SOMETHING MORE IS LESS
'You are Complete in HIM!' -
VISION, VICTORY AND ABIDING
A question was received which related to the need for TRUTH (most desirable and delightful to find this!) and address to this sort of question:
Is there something
What of Pentecostal friends and others, mystics or whatever, pronouncers of this and that!
What is the correct and Biblical course ?
Did not the book of Acts announce much special action by the Lord in the guidance of His people ?
There are many direct divine guidelines concerning divine guidance and direction, in the book of Acts.
You are right in this, about Acts. There are many direct, divine guidelines in Acts 16:7 you see a NEGATIVE CONSTRAINT. In 16:9 you find a POSITIVE PICTORIAL APPEAL. In 8:29, you see a VERBAL DIRECTION; and there is the case of virtually SIMULTANEOUS GRAPHIC IMPARTATION in a joint plan involving TWO people in Acts 9:10-11. In Acts 10:3-6,13-18 is one of VISIONS of SUCCESSIVE SCENARIO STEPS (Acts 10:3-6,13-18) for two persons. It is almost like a dance with progressive partners.
These things are fascinating, evocative, stirring, and examples of what the Lord MAY do (II Timothy 3:16), illustrative of His ways with men when He so chooses. (Cf. A Question of Gifts, Appendix I.)
Psalm 78:41 notes the perilous folly of Israel, through unbelief, in this - that they "LIMITED the Holy One of Israel". He is not directable by man! (Isaiah 40:13-14).
Further, Acts 2:17 indicates that in the last days (already present at Pentecost, in that the reference to them is used in explication of the events then in hand), dreams and visions would be seen, in a context following this: "I will pour out My Spirit." (Cf. A Question of Gifts, *16, p. 95ff..)
Hence, without adding to Scripture, you cannot EXCLUDE such things (or, for that matter, without subtracting!). To subtract is to add, by the way, since you are adding data input about the removal! YOUR thought is inserted, if you add or subtract.
This then is what the word of God declares, in the book of Acts.
The B.B. Warfield concept that certain miraculous events would be limited ot the mission field, finds no Biblical basis. The evocation of the sense of a parallel to the ACTS phenomena, and a contemporary mission field does not create a Biblical authority for such a limit, and the Acts 2 quotation from Joel (where it originally reposed) possesses NO qualification. It says what it says and there the matter is. Proverbs 30:6 does the rest.
As to women prophesying, this continued evidently in the apostle's time, at Corinth; and as Paul specified what was to be worn when they did it, evidently it was there permissible (I Cor. 11:5). Further, as the covering of the head would signify nothing when there were no men present, this function, even when women are concerned, is possible in some public situations.
Men of course did the same, ex head gear (I Cor. 14:31), while in fact, prophesying even appears in the litany of gifts, with directions for the control of such events (in I Cor. 12:20, 14:29-32). It is true that women are expressly not permitted to perform in this way in the church meeting itself; but the extreme of imagining that this function is for this reason excluded for them, in any religious type of religious meeting, is unbiblical (I Cor. 14:34). That represents the old syndrome of extrapolation, moving recklessly towards results not propounded, as if 'catching the thread' and so 'carrying on'. What is to be caught in this way however is merely an impact with the word of God, which for its part, does not move!
Similarly, and in another direction, the resolution of authority from function is fundamental - these are not the same: so that Corinthian style prophesyings from the ladies, do not at all imply a facility for the their exercise of authority, this being heavily excluded . In fact, this is taken to the point that speech itself, at least in the arena of the controversial or enquiry involving authority, is not suffered in the actual church meeting, from the ladies of the congregation! (I Corinthians 14:34 cf. I Timothy 2, and A Question of Gifts pp. 101ff., and *17, A Spiritual Potpourri Chs. 10 -11).
There are for women, then some limits; but for men likewise (I Cor. 14:32-39), and for all; but the chief limits as we shall see are imposed against the embarkation in the arena of the divine, speaking as if for God with supposed authority. THIS is entirely excluded from the church structure, in the domain of Corinthian 'prophesyings', as we shall see.
However, for the moment, our concern is that such 'prophesyings', for all the organisational particularities, are permissible functions in some public places, in the realm of the orderly expression of the faith, for all.
Hence these things cannot AS A PRINCIPLE be excluded. (What such things ARE, will be the topic shortly.)
On the other hand, this does NOT WARRANT a view that visions and expressions of such a kind are part of a promised procedural medium. God does all these things AT HIS OWN DISCRETION. He distributes gifts and hence the power for them, at His pleasure (cf. I Cor. 12:4-6). As to visions, examples do not become rules; events do not connote necessities; choices here are not the same as choices there. That they MAY be chosen however is clear when they ARE.
For example, should the Lord wish to rebuke RELIANCE on such things as if they were necessary or even normative ways of divine communication, He could quite consistently with Scripture, hold His hand in such areas, as a corrective, at His pleasure.
In general, it is not
seemly to REQUIRE at any time what is simply PERMISSIBLE, or a DIVINE option.
That is the first phase.
Prophesying at Corinth and 'revelations' now ?
It is clearly ONE THING to talk about the divine discretion in using various communication vehicles to address someone, and alert to His will, WITHIN the principles and procedures, provisions and promises of the Bible. This is what we have been doing. It is quite another to start making a new Bible, an illusory occupation, akin to the work of false prophets!
Let us look at Corinth.
In fact, in the process of revealing these things (Amos 3:7), the Lord also disclosed the hopeless inadequacy of the Jewish people to effect their own deliverance from the endemic reality of their sin as such, and stressing their lack, released the data that the deity Himself would come as man, and do it for those who received Him. In fact, He would come as God the sent (Isaiah 48:16, Psalm 45, Zechariah 12:10) and secure for His people what they could not secure for themselves (cf. Psalm 49:76,15, Hosea 13:14, Ezekiel 34, Isaiah 40:10, Psalm 102:18-22, Psalm 2): everlasting redemption (cf. Isaiah 51:11).
Thus the 70 year exile heralded by Jeremiah as coming (as it did), and the associated press releases from God, concerning the King who was to (and did) allow the return of the exiled Jews who would be sent to Babylon for their sins (Cyrus), and the severity of their failure becomes the opportunity to focus something related, but a vast leap of opportunity and wonder. In this way or situation, there was exposed the severity of the impact of their sins on the Saviour (Isaiah 53 - and GOD is HIMSELF the ONLY Saviour, He notes - Isaiah 43:10-11), for all who would receive Him (as in Isaiah 53:3-6, where the healed are those who sins meet ... on HIM!). The lamentations for Jerusalem in its destruction (Lamentations 1), are thus adapted to ah! so readily exposing the horror of the gaunt and bleak exposure of the Messiah to THEIR SINS, He the greater Jerusalem, voluntarily bearing what they deserved, if only they repented and came to Him in faith (Isaiah 53:1, 55:1ff.).
select few Jews who RETURNED initially from Babylon to rebuild Jerusalem,
thus become symbolic of those who receive Christ, through His own spiritual
intervention. In fact, the 70 year exile becomes an arithmetic base for
a computation in Daniel 9:24-27, which gives the death date of the Messiah!
