Category: At Issue (page 1 of 14)


If Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, why did He assert that He is the “Son of God”? While I wholeheartedly believe that Jesus was God incarnate, I also think that He had to experience perfect obedience in order to qualify as the Savior for fallen humans. The only scenario that would allow this to occur is to have God submit to a higher authority. So God came to earth in the role of a son who, in order to be the perfect sacrifice for our sin, had to do all that the higher authority was telling Him to do and say. This is one reason He could say to an inquisitive Philip, “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). Jesus also claimed that He does only what the Father tells Him to do (John 5:19; 7:16). This may explain why Jesus also said that the Father is greater than He (John 14:28). I view this “sub role” as a necessary temporary test to see whether or not God could withstand everything that Satan could and would throw at Him. If God in the role of a man could pass this test, Satan would be defeated forever. Also, because of God’s willingness to do this, no human can stand before Him on Judgment Day and claim that God does not know what it’s like to be tempted to sin. Philippians 2:5-11 also describes Jesus’ willingness to lay aside all His authority as God in order to save us. The whole concept of God becoming man is unique. No other religion contains it…not even close to it. It is beyond remarkable!

Is Speaking in Tongues for Today?

Many solid Christians are divided on this issue. The debate can become quite complicated. So I will keep this as simple and as brief as I can.

Basically there are two general camps: 1) Cessationists and 2) Continuationists. The former asserts that the baptism in the Holy Spirit along with the gifts ceased after the original apostles died. The latter believes that this experience has been offered to all believers since Pentecost. Another position is that the gifts died out but made a comeback and are in operation today. My question is: Are they validly operating today?

The main reason for rejecting this experience is the belief that it was no longer needed once all the books of the Bible were canonized. In other words, the completion of God’s word to this world is all the church needs for inspiration and guidance. Cessationists also claim that historical records from early church leaders such as Irenaeus (202 A.D.) who was a pupil of Polycarp who learned directly from the Apostle John, Origen (253 A.D.), Chrysostom (407 A.D.), and Augustine (430 A.D.) did not record any such activity that indicated the presence of supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit that is found in Scripture.

Cessationists also assert that 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 supports their position: “Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.” They believe that “the perfect” is the formation of the final Bible Books.

Many cessationists still believe in miracles, including healing, but not that the power comes from a person who claims to have that gift.

The most revealing piece of Scripture shedding light on this issue is found in Acts 2:38-39 when Peter’s sermon to many Jews immediately following the Pentecost experience: “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you AND YOUR CHILDREN and for all who are far of , AS MANY AS THE LORD OUR GOD WILL CALL TO HIMSELF.

This clearly says it not only occurred beyond the Apostles, but to all who are called by God, which includes me!

What about the cessationist argument from 1 Corinthians 13 cited above? In my view, the context is speaking of the Second Coming of Christ, not the final formation of the canon. When Jesus puts all His enemies “under His feet” and there is a new heaven and a new earth, then there will no longer be a need for the gifts of the Holy Spirit because everything will then be COMPLETE.

Also Romans 11:29 states, “…for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” In other words, once given, He does not take them back (or make them cease?).

What about the historical argument? Church history may give us a clue. In its earliest time, it spread rapidly. Persecution seemed to help its increase because people took notice of those who were willing to die for their faith. However, within a couple hundred years, Roman persecution stopped as Constantine made Christianity a legal religion by the early 300s. It also became ritualized and many folks did not have the Scriptures as the Roman Catholic Religion emerged as a world power.  Ritualism and fear of judgment replaced loving relationship with God and neighbors. So those who had the gifts of the Holy Spirit had to go “underground” because they did not believe in the office of the papacy. Their lives were in danger for over 1,000 years until Napoleon’s army stripped Pope Pius VI of his power in 1798 A.D. Consequently, it may be difficult to find a lot of historical evidence due to Papal suppression of Scripture reading and individual Bible possession.

