Saturday, January 2, 2010

Have supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit (tongues, miracles, healings) ceased? A rebuttal

Some Christian denominations like the Baptists and Brethren and prominent anti-charismatics like Hank Hanegraaf and John MacArthur believe that the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit are no longer valid and have ceased. They are known as Cessationists.
(for example see page 21-22 of Uplook magazine August 2008 issue
However, there is no biblical foundation for this doctrine. In fact, this doctrine means disregarding large parts of the Bible.
Some of the points below are from my personal studying.

1) They use the argument that tongues was mentioned in Acts in only three places, and so it was not widespread in the church.

Rebuttal: Using absence of mention as a proof of lack of occurrence is a logical fallacy.
There are 3 instances in Acts where tongues are recorded.
Jerusalem (Acts 2),  Caesarea (Acts 10:46), Ephesus (Acts 19:6).
 Yet it is not mentioned in the respective letters to the believers in Jerusalem or Jews - Hebrews, James nor Ephesus - Ephesians.
However tongues certainly did exist in Corinth from the letter to the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 12-14).
Yet in Acts 18:11, when Paul passed lived in Corinth for 1.5 years, there is no mention of tongues in any of the evangelism there.
Furthermore, Paul said that "I speak in tongues more than any of you" (1 Corinthians 14:18). However in the description of his conversion experience in Acts 9:17-31 or later, there is no mention that he spoke in tongues.

2)  Cessationists say that miracles, and healings were mentioned fewer and fewer times after Pentecost. They also point to illnesses mentioned by Paul who wrote to Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach ailments, left Trophimus a believer sick at Miletus. They also point to Paul's mention of a 'thorn in the flesh' and claim it is a physical illness.
The Kingdom of Heaven is being established here on earth. That is why we pray, "Your kingdom come".
Only when Jesus walked on earth, did miracles and healings happen 100% - because Jesus is God.
So the kingdom of heaven on earth is inconsistent with advances and setbacks being made all the time. When Jesus returns again, it will be 100% consistent. This is per the doctrine of the Vineyard church which I agree with.
Furthermore, throughout church history, miracles, healings and other gifts have been recorded.

3) 1 Corinthians 14:39 clearly commands, "Do not forbid speaking in tongues". Amazingly, we never hear cessationists quote this verse!

4) They quote 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 "whether there be tongues, they shall cease. For we know in part and prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears" or in the KJV, "we shall see clearly".  They say that when the Bible was completed, then the need for gifts of the Spirit ceased.

If "when perfection comes" meant the Bible, then why are we debating this issue and others? The correct interpretation would be obvious to all - 'we would see clearly' as one. As a Jewish unbeliever sarcastically said to me, "Christianity has split up into 3000 different religions".
It is clear from an honest and plain reading of 1 Corinthians 13, that tongues and all gifts will pass away only when we are in heaven.
In fact, the last book of the Bible, Revelation, is itself a vision which records supernatural events including miracles and visions that will happen in the future.

5) They state that there is no use for tongues.

Rebuttal: My pastor Mark Warner says the Bible clearly says that tongues edify the spirit."One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself " (I Cor 14:4). He goes on to say that since 14:1 says, "Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy", one can also desire the gift of speaking in tongues.

There is less clarity in the Bible on whether allowed tongues are only 'earthly' tongues like Spanish, Tagalog, and German. However, as pastor Warner says, Corinthians 12-14 mentions two kinds of tongues - one in public with interpretation, and one a private 'prayer language', without interpretation. I am undecided on this. 

Further reading: Dallas Theological Seminary professor Jack Deere, "Surprised by the Spirit".

Things I discovered by accident in Jiujitsu - to explore further

This is a list of things I discovered by accident in Jiujitsu - to explore further. I have been training Gracie Jiujitsu since June 2009. So I am still a beginner and am simply stating what I have observed or explored while learning.

  1. Alternative Hook removal in Elbow Escape from the Mount, without using force to stamp Bad Guy's (BG) heel.
(Nov 2009) 

The traditional method taught by Ryron and Rener Gracie involves freeing one leg, and then stamping down Bad Guy's heel.
background: In reflex class, I was BG and inserted the hooks. John, who is more skilled than I, but 75 lbs lighter, could not stamp down my heel. It had turned into a contest of strength - my hamstring vs his quadriceps. You need strength to stamp down BG's heel. When I reflected on this, it seemed wrong - jiu jitsu is not a contest of strength. (Gracie Guideline #2: Any technique that relies on speed and power rather than leverage and timing is not energy efficient... Do not trust techniques based on strength or speed as they are unlikely to work against a stronger, larger attacker).

proposed solution - tried a few times, need to explore further:
a) Remove the first hook (by kicking straight out) as before.

b) Move your freed leg to the side of the trapped thigh. Rotate your freed leg so your knee and thigh are flat on the ground. As usual, now slide the knee across to escape BG's mount and trap his leg. (if he lowers the leg flat on the ground, you will have to use the fish hook removal technique).

c) Now shrimp towards that freed leg, sliding trapped leg out. Since it travels diagonally, it will escape easily - without using any force - like a hot knife through butter! As usual, half free this leg, then shrimp out again to completely free it putting BG in guard.