(cf. SMR pp. 886ff.). So disaster
became the harbinger of triumph, and destruction the highway to deliverance
not only for a time, but for eternity.
When Amos was told this in Amos 7:12-17, the results for the one who presumed to tell him to stop spouting (or literally 'dripping') were truly catastrophic! The WORD OF THE LORD in the Old Testament is ANNOUNCED and PRONOUNCED and DONE, and that is that. OFTEN, it is to rebellion, to the point you see the conspectus on that point in Isaiah 30:8-11!
In the New Testament, the parallel would be such a case as that of Paul (I Cor. 2:9-13, 3:10, 14:37, II Cor. 13:2-4), who with the other apostles and the prophets, already constituted a foundation with Christ the headstone (Ephesians 2:20) for the church. (Cf. Christ's own words in Matthew 5:17-19, 24:37, John 12:48-50).
Thus the whole demeanour and power and position of Old Testament prophets for the Bible is wholly diverse from the Corinthian case, which was a New Testament opening up of opportunity for a quite different form of participation by the people. In the latter case, it became a more or less routine contribution by the people situation, the 'prophesyings' in this new milieu being ASSESSABLE by the auditors. Assessment involves possible negation, modification and so on, and if one thinks for one moment about the "hammer that breaks rock" and the effects of it, which is the Lord's word as in Jeremiah 23 (esp. vv. 28-29), and compares it with this, it is table tennis versus howitzers!
Thumbs up or thumbs down to the word of the Lord! That is quite ridiculous. It is not the word of the Lord at all which is in view here, but illuminations about things, expository resources and insights offered. A 'word' may or may not be contributed in the Corinthian style situation, but in this function, it is quite simply NOT the authoritative word of the Lord.
HENCE there is a scriptural limit. NO SCRIPTURE COULD COME IN THIS WAY THEN, far less now! Now ? Now, in ADDITION, Revelation 22:18-19 has been written. Covering the whole scope of the plan of salvation and the character of coming events to the return of Christ in power and glory, John notes that you COULD add to THESE THINGS which he had written, indeed you could. It was just that you would have a very different form of inheritance to that noted for the saints!
Rather it would be a perverse reverse, properly the recipient of diseases and cursings, a perishing lot, apt for unspeakable presumption, like pirate viruses finding no place in the perfected body, but being assigned to their own place!
It is much the same in Galatians 1, where ANY OTHER GOSPEL than the one ALREADY PREACHED BY PAUL AT THAT TIME, would involve not blessing but a cursed estate! IF PAUL preached some other gospel, at some future time, HE TOO would suffer this consequence. It is rather like scientists in their new discovery of some natural law. EVEN IF one of them discovered that this was the way God had constructed nature, in this respect, that would give him NO power to alter what he had found.
When it comes to the DIRECT WORD of God to mankind (cf. Titus 2:11ff., 3:4ff.), then of course the blasphemy involved in daring to touch it is even greater! This is not merely His hand (dangerous as such an impact would be), but it represents the insufferable insult to His mouth! It is as if some would stuff their imagined great words (cf. II Peter 2:18) into His mouth (if it were possible), and seek to inveigle Him to sign the result!*1A This sort of thing also is predicted as we see, in Peter, who indeed takes it into still more detail in II Peter 3, which exhibits some of the illusory assaults on the Lord to be made in the last days, which these are; and according to the invariable plan and pattern, these are precisely the assaults BEING MADE NOW, characteristically! (Cf. Joyful Jottings Ch.8). How vastly these enormous revelations from far off, to our contemporary period differ in their authentic divine power and precision from corrigible things, as in Corinth.
These Corinthian 'prophesyings' then, are provisional and testable. Paul by contrast (I Corinthians 14:37) speaks as COMMANDS from on high. This is just what was the case with the OTHER writers of scripture in the Old Testament, of which Christ indicated to the jot and tittle, their words would be fulfilled (Matthew 5:17ff.).
The GULF between church 'prophesyings' at Corinth, and Paul is complete. The former are not per se of God! They do NOT bind! Of course, divine revelation is one thing; APPLICATION of revelation (as in church discipline for example) is ANOTHER! The point is that the context and expanse of scripture is one thing, the Lord is ONE being; and man is another. Not only are they different, they are disparate. Not alone are they disparate, but of vast diversity: the finite and the finite, the sinner and the sinless, the one needing deliverance and the deliverer, the guilty calling for death, and the guiltless able to negate it.
If and when God sees fit to pronounce scripture, "the book of the Lord" (Isaiah 34:16), that is His business, the same as ... a will from some party on earth. You cannot begin to fiddle with it, or produce your own beautiful codicils for someone else. That is dishonest on earth; it is cursed in heaven! It is presumption (and crime) on earth; it is blasphemy in heaven. It is folly on earth; it is spiritual madness relative to heaven.
What, then is intended simply to help in the Corinthian situation, these 'prophesyings', is like the former genre of Old Testament prophecy, but with vital exclusions. It is now EX authority and EX innovation, and EXbinding power. You cannot COMMAND with it; you cannot IMPOSE it. It is as simple as that. It does not constitute a NEW THING. The Biblical words are to be effected though heaven and earth (as they shall - Matthew 24:35) should go! NOTHING can stop them; NOTHING CAN rip off a smallest part (tittle) or delete the tiniest part of the divine communication's force (jot). The imperial is but a plaything compared with the sovereign majesty of Him with whom we have to do (Isaiah 40:15,18,23). The name is that of GOD and there is no other to compare, in heaven or on earth. The earth and heavens, they come and go; the word of the Lord endures for ever. It is intrinsic to Him, His property, of incalculable power, covered by the brilliance of light and the necessities of His work, which none can stop or impede (Isaiah 43:13).
As noted, the Corinthian
case is rather like an interesting Bible study where 'insightful' areas
of understanding are shared. The BOOK however is closed. It was closed
in Paul's day to SUCH sources; it is closed in our own to ANY. The church
founded on chief corner stone of Christ and on the apostles and prophets
is one which THEN STATEDLY HAD been so built. There was nothing
more to come (Ephesians 2:19). Christ came and manifested God so that he
who had seen Him had seen the Father, when spiritually equipped that is,
with spiritual eyes and not closing the ocular apparatus of the proper
man (cf. John 6:40, 14:9, Matthew 13:14-15).
