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Welcome to Pulpit Magazine!

What is Pulpit and why have we created it?

By Dave Jordan, Managing Editor Advancing the gospel, one church at a time is our mission. It is our desire to provide

pastors and church leaders with consistent encouragement and insight from the word of God. Many pastors are alone out there, and do not have the time to scour the internet or seminary libraries for information on current issues and rich theological content to minister to their congregations and to their own souls. It is our hope that Pulpit Magazine will become just such a resource. We have assembled a wonderful team of authors to serve you. Here are just a few: Pastor John MacArthur, who has written over 50 books and is on the radio 24/7 worldwide, will provide articles from his 40+ years of ministry to engage the pastor at the very heart of the Christian life. Phil Johnson, whose blogging career typically had over 250,000 visitors per month, will shed light on current topics with the truth of scripture. Pastor Lance Quinn, who has been reviewing books for top publishers for many years, will now provide that same insight for pastors and lay people who are looking for great resources to challenge and stimulate their walk with Christ.

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Prayer as Worship
By John MacArthur Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Matthew 6:913 (NASB) Study the exemplary prayers in Scripture and you cannot help noticing that all of them are brief and simple. Prayer that is heartfelt, urgent, and unfeigned must be of that style. Verbiage and windbaggery are badges of insincerity, especially in prayer. The prayer of the publican in Luke 18:13 is as short and to the point as possible: God, be merciful to me, a sinner! Then theres the prayer of the thief on the cross: Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom! (Luke 23:42). Those prayers are cut from the same cloth as Peters cry for help when he was walking on watersometimes cited as the shortest prayer in the Bible: Lord, save me (Matthew 14:30). Scripture records very few long prayers. Much of Psalm 119 is addressed to God in the language of prayer, and, of course, that is the Bibles longest chapter. Other than that, Nehemiah 9:538 contains the longest prayer in all of Scripture, and it can be read aloud with expression in less than seven minutes. John 17 is the New Testaments longest prayer. Its also the longest of Jesus recorded prayers, just twenty-six verses long. We know, of course, that Jesus prayed much longer prayers than that because Scripture records several instances where He prayed in solitude for extended periods of time (Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:46). When it suited Him, He would even spend the entire night in prayer (Luke 6:12). It was His habit thus to pray, both privately and with His disciples (John 18:2). And the pattern was clear: His long prayers were the ones He prayed in private. His public prayers were perfect examples of crisp, forthright plain-speaking. Listening to Jesus pray and observing His constant dependence on private prayer gave the disciples an appetite for prayer. So they asked Him, Lord, teach us to pray (Luke 11:1). He responded by repeating the very same model prayer He gave in the Sermon on the Mount. We call it The Lords Prayer. We ought rather to think of it as The Disciples Prayer, because its centerpiece is a petition for divine forgiveness, something Jesus would never need to pray for. Like all great praying, it is both succinct and unpretentious. There is not a wasted word, not a hint of vain repetition, and not a single note of ostentation or ceremony in the whole prayer:
And He said to them, When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation (Luke 11:24).

That prayer was a pattern for the disciples to follow, not a mantra to be recited without engaging the mind or passions. The various elements of Jesus prayer are all reminders of what our praying ought to include: praise, petition, penitence, and a plea for grace in our sanctification. Those are not only the key elements of prayer, they are also some of the principal

