Eisegesis and Allegory

Many times I have been confronted by those who choose to take an alternative approach to Bible study. There are those who reject the Bible’s own clear imperatives, in favor of a critical method that tries to reinvent the scripture as a mythopoeic body of wisdom which lacks divine infallibility. There are those who approach it with the absurd intent of reading a gender specific defense into Bible. There are those who selectively literalize obscure passages while seeing clear imperatives as nothing more than a metaphor. However, the most destructive of all are those who see the whole scripture as a system of arcane allegories. These are the most dangerous because they rape the precious word of God of some of its most sacred and intensely beautiful language, in order to defend dogmas, behaviors and practices that are in direct rebellion against the very scripture they presume to represent.

These are they who are constantly rambling about this interpretation or that interpretation of a passage. When confronted by a clear imperative such as thou shalt not Steal, such a scholar will tend to respond, ‘that’s your interpretation, I have a different interpretation.’ Common sense would clearly dictate that such a passage is not allegorical, but these false teachers have long since left sense behind.

We see in Jesus the perfect exegesis (Critical explanation or analysis of a text) because the New Testament proclaims him as the representative, literal embodiment of the Holy Spirit (רוח אלהים). For this reason when we see him apply Midrash to old testament passages such as the Isaiah Immanuel texts, we see more than one thing. Yes we see King Y’Shuah, the cabinetmaker’s son, naming himself anointed rescuer of Israel. We see Jesus born to the Diaspora living in Syria naming himself King and Lord of his fellow Jews. And we see his friends and neighbors attempting to execute him as a blasphemer for what they perceive as hubris from the rich man’s bastard son. But we see more if we are a careful and honest student.

We also can see Jesus himself using and thereby validating, or as we say in Pentecostal circles consecrating, the use of a Midrashic exegetical method. While he does validate the body of work called the Midrash, he does make it a valid place to look for advice in Christian exegesis. Secondly we see him applying a particular form of Midrash that was peculiar to the Essenes and their sympathizers among the Sephardim or Pharisees. We see Jesus sitting in the presence of the congregation and stating that he is the fulfillment of the Son of God prophecies held so precious by the Essenes. In fact the book of John begins with a tract against kabala and proceeds to prove Jesus as the Anointed One of God, the Son of God and the Son of Man. For those who have some background in Mystery Religion, These terms can take on special significance and John repeatedly hits those buttons and demonstrates that the correct meaning and application is Jesus, rather that the allegorical applications that such men and women are prone to affect.

What we see in Jesus is a literal application of even the most obscure, predictive or apocalyptic foretelling in the Bible. We see a very literal application of imperative passages wherein God speaks to man through a prophet ordering behavior and practice. And lastly we see Jesus accepting idiomatic passages in the existing text as idiom rather than over literalizing these and, thereby losing the meaning and intent of the author.

In other words, Jesus clearly viewed the prophets and writers of the first covenant as being sane, rational men who had a rational body of information and knowledge to communicate, who spoke in an old-fashioned dialect, but who spoke the simple literal truth of their teachings. It boggles the mind that any honest student of Christ could decide to place his own understanding and enlightenment above that of our Lord and Savior.

Nothing I have referred to here has ruled out the legitimate use of allegory by writers of the first or second covenants. Jesus clearly used allegory when he spoke the parables; a parable is by definition allegorical. And similarly there are allegories in the old testament. But it is foolish to take major portions, for instance whole chapters of Genesis and attempt to claim the author was telling an allegory. Such thinking is in fact hubris. But most especially, it is ethnocentric discrimination.

To assume that only a post modern, University educated, exegetically liberal mind, engaging in eisegesis (forcing ones own image into the text) can possibly have real and authoritative knowledge of processes and systems that have never been witnessed by mortal man, is the same sin that Lucifer committed. This is to claim that you are more competent than the God you profess. Now I’ll grant you that there are those who are atheist and who never the less claim to be Biblical scholars, such people are saddest of all. As the Bible repeatedly points out in both covenants, one cannot begin to understand the import, intent or exegesis of the Bible until one is initiated into the service of God. That is to say, you can’t begin to understand the Bible until you have become a Jew according to the Biblical pattern, or have become a Christian according to the Biblical pattern.