THESE THINGS, says John in Revelation 22, MUST NOT BE ADDED TO. The whole gamut of revelation is closed. THESE WORDS, says John, MUST NOT BE SUBTRACTED FROM: the structure is reserved. Imagine if even I had to suffer some well-meaning gullible galoot interfering with my imperfect writings in structure or form, let alone content! But I, I am merely a redeemed sinner, enabled to exercise the gifts God gives. To adjust in any way what GOD has said is INFINITELY worse!... infinitely. That is a lot. HE is of infinite understanding (Psalm 145). To compete is unwise!
Thus the performance
of a task is radically altered by its statedly changed conditions!
COMPARING THE CASE WITH VISIONS
The same sort of thing applies to dreams, visions, IF the Lord sees fit to give them. Paul indicated the intensely PRIVATE nature of such things (we are here dealing personally, simply, and not at all in the topic of scripture writing, or inscripturation if you will).
They, he makes clear, in that category ADD NOTHING to STATUS of the speaker or his teaching, NOTHING for the church as a whole (II Corinthians 12:1-6). He could speak of such things to the Corinthians, but merely mentions it before going on to the hard fare, the testable realities of what attests his apostleship. Indeed, speedily he got into the domain of what was NOT LAWFUL to speak of (II Cor. 12:4). He would not like to dwell on these things, lest any should think of him more highly than he should! Now note this humility, this reserved character and CONTRAST it with the brassy showiness of much in Pentecostalism! Angels themselves have no powers to provide here either, but rather the whole thing is subject to presumption so readily that it is in the very firing line of heresy (Colossians 2:18).
We have LIBERTY (Galatians 5) and having begun in the Spirit (Galatians 3), we need no fresh bondages of people-talk or people-walk, and I think one should add in view of later Pentecostal excesses, people-squawk, without any sense of disparagement. Growlings and the rest are ... for the birds! The requirement to WORSHIP the Lord with REVERENCE (Psalm 89:7, Psalm 96:3-9) is not countermanded by mere sensationalism, and desire.
But what of guidance ? The Lord provides that for His CHURCH by HIS WORD and its promises, and HIS SPIRIT may indeed bring various constraints WITHIN THE WORD as His guidance is sought (cf. Acts 13). These must be tested of course since ALL things must be tested (I Thessalonians 5:21). Individually, you ASK for wisdom (James 1), and believing you are given it where it pertains to your godly and holy needs, you get it. God UNDERTAKES not to scold in such a case! He WANTS you so to seek Him. He provides it for you privately AS HE WILL, in the form, with the procedures of His desire. He MAY want you to counsel with many counsellors, if the matter is of this kind; He MAY speak in this or that form, being unlimited as He will; but HIS WORD is HIS and it BINDS in all cases, and must APPLY always.
I hope that clarifies things.
FALSE MYSTICISM (as Paul condemns in Colossians 2:18 (cf. II Corinthians 10:7,12) is merely a pagan raid from below, to establish what is not authorised. Avoid it like any other presumption. TRUE FAITH by contrast, does indeed find illumination from on high, about private needs as sought by PROMISE (James 1, II Peter 1 with its "great and precious promises"). But THIS IS NOT DOCTRINE. THAT is fixed. Cars have to be serviced, but you do not develop a new engine under that name!
Let us then turn to many things
in the field, and ponder them.
AND WHERE THE REAL ACTION LIES
What then is the path of progress ?
Perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord (II Cor. 7:1) is not popular, but it is appropriate! For one thing - 'fear' - what is that ? Some neo-evangelicals (who superficially seem Biblical by their profession) do not LIKE the word 'fear'.
However, there is no need for confusion. Perfect love does cast out FEAR of death and FEAR of JUDGMENT (I John 4:18), because the SOUL TRUSTS in the MERCY of the Lord, and in His covenant and in His promises and in His eternal redemption and is properly assured (I John 5:12ff., Romans 8:16) very directly (John 10:9,27-28). It does not however AT ALL cast out that reverential solemnity of approaching the infinitely wise, deep and powerful God, as if slap-happy familiarity were to replace any sense of awe, discipline and duty! Psalm 89:7 does not so say.
Peter could taste, friend though he was, the sharpest retort without hesitation (Matthew 16:21-22). God does not cease to be God because He is gracious! What did Christ say ? You are My friends if you do whatever I say (in fact ‘command’), and this does not imply a casual comradeship. Indeed, there is an intensity about His love which purifies and enables a holy comradeship to develop, though one must watch and pray and realise the snares such as pride of life, pride of spiritual life and all the rest. Our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:21-30 and NOTE THE CONTEXT!); it is because of grace that we are not burnt. He does not however lower His standards because He is so gracious. He enables us to find Him and to live in His burnishing presence.
Thus many neo-evangelicals do not seem to be too concerned about women elders, separation, creation, and as they mix in spiritual fellowship with those who profess rebellion in these ways (versus Romans 16:17 cf. The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 7, Separation), they have their great psychological wisdom, far beyond that of the Lord, which enables them to use modern methods to despoil the arsenal of faith and breach its provisions. Even someone I should have liked to trust, has called me divisive because I have applied what is WRITTEN to what was DONE and noted the relevance of Romans 16:17. You cannot have it both ways. If your holiness and insight is so clear and great that you condemn what is Biblical and loose what is there bound, you are merely an intractable modern raider of the word of God. In the end, this becomes false prophecy, unless it be corrected.
The other point is this.
SOMETHING MORE, then ? It is NOT to be found in the Pentecostal excesses, often straight disobedience and rebellion (see my A QUESTION OF GIFTS for detail - it is on the Web and on the CD-ROM - one can be sent if you want this).
It is NOT to be found in neo-evangelical laxities, relaxing with follies unspeakable, what God has bound, until the UNDERLYING PRINCIPLE of presumption comes through, and the real weakness declares itself. It is so strange and so understandable to thought - the WAY they do is often to try, like a cat seeing what the road will bear, as it looks for new ways of indulgence in the home - to see what can be done to relax things. Whatever may be the profusion of confusion in any actual heart, the strategy is often this. It is to look for new ways of avoiding what is the Bible. It is to try, in simple practical cases which may not be contested; to extend these in terms of consistency; and only much later, perhaps, to announce the PRINCIPLES which, by that time, are so flaunted, while the Biblical ones are so flouted that few would CARE to bring them up and insist on them. Further, pride and fear and honour of men may make them too afraid for their prestige, power, superannuation or whatever may be the flesh point, or the flash point in their spiritual circumference!
No, "perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord" remains what is needed as much now as when Paul so directed the Corinthians! Not false mysticism is the need, but real friendship with the Lord, and observation of what matters to HIM! "YOU are MY FRIENDS IF you do whatever I command you " (John 15:14).
Impossible! says the flesh. Not at all: "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you..." (from John 15:15-16). THEN of course, as is natural in love, and "GOD IS LOVE" (I John 4:8-10 - NOT 'love is God!'), you delight in seeking to do what He wishes, and in friendship, He is not censorious, though like iodine, His corrections may at times sting therapeutically, a little! But who, loving health, wants an infection!
