Charismatic “Calvinist”: a contradiction?

This was the whole point of Steve Lawson’s message at the Strange Fire Conference.  Lawson (and MacArthur) is a baptist.

The following quotes are from Martyn Lloyd-Jones: A Family Portrait by Christopher Catherwood:

Here were two very different views of what the Doctor taught on the Holy Spirit – one that he had become pentecostal and the other that he was an anti-charismatic who had been hijacked. Obviously both views cannot be right! (122-3)

Unfortunately, as Jim Packer has so ably pointed out in his book Keep in Step with the Spirit, some people are more influenced by tradition in what they believe than by what Scripture is actually saying, however inconvenient this might be.  Calvin was a cessationist too, and to many that meant if one was to be truly Reformed, one had to be a cessationist too. (Ironically, some of the people who held this view most strongly were Baptists.  Now while some of us there is no problem about being both Reformed and Baptist, Calvin was a firm paedobaptist!  So while they were strongly denying that one could ever believe in continuing spiritual gifts and be Reformed, they were undermining their own case by their insistence that one could indeed be Reformed while denying the doctrine of infant baptism in which Calvin believed so strongly.) (124-5)

Perhaps of course it was easy for the Doctor to believe things that few others combined.  He did after all believe that preaching was logic on fire, and that meant in this context the logic of the Calvinist and the fire of the charismatic – though as he himself showed, Calvinists could have fire and those who believed in the continuation of charismatic gifts could possess logic!  So his dual belief was quite consistent with the man, as well as flowing from scripture.  This last point was most crucial to him.  As we have seen, he was a Bible Calvinist, not a system one.  This made all the difference. (128-9)

People on the reformed side seemed to think that if Calvin did not believe in baptism with the Spirit as a separate experience, nor should they.  This was of course to elevate Calvin to a position higher than Scripture! As we have seen, ultimate if Calvin said one thing and the Bible said another, Calvin was wrong.  To the Doctor, this was not a problem, but to many who had discovered the glorious truths that Calvin also discovered in Scripture, with all their liberating power, then it was a shock to find that he could be wrong.  Instinctively, and in human terms understandably, they rebelled against the notion.  It is much easier to believe in a simple package than to sift through everything and seemingly believe three contradictory things before breakfast! (133)

Piper on Lloyd-Jones, part 6: Cessationism Quenches the Spirit

“Therefore, we may say emphatically that Lloyd-Jones was not a Warfieldian cessationist.

I think it is quite without scriptural warrant to say that all these gifts ended with the apostles or the Apostolic Era. I believe there have been undoubted miracles since then. (The Fight of Faith, 786; Joy Unspeakable, 246)

And when he speaks of the need for revival and for the baptism with the Holy Spirit and for a mighty attestation for the word of God today, it is crystal clear in Lloyd-Jones, he meant the same sort of thing as was meant in Acts 14:3, signs and wonders attesting to the Word of God. “It is perfectly clear…” – (Everything is perfectly clear to Martyn Lloyd-Jones) –

It is perfectly clear that in New Testament times, the gospel was authenticated in this way by signs, wonders and miracles of various characters and descriptions … Was it only meant to be true of the early church? … The Scriptures never anywhere say that these things were only temporary—never! – (you can hear him saying it, can’t you?) – There is no such statement anywhere. (The Sovereign Spirit, 31-32)

He deals with cessationist arguments, and says some mighty powerful things, that I can’t imagine Iain Murray would leave out of his biography, which he did. “To hold such a view as Warfield held is simply to quench the Spirit (SS, 46).  Because Iain Murray was publishing it [Warfield] at the time.  Pushing it.  These views, according to their dear father, Dr. Jones, is the quenching of the Holy Spirit!  and he didn’t want to lose his friends any more than he already was losing them, probably, and so he didn’t want them published until he was gone.

~From “A Passion for Christ Exalting Power

Piper on Lloyd-Jones, part 5: Signs and Wonders

“And now, note, next step, we’re just moving closer and closer in to power evangelism.  Spiritual gifts, healing, miracles, prophecy, tongues, the whole area of signs and wonders, Lloyd-Jones is talking about power evangelism in terms more careful, more clear, more strong than John Wimber ever has, before John Wimber ever thought of it.

He says that spiritual gifts are a part of the authenticating work of revival and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We need the result of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is spiritual gifts in their sign form, and it is a “supernatural authentication of the message” (The Sovereign Spirit, 24).