In Zechariah (avahodesh or zecharijahu) chapter 4, the prophet refers to two trees giving forth sacred oil to fuel the menorot (candlesticks) that stand in the presence of almighty God the King of all creation. In revelation we again see there are two trees that stand for the two covenants between God and man. There is only one way to serve God and that is through honest childlike trust in his revealed word and acceptance of his love and most importantly his sovereignty. God has made two covenants with man, and as the Apostle Paul wrote, the gifts and callings of the Lord are never rescinded. Return to the simple Gospel; reject the overpowering and foolish philosophies and traditions of Men. God himself has plainly explained himself. Read his word. Trust his character. Only in God is there any hope for peace, joy, or understanding. Bless the Holy name of the Lord and bless his faithful believers.

Prophecy and Privacy

October/November 2003

David was a man after God’s own heart. That simple old English construction has been misconstrued to fit so many different doctrines regarding personal holiness it boggles the mind. Any student of poetry would be glad to reassure you that this particular phrase clearly means one who has the affectionate approval of God. It isn’t a particularly hard construction to read. The problem arises because people are uncomfortable with the clear sins and hard punishments that are an integral part of the biography of David ben-Jesse the second king of Historical Israel.

These punishments and the sins that precipitated them make it difficult for people to accept that David was a man after God’s own heart, because he fails to exhibit the antiseptic, inhuman character of a Greek hero or a Roman Catholic “saint”. His humanness offends the delicate sensibilities of many readers and they find themselves revising the text to produce a man after their own hearts.

In making this simple error, they set their own standards above those of God. They exhibit the sort of hubris that places one’s own values and judgment ahead of that of the creator. God loved David because he was obedient and compassionate, and mostly because he had the sort of clear vision of God’s Character that is later called faith unto salvation. He trusted God and took God’s word to be so absolute that it stood as a law of nature. He saw the will of God as clearly and as inevitably as gravity or inertia.

That being the case, how could he have been subjected to such painful punishments? The wrath of God was poured out on him through the loss of protection for his family and kingdom. One of his children raped another; a third killed the former to avenge the later and all except Solomon were either killed or lost to depravity. God made David choose the method by which a huge segment of the population of Israel would be killed. David had to weigh life against life and decide between disaster and plague as the means of death.

Clearly some principal must be at work that doesn’t meet human expectations. If David was a godly man, how could God be so drastic toward David? The punishment involving the death of Israelis bears some close examination. What precipitated the pronouncement of death and how was it a punishment for David?

The Bible tells us that David was pleased with his prowess in battle. He had begun to buy into his own press. People had compared him to Saul saying, “Saul has killed his thousands, David his tens of thousands.” This accolade from the people began to go to his head and David felt the need to perform so that the people would not loose interest and quit praising him. Clearly, he was suffering from the same fears and frustration that an aging athlete faces when his body begins to loose the ability to perform on the field or track. David wanted greater touchdowns and homeruns in order to keep the fans happy.

In order to achieve this, he had begun to make plans for a census. What he wanted to do was create a selective service program so that men could be summoned and pressed into service whether they wanted military service or not. More than that it aided in taxation so that he could levy large sums and insure that every person be forced to pay. The census would give him the ability to identify philistine terrorists and insurgents, and it would allow him to begin conquering neighbors such as Edom and Amelek. With a census and conscription, David could create widows, paupers and an Empire. With a census, David could elevate himself to the halls of great emperors like Nebuchadnezzar.

Sounds fine for David. And by extension, the establishment of Levitical Faith in God through the conquered lands would spread the good news of the law and the prophets. Seems like everyone would win except Israel’s enemies, and the people of God would be protected. Their homeland would be secure. Does that not make sense? In point of fact David was building the foundation for a tyranny. God stopped him. The census was allowed to be taken because God will not impede free will, but the census was taken in opposition of many of the fundamental principles of the Law and the prophets. In essence, it was taken in opposition to God’s will.

In the law, there was provision for what is called a city of refuge. This has confused enough people that these cities are often overlooked and don’t enter into the curriculum of most Bible teachers. The purpose of the City of Refuge was to provide a place for the convicted to escape punishment. Now that sounds very alien to the modern Mind Especially the mind of the average American. The idea of an institution created by the Federal or Royal government, whose sole purpose is to thwart the execution of lawful punishments against enemies of the State or the Crown, seems ludicrous. Nevertheless, we have clear instructions to create them in the Received Text of the Canon. This is confusing, until we examine the premises that they are built on.