God is not the love which does not act. He is not the action which does not love. He is not the construction of our imperfect reflections, but even these attest something of His love. Thus, in John 14:23, we read this:
This is not false mysticism but the very opposite: it is in the domain of obedience to WHAT HE HAS COMMANDED, whose word is finished to mankind, but whose presence continues (as in Matthew 28:20) to His people. The affection and friendship of comrades is so beautiful when they ARE comradely, being about the same thing in the same spirit! Such friendship with Christ is like a gem, radiant and irradiated! Thus Peter declares the "joy unspeakable and full of glory" which is his in Christ, and is it not wonderful that the One who IS wonder, has done things so competent, profound, so complete in plan, glorious in conspectus, entirely patient in spirit, so loving in disposition, so appealing to all, so determined for His own; and that He, having all power, is incalculably reliable, immeasurably just, gloriously profound, fervently faithful, willing to act.
But what of this ? HE HAS ACTED, having met the case with a rigour that is both splendid and spectacular, kindly and humble. His love tested to the uttermost in the anguish of payment for relinquished sins for all who come in faith to Him for this. His forbearance like a towering rock of assurance, He has shown the power of authenticity in the breach of death, like a child striking out from the womb, 'the first begotten from the dead' (I Peter 1:3, I Cor. 15:20-23, Psalm 2:3-8, Acts 13:32-34, Luke 24:38-43, Revelation 1:5, Colossians 1:18-22), unable to be subdued from His immortality, even in the format of man: dying as man only to breach death forever, God irrepressible (Acts 2:23-24,30-31, John 8:58, 5:19-23, Colossians 1:19ff., Philippians 2:1-13).
His bonds were voluntary; their
breach was irreparable. THAT power is the testimony of all other! it magnifies
the miracles, glorifies His grace, executes His word. He is alive, His
works progressing to perfection as He has declared them in advance, available,
accessible, pure, holy, harmless, higher than the heavens, coming back
to earth when His day is ripe, working by His Spirit in the interim. MORE
this ? Not at all, for then more is less! MORE OF THIS, of Him!
Now on this, there is also the aspect of growth. Being BORN is very important for a baby, and it is quite right that a mother (not to say, a father) thinks in terms of achievement and congratulation and mercy and marvel and relaxation and delight when a whole child is born, and all is, and all are, well! However, strange indeed the household which continues SO to rejoice in the start, that the finish is neglected from view; which is so proud of having begun, that growth does not occur to the mind, and is stunted in the reality in the child! In II Peter 2, specificities in holiness are found, in the domain of growth, seeing and embonding what is fine and noble and beautiful. Moreover, growth in various departments is in view.
THUS to begin, one has the PROVISION of great and precious promises, so that "through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (II Peter 1:4). This is in the conspectus that "His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness" and that comes "through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue". It is in this way that the promises came to apply, to be available, to be held in reserve for use.
There is the pure and exquisite JOY of knowing the Lord (I Peter 1:8-9), what in one sense perhaps one could almost call the 'inward smile' of pure faith's happiness in Him who has come, the BEST being sending His exact likeness, the One who has ALL power, and is not only THERE but OURS! and this for ever by grace, which has already obtained the inheritance (Ephesians 1:11), and that, it is one which is undefiled, which does not fade away, reserved ('tightly guarded') in heaven for you! (I Peter 1:4). It is NOT spoiled, it is NOT able to merge in the distance, it is NOT corruptible, it IS reserved.
More than this ? Of course there is the power which appertains
to the performance of duty (Ephesians 1:19) measured in terms of what raised
Christ from the dead. What He wrought in the flesh, He has power to work
in the heart of His redeemed, working in you both to will and to do (Philippians
2:12-13, 3:20-21). Mountains are made to be moved when they are in the
way of the walk and work of faith (cf. Mark 11:23). But what is the privilege
? Citizenship ! "For our citizenship is in heaven,
from which we also eagerly await the Saviour, who will transform our lowly
body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working
by which he is able to subdue all things to Himself" - Philippians
A MOMENT MORE ON PENTECOSTAL CONFUSION
Pentecostalism frequently ignores the BIBLICAL LIMITS and confuses Christians with Paul, apostle, master-builder (I Cor. 3:10, 2:9-13), writer of scripture.
Meanwhile, it misuses the NAME of 'Pentecost' for the EXACT opposite : at Pentecost MORE direct understanding of words came miraculously for a practical gospel-disseminating purpose - in Corinth's 'tongues', LESS came by such a means*2 ! See A Question of Gifts further regarding this chasm of divergence!
Again, Pentecostalism, thus misnamed
for 'Corinthianism' - a misleading error,
also frequently fails :
The WORD of GOD MUST be understood, proclaimed and imbibed. Frills do not make a garment. They adorn it. Adornments without garments are vulgar and expose what is not proper to be seen! Thus, in fact, Pentecostalism frequently manages
FROM HYSTERICS AND SPIRITUAL AEROBICS TO ACTUALITY
The evils that beset Pentecostalism in great measure are often a reaction to deadness of heart, weakness of faith, radical revisionism of the Bible, the follies of liberalism. You must KNOW the Lord, you must HAVE the power, you must EXPERIENCE the realities and so on. Like so many, it starts in reaction to many actual evils, but then invents others of its own. It is, in spiritual wisdom, necessary to ABIDE in the LORD and to abide in His WORD, and to have the self-control and discipline, like an athlete as Paul says, which neither neglects what is written, nor glories in ANYTHING but in the Lord. In fact, let us cite ALL of that:
"Let not the wise man glory in his
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
nor let the rich man glory in his riches,
But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth,
For in these I delight," says the Lord" - Jeremiah 7:23-24.
That says it. It is necessary NOT to disperse your glories like a fire works display. The focus of glory is immense, intense in Christ and His cross and resurrection (BOTH very bodily! - I Cor. 15:1-3), in the plan of salvation, directed to the clear image of His word, which has HIS authority (Matthew 28:19-20, 5:17-19 cf. SMR Appendix C) in His living and changeless presence (Galatians 6:14, Hebrews 13:8).
Each Christian KNOWS the Lord personally (John 17:1-3),
has the Spirit of course (Romans 8:9), and correlatively finds that the
flesh does NOT rule (Romans 8:7-11), though it tries (Galatians 5:16-24).
Notice particularly Galatians 5:24. (On being crucified with Christ -as
in Galatians 2:20, and 'feet of clay' and so on, see Chapters
3 - 4 in this work, Tender Times for
It is not innovation but consolidation: that is needed - IN the Lord! Knowing Him is not an extra but integumental. He reveals Himself in many ways, and the knowledge of Him, whose word is inscribed in the Bible, surpasses all other acquaintance (Psalm 73:25-26).
