Iosif Ton – „Sfintenie” la Happy Valley, Feb.1,2011

Predica fratelui Iosif Ton la Happy Valley Christian Center in Phoenix, Arizona, Pastor Cornel Avram.

Daca urmariti predicile fratelui Iosif Ton, veti recunoaste subiectul-Sfintenie. Totusi, parca nu strica sa auzim acest mesaj (over and over) pentru ca nu prea am auzit astfel de predici, care sa ne expuna pacatul in fata si sa ne indemne la adevarata sfintenie.

Predica fratelui Ton  incepe la minutul 40. Cintarile dinainte sint frumoase, in special fanfara care cinta o cintare superba.

Egypt – Bible Prophecy interpreted by Walter Kaiser (via) Koinonia

A very interesting article from Koinonia (biblical-theological conversations for the community of Christ HOSTED BY ZONDERVAN AND FRIENDS).

Posted: 15 Feb 2011

Kaiserw Recently I was asked by a friend who leads a BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) class to offer my thoughts on the recent activities in Egypt, and to comment specifically on Isaiah 19, which the class was studying. Here’s what I told the class. What do you think?

Yes, I believe the Isaiah 19 passage is most relevant. Verses 16 to 25 place the coming events “in that day” six times (vss 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, and 24).  Since the prophecies to the foreign nations are bounded by chapter on the first advent of Christ (Isa 7-12) and the second advent of Christ (24-27), chapters 13-23 fall between those two end pieces in position and apparently in time as well.  That is why I also stress the eschatological phrase “In that day.”

After the Civil Disaster of 19:2-4, the economic disaster of 19: 5-10 (as a result of the Aswan Project in 1970), and the Intellectual Disaster im 19:11-15, a bridge passage of vss 16-17 has the Egyptians afraid of Judah for the first time in her history, which cannot be other than the events of the six day war in 1967.

However, the text turns to the distant future of “In that day” in vss 18-24 and gives five new works of God’s salvation and deliverance for Egypt: (1) Revival will break out in Egypt’s five cities, one being “City of the Sun,” otherwise known as Heliopolis (18), (2) a monument will be erected like our statute of Liberty to remember the great Egyptian Spiritual Revival (19) at the country’s border, (3) the nation of Egypt will be oppressed and apparently given a cruel leader, but God will replace him with a “savior,” much as he did in the book of Judges (21), (4) God will once again strike Egypt with a plague of some sort, but he will heal them as well and the Egyptians will turn to the Lord (22), (5) there will be a highway between Egypt and Iraq (Assyria) so that Iraqis, Egyptians and Israelis will worship together in that day (23) and (6) words of blessing formerly used exclusively of Israel are now used of Egypt, “My People,” and Iraq, “My Handiwork,” and Israel “My Inheritance.”

Tremendous!! So, I expect a cruel leader to come out of this revolt some time, but God will replace him with a “Deliverer” for the Egyptians.  In the meantime, Revival will break out all over Egypt with five cities experiencing unusual blessing of God – so much so that a tourist’s memorial is set up to remind all who come to that country in days to come of the great work of God in their midst.  None of this has as yet taken place, but what a day it will be when it occurs.

61718

Note, just as the factions fought each other in West Pakistan vs East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) with the outcome that since 1970 15 believers are now at least 500,000 !!    Will this happen in Tunesia, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon?  What other nations in the Arab nations will join them?   These are days in which God is moving is sure and definite ways….

Walter C. Kaiser Jr. (PhD, Brandeis University) is distinguished professor emeritus of Old Testament and president emeritus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. Dr. Kaiser has written over 40 books, including Toward an Exegetical Theology: Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching; The Messiah in the Old Testament; and The Promise-Plan of God; and coauthored An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics: The Search for Meaning. Dr. Kaiser and his wife, Marge, currently reside at Kerith Farm in Cedar Grove, Wisconsin. Dr. Kaiser’s website is www.walterckaiserjr.com.

[Note: Image of the protestor was found here. – AR for Koinonia]

Pastor Titus Coltea – Viata sub comunism (via) AlfaOmegaTV

Titus Coltea – Istoria Trezirilor Spirituale (lectura – 2 videos)

Cartea ‘God’s Secret Agent’

de la AlfaOmegaTV

Calea Adevarul si Viata Partea 1 (discuta Comunismul, Liviu Olah)

Calea Adevarul si Viata Partea 2

God’s Secret Agent – by Sammy Tippitt (Iosif Ton,Titus Coltea, mentioned in book)

God’s Secret Agent is an autobiography of  Sammy Tippit (written with Jerry B. Jenkins)

Cover of

Cover of God's Secret Agent

It is a riveting account of Sammy Tippit’s mission work in Communist Eastern Europe (Romania) and it reads like a spy thriller. Readers will feel the danger of smuggling Bibles and preaching God’s Word behind the Iron Curtain and will witness God’s miracles as Tippit introduces people enslaved by Communism to the freedom to be found in Christ. Previously released as No Matter What the Cost (Thomas Nelson Publishers). (from the book cover) In this book Tippit works ‘underground’  with Iosif Ton and Dr. Titus Coltea.

Chapter 1:

THE DAY THE CURTAIN TORE
One of the defining moments of my life came the evening of New Year’s Day in 1990. More than ten years later, I still see it in my mind as though it were yesterday. Everything I’ve ever done pointed to an experience destined to thrust me into situations I never dreamed possible. That night would give me the courage to walk into the aftermath of genocide in Rwanda. It thrust me into the middle of war in Burundi. It opened doors for me to speak in some of the largest stadiums in the world. And it inspired me to dream of reaching China and the Middle East
with the message of Christ.