Fundamentally, Temporal (human) Authority is fallible. Governments and religious organizations make mistakes. They assume that their own suspicion of a subject is sufficient proof of guilt. This makes it incumbent on those authorities to demonstrate their lack of bias and just or fair application of rules and regulations under their purview.

In direct opposition to this principal, years of TV fantasies document the very real trend in Western culture from the presumption of innocence to the presumption of guilt. Any credible course on critical reasoning and logic, will point out the fact that you cannot prove a negative. When the accuser is given the presumption of authority, the accused is forced to prove a contra positive in order to vindicate him or her self.

In a world where the person on trial is guilty until they prove themselves innocent, there is no option but to shift the blame to someone else; Truth is overlooked and devalued; and the guilty go free while an innocent, who is unwilling and/or financially unable to find a victim to blame, is imprisoned or worse.

God is the very essence of Truth and of Justice. Real Godly Justice sets truth above the needs and beliefs of any interested party. Justice tempered with mercy seeks to punish and redeem the guilty, while rewarding and prospering the innocent. Veritasse et mercedes super omniea. Additionally Godly justice insures the anonymity and privacy of the subject who has not committed a crime. So how does this tie in with the Cities of Refuge where the guilty go free?

The truth is, the guilty don’t go free. A genuine believer has confidence on the competence of God to manage and influence his creation. If you have trust in the Character of God you have to concede that he is omnicompetent and that he breathes justice from every pore of his being. Knowing that, you have to accept that he would not allow the guilty to take advantage of an institution he established to thwart justice.You must accept there is a long term outcome that benefits the kingdom and all interested parties who are called of God and obedient to his will.

The city of Refuge allows God to protect the innocent who are falsely convicted. You may ask, “Since God is omnicompetent, shouldn’t he be able to just stop the conviction or hide the accused so that they can’t be punished?” But why stop there? Why wouldn’t God just stop the crime from happening in the first place? Why wouldn’t he just make the guilty confess? The why’s go on ad inifinitum.

The answer is fairly simple. The act of directly altering the course of every individual life so that bad things never happen would not only eliminate freewill, it would result in individuals who are too immature to be considered integrated, mature personalities.

God isn’t looking for small babies to spend eternity with. He wants companions and friends. He wants people who have worked out their own salvation with fear and trembling weighing the costs and choosing to pursue Godly living in spite of the costs. He wants love and obedience freely given not coerced, or offered out of fear of the alternative.

To directly interfere in a visible way with every bad decision made by the wheels of “justice” would obviate freewill but it also would prevent the operation of faith. Who would need to exercise any effort to believe in the character of God, if a voice from on high was directly influencing the outcome of every court case; if the falsely convicted simply disappeared on a regular basis; the courts would simply convict everyone without deliberation and leave it for God to sort out.

So, we revisit the census that David produced. How was it ungodly? It was motivated from pride and it was a means of increasing human control over the course of events. It would have made it nearly impossible for God to influence the wheels of Justice without demonstrated miracles. It would have made it necessary to cause people to disappear or alter their very person in order to protect the falsely accused from the execution of sentence. This census would have made it possible for David to begin consolidating the middle east under one authority in a way that would have prevented God from meting justice against Israel when she was in rebellion.

God’s answer was to apply a higher justice. He permanently altered the demographics of Israel by killing a significant segment of the population. In addition, He punished David by making David an active participant in the destruction of his new toy, this census. David had to agonize over the lives to be lost. He had to accept in a very personal way that those lives were lost through his own pride and he had to watch his dream of a grand empire collapse.

God insured his prerogative to determine justice and to thwart it at the expense of David’s pride. Yet, David was so in tune with the Holy Spirit, that he foresaw God’s next major move, namely the creation of a permanent temple to replace the tabernacle. This demonstrates that even those who are committed to and in tune with God’s will can fall prey to pride and other distractions that cause them to make decisions and judgments in opposition to God’s will. God deliver us from well-meaning, prideful fools.