FINALLY, in terms of Christian Apologetics, it is important to note the:
The word of God in Ephesians 2:10 states this: "You are complete in Him…!" How well it foresaw the dangerous trend that would arise, to look to angels or thoughts or anything at all, idols of the mind, the hand, the spirit or the soul, to produce the "amplified version" of Christ, or some new Christ. Small wonder Paul cries, "Beware!" - Colossians 2:8. "Beware lest anyone CHEAT you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ."
It is then that he adds this: "For in Him dwells al the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power" - Col. 2:9-10. Made to be "accepted in the beloved", you are indeed complete (Ephesians 1:6), having obtained in Him an inheritance (1:11), all you who are His! ... and is He not found readily (John 10:9, 6:50ff., 6:40, 10:27-28); and once found as your Shepherd, He is never lost, as He directly indicates in John 10! As to the reverse cycle, the endless inadequacies of continual invasions, intrusions, inventions from the abyss of ignorance and presumption, the times of the end will see it to ‘perfection’ (II Timothy 3, Jeremiah 23:16-20).
But what would they consider perfectly in Jeremiah 23:20 ? Let us listen to 23:16-22.
THIS phenomenon: that of those who say,
Ah, what a result!
The divine repugnance to this sort of reverse cycle plagiarism, when it is not grabbing someone else’s words for your own, by dishonesty, but trying to make, or acting to make your words appear to belong to someone else (like forging a cheque, so as by YOUR words to operate on THEIR powers), is entirely understandable. It is seen in Deuteronomy 4:2:
Hence the correlative stress in Isaiah 34:16 where EVERY object referred to in His word will be found right next to the others as specified, word for word and result for result, in the desolation predicted. The reason is that "My mouth has commanded it, and His Spirit has gathered them." The words and the works alike are commanded and come to pass because God both utters His voice and His direction to history. Hence in Isaiah 8:20 we read: "To the law and the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." It is not that there is rather too little light: NONE!
So Christ in Matthew 5:17-19 speaks of every jot and tittle of the law and the prophets coming to pass. Not only is there NO human assessment procedure for divine words which are the "word of the Lord"!; not only this, but the divine One has His own quality standards, seen in the precision in view is in substance, in detail: in direction to words in utterance, and to history, in control of all things.
Thus in Jeremiah 23:16-20, we find the irresistible and
divinely superintended physical RESULTS of this precision appear, in 23:22
the vital spiritual difference appears, between His words and the most
exalted human ‘dreams’, and in 23:28-29 the irresistible dignity
of the majesty of His words, and their sure operation is contrasted with
the puny feebleness of pretence.
*1 Abiding is a wonderful theme, and a reference for this is in the work, Questions and Answers at Question 6, 'What is Abiding ?'
In A Question of Gifts, the Old Testament predictive background to 'tongues', as cited by Paul the apostle (I Corinthians 14:21), is brought out and the very different reality of the phenomenon, to the exalted place some so wrongly give it, is exhibited. It is no great thing when five words with the mind excels 10000 of that type!
Here added is a small section from the work, A
Question of Gifts. (For end-notes displayed below, see pp.
29ff. of this volume.)
THE OLD TESTAMENT BACKGROUND AS CITED BY ST. PAUL
In I Cor. 14:21, Paul cites Isaiah 28:11-12. He follows this with the word "therefore", as before showing that this is an application. Tongues are an application of an Old Testament passage; and we should then see what it is.
In Isaiah 28, God censures the people for their drunkenness (the point was not wholly inept about stutterers, babblers, then). Verses 7-8 make the point that drinking has led to loss of judgment and righteousness: both. There has been gross disregard of duty in the nation. This is the charge.
As we proceed in Isaiah 28, it seems - in the teaching method employed - as if God is looking around to see, in view of the licentious - seeming laxity of some who OUGHT to be QUALIFIED to teach spiritual things, just who remains usable, actually to serve this function. Which parties are available in such a fallen State ?
Remember, it was not the fine looking brother of David, but the tender youth who was chosen. God elects! The Lord then asks a rhetorical or almost rhetorical question: Will He then seek BABES from the breast as suitable human beings for ... teacher preparation, to become students with Himself, as their teacher, so that they might pass these things on as faithful messengers ? Must He, as it were, go back so far to the very babies who babble to avoid the degeneration of arrogant follies, the cultural conformism, the moral breaches which mar and coarsen His people when grown! In the fallen Nation, where was better material ? Must it be babes?
How the position reminds one of the present, where David Wilkerson, years ago, pointed out the degenerations of youth were reaching right back to the 8 year-old level!
In Isaiah 28:10, God mocks their quasi-learned pomposity. Oh they knew SO much, and their overbearing and supercilious 'scholarship' was just SO wonderful! HERE A LINE, He mocks them, THERE A LINE, bit by bit they SHOW how knowledgeable they are. Yet in fact they miss the very point of His word. (Cf. Mark 7:7: when God came to earth, He showed His scorn at formal pretenders direct!) This they do, while with all the assurance of bumptious oafs, whose own hearts are not right with God, and whose heads are insufferably swollen in the profundity of their ignorance6, (cf. I Corinthians 14:37-38) they creep on, 'Here a little! There a little!' precisely teaching all that a blind man can see.
Thus again, Jesus Himself rebuked the lawyers (Luke 11:52), theological lawyers, saying, "You have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in, you hindered." You see it in both modes, the ancient equivalents in this of the Roman Catholic heresy, in that they added their traditions, giving them weight beside His word - incredible audacity (the Mark 7:7 case). A further element is seen when Jesus announces that they are failing to see the MAIN POINTS, while dealing with the tiniest details (Matthew 23:23)... neglecting judgment and mercy and faith. On such things, they have a blind eye to turn; or an ecclesiastical cataract condition: it hinders them!
Such people were like (and of course are so still!) elegant stammerers (Isaiah 28:11). They know, oh they KNOW so much, so emptily, so airily, and with so little sincerity. They, as it were, BABBLE, as sophisticated ignoramuses. Small wonder they received some of the deepest scorn ever accorded man by any speaker! They MAR the work of God while marvelling at their own traditional attainments and scholarly superiority!
This making vain the word of God is a folly of all ages! Thus God resolved to PROVIDE a prophetic signal -"FOR WITH STAMMERING LIPS AND ANOTHER TONGUE HE WILL SPEAK TO THIS PEOPLE" (Isaiah 28:11). HE had provided the "rest" for them - "the rest with which you may cause the weary to rest" - BUT instead, "the word of the Lord was to them, 'Precept upon precept, precept upon precept...' that they might go and fall backward and be broken".
In providing this STAMMERING SIGNAL, this babe-for-teacher syndrome, so droll, so scathing, so rebuking, the Lord, then, will be reproving the supercilious and deadly ignorance of the arrogantly mistaught, who do not realise they are blind. (On that, compare again, John 9:39-41!) WHO, God asks (Isaiah 42:19) is BLIND EXCEPT MY SERVANT! When religion is astray, HOW FAR ASTRAY it can be! If what it is all about, moreover, is on the wrong path, then how far out will the misdirected travellers go!