It was cold and dark, and snow fell at the eerily quiet Romanian border that evening. Revolution was in full swing. Everyone else seemed to be trying to get out of the country, but two friends and I had to get in. My heart pounded as armed soldiers approached our car. I knew my name was in their computers as having been blacklisted a year and a half before. If the soldiers
were tied to the communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, our very lives were in danger.
“Get out!” I knew that what came next would change my life, for good or for bad. I was not new to that border crossing. There had always been delays, searches, and harassment. But to try to get into Romania on New Year’s Day evening during the revolution, after what had happened July 22, 1998, many would consider lunacy. That fateful July night, soldiers had pulled me off a train and held me under guard until the next day. Then I was blacklisted and told, “You’ll never set foot on Romanian soil again as long as you live.” All I could do was sing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” because I had to believe God would allow me to see my beloved Romanian friends again. We had developed such a mutual love over the years that the very thought of our separation broke my heart. After I had been deported, Romanian friends smuggled a note to me. “Sammy,” it read, “remember, the glory of God comes only through much suffering. Keep praying. Don’t give up.” But how could anything ever change in Romania? The Securitate [Si-kyoor-’i-ta-’tay], Romania’s dreaded secret police, were ruthless, helping Ceausescu rule with an iron fist. Many believed that one of every three people in the nation was somehow linked to the Securitate. There was no such thing as peaceful protest in Romania. Whenever I visited, friends and I had been followed and threatened, and now I had been banned. I had been preaching in Nigeria in 1989 when I first heard news that made me dream of the possibility of going back to Romania. After a couple of hours of fitful dozing in a remote, dilapidated hotel, I awoke dehydrated and doubled over with pain. The only people I knew in the hotel were two missionaries from New York whom I’d met in the restaurant. In the middle of the night I staggered to their room and woke them. The phone system was down, but somehow they got through to a local pastor and brought him to me. As soon as he saw me, he knew I needed to get to a hospital. There they wanted to pump liquids into me, and as much as I hated to offend the woman preparing the IV, with AIDS rampant in Africa I had to ask, “Has this needle been used before?” “Why, of course not!” she snapped. There seemed to be only one person on duty in the entire hospital, and no one on my floor. When my IV ran low, I had to get up and carry it with me, calling for someone downstairs to come and help me. They tried to convince me it was natural that my stomach began to bloat. I was scared and in pain. Never had I been so sympathetic to my wife, who had twice been pregnant. I thought I was going to burst. I prayed earnestly, “Lord, I hate to put out a fleece, but I’ve got to have an answer. If what they’re doing to me is wrong, don’t let my stomach deflate. If it’s right, let the swelling reduce.”If my stomach was still swollen twelve hours later, I was going to take the needle out, get dressed, catch a taxi, and pay whatever it cost to get me to Lagos (about a three-hour drive). From there I would fly to London and find a hospital where they could help me. I knew my decision might offend the people of Nigeria, but I was so sick I felt I had no choice. Fortunately, the swelling subsided, but I was still very sick. The local pastor visited me for about a half hour each day, but otherwise I was lonely. He kept telling me, “You’ll be okay, brother Sammy. God has given us assurance. He will take care of you.” I appreciated that, but in truth I wanted divine help that was concrete and visible—in the form of people who would stay with me. Short of that, I had to call my wife, Tex. Finally finding a working phone, I brought her up to date and said, “Sweetheart, pray for me, and get your other women to pray for me.”

After she encouraged me, she asked if I had heard about the Berlin Wall.  “No,” I said. “What about it?” “It’s come down.” I was sure I hadn’t heard her right. “You’ve got to be kidding!” “I’m not, Sammy. The wall has come down. People are dancing in the streets.” Sick as I was, I hardly slept. So much of my life and ministry revolved around the Eastern bloc that my heart and soul and mind yearned to be there. I’d had the indescribable privilege of
preaching all over the world, but my international ministry began in Europe, a place God led me to in my first few months as a Christian. I had prayed since my college years for the downfall of atheistic Communism, because I knew it was Satan’s greatest weapon against the gospel in Eastern Europe. Since beginning to minister there in the 1970s, I had prayed more specifically for the end of oppression of the beloved brothers and sisters in Christ I had grown so close to over the years. I had heard great elderly saints cry out to God for this day, yet I can’t say I truly had the faith to believe it would happen in my lifetime. I knew it was a worthy prayer and that people imprisoned by godless dictatorships were victims of spiritual warfare, but I was as shocked and thrilled as anyone when the news came. I knew how important the Berlin Wall news was when I realized that in spite of all my pain and sickness and fear and loneliness, I was occasionally overcome with joy. Lying in that hospital bed, wishing I could be anywhere but there, I began thinking about the wonderful news from Europe and praised God for His mighty work. As usually happens with intestinal distress, the antibiotics gradually began to work against the bacterial infection, and the pain and discomfort slowly started to lift. I was eventually able to preach the last couple of days of the Nigerian crusade, and I couldn’t wait to get back to the States and to see about getting to the Eastern bloc.

Before I was blacklisted and deported, my main area of ministry had been Romania. Tex told me as soon as I arrived home that everyone wanted to know if I thought Romania would be the next place to break free of totalitarianism. I told her, “Not without a bloodbath. The Securitate is too
strong. With transportation and communication so limited, no one could pull off a coup without bloodshed.” Just a few weeks later, I took my family to Louisiana to visit my widowed mother. We were enjoying the Christmas holidays, the adults chatting in the kitchen, when my son, Dave, came in. “Dad, come and watch the news. Something is happening in Timisoara [Tim’-mee-schwa’-ra]. There’s been a massacre.” I rushed to the TV in time to view CNN’s reports about the Romanian city of more than 300,000 people, the city that had become so dear to my heart. People had been killed. Multitudes had taken to the streets. Could any of them be my treasured loved ones in Christ, the brave soldiers of the cross who had for so long lived out their faith under the tyranny of Nicolae Ceausescu? I was glued to the TV, praying I wouldn’t hear numbered among the victims the names of layman Nelu Dronca or Pastor Peter Dugalescu—two of the many brothers and sisters in Christ in Timisoara who had become so beloved to my family and me. Reporters had never been allowed into the country, so news was sketchy. The borders were closed, and truck drivers were the only ones allowed out. I called Sam Friend, a former associate in Washington State, and asked what he knew. He told me the Securitate had come to arrest a pastor named Laszlo Tokes, who had spearheaded a demonstration. When government forces arrived, they found people surrounding his home to protect him. The Securitate had fired into the crowd, killing dozens. That was all Sam knew.
I called Wheaton, Illinois, to talk to Josif Tson, head of the
Romanian Missionary Society and former pastor of the great
Second Baptist Church in Oradea, Romania, where revival had
swept through years before. Josif confirmed Sam Friend’s report and bemoaned the plight of his countrymen. I believed the United States needed to take a stand. Romanians were always low on food. They had no weapons, no money. We needed to come to their aid. I became obsessed with the people of Romania. I told Tex, “I know it’s our Christmas, but I have to do something.” “I’m with you all the way,” she said. “But what are you going to
do?” I considered something drastic and noisy, as I would have done early in my ministry—maybe chaining myself to a cross in front of the United Nations building. Or going to the great Romanian population in Chicago and calling for a big rally in the civic center there. But times had changed. Techniques that had once been effective could now make me a laughingstock. I called all my media contacts and encouraged them to get the word out that the Securitate would march through and massacre more people while the world press was focusing on controversy in Panama. One thing the Communists hated was adverse publicity. So every chance I got I accepted interviews as a Romania watcher who had spent years in ministry there. I called for the American people, particularly the Christian community, to raise a loud cry against the atrocities. “We need to protest every killing. We need to stand for the Romanian people.” Within days the stunning news arrived. The army had pulled out of Timisoara. The Communists had been booted out, and a transitional government was in control.