In Service to our Lord,

Fred

To the Church in Corinth

© 2003 Wesleyan Episcopal Assemblies Pentecostal

Recently a synod of a mainline denomination in the United States confirmed an openly confessed and practicing homosexual as a Bishop of the Church. A divinely called and scripturally ordained priesthood is called by God to give leadership to the church as it fulfills its purpose in performance of the sacerdotal functions. The Bible clearly advises the

ordination of Overseers or Bishops as needed to administrate distinct geographic regions. A Bishop must be a devout and respectable believer of mature experience, sound Christian character, and ability, who has been married and only once and who has established his (or her) good reputation in the community prior to the nomination (Philippians 1:1; I Timothy 3:8; Ephesians 4:11).

God’s call to this ministry is entirely at his discretion without regard to gender, race, physical disability or national origin. A Bishop is one who has shown good judgment and Biblical guidance in management and administration. However being well liked and respected as a person, doesn’t qualify a candidate for such an important office without the additional requirement that they also be men or women of good moral character.

Scripture teaches us that in the last days many will fall from the faith (Matthew 24:8-10; 2Thessalonians 2:2,3) and seek teachers who promote unrepentant sinful life as a parody of Christian Liberty (2 Peter 2:1-3; James 3:1). This apostasy will twist the minds of many causing them to instead falsely condemn those who remain faithful to the biblical imperative to live a holy life (Matthew 24:11, 12). In these days of growing apostasy, state and federal laws are continually being rewritten to encourage the free practice of rebellious and licensuous lifestyles, including Homosexuality.

Homosexuality and lesbianism can more properly be known corporately as Homosexuality, since this term has no gender value and refers to sexual activity between members of the same sex. It is the repeated witness of scripture that persons who engage in homosexuality are suffering from a state of delusion and a sinfully depraved mind (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:17; Judges 19:22,23; Romans 1:26-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9). God provides healing and restoration for persons who engage in all sorts of sinful behavior and freedom from the desire to commit those sins. Homosexual sin is not deemed to be more severe than any sexual sin, or other conceit (Romans 3:22-25; 6:20-23). However, since the principles of natural procreation and male-female union are violated by homosexual relationships (Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9), they can never be deemed to be marriages and cannot be blessed or sealed by God.

Scripture clearly calls for the encouragement and protection of marriage and the family. As with any sinful sexual behavior, homosexual persons are entitled to healing and restoration to the faith, once they have turned away from (repented) their chosen sinful lifestyle. The Church must not exclude from fellowship, those homosexual persons who are committed to seeking such healing. However any homosexual or in fact any person engaged in any rebellious and licentious lifestyle may not legitimately claim to be called of God or Ordained by God for leadership and service in the Church. The role of a leader is to model the behavior and the relationship with God which are espoused by Scripture. For instance, Paul said be disciples of me even as I am discipled by Christ.

The Holy Spirit operates in the life of an authentic believer. This activity of the spirit produces fruit, which Paul refers to corporately as Sanctification (John 10:27-29; Romans 8:35-39). Sanctification is a work in the life of the believer, which produces a separation from evil, (Genesis 17:1; Romans 12:1,2; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:12; 2 Corinthians 6:14; 7:1) and dedication to God (John 14:23; Colossians 3:17; 1 John 2:6). Many would try to argue that love means unconditional acceptance. This is certainly not the witness of the Bible or of common sense. When a parent loves his or her child, that parent places many restrictions on the behavior of the child. Such restrictions are a necessary part of healthy emotional and social development. Behavior that leads to danger or that will cause emotional harm is censured by punishment. Genuine love demands punishment, which is proportional to the misbehavior.

A loving child will grow to appreciate the correction and guidance provided by such a parent, so long as this punishment is tempered by good judgment. This appreciation is a result of emotional maturity and is often precipitated by the birth of a grandchild. This model is extended into the spiritual arena. God takes the role of a parent providing guidance and correction. As we mature, we respond to this loving and kind use of a Rod and Staff by showing appreciation and returning love. The spiritual grandchildren that often precipitate this maturity are those new believers that we lead to Christ or are privileged to teach. The outward evidence of mature love for Christ is a life of righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24; Titus 2:11-14), which is focused on pleasing God rather than satisfying the carnal nature (2 Corinthians 5:9-13) and by faith reckoning daily upon the fact of that life, and by offering every faculty continually to the dominion of the Holy Ghost (Romans 6:1-11, 13; 8:1,2, 13; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 2:12,13; 1 Peter 1:5).