Now, I’m going to back off for a minute, and reflect with you for a minute about what we reformed types have to come to terms with when we love the Word of God and esteem its uniqueness in power.  When we hear Paul say, “Jews desire signs, and Greeks seek wisdom, but  WE PREACH!” I can hear people saying that to Wimber, “WE PREACH! You desire signs, we preach, which is the power of God.” and I can hear them quote Romans 1:16: “The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation.  DON’T DILUTE THE POWER OF GOSPEL BY COMPROMISING IT WITH YOUR SIGNS AND WONDERS AS THOUGH THE GOSPEL WERE TOO WEAK TO SAVE SINNERS!” Do you hear that coming out of Banner of Truth?

Well, it isn’t that simple, is it. And the issue here is not contemporary Vineyard, Third Wave versus Paul; the issue is Paul versus Paul.  Let me try to explain.  Evidently Peter and Paul and Stephen and Philip, who, would you agree with me, were the greatest preachers that the world has ever known.  Evidently they did not think that the attestation of signs and wonders alongside their unparalleled powerful preaching compromised the integrity or the sufficiency or uniqueness of the power of God through the gospel. (Mark 16:20; Acts 14:3; Heb. 2:4). Evidently they didn’t.

Lloyd-Jones is really impressed by this fact.  He says, “If the apostles were incapable of being true witnesses without unusual power, who are we to claim that we can be witnesses without such power?” (SS, 46). And when he said that , he did not mean simply the power of the word. He meant the power of spiritual gifts. And I’ll show you that from a quote:

[Before Pentecost the apostles] were not yet fit to be witnesses … [They] had been with the Lord during the three years of his ministry. They had heard his sermons, they had seen his miracles, they had seen him crucified on the cross, they had seen him dead and buried,  they had seen him after he had risen literally in the body from the grave. These were the men who had been with him in the upper room at Jerusalem after his resurrection to whom he had expounded the Scriptures, and yet it is to these men he says that they must tarry at Jerusalem until they are endued with power from on high. The special purpose, the specific purpose of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is to enable us to witness, to bear testimony, and one of the ways in which that happens is through the giving of spiritual gifts. (SS, 120)

Now here’s my answer, I wish Lloyd-Jones had given his but I couldn’t find it.  here’s my answer to the question that we must come to terms with, it is utterly essential, of how the power of the Word of God relates to the authenticating function of signs and wonders.  First of all notice the Bible teaches that the Gospel preached is the power of God unto salvation (1 Cor. 1:23) the Gospel preached is the power of God (Rom 1:16) but, the Bible also says that Paul and Barnabas “remained a long time in Iconium speaking boldly for the Lord,”  Would you dare to equate anybody’s preaching today with that preaching?  That was powerful preaching! They were preaching in Iconium with power, speaking boldly for the Lord, “Who, bore witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”

Take all the conflicts today, go back to the New Testament and deal with them there. Don’t let anybody tell you it’s today versus the New Testament.  The issue is, how could preaching and signs and wonders not compromise each other then, not now. Forget now! Forget Wimber, forget everything in the 20th Century, explain Acts.  Explain how you could have the best preaching that ever was preached, described as the power of God unto salvation, and have alongside it God bearing witness with signs and wonders attesting to His word of grace, without saying by that, “My word is insufficient by itself.” Why did God compromise His word, by showing off His power physically? That’s the issue, not today.  Who cares about today, it’s the Bible that matters.

Now here is my effort to understand the Bible, which then maybe would help us today. Could we not say, in putting all this together, that signs and wonders – that is, I mean, healings, exorcisms, and so on – signs and wonders function in relation to the word of God, as a striking, wakening channel for the self-authenticating glory of Christ in the gospel? That may be the most important sentence I’ll give you.  Let me say it again: “Could it be, that signs and wonders function as a striking, wakening, channel, along which, through which, the self-authenticating glory of Christ in the Gospel moves, arrives.  I say emphatically, signs and wonders do not save. I say emphatically, signs and wonders do not transform the heart. I say emphatically, the glory of Christ seen in the gospel is the only power that regenerates, converts, transforms the heart, I base that on 2 Cor. 3:18-4:6. But, evidently, God chooses at times to use signs and wonders along side the regenerating word to win a hearing, to shatter the shell of disinterest, to shatter the shell of cynicism, to shatter the shell of false religion, and to help the heart fix its gaze on the glory of Christ in the gospel (see note 42).  Which, as 2 Cor. 4:4 says, is then like God saying “Let there be light” and boom, there is a new creature.

