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TruthTalks: Another Question

Last week, Dr Christopher Peppler told us about another question he was asked pertaining to being slain in the Spirit, speaking in tongues and being tested.

If you have ever felt like:

  • You were being tested after growing closer to God, or
  • Why you can’t speak in tongues,
  • What it means to be slain in the Spirit, etc.

then this TruthTalks podcast is for you.

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TruthTalks: Another Question Read More »

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Another Question

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In my previous article I addressed three questions raised by our local Friday Ladies Group and in this post I address another question.

‘A few years ago, after the service, I went up to the front and one of the Elders prayed for me and I received an anointing by the Holy Spirit.  The elder kept repeating “Let it come” and I went down … Is ‘slain in the Spirit’ the correct thing to say?  He said I would be able to talk in tongues which I am able to do.  It was a fantastic experience.  However.  so many negative things have happened to me since.  Does Satan try and get to one more after an anointing as I feel as though I am being severely tested – more so than before.  I have not had the desire to attend Church or Friday Ladies Group or any social occasion.  There have been times when I have made up my mind to attend a particular event and something always happens to prevent it.  I appear to have developed a mental blockage.  How can I overcome this?’

This actually consists of three related questions, so I will separate them and respond to each in turn.

(a) Being slain in the Spirit:  You won’t find this expression in the bible but it is often used by Pentecostals and Charismatics to describe the experience of being overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit. What they mean by this is the phenomenon of falling to the ground usually in response to someone praying for them to receive God’s power. This is why the experience is also often referred to as ‘falling under the power’. This is a complex subject and I will not be able to discuss it fully in a short article such as this, so I will, in the main, just give my understanding.

When a person is born again his/her dormant/dead spirit comes alive. This is an act of the Holy Spirit, but it does not necessarily entail empowerment. Shortly before ascending into Heaven, Jesus breathed on his disciples and said “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). Then Luke records that in that same period between the resurrection and the ascension, Jesus told his disciples: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5). Luke expands on this a few verses later when he records Jesus as saying, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” ( Acts 1:8).

In these two events, we have a type of model of what we should experience, that is:

  1. Rebirth of the spirit and a separate and logically subsequent
  2. Infilling of spiritual energy.

The day of Pentecost experience was intense and overwhelming for the first disciples and it often is for those receiving the infilling of the spirit, especially for the first time. A reasonable analogy is what often happens if someone comes into contact with an electricity source – they shake and fall to the ground overwhelmed by the surge of power going through them. Falling ‘under the power’ is neither normative nor always evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, and shamefully, some ministers fake this phenomenon or attempt to help the person to ‘receive’ by shouting, pushing, or strongly encouraging the person to fall to the ground.

Paul reinforced what Jesus modelled when he asked a group of disciples in Ephesus, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2). They stated that they had not and, after explaining to them the difference between John the Baptist’s immersion and the baptism associated with the rebirth experience, he baptized them in water. The account continues with the words: ‘When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied’ (Acts 19:6). This both connects the receiving of power from on high/infilling of spiritual energy/empowerment by the Holy Spirit with the laying on of hands and with the manifestation of tongues and prophecy.

I have written about this HERE

(b) Speaking in tongues: Pentecostals make an error of logic when they claim that speaking in tongues is the only definitive indication that a person has been ‘filled with/by the Holy Spirit’. It is certainly a common manifestation when a person receives spiritual power, but the passage from Acts that I have already cited includes prophesying as another manifestation. The apostle Paul does not appear to have spoken in tongues when he was born again (Acts 9:17-19), yet years later he declared that he spoke in tongues more than other believers (1 Corinthians 14:18). The logical error of the Pentecostal position is that while tongues are certainly one of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, they are not the exclusive evidence that someone has received power from on high.

Another misunderstanding of scripture and of confused logic is the Charismatic teaching that there are two types of tongues, one being the evidence of spiritual baptism and the other a gift of the Spirit that when accompanied by the gift of interpretation substitutes for the gift of prophecy. When the first disciples received power from on high on the day of Pentecost, they rushed out into the street speaking in tongues. However, these were not words articulating the Gospel in different languages, nor were they words of prophecy, because the Acts account described them as ‘declaring the wonders of God’ (Acts 2:11). In 1 Corinthians 14:2 Paul wrote that ‘anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit’. On the Day of Pentecost the sceptics present claimed that the disciples must have been drunk because they did not perceive the utterances as human language.