This new life in Christ causes a person to have a new nature, predicated on the foundation of the spiritual disciplines, for the perfection of the saint (1 Peter 1:15, 16). For this reason, no person currently engaged in a lifestyle proscribed by the Bible may be given full fellowship, or be allowed to hold any office in the Church. No ordinance or sacerdotal function may be extended to a person who is habitually engaged in a sinful behavior (1 Corinthians 5:9-13). Further, no person who has failed to mature to a point of such appreciation for this loving kindness can be trusted with a position of authority and leadership.

Good leadership in the Church demands Spiritual maturity. No practicing Homosexual is a spiritually mature Christian believer. Maturation in Christ would of necessity, precipitate the healing and repentance of a behavior that Christ himself condemned as sinful. God loves the Homosexual but he demands that they mature and grow in holiness, leaving behind the things of the flesh. Join me in praying for the cleansing and restoration of our brothers and sisters who have taken the decision to allow such a rebellious lifestyle to stand in their assembly. Let’s remember that such apostasy is a clear defiance of God, and that the precious people who have been deceived into supporting this decision will surely encounter censure by the Holy Spirit. God help them to repent quickly.

In Service to our Lord,

Fred

Counterfeit Revival

© 2003 Wesleyan Episcopal Assemblies Pentecostal

I grew up in the Assemblies of God. Over the years, so called ‘reconciliation’ ministries have begun to work a revision on the history of the origins of the various Pentecostal denominations. In this revisionist history, Pentecostals are just very special Baptists who accept the Evangelical doctrines, but have an added ‘light’ concerning the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. My own first hand experience belies that specious claim.

The Pentecostal movement in America had antecedents which were scattered across the Midwest and East Coast. But the real outpouring that lead to the eventual organization of discreet associations and denominations was clearly localized in Los Angeles, California. It would be a very bold revisionist indeed who would brazen his way through an account that failed to give principal responsibility for the authoritative Role Played by Bishop Seymour and the Azusa revival.

In every real sense Seymour played the role of Apostle, or Missionary of the full gospel. He published a journal which lead to the spread of the truth of Sanctification, Healing and Fire Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This journal influenced a generation of pastors and teachers who were so inspired by the simple truths and first hand accounts that they themselves were transformed and in turn began works. Seymour sent missions workers to foreign lands and to the ripe fields of 20’th century America. These men and women were in every sense disciples of Seymour, just as Timothy had been discipled by Paul. Paul’s admonition was to be a disciple of him, in the same way that he was in turn discipled by Christ.

Seymour lead many to a deeper understanding of the relationship of the church with Christ through the acceptance of those portions of the Gospel which had been neglected in the theological dark ages between the 11’th and 19’th centuries. In a very real sense the ‘enlightenment’ had been a period of endarkenment theologically. People had neglected substance in favor of formula and had espoused doctrines which were politically and financially expedient rather than Biblically and Spiritually sound.

The Pentecostal or Full-Gospel revival restored much of what had been lost to power brokers and charlatans over the previous period. But it did so at the expense of good relations with various ‘Restorationist’ movements which had gone only so far in their efforts and failed to the take the next crucial step when God offered it. The false starts had gone far in changing the course of the church and bringing God’s people into repentance, but not far enough.

These days a number of ‘counterfeit’ revivals have sprung up to confuse the issue. They claim to have picked up the mantle of the Pentecostal pioneers and continued the work in the same fashion that Elishah continued the work of Elijah. This claim is easily denied. Three critical factors have been the hallmark of every revival decreed by God going back to the calling of Abraham. These are: 1) a call to repentance and personal holiness, 2) a call to greater submission to the sovereignty of God, and 3) a deeper more perceptual relationship with the Spirit of God.

The 21’st century has so far shown signs of swallowing the success of the Pentecostal movement in a swamp of ecumenicism and compromise. These counterfeit revivals place great emphasis on emotionalism and on purported guarantees of wealth contained in heterodox interpretations of scripture devoid of the meaning intended by the context. They fail to bear the brand of repentance and submissive relationship and instead claim boastfully to have authority to command God. Lack of good scholarship or in some cases clearly fraudulent intent has lead many to tickle the ears with promises of wealth and justification, without purity or submission. They claim grace offers the promise not of sonship, but of the demanding, controlling relationship of a spoiled brat. Where Jesus advises that we be like the beggar disturbing our lord in the wee hours (Luke 11:5-9), they claim we should name what we want and yell ‘mine, mine, mine!’ like a two year old dragging bedraggled parents through the aisles of a toy store.