That’s my best effort at how to account, not for what’s happening today, but for what was happening in Paul’s life, and Philip’s life, and Stephen’s life, and Barnabas’s life, and Peter’s life.  The greatest preaching accompanied by signs and wonders.  Not the greatest preaching, so great it doesn’t need signs and wonders.”

~From “A Passion for Christ Exalting Power

Piper on Lloyd-Jones, part 4: Some Mighty Demonstration

Baptism With the Holy Spirit is an Authentication of the Gospel

“Now watch this – it comes visibly, he says. It is not just a quiet subjective experience of the church. Things happen, he says,  that make the world sit up and take notice. And now this was tremendously important to Lloyd-Jones. He felt almost overwhelmed by the corruption of the world and by the impotence of the church. And he believed that the only hope was something stunningStunning!  “The Christian church today is failing, and failing lamentably.” He preached these sermons in the fall of ’64 to the spring of ’65, near the end of his ministry, four years before he retired.  I hear, if I’m reading between the lines correctly, a growing disillusionment in Martyn Lloyd-Jones with the effectiveness of the church, even his own church.

The Christian church today is failing, and failing lamentably.It is not enough even to be orthodox. You must, of course, be orthodox, otherwise you have not got a message … We need authority and we need authentication … Is it not clear that we are living in an age when we need some special authentication—in other words, we need revival.  (The Sovereign Spirit, 25)

In other words, revival for Lloyd-Jones was a power demonstration that would authenticate the truth of the gospel to desperately hardened world. In fact his description of that world is remarkably contemporary, referring to the demonic and to new age kinds of things, and then at the end of that quote he says:

This is why I believe we are in urgent need of some manifestation, some demonstration, of the power of the Holy Spirit. (SS, 25)

Now, to be fair, he cautioned against excessive preoccupation with revival.  He warns against being too interested in the exceptional and the unusual, he said, “don’t despise the day of small things.  Don’t despise the regular work of the church and the regular work of the Spirit.” (The Fight of Faith, 384)

But.

I hear that caution as a gesture, that’s called for by reality, but not the heartbeat of Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  He was increasingly disillusioned with the “regular” work of the church, so that he goes on now, I think, and says things like this:

[We] can produce a number of converts, thank God for that, and that goes on regularly in evangelical churches every Sunday. But the need today is much too great for that.

In other words, he rejects steady state regular work as adequate.

The need today is for an authentication of God, of the supernatural, of the spiritual, of the eternal, and this can only be answered by God graciously hearing our cry and shedding forth again his Spirit upon us and filling us as he kept filling the early church. (Joy Unspeakable, 278)

What is needed is some mighty demonstration of the power of God, some enactment of the Almighty, that will compel people to pay attention, and to look, and to listen. And the history of all the revivals of the past indicates so clearly that that is invariably the effect of revival… When God acts, he can do more in one minute that man with his organizing can do in fifty years. (Revival, 121-2)

And I can’t help but wonder if he meant, “my fifty years.”

He so wanted to see this.

What lies so heavily on Lloyd-Jones’ heart is that the name of God be vindicated and the glory of the Lord manifested in the world. “We should be anxious to see something happening that will arrest the nations, all the peoples, and cause them to stop and think again” (Revival, 120). And that was the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

The purpose, the main function of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, is … to enable God’s people to witness in such a manner that it becomes a phenomenon and people are arrested and are attracted. (JU, 84; SS 17, 35, 120)

~From “A Passion for Christ Exalting Power

Piper on Lloyd-Jones, part 2: “You MUST read Lloyd-Jones”

Revival Is a Baptism of the Holy Spirit

From the beginning of his life Martyn Lloyd-Jones was, in a sense,  a cry for depth.  If I were to sum up, I almost titled this “A Cry for Depth.” If I ever do anything with it I might title it that.  A cry for depth in two areas—1) in Biblical doctrine and 2) in  vital spiritual experience, so Light/heat. Logic/fire. Word/Spirit. Again and again he would be fighting on two fronts: he would be fighting against dead, formal, institutional intellectualism on the one side, and he would be fighting  against superficial, glib, entertainment-oriented, man-centered emotionalism on the other side. He looked out over the world and thought it was in an absolutely desperate condition and he saw the church as very weak and impotent. He said one wing of the church was straining out the gnats of intellectualism and the other was swallowing the camels of evangelical compromise and careless charismatic teaching (The Sovereign Spirit, 55-7). and for Lloyd-Jones the only hope was historic, God-centered revival.  which is really what I want to talk about this morning.