    2. Be Side Neutral.
(June 2009)

Instead of waiting for mastery of one side (which can take a long time) before drilling the other side, consider a different approach. Drilling both sides at the same time so that at any moment, one is equally comfortable and instinctive in using either side.

I notice in the sample videos and also in class, that people tend to do the techniques according to the side that Rener and Ryron demo it. for example, Straight Armlock from the Guard - I see most people rotate to their right - just as in the videos. Would they be fluent with the other side? I wonder if this builds up artificial bias towards a side and if this could be a handicap in a real fight. Isnt this violating Grandmaster Helio's Keep it Real principle?

I could be mistaken, but I feel that so-called "strong side" and "weak side" is lopsidedness that came about artificially by focusing on one side at the expense of the other.
Yes, some people are right handed and others are left handed, but to carry it into jiujitsu techniques seems illogical and self-weakening.
Here's why:
for example; In the haymaker defense, bad guy is right handed and throws a punch. Even if you are right-handed, the jiujitsu defense requires using members of *both* sides of your body! So you rush forward with your *left* foot, covering with your left hand, clinch with both  arms, trip him with left leg, sit down on right heel, and side mount straddling with both legs. However, watching the video (of only this side) and drilling this left side over and over has made this your strong side and the other side becomes clumsy and not as instinctive if required.

The great thing about Grandmaster Helio was that he did not follow blindly and maintain the status quo - he was able to think with an open mind and pick apart, discard tradition, simplify and reconstruct to something better. I hope the same attitude will be fostered in our learning. I discussed this question in the forums several times and Rener finally agreed with me.

Re: Side Neutral. I attend a CTC that I really like. I heard Ryron issued clarifications to CTCs to work only one side, and only after one has mastered it then go to the other. So we have been encouraged to practise one side only, and only after we pass the blue belt test, should we do it from the other side. Respectfully, I feel it is unwise to work one side to the detriment of the other. I do not want to learn an avoidable 'bad habit' (losing instinctiveness and fluency on the other side) that will be hard to unlearn. What should I do? Here are my reasons (also from my earlier posts on this 12/30, 1/25, 1/16): 1) I believe this is violating Grandmaster Helio's Keep it Real principle. In an actual fight, you may not get the indicator on your favorite side. Your favorite side may be inconvenienced or difficult to use. So in fact, you will be fighting with only 50% of your potential. You may as well take a rope and handicap yourself. 2) This is not a left-handed/right-handed preference dictated by genetics, but an artificial bias built up simply by focusing on one side and neglecting the other. One should not confuse the two. for example, for the Haymaker defense, for right handed students, their *left* side defense is now the strong side because only that is demonstrated and practised. (see my post of 1/16/10) 3) Waiting until you have mastered one side can take years. This seems harmful - you are no longer instinctive on the other side and is self-weakening. Imagine working out only one side of your body in the gym - your body will become lopsided, unbalanced and unhealthy. Like picking up a bad habit and reinforcing it, why would you do it? 4) Gracie Combatives says we will be street ready after we get the blue belt. But if we are not fluent in both sides, then the belt is not a marker of real effectiveness. It is not as was advertised. During drills, I have seen blue belts having to 'think' and slowly figure out the move when they were fed an indicator on their weak side. 5) If sportive belts are flawed because they are not training for realistic situations then if we are taking shortcuts to simply try to stage and beat a video test, it seems that ours is not realistic either. 6) One feels complete and more skilled, and is fun and liberating to be fluent on both sides. I really wish I could mix in both sides in my test. - To conclude, I feel it is better to drill both sides at the same time so that at any moment, one is equally comfortable and instinctive in using either side. When you have it roughly on one side then immediately try the other side. Let both fluency levels increase together and in balance. Of course, you are the masters and I am the beginner, but sometimes a child can see things a man would miss. - Anil

Anil (3/10/2010 3:56 PM)