The increasingly powerful Roman Catholic Church opposed Tertullian (c.155 – c.240 A.D.) whose Montanist group was condemned by what he called power hungry religious leaders. The is no doubt that history does show that many bishops of Rome craved the papacy power. But to my main point, Tertullian’s group moved in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. D.A. Carson’s research concluded that “there is enough evidence that some form of ‘charismatic’ gifts continued sporadically across the centuries of church history that it is futile to insist on doctrinaire grounds that every report is spurious or the fruit of demonic activity or psychological aberration” (p. 166). Finally, Sam Storms states, “It is terribly presumptuous to conclude that the gifts of the Spirit were absent from the lives of people about whom we know virtually nothing. In other words, the absence of evidence is not necessarily the evidence of absence!” (SPIRITUAL GIFTS IN CHURCH HISTORY (1) May 22, 2013).

An off-shoot issue asks: “When does one receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?” Some Christians think that it is an automatic result at water baptism, or whenever one becomes born-again (saved). While I cannot put God into a box concerning what and when he does something, I would say from reading Scripture that this most often is a separate experience. Support comes from Acts 8:14-17 and Acts 19:1-7. It was a separate experience for me and millions of others around the world.

Another argument against tongues is that tongues were ONLY a demonstration of known world languages as in Acts 2. However, many other times when new converts suddenly spoke in tongues there was no hint of foreigners present. In Acts 10 and 19 there were only believers there. So the purpose is not always to give witness to unbelievers as it was at Pentecost.

Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 14:2 describes a kind of tongues that spoke only to God and no one understands them, so why would it have to be an earthly language which would be understood by someone? And if tongues were always an earthly language, why the need for the gift of interpretation? Corinth was a busy town usually full of travelers that spoke different languages and dialects. Also in 1 Corinthians 12:10 it is revealed that there are “various kinds of tongues,” even “tongues of angels” (1 Corinthians 13:1).

The genesis of tongues on earth was not only to witness about Jesus Christ and the New Covenant to unbelievers of that day, it also builds the private prayer life of any believer throughout the Church Age. To allow the Holy Spirit to pray through and for us is a more powerful way to pray. Finally in 1 Corinthians 14:18-19 Paul reveals he had a “private prayer language” that he did not use in the church. So the Bible teaches that tongues can be an earthly language meant to witness to unbelievers, or a prophetic message to a church needing interpretation, or a private prayer language for edification and a power boost. Nothing tells me that this gift is NOT needed for today since it was needed in the beginning of the church.

Can there be abuses and off-the-wall behavior with some believers demonstrating the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Sure, unfortunately. But if Satan is counterfeiting something, we know there must the real thing! I’ve never seen a counterfeit $3 bill! So let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water here.

To be honest, when I first got saved (late 1970), many of my new Christian friends spoke in tongues…and it really turned me off. I also felt awkward even praying aloud with them (maybe my dead protestant church upbringing and intellect was working against the Spirit at this point). Over time, however, I noticed that these “tongues-speakers” had fruitful lives and love for Jesus.

Finally, for those who may want this experience: seek it for the Kingdom’s sake, not yours. Be encouraged by Luke 11:13: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!

Suicidal Thoughts

God builds instincts within all life forms. One of the strongest is the desire to stay alive. Even plants have this. The spirit of suicide therefore must work a long time before winning the battle. This battle begins in the mind, is totally fought within the mind, and is won or lost in the mind. In reality, it is a “spiritual thought-life war.” Human beings are the only life form on earth that has this problem. This is a testimony to the fact that we are made much different from the animals and plants, and that we have an enemy that hates us.

Lying thoughts must overcome all what God had built inside us. The lies about us and this life are subtle at first. Then, if we hearken unto those voices more than truth voices (or thoughts), then we start believing lies. Demonic voices tend to say “Your life stinks, you have suffered pain for along time, no one cares about you (often the first lie), things will never change (ah, there’s the second lie), and death is better than this life” (this is THE BIG LIE). We have no way of knowing this last one is true. Moreover, life on earth is far better for an unsaved soul than the Lake of Fire that Jesus talked about. If we believe these lying thoughts to be true, especially that last one about death being better than life, then it makes logical sense to end our life. Therefore, suicidal people are not psychotic (crazy) but they have been overcome with lies. Even Job began to give way to wayward thoughts (voices). Perhaps because some of those voices did speak truth – his life, for example, did stink, but only for a while. Demons would have us believe that our lousy lives will never get better. In addition, the way his friends treated Job, it did seem like they really didn’t care about him. The truth is that thousands of people care about us, but they probably do not know what is going on in our mind.