So my aim is this: to talk about the meaning of revival as Lloyd-Jones’ understood it—the sort of power he was seeking,  what he thought it would look like when it came, and how he thought we should seek it.  And then I’m going to be really risky at the end and ask if he practiced what he preached.

More than any other man in this century, I think, Lloyd-Jones has helped  recover the historic meaning of revival.

A revival is a miracle … something that can only be explained as the direct … intervention of God … Men can produce evangelistic campaigns, but they cannot and never have produced a revival (Revival 111-2).

And Lloyd-Jones felt it to be a tremendous tragedy that the historic sense of revival as a sovereign outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the church, had been virtually lost by the time he preached about revival  in 1959 on the 100th anniversary of the Welsh Revival. He said in those lectures, “During the last seventy, to eighty years, this whole notion of a visitation, a baptism of God’s Spirit upon the Church, has gone” (The Fight of Faith, 385).  And then he gives this explanation and with this he begins to part ways with almost the entirety of mainline evangelicalism.

The main theological reason that he said there was a prevailing indifference to historic revival and crying out for it is because people had begun to equate what happened on the Day of Pentecost with regeneration. Now let me read the key quote where he describes this view:

Yes, [Acts 2] was the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But we all get that now, (it’s not him talking, he’s quoting the view) and it is unconscious, we are not aware of it, it happens to us the moment we believe and we are regenerated. It is just that act of God which incorporates us into the Body of Christ. That is the baptism of the Spirit. So it is no use your praying to God for some other baptism of the Spirit, or asking God to pour out His Spirit upon the church … It is not surprising that, as that kind of preaching has gained currency, people have stopped praying for revival” (FF, 386).

Revival is when the Spirit comes down, he says, is poured out. And he’s crystal clear that it’s not the same, the baptism with the Holy Spirit is not the same as regeneration.  Here’s the quote, key quote:

I am asserting that you can be a believer, that you can have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, and still not be baptized with the Holy Spirit … The baptism of the Holy Spirit is something that is done by the Lord Jesus Christ not by the Holy Spirit … Our being baptized into the body of Christ is the work of the Spirit [that’s the point of 1 Cor. 12:13], as regeneration is his work, but this is something entirely different; this is Christ’s baptizing us with the Holy Spirit. And I am suggesting that this is something which is therefore obviously distinct from and separate from becoming a Christian, being regenerate, having the Holy Spirit dwelling within you (Joy Unspeakable, 21-3).

And so he laments that by identifying the baptism with the Holy Spirit with regeneration we have made the baptism of the Holy Spirit wholly non-experimental – as the Puritan’s would say — that is unconscious.  You don’t know when it happens,  you only can see perhaps some  later-on moral results from it. That is not, he says, the way it  happened in the books of Acts or the way it was experienced in the early church. (JU, 52). So he spoke with strong words about such a view.  This is very powerful now, knowing where he’s coming from and who his friends were:

Those people who say that [baptism with the Holy Spirit] happens to everybody at regeneration seem to me not only to be denying the New Testament but definitely to be definitely quenching the Spirit” (JU, 141).

Now just ponder that statement.   Therefore he would say, by implication, virtually the whole evangelical church is quenching the Holy Spirit.  That would be Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s opinion.  Dana told me last night that Warren Wiersbe was told by Martyn Lloyd-Jones that he asked these sermons not to be published before he died.  Well, there’s some real clear reasons for that, I think.  He founded the Banner of Truth publishing house.  It is emphatically cessationist.  Now I don’t know how he felt about that, but in 1972 after he had retired, they published B.B. Warfield.  He’s going to emphatically disagree with this book, in a moment.  And Walter Chantry, The Sign of the Apostles.  His biographer does not do him justice, in my judgment, in the chapter on Cross Winds.  He does not own up to what Lloyd-Jones is saying.  You won’t get the straight picture.  You must read Lloyd-Jones.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones and the Charismatic Movement

“God must do a new thing”

From Chosen By Goda collection of essays reflecting on Martyn Lloyd-Jones and his legacy, edited by Christopher Catherwood.  Chapter 15: The Encourager, by Henry Tyler, 246-8.

In the late ’60’s I had become involved much more with what is commonly known as the charismatic movement, and I never ceased to marvel at how informed the Doctor was about this.  When we met he would ask me endless questions about what was happening among the various ‘house churches’ that were springing up in many places, and when communes and communal living became the fashion among some he wisely pointed out the dangers of breaking the natural family unit, illustrating this with examples from church history.  On one occasion he asked me if I had heard or met an Anglican minister who had received some prominence in the press for his healing ministry.  He knew all about him and how he had come into that new measure of the Spirit in his ministry, and he urged me to go and hear him for myself.