A. You're 100% right. Do both sides as soon as you can.

Rener Gracie

 3. Absorb Core Principles.
(Feb 2010)

Our instructor David Smarr mentioned that he no longer is interested in techniques, but in core principles.
I think that is wise.
While sparring, I realized that if one absorbs core principles, then no matter what one's orientation on the ground, you can improvise and survive. For example, "clinching to prevent blows landing" on the ground becomes the Guard position. From studying the Gracie Combatives, is my list of principles:

artery choke.
joint against immoveable fulcrum.
moving joint unnaturally
framing against sensitive body part to create distance.
using legs as hands.
using body parts as wedge to slide between floor and BG's body.
rolling to change orientation.
making BG lose balance by trapping one edge and moving his c.g. out
preventing legs from rebalancing by immobilising one or more.
clinching to prevent blows from landing.
using your own body weight as torque.

not fully tested, need to explore further...
4. Armbar escape
(August 2009, March 2010)
As BG rotates to attack the arm.
You should also rotate in the same direction (clockwise for right arm being attacked) and then insert the knee sideways under BGs leg and then post the bent knee on the ground. You can use your free hand to push against his stationary knee to prevent him from closing the gap between his knees.
In this position,
1) the angle between you and BG changes from 90 to 0.
2) your bent knee blocks him from breaking the arm on his south thigh.
3) your shin is between his legs and increases distance of his body from your arm. You are framing with your shin.
Now BG can only try to break on the north side and is different from the south side. This is hard for him to do because you can bend your elbow. More importantly, you can kick forward with your shin painfully pushing his groin and hips out so that he loses his grip on your arm.

4b) Scissors armlock escape

5. scissors escape from mount

when BG is mounted, use legs to wrap around and unbalance him.
use hands to twist his legs to get him off.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Do you believe in these fallacies about your life and career?

1) Everything that happens to me is either from God or Satan. true or false?
Answer: false
God, Satan, man's free choice, Nature.

2) If the work or job I do, matches my interests and talents, then it is from God - otherwise it is not. true or false?
Answer: false

1) This fallacy comes from applying the Book of Job all the time to the Christian's life. This results in a Christian who believes that everything is centered around him or her. That further leads them to believe that they are indispensable. In Job, God allows Satan to devastate Job to test whether Job will remain faithful to God. Yes, it is true that sometimes it is God vs Satan or Angel vs demon in our lives - but not always. 
God allows the laws of Nature, man's free will to also play their course.
So I was saved from an accident yesterday when my car skidded along an icy road, and stopped in the nick of time avoiding a collision with two fast moving cars along the cross street - I believe this was God, or an angel assigned to me doing his duty. However the flu virus I battle was likely from the laws of nature combined with my not washing my hands after touching office doors and elevator buttons.

2) In secular circles, there is a strong belief that if you are in a profession that matches your talents, then if you work hard and apply some key principles, you will succeed wildly and become a "great man or woman". An example of this is the book 'What Color Is Your Parachute?' by Bolles. Most career counseling drives along this direction.
This thinking has been carried over into Christian credo and even applied to spiritual gifts. An example of this is the course on spiritual gifts by Willowcreek megachurch founder, Bill Hybels, where natural gifts and spiritual gifts are blurred. This is a dangerous deception that has lead to many frustrated and disillusioned Christians (including myself) who feel they are waiting on the sidelines rather than playing in the game of life.

(for me personally, I have wanted to work in fields that were technical, innovative and imaginative but due to an average IQ and the narrow job market for immigrant visa holders, spent a great deal of my career in IT departments - the kind of work I disliked).
Here is the deception:

If your job or career does not match with your talents or interests, it is not God's will for your life. So quit your job and change your career. A similar line of thinking about marriage is, 'there is exactly one person in this world whom God designed for you to marry. if you are unhappy in your marriage, then your spouse was not God's will for you and so leave your spouse'.

However, if you are a Christian, then God is primarily concerned with you advancing the kingdom of God where He has planted you, and not so much with how successful you are in life.
Yes, fulfilling work and career success is a blessing of God. This is stated in Ecclesiastes.
It is also true that God heals and saves miraculously. But the time line may extend beyond our lifetime.
Read Hebrews 11:

 Here are the 'successes':

 32And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35Women received back their dead, raised to life again.
  And now for the 'failures':

 Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37They were stoned[f]; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated 38the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
The reasons are given:

13All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
 39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Think about it. Imagine an American soldier in the Iraq war who is a Christian and understands the waste of blood, limb and life. He is on his feet 18 hours a day and may lose his limbs or even his life. This 'job' does not match with his career interests. Was this God's will for him?

Yes, God can lead you on to fulfilling work. Yes, God can heal and deliver. But if it does not happen, or until it does, don't think that God wants you to simply exercise your faith and wait. He wants you to fulfill your purpose where he planted you.

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