From what he knew of the passion of the resistance and his years as a Romania watcher, Josif Tson predicted that within forty-eight hours Ceausescu would be dethroned. From anyone else, that was a remark I would have dismissed as foolishness. I had spent enough time in Romania to know how powerful Ceausescu was, how he had surrounded himself with security and staged elaborate parades in honor of himself. Yet Josif was a Romanian, a powerful expatriate. Perhaps his contacts in-country had passed on inside information. Still, I was skeptical. “It will happen, Sammy,” he said. “We need to prepare.” I was so excited about the possiblity of returning to Romania that I could hardly think of anything else. After my years of ministering there, it had now been seventeen long months since I had been to that country whose precious people I loved so much. I helped arrange for a colleague, evangelist Steve Wingfield, to preach in Timisoara the next month, and for Dr. Joe Ford, chairman of the board of our ministry, to go. “It’s dangerous,” I said, “and I can’t tell you what you should do. But, I’m making plans. I don’t know when, but at the right moment, I’m going.” Steve and Joe both said, “We’re going, too.” The next thing I heard was that while Ceausescu was making a speech in Bucharest, he staged another demonstration to show how the people loved him. But some university students, who had heard over Radio Free Europe what had happened in Timisoara, began hollering from the back of the crowd, “Jos cu Ceausescu! Jos cu Ceausescu! [Down with Ceausescu!]” The crowd picked up the chant, and perhaps for the first time since he had taken power in 1974, Ceausescu realized he didn’t have the support of the people. Ceausescu was the cruelest of all dictators. He spent elaborately on himself, even built himself an obscenely opulent palace, one of the largest buildings in Europe, despite the squalor of the people. The populace was starving and couldn’t get bread or meat. They camped out to stay in line for gasoline. Yet Ceausescu lived like a king. Most experts agree that at least a third of the population had been compromised by the Securitate. Family members would turn each other in for various offenses to gain favor with the

Within days the stunning news arrived. The army had pulled out of Timisoara. The Communists had been booted out, and a transitional government was in control. From what he knew of  the passion of the resistance and his years as a Romania watcher,guards. Yet all over the country signs read, “Long live Ceausescu!” “The People for Ceausescu!” ”Ceausescu Peace!” It was Orwellian. One of my dearest friends in the world, a compatriot, a prayer warrior, and my companion and translator in Romania, was a man named Titus Coltea. A young medical doctor who risked everything to serve Christ against the wishes of the Communists, Titus and his wife, Gabi, were on our minds every minute. How I missed this dear brother and his deep, warm, affectionate, bold faith! Steve Wingfield came to me with the news that a friend of his had used a phone with an automatic redialer to finally reach Titus after thirty hours of continuous calling. “It was strange,” Steve reported. “My friend kept asking Titus how he was doing
and was he safe and how was his family, but all Titus could say was, ‘The glory of God has come to my country. The glory of God has come to my country. Tell Sammy that what we have prayed for for so long has come. Tell him he must come immediately.’” The next day I talked to Titus by phone, and he told me to get a vehicle and put a red cross on it and drive to the border. “They’ll let you in if you bring medical supplies, no questions asked.” I arranged for a vehicle through a friend in Germany and began planning to go. That Sunday morning my pastor, David Walker, asked me to update the congregation on Romania. After I shared what was happening and what our plans were, he added: “Sammy will not ask for money, but I will. If you want to help get him there or provide medical supplies, just give it directly to him after the service.” It reminded me of earlier years in my ministry, when God had His ways of providing for us. One man asked me how much I thought my flight would cost, then wrote a check to cover it. By the time I left church that morning, I had been handed more than four thousand dollars!
On Christmas Day I heard the stunning news that Josif Tson had predicted: Ceausescu was not only dethroned but also put to death by firing squad. It was time to go. Steve and Joe and I flew into Vienna January 1, 1990, and were met at about noon by Don Shelton, pastor of a church I had pastored years before in West Germany. Don and a few other laymen were there with a
van and medical supplies. Although my luggage never arrived, I didn’t take the time to buy clothes. We had nearly an eight-hour drive to the border at Oradea, and I couldn’t wait to get there. Titus told me there would be a church service that night, and though he wouldn’t tell anyone I was coming, I wanted to be there more than anything. “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” was on my heart again as I realized that truly, even when everything else fails, God is faithful. No government, no dictator could keep me out if God wanted me
in. We drove as fast as we dared across Austria and Hungary. About an hour outside the border between Hungary and Romania, we started praying. Don Shelton and I were both blacklisted in the computer, and we were not to be allowed back in the country. The question now was, who was in charge of the
border? Who would be in control of the computer, and how would they respond to us, even with our red cross and medical supplies? First we had to pass through the Hungarian border, where they welcomed us with open arms and insisted we enjoy a lengthy meal. We kept tying to beg off, but they wouldn’t hear of it. We finally got to the Romania side, and in the dark, desolate, dead of winter we were ordered out of the car.

In the past the first question had always been whether we had Bibles. The Romanians believed Christianity was an illness. While there was no law against people afflicted with its disease meeting together, trying to bring a Bible in was considered akin to pushing drugs. I didn’t try to smuggle in even my own Bible, let alone Bibles for others. I always used one from someone
inside the country. But this time the question was different. “Are you a Christian?” My heart raced. I always made it a practice to tell the truth, to
not smuggle, to assume that if God wanted me somewhere, nothing could stop me. I had seen friends turned away because they had been “in-country with Sammy Tippit,” only to be routinely processed through myself a few minutes later. “Yes,” I said, “we are Christians.” With that the guard smiled, threw open his arms, and said Welcome to Romania. There is a man in the customs office waiting for Christians to arrive.” We looked up, and here came Titus and Gabi running to embrace us. What a joyous reunion! We knelt in the same spot where I had once been told by a Securitate guard that I would never be able to return. We prayed and praised God, and then Titus said, “We must get you to the church. The service has already run two hours.” We got there at the end of the meeting. I had become so endeared to the people of that great church that they even had a greeting just for me. Whenever I showed up, whoever was leading the service would say, “Tonight we have with us . . .,” and the people would say in unison, “Sommy Teepeet.” Now there was a stir as they saw me arrive after my exile. Titus’s brother-in-law was at the microphone. Although they had been about to close, he said, “Tonight we have with us . . .” How sweet to hear that congregation of more than two thousand say in their unique accents, “Sammy Tippit!” Peter said, “Brother Sammy, would you preach?” There was nothing I’d rather do. Titus and I mounted the steps to that platform, and my heart burst with love and joy as I looked into the beaming faces of newly freed people. I couldn’t wait to open to them the Word of God. Titus and I

click to read book

could only weep as we spoke, praising God for the mighty miracle He had wrought in their land. The great question on all our minds was what this would mean for the rest of the Iron Curtain countries. With the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and the execution of the Romanian dictator, what could be next? From the massive Soviet Union came rumors of  demonstrations, threats of secession, and Kremlin strong-arm tactics. Clearly we had burst into a historic period. The mammoth Iron Curtain had been rent, and the world would never be the same. Neither would our ministry.

You can read this book on google books or click on the icon at right.