The Doctor had some reservations about the charismatic movement in general – for instance with the tendency of charismatics to compromise with Rome; in no way would he ever countenance that.  He felt too that the time given to singing in charismatic meetings was inordinately long.  I tried to explain that this was not mere singing for singing’s sake but prolonged worship and delighting in God. I don’t think I ever quite succeeded tin convincing him on this point!  On one occasion, thinking that it would please him, I told him how the charismatics were now singing many psalms and portions of scripture.  He gave me a wry smile and said, ‘Good.  Perhaps they will now stop singing those awful choruses.’

But these apart, the Doctor was glad of the renewed emphasis upon the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  He welcomed the gifts of the Spirit but needed to be assured that they were genuine and not spurious.  He told due of his pleasure in reading an article by Arthur Wallis which appeared in Theological Renewal, where the writer had argued scripturally and cogently for the baptism of the Spirit as a distinct and separate work of the Holy Ghost coming upon the people of God.  Arthur Wallis had written this article to counteract teaching which sought to explain the baptism of the Spirit which we received in first coming to Christ, or, as the Catholics believed, at baptism.  This was a view that the Doctor felt to be unscriptural and he was greatly encouraged to see such a view refuted in print by a leading figure among the charismatics.

I think back upon the many times that the Doctor encouraged me in my ministry among charismatic churches, urging me to go on expounding the Scriptures, emphasizing the need to maintain the balance between the Word and the Spirit.  From time to time he graciously told me that he had heard of my minister in various parts of the country.  He had also heard adverse reports and frequently he said to me, ‘Do not pay too much attention to the criticisms – Press on with God and work for His glory.’ This was a tremendous encouragement at a time when many former friends seemed to be less friendly!

In the later years of the Doctor’s life my colleague, Terry Virgo, and I had reason to visit him in his home in Ealing.  We shared fully with him our vision to see the church restored.  He made some very significant comments upon the state of the church and concluded with this statement: ‘Evangelicalism is dead.  God must do a new thing.’ His conviction that the only answer for the church was the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven in revival grew increasingly and never faded in any way.  Right to the last it was his hope, his prayer and his desire.

“A new form of dispensationalism”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones and the gifts of the Spirit

From Chosen By Goda collection of essays reflecting on Martyn Lloyd-Jones and his legacy, edited by Christopher Catherwood.  Chapter 13: The Pastor’s Pastor, by Hywel Jones, 220, 221-2, 223-4.

What were these emphases?  First and foremost was the importance of spiritual life

When this element of spiritual life which was the result of the working of the Holy Spirit was under consideration, the Doctor could become a critic of orthodoxy, even Reformed orthodoxy.  He did so not only because of the heady effect which the (re)discovery of Reformed theology was having, but also because some exponents of that theology were overlooking or excluding the immediate works of the Spirit in addition to regeneration, viz. the baptism of the Spirit, the bestowal of spiritual gifts, and revival.  He pointed out repeatedly that Charles Hodge omitted any reference to revival in his three-volumed Systematic Theology and that B.B. Warfield regarded the gifts referred to in 1 Corinthians 12-14 as having ceased with the age of the apostles.  This the Doctor described as ‘a new form of dispensationalism.’ For him, Jonathan Edwards was right when he distinguished between excesses and the spiritual, though the latter would have varying, even striking, physical phenomena.  He declared: ‘We must learn to draw the line between the essential and the indifferent on the one hand and on the other between the indifferent and the wrong.’

The Doctor was interested in anything which appeared to display signs of spiritual vitality, wanting all the information about it and urging us to have the same interest.  In the [Westminster] Fellowship he would bring details of incidents which he had heard about and members would raise matters related to house church groups and the charismatic movement in their areas.  We discussed tongues, prophecy, miracles, healing, music and dancing and the use of the body in worship.  In all these the Doctor was most careful.  He would not dismiss all such phenomena as psychological or demonic as some would have preferred.  But he did not hesitate to say that those elements could be present.  On the other hand, he would not and did not endorse the charismatic moment.  He urged careful observation and evaluation in the light of what the Bible taught of the spiritual effects on an experience of God – awe and reverence, a sense of personal sin and unworthiness, love to the Saviour and the brethren, concern for the perishing and a spirit of prayer.  His most emphatic charge directed against us was ‘Why do we not have the problems associated with spiritual life?’ The answer was obvious.