This new endarkenment has been accompanied by many signs of the End Times Prophecies. And one of those is a thorough lack of internal holiness. Even those organizations and movements that stress holiness are stressing an outward form that has no basis in real ‘circumcision of the heart’.

In Romans Paul points out that the act of engaging in an outward formula to achieve holiness, such as the practice of circumcision, holds no value if it is not echoed by a heart change that guides behavior dynamically. Real Holiness comes as Paul points out from becoming a new type of person who is sanctified and therefore recognizes subtle corruption and avoids it without need for a rule-book. Yet these ‘holiness’ believers will practice all sorts of envies and slanders, and even condone things which Jesus himself declared to be sinful. One example would be the stance on divorce.

Divorce is a difficult topic. Human wisdom (Proverbs 14:12) would lead one to believe that divorce is often a compassionate solution to messy human relationships. Jesus words contradict that notion. In Matthew 19:3-12 and in Mark 10:2-12 Jesus words on this subject are recorded. The context is critical here. One must bear in mind that the Old Covenant demanded that the believer execute those persons caught in adultery. The penalty under the law is not divorce but physical death! At the time Jesus spoke, those present were keenly aware that adultery was a capital crime according to Jewish law. So, what was the question that was being raised?

Divorce in the Old Testament was only offered as an option to men. Its purpose was to allow a man who was offended by the moral or social characteristics of his wife to force her out of the home and away from his children. She could be ‘put away’ because she was offensive to her husband’s sensibilities, and he could replace her with someone he was more attracted to. Look out when a man hits mid-life.

Jesus comment was that this was a sign of a lack of compassion, a hard heart. Throughout Jesus ministry wherever he talks about a hard heart, he is indicating someone who is not submitted to the will of God, and is rebelling against God’s guidance. This is the case here as Well. Jesus is saying Moses allowed you to divorce because you were rebellious and (by extension) because he knew you would sin if he didn’t give you some room to be rebellious (Matthew 19:7-8).

Jesus then goes on to say, ‘I bring you a better way’ (Matthew 5:31, 32). Jesus whole ministry was the presentation of a ‘better way’ the Way that is called Christianity. He is presenting a method, wherein one is sanctified by the Holy Spirit and lead to the ‘power to become a son of God’. This power is the power that Peter spoke of on Pentecost and the power that Paul called the freedom from slavery to sin (Romans 6:6-8). Simply put it is supernatural ability to obey God, and to express Godly compassion.

So then, this better way concerning divorce is clearly a single facet of the larger way that leads one to live in Jesus. What is the better way that Jesus espouses here? Simply put it is, ‘Don’t Divorce’. He doesn’t merely restrict people from divorcing because they are ‘incompatible’ or have irreconcilable differences. He repeals the Old Testament sentence for those guilty of adultery. He tells us now, not only can you not divorce for reason of being offended; you can’t execute the adulterous mate. What’s more, you really ought to forgive and stay with that mate. And if you do divorce your mate without the cause of adultery on their part, you are responsible for your ex spouse’s sexual frustration and eventual sin (Matthew 5:32).

That’s a strong statement. But it is born out by other passages. Jesus told us that one person can in fact be responsible for the sin of another. He warns us that someone might be capable of causing a child of God to stumble. He is so adamant about this that he offers a threat and a curse against those who cause this. He says it would be better to have a huge grindstone tied round your neck and be drowned in the ocean with it (Luke 17:1-3). This is pretty strong language. Al Capone, with his cement overshoes, couldn’t have been more threatening.

But clearly in Matthew 5, Jesus asserts that he, who leaves a spouse for illegitimate reasons, causes the former spouse to stumble into adultery. Mark 10 demonstrates that Jesus intent was that the principles he taught concerning divorce were not gender based and apply equally to men and women.

The critical factor is that issue of inadequate compassion. Moses allowed not condoned, divorce because the people lacked compassion. When we look at 1 Corinthians 13, we find that compassion is the core of Christian Life. Without internal, heartfelt Compassion we are irrelevant and meaningless, and no amount of compassionate behavior or ministry can make us relevant.