J.I.Packer – The interpretation of Scripture

(via)

The Word of God is an exceedingly complex unity. The different items and the various kinds of material which make it up—laws, promises, liturgies, genealogies, arguments, narratives, meditations, visions, aphorisms, homilies, parables and the rest—do not stand in Scripture as isolated fragments, but as parts of a whole. The exposition of them, therefore, involves exhibiting them in right relation both to the whole and to each other. God’s Word is not presented in Scripture in the form of a theological system, but it admits of being stated in that form, and, indeed, requires to be so stated before we can properly grasp it—grasp it, that is, as a whole. Every text has its immediate context in the passage from which it comes, its broader context in the book to which it belongs, and its ultimate context in the Bible as a whole; and it needs to be rightly related to each of these contexts if its character, scope and significance is to be adequately understood.

An analogy may help here. A versatile writer with didactic intent, like Charles Williams or G. K. Chesterton, may express his thought in a variety of literary forms—poems, plays, novels, essays, critical and historical studies, as well as formal topical treatises. In such a case, it would be absurd to think any random sentence from one of his works could safely be taken as expressing his whole mind on a subject with which it deals. The point of each sentence can be grasped only when one sees it in the context, both of the particular piece of work from which it comes, and of the writer’s whole output. If we would understand the parts, our wisest course is to get to know the whole—or, at any rate, those parts of the whole which tell us in plain prose the writer’s central ideas. These give us the key to all his work. Once we can see the main outlines of his thought and have grasped his general point of view, we are able to see the meaning of everything else—the point of his poems and the moral of his stories, and how the puzzling passages fit in with the rest. We may find that his message has a consistency hitherto unsuspected, and that elements in his thought which seemed contradictory are not really so at all. The task of interpreting the mind of God as expressed in His written Word is of the same order as this, and must be tackled in the same way. The beginner in Bible study often feels lost; he cannot at first grasp the Bible’s over-all point of view, and so does not see the wood for the trees. As his understanding increases, however, he becomes more able to discern the unity of the biblical message, and to see the place of each part in the whole.

a. Interpreting Scripture Literally

Scripture yields two basic principles for its own interpretation. The first is that the proper, natural sense of each passage (i.e., the intended sense of the writer) is to be taken as fundamental; the meaning of texts in their own contexts, and for their original readers, is the necessary starting-point for enquiry into their wider significance. In other words, Scripture statements must be interpreted in the light of the rules of grammar and discourse on the one hand, and of their own place in history on the other. This is what we should expect in the nature of the case, seeing that the biblical books originated as occasional documents addressed to contemporary audiences; and it is exemplified in the New Testament exposition of the Old, from which the fanciful allegorizing practiced by Philo and the Rabbis is strikingly absent. This is the much-misunderstood principle of interpreting Scripture literally. A glance at its history will be the quickest way of clearing up the confusion.

The Mediæval exegetes, following Origen, regarded the ‘literal’ sense of Scripture as unimportant and unedifying. They attributed to each biblical statement three further senses, or levels of meaning, each of which was in a broad sense allegorical: the ‘moral’ or ‘tropological’ (from which one learned rules of conduct), the ‘allegorical’ proper (from which one learned articles of faith), and the ‘anagogical’ (from which one learned of the invisible realities of heaven). Thus, it was held that the term ‘Jerusalem’ in Scripture, while denoting ‘literally’ a city in Palestine, also referred ‘morally’ to civil society, ‘allegorically’ to the Church, and ‘anagogically’ to heaven, every time that it occurred. Only the three allegorical senses, the Mediævals held, were worth a theologian’s study; the literal record had no value save as a vehicle of figurative meaning. Mediæval exegesis was thus exclusively mystical, not historical at all; biblical facts were made simply a jumping-off ground for theological fancies, and thus spiritualized away. Against this the Reformers protested, insisting that the literal, or intended, sense of Scripture was the sole guide to God’s meaning. They were at pains to point out, however, that ‘literalism’ of this sort, so far from precluding the recognition of figures of speech where Scripture employs them, actually demands it. William Tyndale’s statement of their position may be quoted as typical: “Thou shalt understand, therefore, that the scripture hath but one sense, which is but the literal sense. And that literal sense is the root and ground of all, and the anchor that never faileth, whereunto if thou cleave, thou canst never err or go out of the way. And if thou leave the literal sense, thou canst not but go out of the way. Nevertheless, the scripture uses proverbs, similitudes, riddles, or allegories, as all other speeches do; but that which the proverb, similitude, riddle or allegory signifieth, is ever the literal sense, which thou must seek out diligently.”

Tyndale castigates the Scholastics for misapplying 2 Corinthians iii.6 to support their thesis that “the literal sense … is hurtful, and noisome, and killeth the soul”, and only spiritualizing does any good; and he replaces their distinction between the literal and spiritual senses by an equation which reflects Jn. vi.63: “God is a Spirit, and all his words are spiritual. His literal sense is spiritual … if thou have eyes of God to see the right meaning of the text, and whereunto the Scripture pertaineth, and the final end and cause thereof.”1 Fanciful spiritualizing, so far from yielding God’s meaning, actually obscured it. The literal sense is itself the spiritual sense, coming from God and leading to Him.

This ‘literalism’ is founded on respect for the biblical forms of speech; it is essentially a protest against the arbitrary imposition of inapplicable literary categories on scriptural statements. It is this ‘literalism’ that present-day Evangelicals profess. But to read all Scripture narratives as if they were eye-witness reports in a modern newspaper, and to ignore the poetic and imaginative form in which they are sometimes couched, would be no less a violation of the canons of evangelical ‘literalism’ than the allegorizing of the Scholastics was; and this sort of ‘literalism’ Evangelicals repudiate. It would be better to call such exegesis ‘literalistic’ rather than ‘literal’, so as to avoid confusing two very different things.2

The modern outcry against evangelical ‘literalism’ seems to come from those who want leave to sit loose to biblical categories and treat the biblical records of certain events as myths, or parables—non-factual symbols of spiritual states and experiences. Many would view the story of the fall, for instance, merely as a picture of the present sinful condition of each man, and that of the virgin birth as merely expressing the thoughts of Christ’s superhuman character. Such ideas are attempts to cut the knot tied by the modern critical denial that these events really happened, and to find a way of saying that, though the stories are ‘literally’ false, yet they remain ‘spiritually’ true and valuable. Those who take this line upbraid Evangelicals for being insensitive to the presence of symbolism in Scripture. But this is not the issue. There is a world of difference between recognizing that a real event (the fall, say) may be symbolically portrayed, as Evangelicals do, and arguing, as these persons do, that because the fall is symbolically portrayed, it need not be regarded as a real even at all, but is merely a picture of something else. In opposing such inferences, Evangelicals are contending, not for a literalistic view, but for the very principles of biblical literalism which we have already stated—that we must respect the literary categories of Scripture, and take seriously the historical character of the Bible story. We may not turn narratives which clearly purport to record actual events into mere symbols of human experience at our will; still less may we do so (as has been done) in the name of biblical theology! We must allow Scripture to tell us its own literary character, and be willing to receive it as what it claims to be.