What then will He cause to happen, and what is the prophetic item ? It is this. God will use speakers who stammer, who are so far from sophisticates that they may seem to be very babblers. In Isaiah 28:13, God continues to exhibit the contempt with which He views the scholarly blindness, as we saw in the last paragraph. What is its end ? That too we saw: "that they might be broken". .. and as one rendering has it, "broken and snared and caught".
Is that not it ? Were not the radical liberal Protestants swarming in the Church, like that, when they re-grouped to join Rome, itself active in suppressing the word of God ? This Rome did by its God-forsaken traditions, adding to it; while in the former case, they subtracted from it, similarly adding their own thoughts instead. What horror has their arrogant pride produced in a multitude of churches in this century! How foolish thus to speak, and approvingly to listen! (Cf. I Timothy 6:1-6, 4:6, Ephesians 5:3,11, Romans 16:17-19, Titus 3:10,1:13, 2:15,II Timothy 3:14-16.) So, each body erring in its own way, many go astray7, who must faithfully be warned.
How foolish it was to have such teachers in our century; how foolish also in that of Isaiah, who rebuked them soundly, as rebuked they must be by faithful Ministers (cf. II Timothy 4:1-5, I Timothy 4:6). What, says Isaiah (8:20): "Seek the law of God, the very book of it: if they do not speak according to this book, there is no light in them!" THAT is clear. Listen then, when the teaching leaves or even criticises God's word, and be instructed, if THIS is your choice. If this is the way you want it, then you look for an inheritance, one where there is 'no light' to use a rendering of Isaiah 8:20.
To revert to the lessons still to come from Isaiah 28: lies, he says, these you have made your refuge (28:15). The prophet proceeds to show the only Saviour whose knowledge is to be real (Isaiah 28:16), the precious and exclusive FOUNDATION STONE (cf. I Corinthians 3:11). The Lord resumes this aspect in Isaiah 29:13-15. He will show up the alleged wisdom of the wise, HE will engender a way which is simple enough for a child. ALL this is within the tongue-speaking phenomenon. What follows then ?
It is this. To speak with tongues is to be a SIGN AGAINST SOPHISTICATED REBELLION, but it is FAR from SUPERIOR SANCTITY! It is, if you like, a walking CARTOON, almost like a Gillies report mockery. A sign ? Yes. Useful ? If in order, yes it can be. The intense irony ? It is this: EVEN THIS SIGN IS NOW BEING MISUSED as if the world were determined to use mockery for substance and reproof of folly for food! A signal, then, yes in two ways:
1) It signifies the intense supernatural origin of the gospel, so powerful that as from God, as it were, even a child may be found in it.
2) It shows now the intense folly of men. Many even in some churches (of this variety or that) will misuse even a form of rebuke as ONE MORE DELICIOUSLY VAIN METHOD OF OBTAINING THE VERY SNOOTY SPIRITUAL SANCTITY WHICH THE SIGN ITSELF WAS INVENTED TO REBUKE! 'Tongues' as sanctity ? Oh the mockery of mockeries of it all... Small wonder R.C. and other word-adders begin to join hands8!
How imperative it is to consort and to walk with the Lord, in blessed obedience! to follow Him, and not to lead.
In Response to Request, there follows:
AN ABBREVIATED REVIEW OF SOME
OF THE MAIN CRITERIA IN CONNECTION WITH "REVELATION" TODAY
The topic has reached into the area of the astounding. No longer do demure people in such proportions listen to pastoral sermons, made carefully from the word of God, diligently applied to the events of today, the needs of the flock and the glory of God who often having spoken in past times by the prophets, now has spoken once and for all by His Son (Hebrews 1:1-3,
Now, there is often to be found a vast innovation, even in churches which do not at least flaunt the hollow Pentecostal ring. Now it is found even where there is no growling like dogs or the making other foolishnesses of sound and voice: as if to have a competition as to who could MOST blatantly negate the scriptural call to REVERENCE IN WORSHIP (Psalm 89:7, I Peter 2:17), and the due fear of God (which is reverential respect and awe at His grand holiness and majesty, not uncertainty about salvation - John 5:12-13).
It appears it is as nothing for someone to get up and speak in the first person in the name of the Lord. Why, even if my cousin were to have her daughter come here, and speak saying, "I have a feeling, yes it is coming on me, it is the word of my mother, I can just find it now in my heart. Yes, she is speaking, and this is it - ‘I am giving to my daughter $30,000 for her upkeep, yes it is so, and all you people here, listen, to you also I give even to each...’ " and so on, it would be a ludicrous imposition. Could not my cousin speak for herself. To use her name in wafflings about this or that would be an incredible, immature if not unbalanced monstrosity of impertinence, or even impudence.
To do this to the Lord, as we shall further show below in detail and have shown in our larger production on "something more", is blasphemy.
Let us however look first at the textual evidence on this in the Bible.
1. We are WARNED in II Peter 2 and II Timothy 3 about the nature of CHANGES which will be found in many CHURCHES and more broadly, so that there will be an "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" situation, a constant uncertainty and a moral mix to match. In II Timothy 3, we find it will involve "perilous times" and that it will be in "the last days" (which, see my The Shadow of a Mighty Rock (SMR), Chs. 8 - 9, are definitionally, from the Bible, NOW!), a time in which there will be a whole multitude of "blasphemers", "without self-control" and so on.
From Peter we learn they will "false prophets" who will bring in "destructive heresies" which will have this result: "the way of truth will be blasphemed". We find too that "many will follow their destructive ways," and that they will "exploit you". The "time of their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber".
Hence a whole mood, mode, spirit, liberty to speak without due control, making new things, false things, attributing these to the Lord: this is predicted. It will in fact be blasphemous and call for judgment. It is moreover, to arise "among the people", who of course in this context, means - the Church. They will "secretly" bring them in, which means, they will not state, "Look, I am a false prophet, and would like to set up shop, business or name!" No, they will APPEAR as sound, serviceable citizens of the kingdom of heaven, yet be anything but that!
YOU ARE WARNED; the WARNING IS FOR A TIME THAT IT NOW. You are thus NOW warned about the CONTEMPORARY period. Take heed.
2. But is there some EXCUSE for the phenomenon, this bringing in of novelties without authority, in the NAME of the Lord ?
No, but there is naturally a WAY for it to be done. In "A Question of Gifts", a little booklet of some 30,000 words, the whole question of Pentecostalism and charismata is dealt with, special care being taken to say NOTHING that is not found in the Bible, in the analysis of the situation. For closer detail, then, see there, or even for some more, see "SOMETHING MORE", mentioned earlier.