features of authentic worship. The parallelism between prayer and worship is no coincidence. Prayer is the distilled essence of worship. That perspective is often lost in this era of self-focused, subjective, felt-needs-oriented religion. Multitudes think of prayer as nothing more than a way to get whatever they want from God. Prayer is reduced to a superstitious means of gainand some will tell you that God is obligated to deliver the goods. Religious television is full of charlatans who insist that God must grant whatever you ask for if you can muster enough faith and refuse to entertain any doubt. Faith in their lexicon is a kind of blind credulity, usually bolstered by some kind of positive confession. Doubt, as they might describe it, is any rational or biblical qualm about whether the thing you desire is in accord with the will of God. Those, of course, are not biblical definitions of faith and doubt. Nor can anyones prayer legitimately be called a prayer offered in faith (James 5:15) if it is contrary to the will of God. Charismatics are not the only ones who see prayer as nothing more than a kind of utilitarian wish list. Plenty of mainstream evangelicals and old-style fundamentalists seem confused about the purpose of prayer, too. John R. Rice, an influential fundamentalist pastor, wrote a bestselling book in 1942 titled PrayerAsking and Receiving. He wrote, Prayer is not praise, adoration, meditation, humiliation nor confession, but asking. . . . Praise is not prayer, and prayer is not praise. Prayer is asking. . . . Adoration is not prayer, and prayer is not adoration. Prayer is always asking. It is not anything else but asking. 1 There are several problems with that perspective. First, Jesus model prayer is more than merely asking. It does include that; there are petitions for daily bread (the barest of material needs) and forgiveness (the most urgent of spiritual needs). But the model prayer Jesus gave His disciples also includes at least four of the five elements Dr. Rice wanted to eliminate from his definition of prayer: praise, adoration, humiliation, and confession. Remove praise and penitence from the Lords Prayer and you have gutted it. Insist that proper prayer is not anything else but asking, and you overthrow one of the central lessons we learn from Jesus example, that prayer is first and foremost an act of worship. Even worse, such teaching sets up a kind of role reversal between the one praying and the God to whom he prays. The Bible teaches that God is sovereign and that we are His slaves. Name-it-and-claim-it theology teaches that man is sovereign and God is his servant. The person praying thinks he is in the demand-and-command position, with God in the role of the servant who is obligated to cough up whatever we ask for. As Ive pointed out elsewhere, 2 that has more in common with pagan cargo cults than with biblical Christianity. Prayer is much more than merely asking and receiving. It is indeed a great privilege to come boldly before the throne of grace and to let our requests be made known to God (Hebrews 4:16; Philippians 4:6). Scripture repeatedly promises that if we ask for anything in faith, God will answermeaning if we ask in accord with Gods will as prompted by His Spirit, He will always graciously and generously respond (Matthew 7:711; 17:20; 21:22; Mark 11:24; James 1:6; 1


John R. Rice, PrayerAsking and Receiving (Muphreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord, 1942), 29.

John MacArthur, Charismatic Chaos (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 264-90.

John 3:22). He often grants our requests exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20, KJV). But the nature of a truly faithful prayer is clearly spelled out in 1 John 5:14: This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us (emphasis added). In other words, the promise of answered prayer is not an unqualified blank check. The promise is made only to faithful, obedient, sober-minded, biblically-informed Christians whose prayers are in harmony with the will of God. Its not a guarantee of cargo to every gullible or superstitious religious enthusiast who uses Jesus name as if it were an abracadabra. Jesus said, If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you (John 15:7, emphasis added). Thats because far from being merely a wish list, godly prayer is fundamentally an act of worship. It is an expression of our praise, our unworthiness, our desire to see Gods will fulfilled, and our utter dependence on Him for all our needs. Thus every aspect of prayer is an act of worship. That includes the petitions we make, because when we properly make our requests known to Godwithout anxiety, through prayer and supplication, and with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6)we are acknowledging His sovereignty, confessing our own total reliance on His grace and power, and looking to Him as Lord and Provider and Ruler of the universenot as some kind of celestial Santa. Proper prayer is pure worship, even when we are making requests. The God-ward focus of Jesus model prayer is impossible to miss. The prayer starts with praise of Gods name. It expresses a willingness for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done. Pure worship thus precedes and sets the context for sup-plication. Those opening lines establish the focal point of the prayer: the glory of God and His Kingdom. In other words, the supplicant is concerned first of all not for his personal wish list, but for the honor of God and the extension of His Kingdom. Everything else fits into that context, so that the whole agenda of the prayer is determined by the Kingdom and glory of God. That is perhaps the most important perspective to keep in mind in all our praying. Jesus said, Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:13). The purpose of all legitimate prayer is not to fulfill the felt-needs or material desires of the one praying, but to acknowledge the sovereignty of God and to magnify His glory. Prayer is not about getting what I want, but about the fulfillment of Gods will. The proper objective of prayer is not to enlarge my borders, build my empire, or expand my wallet but to further the Kingdom of God. The point is not to elevate my name but to hallow Gods name. Everything in prayer revolves around who God is, what God wants, and how God is to be glorified. That is the sum and substance of proper praying. Any prayers that are self-consuming, self-indulgent, self- aggrandizing; any prayers that seek whatever I want no matter what God wants; any prayers that suggest God must deliver because I have demanded itthose are prayers that take His name in vain. Such praying is an egregious sin against the nature of God, against the will of God, and against the Word of God. Name it, claim it prayers; the notion that God wants you always healthy, wealthy, prosperous, and successful; and lists of selfish requests are all quite at odds with the spirit of Jesus model prayer. Such requests are expressly excluded from the many promises that God will hear and answer our prayers (James 4:3). The faulty belief that underlies all such praying is no small error. It is rooted in a serious misunderstanding about the nature of God.