It may be thought that the historic Protestant use of the word ‘literal’ which we have here been concerned to explain is so unnatural on modern lips, and that such a weight of misleading association now attaches to the term, that it would be wisest to drop it altogether. We argued earlier that the word ‘fundamentalist’ should be dropped, as having become a barrier to mutual understanding, and the case may well be the same here. We do not contend for words. We are not bound to cling to ‘literal’ as part of our theological vocabulary; it is not itself a biblical term, and we can state evangelical principles of interpretation without recourse to it (as indeed, we did in the opening sentences of this section);3 and perhaps it is better that we should. If we do abandon the word, however, we must not abandon the principle which it enshrines: namely, that Scripture is to be interpreted in its natural, intended sense, and theological predilections must not be allowed to divert us from loyalty to what the text actually asserts.

b. Interpreting Scripture by Scripture

The second basic principle of interpretation is that Scripture must interpret Scripture; the scope and significance of one passage is to be brought out by relating it to others. Our Lord gave an example of this when he used Gn. ii.24 to show that Moses’ law of divorce was no more than a temporary concession to human hard-heartedness.4 The Reformers termed this principle the analogy of Scripture; the Westminster Confession states it thus: “The infallible rule of interpretation of scripture is the scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture, it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.”5 This is so in the nature of the case, since the various inspired books are dealing with complementary aspects of the same subject. The rule means that we must give ourselves in Bible study to following out the unities, cross-references and topical links which Scripture provides. Kings and Chronicles throw light on each other; so do the prophets and history books of the Old Testament; so do the Synoptic Gospels and John; so do the four Gospels and the Epistles; so, indeed, do the Old Testament as a whole and the New. And there is one book in the New Testament which links up with almost everything that the Bible contains: that is the Epistle to the Romans, of which Calvin justly wrote in the Epistle prefacing his commentary on it: “If a man understands it, he has a sure road opened for him to the understanding of the whole Scripture.” In Romans, Paul brings together and sets out in systematic relation all the great themes of the Bible—sin, law, judgment, faith, works, grace, justification, sanctification, election, the plan of salvation, the work of Christ, the work of the Spirit, the Christian hope, the nature and life of the Church, the place of Jew and Gentile in the purposes of God, the philosophy of Church and of world history, the meaning and message of the Old Testament, the duties of Christian citizenship, the principles of personal piety and ethics. From the vantage-point given by Romans, the whole landscape of the Bible is open to view, and the broad relation of the parts to the whole becomes plain. The study of Romans is the fittest starting-point for biblical interpretation and theology.

c. Problems and Difficulties

The scientific study of Scripture is a complicated and exacting task. The biblical languages have their own distinctive idioms and thought-forms. Each writer has his own habits of mind, vocabulary, outlook and interests. Each book has its own character, and is written according to stylistic conventions which it is not always easy to see. Each book has its own historical and theological background, and must be interpreted against that background; thus, we should not look in the Old Testament for clear statements about the Trinity, or the believer’s hope of a future life, for these things were not fully revealed till Christ came. All these factors must be borne in mind, or we shall misinterpret Scripture.

This does not mean that only trained scholars can study the Bible to any profit. Its central message is so plainly stated in the text that the most unlearned of those who have ears to hear and eyes to see can understand it. “The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.”6 The technicalities of scholarship may be out of the ordinary Bible-reader’s reach, but none the less he can, with God’s blessing, grasp all the main truths of God’s message. ‘Those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.’7 It is only over secondary matters that problems arise. Here, however, ignorance of the background of biblical statements and allusions, coupled (no doubt) with failure to enter adequately into the writers’ minds,8 leave us on occasion in doubt as to what texts mean, and how they fit in with other texts and with the rest of the Word of God. But these uncertainties affect only the outer fringes of the biblical revelation. And in fact, this class of problem steadily yields to patient study as our knowledge grows. As in all scientific enquiry, however, the solution of one problem raises another and we have no reason to expect that all the problems that crop up in biblical exposition will ever be completely solved in this world.

An idea that persistently haunts some people is that the presence in Scripture of passages which are hard to harmonize is an argument against regarding it as God’s Word written in the sense we have explained, and that one is not entitled so to regard it until one has first reconciled all the seeming discrepancies to one’s own satisfaction. If this were right, every apparent contradiction would be a valid reason for doubting the truth of the biblical doctrine of Scripture. But the idea rests on a confusion. Christians are bound to receive the Bible as God’s Word written on the authority of Christ, not because they can prove it such by independent enquiry, but because as disciples they trust their divine Teacher. We have pointed out already that no article of Christian faith admits of full rational demonstration as, say, geometrical theorems do; all the great biblical doctrines—the Trinity, the incarnation, the atonement, the work of the Spirit in man, the resurrection of the body and the renewal of the creation—are partly mysterious, and raise problems for our minds that are at present insoluble. The doctrine of Scripture is no exception to this rule. But that should not daunt, nor even surprise us; for it is the very nature of Christian faith to believe, on the authority of God, truths which may neither be rationally demonstrated nor exhaustively understood. We must remember that God does not tell us everything about His acts and purposes, nor put us in a position to work them all out for ourselves. We shall not reach right views about the things of God by backing our independent judgment, but only by taking His word. We are wholly dependent on Him for our knowledge of His ways.

God, then, does not profess to answer in Scripture all the questions that we, in our boundless curiosity, would like to ask about Scripture. He tells us merely as much as He sees we need to know as a basis for our life of faith. And He leaves unsolved some of the problems raised by what He tells us, in order to teach us a humble trust in His veracity. The question, therefore, that we must ask ourselves when faced with these puzzles is not, is it reasonable to imagine that this is so? But, is it reasonable to accept God’s assurance that this is so? Is it reasonable to take God’s word and believe that He has spoken the truth, even though I cannot fully comprehend what He has said? The question carries its own answer. We should not abandon faith in anything that God has taught us merely because we cannot solve all the problems which it raises. Our own intellectual competence is not the test and measure of divine truth. It is not for us to stop believing because we lack understanding, or to postpone believing till we can get understanding, but to believe in order that we may understand; as Augustine said, “unless you believe, you will not understand.” Faith first, sight afterwards, is God’s order, not vice versa; and the proof of the sincerity of our faith is our willingness to have it so. Therefore, just as we should not hesitate to commit ourselves to faith in the Trinity although we do not know how one God can be three Persons, nor to faith in the incarnation, although we do not know how the divine and human natures combined in the Person of Christ, so we should not hesitate to commit ourselves to faith in Scripture as the infallible Word of the infallible God, even though we cannot solve all the puzzles, nor reconcile all the apparent contradictions, with which in our present state of knowledge it confronts us. On all these articles of faith we have God’s positive assurance; and that should be enough.