For now, in this short review, consider simply this. In Corinth, there were many gifts and there was much fuss and fuzziness. Paul had to remind them in I Cor. 14 that as to QUALITY and DESIRABILITY IN PUBLIC, he would rather have 5 words spoken WITH THE MIND than 10,000 WITHOUT IT, uttered in spirit without mind, in what is called 'tongues'. Imagine a professor telling you this about thesis production!
This ‘tongues’ of course is the precise opposite to the phenomenon at Pentecost, where UNINTELLIGIBILITY through the natural bounds of VARIOUS LANGUAGES there spoken in the polyglot gathering, so that there was no common one to cover all the auditors, was OVERCOME through the miraculous use of many languages, so that they said, "... we hear, each in our own language in which we were born" (Acts 2:8). It then lists the birth languages of many nations, some exotic! INTELLIGIBILITY was made available in this miracle, so that there was instant understanding through the hearing of their normal, native birth languages for each. It would not be possible for this to be clearer.
Quite the contrary occurs in I Cor. 12,14's report. Here UNINTELLIGIBILITY is brought in, miraculously, so that those who would have been able to understand in the local church, now could not. There was a purpose in this as shown from Isaiah, quoted by Paul here, and exposited in A Question of Gifts, in detail. However, the PURPOSE was clearly NOT intelligibility. It was the opposite to the case of Pentecost.
The use of the name "Pentecostal" for this phenomenon is quite indefensible, seeming to attach a sense of power and authenticity as there, to what was actually "Corinthianism", where the double troubles and disorders so vigorously corrected by the apostle, is what contemporary Pentecostalism, at best, mirrors! Naturally the RESTRICTIONS visited on such behaviour by Paul, now need to be followed, if you have outbreaks of the same sort of thing. These are found in I Cor. 14:15,19,23,26,28,32,34. All or nearly all of these appear customarily to be breached in "Pentecostal Churches" which is an enormity of the first water. In fact, Paul made it clear that his words were not only for the Corinthian church (and the principles he evokes make this clear in any case, since they are GENERAL and SPIRITUAL), but for "all the churches" ( I Cor. 1:2), those who "in every place" call on the Lord. ALL places are inside "every place", even Pentecostal churches, if the name may be used.
3. Our immediate interest is not in question of the permission for women to speak AT ALL in such circumstances - it is negated by Paul; it is not in the LIMIT on the number who MAY do so; it is not on the incredibly LOW rating given to the whole business as far as the preference of the apostle is concerned (5 with the mind, 10 000 without it, and the 5 preferred! there is no glamour, let alone edification or glory there); nor is it to the fact that the results MUST ALWAYS be interpreted, even though the speakers are at most 2 or 3, and that EVERYTHING must make for EDIFICATION, which in context includes mental understanding ( I Cor. 14:24,27,29; 14:15). Rather it is on the nature of the terms "a psalm... a teaching... a revelation... an interpretation" in I Cor. 14:26.
4. First, we must understand and that clearly, that this is NOT the WORD OF THE LORD! Heaven forbid. As shown in detail in "SOMETHING MORE ?", this is as far as the sun from the moon.
The word of the Lord (study as there, Jeremiah 23, Amos 7, Isaiah 34:16ff., 59:21, 8:20, Matthew 5:17-21, I Corinthians 2:9-13) is decisive, has His name back of it, is certain, sure to the jot and tittle, will last beyond heaven and earth, is His mind in our words for our knowledge at His will, and constitutes 1) the creation, the flood, Babel and allied early events, 2) the Old Covenant or Testament and 3) the New one, in our times, each being so made that it is GOD who does it, backs it, GOD who wants it, GOD who offers it and GOD who will sustain it. The worlds go, but His word does not (Matthew 24:35).
Thus the disciples are not only to PREACH the gospel to every creature, but to TEACH ALL THINGS WHATEVER CHRIST COMMANDED (Matthew 28:19ff.). THIS is the great commission. It is not - preach and not teach; it is not teach and not preach; it is not preach and give some glimmer of Bible: it is TEACH ALL THINGS I HAVE COMMANDED? No, more: TEACH ALL THINGS WHATEVER I HAVE COMMANDED YOU. And just teach ? No more than that: "TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THINGS WHATEVER I HAVE COMMANDED YOU." The ‘observe’ means - guard, deep, observe, watch: diligently hold to.It covers identification, activation, observation, guarding.
In Matthew 5:17, so important is the word of God that the least part taught and done by the least person makes that one great in the kingdom of heaven, and the greatest person, teaching and doing wrongly, is thus made small. (Cf. SMR pp. 1175ff..) The body has its little fingers as well as its legs, and its cells as well as its head. The design is not for revision, but for service. If our mere creation is such, how much more is the word from the mouth of God (Jeremiah 23:28-31,21-22, Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, Isaiah 34:16, 8:20 cf. Isaiah 59:21, Acts 4:25, I Cor. 14:37, Revelation 22:18-19, John 14:21-22, Hebrews 1:1-3).
5. This, the word of God, has no test, but for obedience! Nothing is to be watched, but how it fulfils itself! In Corinth however every word was to be assessed, discerned, discriminated, considered, thumbs up or down. It was a happening in a midst, to be evaluated. It was in short a work of illumination, interpretation and understanding, to be subjected to a test to consider whether it should stand.
The master builder Paul (I Cor. 3:10) was quite different. If any man deems himself spiritual, declared the apostle, let him acknowledge that the things I say are the COMMANDMENTS OF THE LORD (I Cor. 14:37). There is NOTHING of evaluation here! Thus Paul's epistles were placed by Peter (II Peter 3:16) in the same category as those scriptures to which Christ referred in Matthew 5:17ff.. His writings were noted to be there alongside the "rest of the Scriptures". Thus the obvious way to test was to COMPARE whatever anyone said to the BIBLE! As to the book of the Lord, says Isaiah 8, "if they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them!" (see John 5:44-47). It is not that there is some little bit of light in such people. No! the word is this: DO NOT COINCIDE WITH THIS AND YOU ARE DARK!
The word of God: You cannot add to it (Deuteronomy 4:1ff., 12:29-32), nor may you subtract. That is the nature of divine speech. If it is ludicrous for someone's child to start saying what a parent is declaring, by feeling it, as noted initially, then how blasphemous to start doing the same when you declare NOT what is written in the Bible, but something which adds or subtracts! This is to confuse the STANDARD with what is to be tested! This is to change the ruler, in the midst of measuring things! This is folly: thus in II Corinthians 10:12, we learn of false apostles who "measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."