In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul used the following words to describe tongues: ‘pray’, ‘praising God’, ‘giving thanks’ and in vs 2-3 he wrote that ‘anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God (while) anyone who prophesies speaks to men’. Tongues are prayers, praises and thanksgiving to God while prophecies are words spoken from God to believers. In a congregation, tongues need to be interpreted or else they will be unintelligible to others. They are not a form of prophecy requiring the gift of interpretation of tongues to be intelligible.

I have written about this in a short book titled ‘The 9 Spiritual Gifts & How to Find Your Ministry’ that you can obtain at Amazon.

(c) Testing:

While it is true that Jesus was tested directly after the Holy Spirit anointed him at his baptism, it is not true that the one always follows the other.

Jesus’ testing in the wilderness was directly related to his anointing as the Son of Man. The three tests (Matthew 4) were:

  1. Will you use your power to satisfy your needs, will you use it to aggrandize yourself,
  2. Will you use it to obtain authority over men, or
  3. Will you use it to serve mankind to your Father’s glory?

No, my experience and the example of the Lord Jesus tell me that the Holy Spirit imparts his anointing to enable us to overcome trials and to minister to others – how else would Jesus, as a man, survive in the wilderness for 40 days without eating anything?!

The lack of desire to go to church services or other Christian gatherings has probably got more to do with depression than testing. When we are depressed we often avoid company, become critical, and just have little energy or desire to do anything. The lady who posed the question received the empowerment of the Holy Spirit during a church service and the best place to seek additional energy for life and ministry is often a church service. So perhaps she simply needs to just decide to go and when there ask for hands to be laid on her.

 

Do you have a question or opinion? Post it here or on my facebook page and I will endevour to respond here or privately.

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Three Questions

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A couple of days ago I joined our local church Ladies Fellowship for a Q&A and I have selected the first three questions asked for this article.

These are just some of the life-related theological/biblical questions that many people wrestle with and so they may be of particular interest to you.

 

Question One: “My children are both divorced and living with other partners out of wedlock, and, in one instance, expecting a baby. Will the Church accept this baby and how would I deal with the situation?”

For Roman Catholics, there is only one church with one set of established doctrines and protocols, but for Protestants, there are many denominations and independent churches all with their own dogmas and practices. Some churches will bless any child irrespective of the parent’s church affiliations. Others will insist that both parents are Christians. Some will simply pray a blessing over the child while others will ask the church members present to agree to assist the parents in bringing up the child to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus. In this later  case, it makes sense that the parents must be committed to the local church otherwise how can the members help them to spiritually nurture the child?

My yardstick for all matters of doctrine and practice is Jesus Christ, so the question is ‘how did he deal with this sort of situation?

Matthew 19:13-15 records that ‘little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them, but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.  Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there’. So for me, that matter is clear and during the three decades that I was a local church pastor I always accepted any child brought to me at a Sunday service for blessing and prayer.

However, some church leaders will not allow baby blessing/christening/baptism unless the parents are members of their church. For some, this flows from a belief that babies born to Christian parents are automatically ‘saved’ and therefore part of the church but only by virtue of the parent’s spiritual standing. For others, it comes from a belief that there is sacramental spiritual power in ‘Christenings’ provided they are conducted in terms of the denomination’s ordinances and protocols. In these cases, grandparents would perhaps fret if they felt that the child was being deprived of Christian validation. I don’t think that this is the case at all because God is merciful to all irrespective of whether they have been religiously ‘processed’.

However,  a child growing up in a home where the parents are not born-again believers is disadvantaged whether or not they have been Christened.

 

Question Two: “If a friend is banned from the Church because he was divorcing his wife after years of misery, as a Church member, am I expected to ignore him? He has a girlfriend now and looks after his children magnificently in every way.”

Church leaders sometimes have to make tough decisions and the hardest of all is when there is a conflict between a relationship with an individual and the good of other church members or indeed the whole church. A divorce is always a traumatic event with long term consequences. When both parties are members of the same church then it is even more difficult for them and their church leaders.