Accordingly, our methods of interpreting Scripture must be such as express faith in its truth and consistency as God’s Word. Our approach must be harmonistic; for we know at the outset that God’s utterance is not self-contradictory. Article XX of the Church of England lays down that it is not lawful for the Church so to “expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another”; no more is it lawful for any individual exegete. Not that we should adopt strained and artificial expedients for harmonizing; this will neither glorify God nor edify us. What we cannot harmonize by a natural and plausible hypothesis is best left unharmonized, with a frank admission that in our present state of knowledge we do not see how these apparent discrepancies should be resolved. We may not, with the heretic Marcion and some modern Liberals, “criticize the Bible by the Bible”, singling out some parts of Scripture as the authentic Word of God and denying the divine character of the rest because it seems to say something different from the parts approved; instead, we should confess the divine origin of all the Scriptures, and be guided in interpreting them by Augustine’s axiom: “I do not doubt that their authors therein made no mistake and set forth nothing that might mislead. If in one of these books I stumble across something which seems opposed to the truth, I have no hesitation in saying that either my copy is faulty, or the translator has not fully grasped what was said” (Augustine read Scripture in Latin), “or else I myself have not fully understood.”9 We must base our study of Scripture on the assumption that governed the New Testament men in their study of the Old—that God’s revealed truth is a consistent unity, and any disharmony between part and part is only apparent, not real.

d. The Holy Spirit as Interpreter

One final point concerning interpretation remains to be made. Scripture tells us that if we are to understand Scripture we need, over and above right rules, personal insight into spiritual things. Scripture sets before us spiritual truths—truths, that is, about God, and about created things in relation to God; and to grasp spiritual truths requires spiritual receptiveness. But no man has this by nature. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”10 The habit of mind which enslaves the natural man, Paul tells us, is to set up his own “wisdom” and make it ultimate, and so he is compelled to dismiss as foolishness all that does not accord with it. Without spiritual enlightenment, he will never be able to see the foolishness of his own wisdom, nor the wisdom of the “foolishness of God”11 proclaimed in the gospel; hence he will never forsake the one for the other. Our Lord confirms this view of man. His repeated diagnosis of the unbelieving Pharisees was that they were blind, lacking the capacity to perceive spiritual realities;12 and He regarded spiritual perception, where He found it, as a supernatural gift from God.13

Now, the Holy Spirit has been sent to the Church as its Teacher, to guide Christians into truth, to make them wise unto salvation, to testify to them of Christ and to glorify Him thereby.14 To the apostles, He came to remind them of Christ’s teaching, to show them its meaning, to add further revelation to it, and so to equip them to witness to all about their Lord.15 To other men, He comes to make them partakers of the apostolic faith through the apostolic word. Paul indicates the permanent relation between the Spirit, the apostles’ word and the rest of the Church in 1 Cor. ii.10-16. The Spirit, he says, gave the apostles understanding of the gospel: “we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God”; “God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit.” Now the Spirit inspires and empowers their proclamation of these things to other men: “which things we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth”; Paul preaches, and knows that he preaches, “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power”. 16 And “he that is spiritual”—he in whom the Spirit abides to give understanding—discerns the meaning of the message and receives it as the testimony of God. This applies no less to the apostolic word written than to the apostolic word preached; and no more to the apostolic writings than to the rest of the written Word of God. The Spirit, who was its author, is also its interpreter, and such understanding of it as men gain is His gift.

Not that the Spirit’s presence in men’s hearts makes patient study of the text unnecessary. The Spirit is not given to make Bible study needless, but to make it effective. Nor can anything in Scripture mean anything when the Spirit interprets. The Spirit is not the prompter of fanciful spiritualizing, or of applications of texts out of their contexts on the basis of accidental associations of words. The only meaning to which He bears witness is that which each text actually has in the organism of Scripture; such witness as is borne to other meanings is borne by other spirits. But without the Spirit’s help there can be no grasp of the message of Scripture, no conviction of the truth of Scripture, and no faith in the God of Scripture. Without the Spirit, nothing is possible but spiritual blindness and unbelief.

It follows that the Christian must approach the study of Scripture in humble dependence on the Holy Spirit, sure that he can learn from it nothing of spiritual significance unless he is taught of God. Confidence in one’s own powers of discernment is an effective barrier to spiritual understanding. The self-confidence of nineteenth-century critical scholarship was reflected in its slogan that the Bible must be read like any other book; but the Bible is more than a merely human book, and understanding it involves more than appreciating its merely human characteristics. God’s book does not yield up its secrets to those who will not be taught of the Spirit. Our God-given textbook is a closed book till our God-given Teacher opens it to us.

A century of criticism has certainly thrown some light on the human side of the Bible—its style, language, composition, history and culture; but whether it has brought the Church a better understanding of its divine message than Evangelicals of two, three and four hundred years ago possessed is more than doubtful. It is not at all clear that we today comprehend the plan of salvation, the doctrines of sin, election, atonement, justification, new birth and sanctification, the life of faith, the duties of churchmanship and the meaning of Church history, more clearly than did the Reformers, or the Puritans, or the leaders of the eighteenth-century revival. When it is claimed that modern criticism has greatly advanced our understanding of the Bible, the reply must be that it depends upon what is meant by the Bible; criticism has thrown much light on the human features of Scripture, but it has not greatly furthered our knowledge of the Word of God. Indeed, it seems truer to say that its effect to date has been rather to foster ignorance of the Word of God; for by concentrating on the human side of Scripture it has blurred the Church’s awareness of the divine character of scriptural teaching, and by questioning biblical statements in the name of scholarship it has shaken confidence in the value of personal Bible study. Hence, just as the Mediævals tended to equate Church tradition with the Word of God, so modern Protestants tend to equate the words of scholars with the Word of God. We have fallen into the habit of accepting their pronouncements at second hand without invoking the Spirit’s help to search Scripture and see, not merely whether what they say is so (in so far as the lay Bible student is qualified to judge this), but also—often more important—whether God’s Word does not deal with more than the limited number of topics with which scholars at any one time are concerned. The result of this negligence is widespread ignorance among Churchmen as to what Scripture actually says. So it always is when the Church forgets how to search the Scriptures acknowledging its own blindness and looking to God’s Spirit to teach it God’s truth. There is no more urgent need today than that the Church should humble itself to learn this lesson once more.

We have now presented in positive outline the biblical approach to Scripture. Its text is word for word God-given; its message is an organic unity, the infallible Word of an infallible God, a web of revealed truth centered upon Christ; it must be interpreted in its natural sense, on the assumption of its inner harmony; and its meaning can be grasped only by those who humbly seek and gladly receive the help of the Holy Spirit.


Author

J. I. Packer has had a long-standing passion for the Puritans. Their understanding of God and His ways with man has largely formed his own spirituality and theological outlook.

Educated at Oxford University, Dr. James I. Packer has served as assistant minister at St. John’s Church of England, Harborne, Birmingham and Senior Tutor and Principal at Tyndale Hall (an Anglican seminary in Bristol). He preaches and lectures widely in Great Britain and America and contributes frequently to theological periodicals. His writings include Fundamentalism and the Word of God, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, and Knowing God. Dr. Packer also served as Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia.

