a hospital in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada that such an event never happened. He knows that the people he proclaims to be healed on the platform at his crusades are not really healed. He knows that he is actively deceiving people. And, yet, he is also being deceived himself.
After having studied him for so long and after having attended so many of his crusades, I believe that there is a part of Benny Hinn that thinks he is doing the right thing. There is a part of him that believes he is really doing the Lord's work. Have you ever heard it said that if you tell a lie often enough that you begin to believe it yourself? I think Benny Hinn and many others such as Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, etc. at some level believe they are legitimate. And yet they also know that they are deceiving people. Both of these dynamics can be at work in the same person. So are they deceiving or are they themselves deceived? Yes.