Some scriptures that have relevance to this sort of situation are 1 Corinthians 5:11-12, Titus 3:9-11 and Matthew 18:15-17. In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul was dealing with a case where a church member was sleeping with his stepmother and this was being condoned by the local church. However, it does instruct us that in some extreme circumstances church leaders may need to ‘excommunicate’ an unrepentant member. In Titus 3:10-11 Paul put it this way: ‘Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Of course, the Lord Jesus established the basis for church practice in cases like this when he said:  “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17). To treat someone like a ‘pagan’ is not to deal with them without compassion, respect and human dignity. However, it does mean that they cannot be regarded as spiritual ‘family’. In fact, from a personal relationship perspective, 1 Corinthians 5:9-10 and 12 would then apply.

My  opinion is that before taking offence on someone else’s behalf or deciding how to respond to them, go and discuss the matter with a church elder/pastor. Explain that you are affected by the apparent rejection of your friend and need help to understand so that you can have peace and act appropriately.

 

Question Three:Where does the Church’s view regarding abortion come from? Does the idea come from ‘Thou shalt not kill?’ If one has an abortion, is that person a sinner? How does the Church view it?”

This a complex and emotionally charged issue. The 6th commandment is ‘You shall not murder’ not ‘you shall not kill.’ Over the centuries theologians and judges have debated the validity of the taking of life that may not necessarily be understood as murder; such things as capital punishment, self-defense, and acts of war. In the USA politicians are currently using the abortion issue as a means of gaining election support. I was interested to watch a debate between two ladies on American TV, one a Democrat and the other a Republican. The Democrat was arguing passionately for a woman’s right over her own body while the Republican was presenting the pro-life case. The Republican lady made the point that she and her group were not opposed to ‘abortion’, but only to abortion on demand.   Both arguments are difficult to sustain consistently. On the one hand, woman’s rights assume that the developing baby is part of her body and not a separate life. On the other hand, the difficulty comes in determining when abortion is acceptable and when it is not.

Almost all theologians hold to one of two theories of the origin of the human soul.

  1. Those who believe that God individually creates the human soul upon conception normally argue that abortion is a form of murder and therefore ‘unbiblical’  and wrong.
  2. Those who believe that the human soul is passed down from generation to generation in the same way as other constituents of the human being would be more inclined to accept abortion as acceptable in certain specific circumstances.
My view is that abortion is sometimes justifiable in selective cases such as where there is evidence that the fetus is grossly compromised or where the mother’s life is at stake (there are other circumstances that I would also consider as valid). I am definitely opposed to abortion as a form of birth control or simply because the woman decides that she just does not want the baby.

Whatever the circumstances, I do not consider abortion as any less forgivable than other serious offences.  A woman who aborts a baby after agonising  consideration and as an inescapable last resort should not be made to experience the additional pain of our condemnation.

God freely forgives us all our transgressions but does not absolve us from the consequences of our decisions – should we do less?

As always Jesus sets the example for us. In dealing with another of the Ten Commandments, you shall not commit adultery, he ended his practical example with the words: “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?“. “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin”  (John 8:3-11).

Principles

There are three great underlying principles we need to consider when dealing with these life issues; let me express them here in the form of questions:

  1. What did Jesus say or do concerning this or something similar?
  2. What light does the bible in all its parts shed on this?
  3. Do Jesus’ words, “If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent” (Matthew 12:7) apply here?

The ladies of the Friday fellowship asked nineteen other questions and so I will perhaps pick up on some of these in future articles … so stay tuned.

If you have any questions you would like me to explore, please let me know by posting a comment here or on my Facebook page. and I will add them to the list.

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TruthTalks: 3 Myths concerning Christianity + Q&A

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Last week Dr Christopher Peppler (a.k.a “Daddy”) wrote THIS post about debunking myths about Christianity. In this audio episode he goes into some more detail and then I get to have a Question and Answer session with him where we end up discussing the topic, along with Jewish folk, and C.S. Lewis vs. Lewis Carroll.

I do hope you enjoy it and God bless you.

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.