Deception usually mixes truth with the lie so that we have a better chance of believing it. Deep inside our soul, I believe that we will believe the voices to which we give more listening time. One side will overpower the other eventually, but it takes time. We do not become suicidal overnight. This is why God tells us to dwell on things that are good, pure, honorable, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). It is also the reason I quote Scriptures back at demons when their wayward thoughts hit me. This is what Jesus did when Satan tried to get Him to throw Himself off a cliff. The Word of God is depicted as our sword and is the only offensive weapon God gives us. The rest are defensive ones (Ephesians 6:13-17).

What a person should do who is suicidal:

  1. Pray in Jesus’ name for help.
  2. Talk to someone who can help. Vent. Get all those feelings out. Commit to meeting with them more than once.
  3. Learn important Scriptures that you can quote back at demons who are lying to you. Here are some good ones:
  • Romans 8:1 – “There is therefore no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.”
  • Romans 8:35-39 – Nothing can separate us from the love of God.
  • 2 Tim. 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and sound mind.”
  • 2 Tim. 2:13 – Jesus always remains faithful to us.
  • John 16:33 – Jesus has overcome the world.
  • 1 John 3:1 – We are children of God.
  • Hebrews 7:25 – Jesus always makes intercession on our behalf.

How we can help someone being attacked by suicidal thoughts:

  1. Listen, especially if you are the first person they’ve told. They need to vent.
  2. Get further help and do not swear to secrecy (often they don’t want us to tell anyone).
  3. Connect the person to that help (go with them if necessary).
  4. Reveal to them that the battle begins in the mind, is fought in the mind, and is won or lost in the mind.
  5. Encourage them to begin a believing relationship with Jesus Christ if not already.
  6. From that relationship comes power and authority over demons who are placing typical thoughts in their mind such as: their life stinks, things will never change, no one knows how they feel, death is better than life.
  7. The suicidal person thinks they know reality, but they do not. Their perception has been distorted by Satan, the Destroyer. Tell them of God’s reality, which is – they are precious and important to God and He has a purpose for their life (hope) and he will wipe away every tear.
  8. Encourage them to serve others – this can be an antidote for the self-centeredness they are in.
  9. Let the person know you are committed to pray for them and will see it through all the way until they’ve won the victory.
  10. All these things do not have to be covered all at once. Give the Spirit time to work. Again, just listening helps them know someone really cares, and this is sometimes the initial stepping stone they need at that time.

I would like to underscore the idea that suicide battles are totally spiritual in nature. Minds are the port hole to the supernatural realm. Both God and demons will speak to us there. Some people believe that external circumstances such as poor home life, drug addiction, social rejection, or sudden loss of wealth are its cause. While these circumstances can certainly increase suicidal thoughts, they are not the real cause. If they were, every human that has experienced any of those things would automatically become suicidal, and we know this does not happen. So there must be a deeper, more insidious common cause. Jesus identified Satan as the father of all lies, a destroyer, a thief, and a murderer. Therefore, ultimately, we can identify him as the real source of suicide. People who fight and defeat the actual cause always have victory. I counsel people to rebuke demonic, suicidal thoughts in the name of JESUS! The Bible tells us that because Jesus had victory over Satan by never sinning and then offering Himself up as a perfect sacrifice for sin and then rising from the dead, He has ALL authority. Demons must obey His voice. So we all must get into a believing relationship with Him and then use His name to thwart all sorts of attacks against our minds (or souls).


NF – Wow what a excellent lesson here–really opened my eyes to how to deal with suicidal thoughts- thanks for sharing! (this dear friend of mine has dealt with this problem more than once, but has not had the problem for many years now).

PT – Dave, great topic and a difficult one. And as you mentioned Christians, including “mature” Christians, are sometimes tempted to commit suicide. The apostle Paul even despaired of life in the Book of Acts and the great prophet Elijah (or Elisha) even wished for death. I think your counsel is good counsel on the topic and I would add that suicide is very difficult for survivors (myself being one). The many unknowns surrounding suicide can be very difficult.

« Older posts

© 2024 Scripture Thoughts

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