What you CANNOT do, in purity and truth, is INVENT more standards, or make yourself or people the criterion. You can test, but the GROUND of the test is always NOT YOURSELVES, ONE OR MORE, but the word of God as inscripturated, received by the church from the early days. It is this, the new covenant, written down by the apostles and their close associates with the whole church accepting, which is the criterion. To ADD or SUBTRACT from this, it is to make a new christ, a new gospel, a new word, and ultimately, can lead to making a new god, as is the case with the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christadelphians and so on, all of whom fail to have Christ in the status of the one Almighty God, and salvation in the place of one received, totally finished work of eternal redemption (as in Hebrews Chs. 9-10, Romans 3:23ff., Galatians 1,3, II Corinthians 5:17-21).
We do not need more of these excrescences, polluting the waters (as in Ezekiel 34), telling a dream (as in Jeremiah 23), where the challenge goes out:
There you have the same phenomenon in the Old Testament, and the same ABSOLUTE divergence between what the LORD ACTUALLY SAYS (NOT some feeling, but the sovereign will of Almighty God presented for PERFORMANCE BY ALL), and what people grab out of thin air, alone or in company, with talk of feelings and dreams.
- "The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream;
And he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully.
What is the chaff to the wheat?" says the LORD.
"Is not My word like a fire?" says the LORD,
"And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces ?"
"Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets," says the LORD,
"who steal My words every one from his neighbour" - 23:28-30.
6. But at once let us clarify an allied point. It is true that in Acts 2 we are referred to Joel prophecy of old men and dreams and young men and visions. It is not that one cannot have a dream or vision; but that THIS IS NOT OF ANY AUTHORITY in the church. You may, like Hudson Taylor, in careful sanctity and quiet diligence, become constrained over time to become a missionary to China, and go. That is your affair; it has, however, no authority in the church. YOU get wisdom to meet your needs, as you abide in Christ and follow all His words; but you do not become a FOUNTAIN of truth for others, authoritative.
Again, we may exhort one another according to the Bible (Hebrews 10;24-25), and help one another, and encourage; but we may NOT speak our WORDS in the name of the Lord. THAT IS DONE by HIM at His pleasure. Thus in Revelation 22:18-19 there is PROHIBITION on ADDING to these "THINGS" (and all the topics are in the book of Revelation, in the broad coverage) or subtracting from THESE WORDS.
Just as in the Old Covenant (see Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 4, 12, 28ff.), there were enormous penalties for presumption (and in Deuteronomy 13, the death penalty for speaking when God has not authorised it, in His name), so in the New Covenant, the One unchanging God is just as determined that NO ONE SPEAK in His name to add at all to His covenant. NO MORE is to be said. All the penalties listed in Revelation are in full accord with the SEVERE and SUCCESSIVE penalties in Deuteronomy.
7. The terms, therefore, in this context of I Cor. 14, Psalm, revelation, teaching, prophesying, interpretation, cannot mean what contradicts other passages of the Bible. Hence they are reduced to presenting what the Bible teaches, either exhorting with it, applying it, interpreting it, collating it. In those times, there was another possibility, but this was not the milieu for it. A prophet like Agabus, who in Acts 21:10 might predict a famine was a singular phenomenon. Now this was not in the mixed multitude sort of case, but more like the Old Testament prophets. Such things of course as in Revelation 22, are ended. This is not to say that someone may not, as in the Scottish covenanting days when deaths of martyrdom were about, perhaps wish to intimate that someone is about to die. There is in this however no AUTHORITY, merely possible comfort. It is NOT the word of the Lord. THAT is sacrosanct, and finished.
8. Finally, look at II Corinthians 11. Here we see that certain people, measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves with themselves, came and threw their weight around in the church. Their WORDS and IDEAS were given pre-eminence; they somehow fascinated and brought about a sort of awe and reverence to themselves. The people, for whom Paul had worked free of charge, could hardly do enough for them, accepting bossy treatment readily, following their intrusive ways.
Their self-generated assurances were really something ELSE, NOVEL and UNAUTHORISED. Thus says Paul, if someone comes and preaches ANOTHER JESUS, and ANOTHER GOSPEL and brings ANOTHER SPIRIT, you well might receive it (II Cor. 11:4). What is his assessment of these intruders: "such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ." : THAT, he indicated, was not surprising from the master cosmetician, Satan, whose ministers can appear as angels of light. Hence when we TEST the SPIRITS (as in I John 4), it is not only whether they acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh; it is whether they admit that JESUS Christ has come.
The test is as broad as the apostle states! It is the Christ born in Bethlehem, whose teachings are to be taught and obeyed to the word (John 12:48-50, Matthew 28:19ff., John 14:21ff.), and indeed, love for whom is SHOWN by doing JUST THAT! "DO NOT ADD TO HIS WORDS," says Proverbs 30:6, "lest He rebuke you and you be found a liar!" THIS Jesus is the One concerning whom the apostles and their associates wrote it down. Thus I Cor. 2:9-13 shows PAUL acknowledging that GOD GAVE a) the substance of the revelation and b) the WORDS with which to state it, in writing the epistles, the One whose church duly acknowledged what that revelation, the word of God, was, in its early councils; and it is the Bible.
The faithful cannot add to these words in the name of the Lord. God, as in Hebrews 1:1-3, having often spoken by the prophets, has now spoken by His Son. He did not send Him in order to allow any sculptor to CHANGE the precious gift; but to allow a termination of revelation in the focus on this exact image of the Almighty, received by the church, depicted by the apostles and their received associates, recognised in the Bible by the Church which He authorised. (See SMR Appendices C, D for detail if you wish it.) It is THIS SAME JESUS (Acts 1) who is to return, and by HIS WORDS He statedly will judge all (John 12:48-50). Let us therefore return to and turn towards His word, His reality, and forget the useless presumptions of intoning in His name: an unspeakable intrusion, unauthorised, and contrary to authorisation.
THIS Jesus INSISTS on ALL the Old Testament - and how can you understand the New fully when it constantly refers to the Old, if you do not understand what this is saying and meaning! Back, then to the Book of the Lord (Isaiah 34:16), for it is only then you will be back with this same Jesus, whose only words are wholly required, and require no additions, till He come. As Romans 4 shows, the Gospel to Abraham is just the same as the one to us; there is no difference.
Each received the righteousness of God by faith as a gift; each believes; and we believe in the culmination, in Christ who now does not appear symbolically, as a ram caught in the thicket, which Abraham then sacrifices; but as Christ caught by the scribes, Pharisees and priestly party, who had their OWN RELIGION, constantly in their OWN importance adding whatever they liked, secretly, importing and smuggling by subtle little ways, or exporting (as many now would export the Old Testament, rather than treating it as the New Testament does).
Do not participate where He (or His name) is being caught again, in new webs of deceit. NO MORE ‘revelations’ of authority, NO MORE words of the Lord, daringly coming where the BOOK OF THE LORD already is, as if some could add their utterances now, so long after the Son has come, and become a post-graduate series of sons, adding to the very structure and disposition of the word of God, which came in the New Covenant in the Person of Jesus (Isaiah 42:6), and now rules.