This goes back to the issue of a circumcised heart. Paul shows us that without circumcision of the heart we are irrelevant. Jesus shows us that condoning or practicing divorce proves a lack of inner circumcision. Essentially, if you cut your hair a certain way, blow shofar at worship, rebuke generational curses, deliver others from addiction and pornography, cast out demons, sing beautiful songs that stir hearts from Wacko to Topeka, but condone divorce you are carnal and meaningless.

We live under grace not the Law, but as Paul pointed out grace operates according to principles or a ‘Law of Grace’ (Romans 6:20-22). Jesus said, ‘If you love me, keep my commandments.’ Grace is freely given, but there is a maintenance fee. That fee is obedience, and the Red Letters clearly mark out the path of that obedience. Join me in prayer for the reconciliation of Divorcees, and the restoration of the American home. Let’s drive carnality and hard-heartedness out of our churches, so genuine revival will come (1 Corinthians 5:5,9-13).

In the service of our Lord,

Fred

Are You Tongue Tied

© 2003 by Wesleyan Episcopal Assemblies Pentecostal a California non-profit association. All rights reserved.

Once upon a time two apologists were arguing over the validity of miraculous tongues. One, an evangelical preacher and critic, was aggressively pounding out his understanding that tongues should cease. In mid sentence, as he utters the words of 1 Corinthians 13:8, “Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease'”

His opponent, a Pentecostal preacher, interrupts to say, “Do you like ice cream cones?”

Startled from his tirade, the critic responds, “Yeah they’re pretty good. Why?”

The preacher continues, “So, do you eat one with your teeth?”

The critic looks puzzled as he says, “I do some, but mostly I lick the ice-cream till it’s gone.”

“Really?” The preacher responds, “Then what do you lick it with? Do you use your nose or your teeth?”

The critic answers suspiciously, “No, I generally use my tongue.”

The preacher responds smugly, “Really, you eat ice-cream by speaking English at it?”

The critic snarls disgustedly as he responds, “No! That’s not what tongue means in this context!”

This story is, of course pure fiction, but it illustrates an important point about context. Obviously, the word glossa, which is the Greek name of the oral appendage called the tongue must be understood in light of the surrounding text. Its use by a Greek speaker to refer to a spoken language was idiomatic in the first century just as it is today.

In 1 Corinthians 13:8 the surrounding context refers to knowledge and prophecy as things that would be made obsolete by the arrival of “that which is perfect.” A common interpretation of the perfect referred to here, by critics of supernatural tongues is the arrival of the written cannon. The mistake in this line of thinking is two-fold.

Firstly, the Canon itself reaffirms the need for scholarship. “Study to show thyself approved, a workman that need not be ashamed.” This is a clear imperative for the believer to gain in knowledge during the Christian Era. So long as there is a Canon there is a source for knowledge. This clearly demonstrates that the perfect, which causes the absolution of knowledge, has not yet come.

Secondly, the canon cannot precipitate the cessation of prophecy. The scripture of the old Covenant is a collection of three bodies of literature. The Mosaic law (Torah), the writings of the major and minor prophets (Nevyim), and the Poetic writings (Ketuvyim). Prophecy is best defined as God’s contemporary instructions and predictions concerning the outcome of obedience or disobedience of those instructions. Jesus himself informed us that all scripture is beneficial for teaching Godly faith and practice, therefore it qualifies as prophecy which is the revelation to man of God’s will. Another way that prophecy enters the arena of Christian and of Jewish experience is in the body of sermons, inspired by the spirit of God. Preaching is a synonym for prophesying, and is used quite frequently in the Old Covenant writings to refer to activity of God’s prophets. Jesus himself, informed us that not one small letter [from any word] of the prophecies of Old Testament Canon shall pass away until they are fulfilled in their entirety.

The Bible contains many apocalyptic, or end of time predictions. According to Jesus, the canon and its body of prophecy cannot pass away until the apocalypses contained within it have been fulfilled. To put it simply, Prophecy cannot cease till the End of Time. Therefore, that which is perfect cannot arrive; by Jesus’ own testimony, until Time has concluded. Prophecy, tongues, and knowledge shall persist, until Time has been concluded.

Now what does tongues really mean in this context? Opponents of tongues have committed a serious faux pas by linking the tongues in this passage to the gift of tongues. This passage, when viewed in light of the testimony of Jesus Christ, would say that tongues shall cease, when time has concluded. For all practical purposes, they have proven the case that tongues is intended by God to be normative within the church. However to be fair I must point out that it is quite reasonable to believe that the tongues referred to in this passage must be the oral member. Read in this way, this passage would read, “Love never fails, even if prophecy withers, tongues pause, and knowledge fades.”