He did not urge us to adopt the practices of the charismatics.  Rather he called on us to seek the Lord without setting limits to what He might do or what we would allow Him to do, asking Him to turn to us and visit us in gracious revival.  Meanwhile, we were not to follow any human methods for obtaining the Spirit because none were laid down in Scripture.  God gives the Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ to those who ask Him…

He was apprehensive about the effect which the various gifts practiced by charismatics would have upon preaching and preachers.  While urging the restoration of meetings like the society meeting of the 18th century, he contended for the retention of public worship in the nonconformist pattern, led from the front by the minister in a raised pulpit who integrated the service.  He did not regard this as either grieving or quenching the Spirit.  He gave himself to the preaching of the Word, ‘the highest and the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called’, and God exalted preaching through him…

While not denying that prediction may still occur, he regarded the prophecy referred to in 1 Corinthians 14 as the kind of thing which can happen in preaching when new thoughts and unprepared words are given from above.  He urged us always o be open to that dimension in preaching and never to adhere to our prepared sermons so rigidly as to refuse to follow such leading.

“God just thinks His own way”

Another quote from the Q&A from the 1996 Desiring God Conference for Pastors, The Pastor and His Study.  Iain Murray was the featured speaker, and the biography was of Martin Luther.  I highly recommend the audio from the conference.

Q: With regard to signs, things such as falling down and whatnot, being of relatively low importance.  I hear people use the text on the counsel  of Jerusalem in Acts, where Paul addresses the Jerusalem church and there’s a hush over the crowd as he talks about the signs and miracles that were done  among the Gentiles.  And I hear people looking to that and saying, “something’s wrong in our time.”  Or at least something very, very significant is missing, when we have a situation where we’re proclaiming the gospel  and these things are not happening.  John or Iain I wonder if you could help me out there.

Piper: I do not accept the cessationist or Warfieldian argument that there are points in history at which time only there is a great flare-up of signs and wonders.  However, I do think there are seasons, for reasons, at which time there are great flare-ups.  In other words, God is not limited to the apostolic era, or Elijah, or some other time – the crossing of the Red Sea – at which we have a little flare-up of miraculous things.  

But I think while there’s nothing I can see in the New Testament that would limit signs and wonders to the apostles, I think there’s good reason to believe that they had something extraordinary going on upon them.  The drawing near of the incarnation, and the foundation of the church was unique,  and therefore it doesn’t trouble me as much as it does some that the quality and prevalence of miracles in the hands of the apostles should be greater than what we have seen typically throughout church history, I would expect that, frankly, I would expect that from what I see biblically.

However, from the other side, I think, probably, our low expectation of signs and wonders in the evangelistic enterprise is a self-fulfilling prophecy, it’s a self-fulfilling low expectation.  If you don’t expect God to do a thing, He probably won’t do it.  And therefore I would think that we probably could expect more, that we could expect some remarkable turns of events and dreams like we’re hearing about among Muslims.   I read about this morning, that “the Lord bore witness with signs and wonders to the word of His grace.”  The Lord witnessed to the word.  Now you had the word right there being preached by an authoritative eye-witness you don’t  need anything else.  You don’t need signs and wonders in Acts.  That’s the last place in history that you need signs and wonders is when you have eye-witnesses to the resurrection.  And yet the Lord gave them.

And we are a generation who don’t have eye-witnesses, and you’d think logically, we need ‘em!  Well, God just thinks his own way, and if he wants to win Muslims through dreams, or if he wants to do something here through a healing.  So, what I’m saying is, if somebody says to me, “ we should be seeing lots of these things, we should see the book of Acts.”  I say, “well, wait, wait, wait, you don’t know that you should see the book of Acts.”  The apostolic age was unique and the signs and wonders done through the hands of the apostles may not be what  gifts of healings is about in 1 Corinthians 12.  Gifts of healings and miracles there in 1 Corinthians 12  may be of a lower order and less powerful, and less frequent.  So yes, probably we could see more, but don’t set up an ideal in Acts that you demand has to be, or the church is carnal and unbelieving.

“This is virtually Dr. Lloyd Jones own position”

From the Q&A from the 1996 Desiring God Conference for Pastors, The Pastor and His Study.  Iain Murray was the featured speaker, and the biography was of Martin Luther.  I highly recommend the audio from the conference.

Q: We’d love some more follow-up from you on your personal view of the Toronto Blessing.