This article is taken from ‘Fundamentalism’ and the Word of God (Inter-Varsity Press, 1958), pp. 101-114.


Notes

  1. Tyndale, Works (Parker Society), I. 304 ff. The judicious Richard Hooker was making the same point when he wrote: “I hold it for a most infallible rule in the exposition of Scripture, that when a literal construction will stand, the furthest from the literal is commonly the worst” (Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, V. lix. 2).
  2. For a good short review of some of the narrative and didactic forms of Scripture, see J. Stafford Wright, Interpreting the Bible (Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1955).
  3. Ps. 102 above.
  4. Matt. xix. 3-8, dealing with Dt. xxiv. I.
  5. Westminster Confession, I. ix.
  6. Ps. cxix. 130, RSV.
  7. Westminster Confession, I. vii.
  8. Cf. 2 Pet. iii.16.
  9. Eph. lxxxii.
  10. 1 Cor. ii:14.
  11. 1 Cor. i.25; see the whole passage, i.18 ff.
  12. Matt. xv.14, xxiii.16, 17, 19, 26; Jn. ix.39-41.
  13. Matt. xi.25, xvi.17.
  14. Jn. xiv.26, xv.26, xvi.13, 14.
  15. Jn. xiv.26, xvi.12, 13, xvii.20.

A.W.Tozer – Un nou val de religie

Mi-este teamă de noul val de religie care a venit. A început în Statele Unite şi acum se răspândeşte. Este un fel de ezoterism al sufletului şi al minţii însoţit de fenomene ciudate. Mi-e teamă de orice nu necesită de curăţie de inimă şi neprihănire a conduitei în viaţa din partea individului.
Tânjesc de asemenea ca, prin îndurările blânde ale lui Cristos, să existe printre noi urmatoarele lucruri:
1. O simplitate frumoasă. Întotdeauna sunt precaut faţă de artificialitate şi complexitatea religiei. Aş vrea să văd simplitate. Domnul nostru Isus a fost unul dintre cei mai simpli oameni care a trait vreodată. Pur şi simplu, nu-L puteai implica în nimic formal. El a spus ce avea de spus la fel de frumos şi de natural precum cântă o pasăre dimineaţa în copac. Aceasta este ceea ce aş vrea să văd restaurat în biserici. Opusul acesteia este artificialitatea si complexitatea.

2. O dragoste creştinească radiantă. Îmi doresc să văd o restaurare a dragostei creştineşti care să radieze în aşa fel încât să fie imposibil să găseşti pe cineva care să vorbească cu asprime sau fără milă despre cineva sau cuiva. Aceasta necesită multa chibzuinţa şi multa rugaciune necontenită. Diavolul ar intra în convulsii. Ar fi atât de supărat şi aşa de dezamagit că ar sta îmbufnat ani în şir în iadul creat chiar de el. În această ultimă perioadă de moarte a dispensaţiunii
creştine ar trebui să existe un grup de creştini care să aibă dragoste radiantă, nişte oameni atât de iubitori încât să nu-i poţi face să vorbească nedrept şi fără milă.

3. Un sentiment de reverenţa plină de umilinţă. Sunt dezamăgit de faptul că venim la biserică fără sentimentul prezenţei lui Dumnezeu şi fără sentimentul reverenţei pline de umilinţa. Există religii false, secte religioase stranii şi secte ale creştinismului care cred că Îl ţin pe Dumnezeu într-o cutie şi atunci când se apropie de cutia aceea, simt o reverenţă plină de teamă şi de uimire. Binenţeles că tu şi eu vrem să fim izbaviţi de un asemenea păgânism sau de o asemenea sectă falsă. Dar am vrea de asemenea să vedem un grup de oameni care să fie ferm convins că Dumnezeu este cu ei – nu într-o cutie sau într-un biscuit, ci în mijlocul lor – să ştie că Isus Cristos este cu adevarat printre ei şi să aibă sentimentul reverenţei pline de umilintă atunci când se aduna împreună!.

4. O adiere a informalitaţii pline de bucurie. Marele predicator englez care a fost păstor timp de mulţi ani la capela Westminster din Londra – G. Chambal Morgan – şi-a lăsat biserica şi s-a dus în Ţara Galilor unde trezirea era în desfaşurare sub Evan Roberts la începutul secolului. A stat în acea ţară o vreme şi a absorbit slava ce ieşea de acolo. Am citit predica care a tinut-o congregatiei lui dupa aceea; a fost cea mai mustrătoare predică pe care a ţinut-o el vreodată.
Le-a spus:,,Cântările voastre sunt lipsite de bucurie, comportarea şi vorbirea sunt lipsite de bucurie şi nu aveţi acel avânt şi acea bucurie pe care am văzut-o în Ţara Galilor.”I-a sfătuit că au nevoie să ajungă într-un punct în care să-I cuprindă acea adiere a informalitaţii pline de bucurie.

5. Un loc în care fiecare să-i socotească pe ceilalţi mai buni decât pe ei însişi.
Ca urmare a acestui lucru, toţi ar trebui să dorească să slujească şi nimeni să nu caute să obţina o poziţie anume. Nimic nu e mai dureros de amuzant ca ambiţia în biserica lui Cristos. E ca şi cum un om, care ajunge într-o barcă de salvare datorită faptului că a fost salvat de la moarte în adâncurile oceanului, începe să se ambiţioneze pentru a deveni căpitanul micii bărcii în drumul acesteia de a-i salva pe cei ce sunt în ea. E ca şi cum un om ar vrea să pătrundă într-o zonă distrusă, lovită de cutremur în care oamenii mor, iar el se luptă pentru o poziţie înaltă acolo.

6. O sinceritate de copil. Iubesc copii datorită sinceritaţii lor incredibil de frumoase. Se uită la tine şi iţi spun cele mai simple lucruri posibile. Dacă ar fi puţin mai mari, ar roşii până în vârful urechilor, însă ei sunt absolute de neprefăcuţi. Îmi place să vorbesc cu ei, îmi place să vină la mine şi să stăm de vorbă, pentru ca înainte să plece întotdeauna îmi spun anumite lucruri. Dacă nu vrei să se afle ceva, nu spune celor micuţi, deoarece ei spun absolut orice. Nu au nimic de ascuns. Cred că, cu limitele cuvenite vârstei noastre adulte, ar trebui ca, din punct de vedere spiritual, să fim atât de neprefăcuţi încât să nu fie loc pentru duplicitate sau pentru nesinceritate.

7. O prezenţa a lui Cristos care să fie un miros placut de smirnă şi aloe. Când te obişnuieşti cu mirosul hainei Lui, nu mai vrei nimic mai puţin. Dacă nu ai mirosit niciodată smirnă sau aloea din plantele de fildeş putem să ne continuăm viaţa şi să nu tânjim după aşa ceva. Dar o singură adiere frumoasă a miresmei hainei Lui şi nu vom mai fi vreodata multumiţi cu ceva mai puţin!