Clearly, this is a hyperbole intended to illustrate the durability and power of Godly Love (Agape). Any intellectually honest interpretation of this passage will conclude that it is in no way a reference to a historical period where the scripture is present but God’s miraculous power has ceased to work in the lives of his faithful.

Join with me in seeking whatever God has to offer. Anything God offers can only be a benefit in the life of a believer. The measure of a believer’s devotion, is his ability leave behind the norms and presuppositions of the World becoming gradually more conformed to the pattern of biblical life. Let’s not allow fear and prejudice prevent us from taking hold of the gifts. Let us all get our eyes off the form and formula and focus on the giver of these gifts. When we are thoroughly committed to allowing God to work in our lives in any fashion he sees as appropriate and focus all our attention on mimicking Christ and improving our relationship with his sweet Spirit, we can forgive him for choosing a mode of expression that we might find embarrassing. Real faith is trusting God even when he doesn’t meet our human sense of propriety.

God bless you and keep you in his holiness.

Fred

Open Letter

© 2003 by Wesleyan Episcopal Assemblies Pentecostal a California non-profit association. All rights reserved.

God has laid on my heart the need for a renewal of that fire baptism that the Wesleys were so gracious as to share with us. For many years, the work of men like Bishop Seymour in Azusa, California and Agnes Ozman in Ohio state, lead people to a consecration and a single minded devotion that brought powerful testimony of God’s love and grace as well as his direct intervention in the daily lives of believers.

The ministry of the many branches of the Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church led people to this deeper consecration by teaching the basic principles of genuine Christian practice. They lived the character of the Apostles creed and they practiced a simple trust in the character and nature of God that had a dynamic effect.

The late 20’th century saw the advent of a New Age of anti-Christian Mysticism and metaphysics. This movement has polluted the very fabric of American society and the Western world at large. It has infiltrated the schools and public service agencies with a message of religious humanism where Mankind is elevated to the status of gods in training. This Spirit of Antichrist has even made insurgencies into the leadership of once powerful ministries including mainline denominations and the Wesleyan movement in all it’s sundry expressions has not been unaffected.

It is time for a change; not a reinvention of the wheel, but a real repentance. The Wesleyan movement has always been an outspoken advocate of Evangelism and of the need for a spirit filled life. My own roots are with the Assemblies of God, which, as many of you will know, owes its origins to the work of spirit filled Wesleyan Episcopal priests and ministers. These men were inspired by the writings of Bishop Seymour and by the testimonies of real people touched by the healing hand of our precious savior.

The Assemblies of God is a fine organization. They have a written doctrine contained in the16 Fundamental Truths that is clearly biblical and just as clearly a variation on the central theme of Wesley’s three moments of salvation (i.e. Salvation, Sanctification, & Fire Baptism). That is fine as far as it goes. But, even in this esteemed organization. there are those who have espoused the fancies of the New Age and preach a brand of metaphysics, wherein God is reduced to a vending machine for those who are strong willed enough to wish things into being. For these men and women prayer is nothing more than demanding what you want like a spoiled child, or a thaumaturgical rite where calling on significant names binds celestial beings to do one’s bidding. Thankfully, such malpractice is still relatively rare, but sadly it exists.

This letter is intended as an invitation. In a sense it is an old fashioned Methodist altar call. I am inviting you to join me in prayer for America. Not the ecumenical papist prayer that asks a generic God to rubber stamp the activities of our civil authorities. Instead I’m asking you to pray in fear and in trembling that the unchanging God who destroyed Sodom and Babylon with equal contempt, will bring the leadership of the American Churches to a place of repentance. We need an outpouring of that Old Time Fire that moved and shaped the Wesleyan movement so long ago.

Let’s pray that God will bring true repentance and the blessings that inevitably will follow. Let’s pray for the single minded devotion of the early church. Let’s reclaim the term true believer which has become a pejorative in the media. If you are interested in joining this effort or if you have a specific prayer request, please write or email me at weap@mycommlog.com. As God moves, we hope to begin circulating a praise report of God’s intervention and intercession on the part of a praying people.

Sincerely,

Fred Franklin Davis Junior

Founder/Apostle