Piper: My approach toward the third wave, even though now the Vineyard has disassociated itself from Toronto, has been what I have called all the way along a critical openness.   That is, I don’t rule out in principle that God is in the signs and wonders movement, or any other particular manifestation.  There’s nothing biblical that I can see that would hinder God from using healing, or prophetic utterances properly understood, or tongues, or laughter or falling down to manifest outwardly something that’s happening inwardly.  But, having said that, once you say what Iain Murray said, which I agree with, and what Edwards would say, is that these outward things prove nothing, and are therefore in a very low level of significance as far as what the Holy Spirit is really about in the world, namely holiness and salvation.  Once you say that it seems like you pull the plug for a lot of people because you are not manifesting the proper enthusiasm for what is viewed to be such a great blessing.

The reason I’m soft on this is because not only do I not see a biblical condemnation of it, but I assess movements doctrinally on the one hand and then what is being produced as far as holiness goes on the other hand.  And I simply know of too many people whose lives have been profoundly helped for good by lying on the ground for 45 minutes in a kind of laughter or peace.   I never have, I went over to the Apache Plaza here when the Toronto Blessing came to town, willing to expose myself to everything under the sun, just about, and had about five high-powered guys around me, praying like crazy, I’m sure, some of them wishing, “goodness I wish this guy would go down, because if he went down, then it would be all right.”  And a whole bunch of my staff went down, and some of you in this room were on the floor, and attribute right now a sweet fellowship with the Lord that is continuing and an enrichment of your own ministry because of what God did spiritually at that moment, and I enjoyed that 25 minutes of prayer that they did over me, and I felt great peace, but I didn’t get dizzy, and I really, really was not saying, “I’m not going down under any cost.”  I frankly, wanted to try it.  What is this “carpet time” that they do, you know?  So I’m very – excessively – open,  some would say.

My son Abraham is 16, and he read me in yesterday’s Tribune, and I said, “is this dealing with the Toronto thing?” He was reading to me out of the newspaper, he said “there’s not anything religious to it at all.”  It was a psychological study on laughter movements in history.  Zero religion.  It talked about this laughter movement in Indonesia or something that lasted for 6 months.  It has nothing to do with religion whatsoever.  It was a little girl, started laughing, and there were these laughing fits that lasted in this community for 6 months.  And it had no religious connection at all.  So I just really find it hard to get excited about falling down or laughing.  I get excited about the Lordship of Christ, and taking risks for Jesus, and bringing people to Christ, and exalting the sovereignty of God. 

And so the other thing besides holiness in people’s lives which I’ve seen come of this, is preaching and the exultation of the word.  And I find it not very high.  I’ve heard stories, “you know the preaching was good.” But the thing that thrills people is the external manifestations.  I’ve watched it happen.  And so the word does seem to drift more into the background and the effort it takes to produce a good message from the book, the external word, is minimized.   and so those would be my concerns open and yet critically open. 

And so I don’t really make anybody happy, you know the cessationists – I got invited to wales a few years ago, to speak at the place where Martyn Lloyd-Jones spoke often, and when they found out I had these kinds of attitudes, they withdrew the invitation.  It’s been real painful to have those experiences happen, and on the other side the people that prophesied over me over at Apache, saying, “The Lord’s hand is upon me to do this and that,” and I’m sure my lack of full bore engagement in the Pentecostal side is leaving them thinking I must be hardhearted or something.   And so I just kind of walk my own way and nobody knows quite whether they can trust me or not, I think.

Iain Murray:  I do think the brethren in Wales were confused, because this is really, this is more or less virtually Dr. Lloyd-Jones own position, I think they were really confused on it.

Piper: That’s somewhat comforting.  Even the criticism I got from Iain, when I spoke on Lloyd-Jones here that I had not been completely just to him, was a grief to me because for the news to go out from this conference that Martyn Lloyd-Jones is anything other than almost a god, little “g,” would make me very sad, because I don’t have many heroes in the world, especially not many in this century, and for me to have my reputation go to Wales and elsewhere that I am mainly critical of Martyn Lloyd-Jones is sad.

Review: The Baptism and Gifts of the Spirit

 

 

The Baptism and Gifts of the Spirit by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

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The Original “Cautious-but-Open” position.