8. Răspunsuri la rugăciuni.Minunile n-ar trebui să fie rar întâlnite. Nu sunt un predicator al miracolelor. Am fost în biserici în care se anunţau întâlniri în care urma să se înfăptuiască miracole. Dacă arunci o privire într-un ziar de sâmbătă, vei vedea din când în când pe cineva care ajunge în oraşul tău şi face următorul anunţ:,,Veniţi să vedeţi minuni\”.De acest fel de minuni nu-mi pasă.
Nu poţi să obţii un miracol aşa cum obţii o reacţie chimica. Nu poţi să obţii un miracol, aşa cum obţii cine ştie ce act de magie făcut de un magician pe scenă. Dumnezeu nu se vinde în mâinile magicienilor religioşi. Eu nu cred în acest fel de miracole. Cred în miracolele pe care Dumnezeu le dă oamenilor Lui care traiesc atât de aproape de El, încât răspunsurile la rugăciuni sunt obişnuite, iar minunile nu le sunt nefamiliale.
Johm Wesley nu şi-a permis niciodată să predice despre minuni, dar minuni care au urmat lucrarea lui John Wesley au fost de necrezut.Odată, trebuia să-şi împlinească o obligaţie, dar calul a început deodată să şchiopăteze şi nu a mai putut merge. Wesley s-a dat jos, a îngenunchiat lângă cal şi s-a rugat pentru vindecarea lui.A poi s-a urcat din nou şi a început să călăorească înspre locul în care trebuia să ajungă, fără ca animalul să mai şchiopăteze. Wesley nu a făcut reclamă acestei minuni şi nu a spus:\”O să ridicăm un cort mare şi o să facem miracolul cunoscut.” Dumnezeu pur şi simplu făcea aceste minuni pentru el.

Deşi Charles Spurgeon nu a predicat vindecarea, totuşi, în Londra s-au vindecat mai mulţi oameni ca răspuns la rugăciunile sale, decât a vindecat vreodată un doctor acolo. Despre acest fel de minuni vorbesc.

Asa ar trebui sa fie Biserica…

(sursa)

A.W.Tozer – Crucea Veche, crucea noua

Neanunţată şi prea puţin detectată, în cercurile evanghelice populare s-a strecurat o nouă cruce. Seamănă cu vechea cruce, dar este diferită. Asemănările sunt superficiale; deosebirile sunt fundamentale.http://www.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&biw=1024&bih=454&tbs=isch:1&aq=f&aqi=&oq=&q=pic%20of%20art%20of%20jesus%20on%20cross
Din această cruce nouă a izvorât o nouă filosofie a vieţii creştine, iar aceasta a produs o nouă tehnică de evanghelizare – un nou tip de servicii divine şi un nou tip de predicare. Noul evanghelism foloseşte acelaşi limbaj ca şi cel vechi, dar conţinutul lui nu mai este acelaşi, iar accentele sunt altele.

Crucea veche nu avea alianţe cu lumea. Pentru inima firească şi mândră a lui Adam ea însemna sfârşitul călătoriei. Ea producea efectul sentinţei impusă de legea de pe Sinai. Crucea nouă nu este opusă rasei umane; din contră, este un prieten amabil şi, înţeleasă corect, ea este izvorul pentru un ocean de distracţie şi plăcere inocentă. Ea îi permite lui Adam să trăiască fără deranj.
Motivaţia vieţii lui rămâne neschimbată; el trăieşte tot pentru propria lui plăcere, numai că acum se desfată cântând coruri şi privind filme religioase în loc de a cânta cântece sălbatice şi de a bea vodcă. Accentul este tot pe plăcere, deşi distracţia este acum la un nivel mai înalt, moral, dacă nu intelectual.

Noua cruce încurajează o abordare nouă şi complet diferită a lucrării misionare. Evanghelistul nu cere lepădarea vieţii celei vechi înainte ca cea nouă să poată fi primită. El nu predică contraste, ci similitudini. El caută să atingă coarda interesului public, arătând că noua credinţă nu are pretenţii neplăcute; din contră, ea oferă tot ceea ce oferă lumea, doar la un nivel mai ridicat. Exact lucrurile după care aleargă o lume înnebunită de păcat sunt prezentate cu iscusinţă a fi exact lucrurile pe care le oferă evanghelia, doar că produsul religios este de o calitate mai bună.
Noua cruce nu îl sfâşie pe păcătos, ea doar îl redirecţionează. Ea îl călăuzeşte spre un mod de viaţă mai curat şi mai satisfăcător, salvându-i respectul de sine. Tipului declarativ ea îi spune: „Vino şi exprimă-te de partea lui Hristos.” Egoistului îi spune: „Vino şi laudă-te în Domnul.” Căutătorului de distracţii şi emoţii îi spune: „Vino şi bucură-te de satisfacţiile părtăşiei creştine.” Solia este împinsă în direcţia curentului la modă pentru a putea fi acceptată de public. Filosofia din spatele acestui gen de evanghelie poate fi sinceră, dar sinceritatea nu o poate salva de a fi falsă. Este falsă deoarece este oarbă. Ea pierde complet sensul crucii.
Crucea veche este simbolul morţii. Ea reprezintă sfârşitul abrupt, violent, al fiinţei umane. Omul din timpul Romei care îşi lua crucea şi pornea pe drumul ei spusese deja la revedere prietenilor lui. El nu se mai întorcea acasă. Pleca pe un drum fără întoarcere. Crucea nu cunoştea compromisuri, nu modifica nimic, nu excludea nimic; ea omora complet şi pentru totdeauna. Ea nu încerca să păstreze relaţii bune cu victima. Ea lovea cu forţă şi cruzime, iar când îşi termina treaba, omul nu mai era. Rasa lui Adam este sub sentinţa de moarte. Nu există înţelegere sau evadare. Dumnezeu nu poate accepta roadele păcatului, oricât de inocente sau frumoase ar părea ele în ochii omului.
Dumnezeu salveză individul lichidându-l şi apoi înviindu-l la o viaţă nouă. Evanghelia care trasează paralele între căile lui Dumnezeu şi căile oamenilor este falsă conform Bibliei şi crudă pentru sufletele ascultătorilor. Credinţa lui Hristos nu merge paralel cu lumea, ci o intersectează. Venind la Hristos, noi nu aducem vechea viaţă la un nivel mai înalt, ci o lăsăm la cruce. Bobul de grâu trebuie să cadă în pământ şi să moară. Noi, cei care predicăm evanghelia, nu trebuie să ne privim ca fiind agenţi de relaţii publice trimişi să aducă înţelegere între Hristos şi lume. Nu trebuie să ne imaginăm însărcinaţi să-L facem pe Hristos acceptabil lumii de afaceri, presei, sportului sau educaţiei moderne. Noi nu suntem diplomaţi, ci profeţi, iar mesajul nostru nu este un compromis, ci un ultimatum. Să predicăm vechea cruce, şi vom avea vechea putere!

Blogosfera Evanghelică

Vizite unicate din Martie 6,2011

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