This book was originally published in two separate parts: Joy Unspeakable, and The Sovereign Spirit: Discerning His Gifts/Prove All Things (same book, different titles). The Sovereign Spirit fits in between chapters 7 and 8 of Joy Unspeakable. The complete sermon series in chronological order is in this book, The Baptism and Gifts.  The 2008 edition of Joy Unspeakable also includes all 24 sermons, but the older Shaw Books edition must be supplemented by the other book.  Confuesed yet?  Me too.

Christopher Catherwood, in his biography of his grandfather Martyn Lloyd-Jones: A Family Portrait, describes the two emphases that come out when the series is split into two books: “The more controversial Joy Unspeakable has outsold by a large margin its more cautious companion volume. Maybe those who wanted to believe in the baptism with the Holy Spirit without qualification did not want to know of the equally biblical restraints!” (p. 132)

He also wrote the introduction to this book: “the Doctor realized that many reformed people had become dry and arid in their Christian lives – that although their doctrine was sound, their day-to-day faith lacked the fire and sense of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit that should be present in the Christian’s life.” (p. 12)

This is the theme of the book. Lloyd-Jones brings you face to face with the reality of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit as described in the Bible, and then looks at churches and believers around him and says “Why aren’t we like that?” He says “The great and constant danger is that we should be content with something which is altogether less than that intended for us.” (16). He addresses those who would simply dismiss the Scripture by saying “that was for a different dispensation.” “That is a very serious charge – namely that the Scripture does not apply to us.” (37) “Our greatest danger, I feel today, is to quench the Spirit.” (81)

He is constantly bringing out points from the Scripture, and examples from church history, and saying “If your doctrine of the Holy Spirit does not include this idea of the Holy Spirit, it is seriously, grievously defective,” (125) or “Think about it [the example of the puritan John Flavel] and work out your doctrine to account for something like this.” (85)

This is absolutely vital: “The greatest need of the church from every standpoint is a great visitation of the Holy Spirit, and it is only as she receives this she will be enabled to understand again, to grasp and to preach to others, the saving message of the gospel of the Son of God. So we shall go on with our study: nothing is more vital.” (320)

“This is New Testament Christianity! New Testament Christianity is not just a formal, polite, correct, and orthodox kind of faith and belief. No! What characterizes it is this element of love and passion, this pneumatic element, this life, this vigour, this abandon, this exuberance.” (361)

One might quibble with his precise teaching and terminology regarding the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” I’m not sure I’m completely convinced myself regarding his terminology. When it comes to the substance of what he describes, I am in complete agreement. I want more of that! Whether you call it the “baptism” or something else, the point is we need more of the Holy Spirit in our lives as believers. I started this book as a convinced cessationist. I finished it as someone desperately desiring more of the Spirit in my life, whatever that might mean.

Here is Lloyd Jones on the “controversial gifts”:

“We start then by saying that it is always possible that the Holy Spirit may give this gift to certain individuals. So that when we hear of any reported case, we do not dismiss it, nor do we condemn it. We must examine it. In the sovereignty of the Spirit he can give any one of these gifts at any time; we must therefore be open. But for the reasons we have already adduced we must also always be cautious and careful, we must ‘prove all things’, and only ‘hold fast to that which is good.’ (p. 271)

All throughout Lloyd-Jones is scriptural and he is balanced. He longs to see the Holy Spirit work in power. It is desperately needed in the church today. He says, “Anyone who cuts out portions of Scripture is guilty of a very grievous sin… we are probably quenching the Spirit, and are just desirous of going along in our undisturbed, self-satisfied, smug kind of formal Christianity.” (p. 268) He takes apart theological views that would limit and, in his words ‘quench’ the Spirit, a dispensational hermeneutic that says “that’s not for today.” Lloyd-Jones says this: “Let me begin to answer it by giving you just one thought at this point. It is this: the Scriptures never anywhere say that these things were only temporary – never! There is no such statement anywhere.” (p. 159)

But he is also cautious – very much so. He examines and proves many teachings and practices that are prevalent in the charismatic or pentecostal movements, and subjects them to the piercing analysis of the Scriptures, and while he is open, he puts up with no nonsense. You cannot manipulate the Spirit – He is sovereign and does what He wants when He wants. You can’t put him in a box either way – by relegating his work strictly to the 1st century, nor by boxing Him up like a machine that responds if you push the right buttons. Lloyd-Jones had an incredible grasp of church history and shows many examples of what he means – good and bad – from history.

This was the set of sermons that helped cause John Piper to change his position on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in the early 90’s. I highly recommend this as a balanced, Scriptural, yet reproving, and stirring call for more life and vitality that only comes by the Spirit of God.  I highly recommend it.