Because prayer is an act of worship, to offer a prayer based on such a heinous perversion of Gods character is tantamount to worshiping a false god. To put it bluntly, when someone presents God with a wish list rooted in greed, materialism, or other expressions of pure selfinterest, then demands that God deliver the goods as if He were a genie, that is no prayer at all. It is an act of blasphemy. It is as abominable as the crassest form of pagan worship. The prayers of godly people in Scripture were nothing like that. Consider the prayers of three prophets who were in truly dire situations. Jeremiah, for example, was in prison. He had preached to a nation of people who would not hear. They just wanted to shut his mouth. They were not interested in anything he or his God had to say. Ultimately they threw him in a pit. He had seen no measurable success in his ministry (as the world counts success). Jeremiah 32:1623 records his prayer:
I prayed to the LORD, saying, Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You, who shows lovingkindness to thousands, but repays the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them, O great and mighty God. The LORD of hosts is His name; great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, giving to everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds; who has set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and even to this day both in Israel and among mankind; and You have made a name for Yourself, as at this day. You brought Your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and with wonders, and with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm and with great terror; and gave them this land, which You swore to their forefathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey. They came in and took possession of it, but they did not obey Your voice or walk in Your law; they have done nothing of all that You commanded them to do; therefore You have made all this calamity come upon them.

Here is a man in great distress, torn with feelings of loneliness and grief, despairing of hope for his people, rejected by the entire nation. But the preoccupation of his heart was to extol the glory, the majesty, the name, the honor, and the works of God. He was not preoccupied with his own pain. He was not obsessed with being liberated from his circumstances. Out of his suffering came worship. All our prayers should be of that flavor. Daniel, caught in the transition between two great world empires, was interceding on behalf of a dispossessed people in a foreign land. But notice the spirit with which he brought his requests. He tells us, I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes (Daniel 9:3). And notice how his prayer begins: Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and loving-kindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances (vv. 45). The starting point is praise. That gives way to penitence. And as the prayer continues in Daniel 9, there are twelve more verses of self-abasing confession as Daniel rehearses the sins of Israel. Its filled with phrases like Open shame belongs to us, O Lord (v. 8); we have rebelled against Him; nor have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God (vv. 910); and we have sinned, we have been wicked (v. 15). Those expressions are mingled with more praise: Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame (v. 7); the LORD our God is

righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done (v. 14); and [You] have brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and have made a name for Yourself (v. 15). Finally, in the very last sentence of his prayer, Daniel makes one request, and it is a plea for mercy. All Daniels praise (focusing on Gods righteousness and His mercy) and all his penitence (outlining the history of Israels disobedience) culminates in a prayer for forgiveness and restoration: O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name (v. 19). And that one request was preceded with this summary argument: Daniel gathered up all his praise and all his confession, condensed them all in one more affirmation of Gods transcendent greatness and Israels complete lack of merit, and then cited those very things as the grounds on which he was making his plea: We are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion (v. 18). Again, notice that Daniels prayer began with an affirmation of the nature and the glory and the greatness and the majesty of God. It is an expression of worship, and the request at the end thus flows from a worshipful, penitent heart. That is always the godly perspective. Jonah prayed from the belly of a fish. If you can picture the wet, suffocating darkness and discomfort of such a place, you might begin to have an idea of how desperate Jonahs situation was at that moment. The whole second chapter of Jonah is devoted to the record of Jonahs prayer, and the entire prayer is a profound expression of worship. It reads like a psalm. In fact, its full of references and allusions to the psalmsalmost as if Jonah were singing His worship in phrases borrowed from Israels psalter while he languished inside that living tomb. The prayer is as passionate as you might expect from someone trapped inside a fish under the surface of the Mediterranean. Jonah begins: I called out of my distress to the LORD, and He answered me (v. 2)not a plea to God for help, but an expression of praise and deliverance, mentioning God in the third person and speaking of deliverance as if it were an accomplished fact. The remainder of the prayer is addressed directly to God in the second personand the whole thing is an extended expression of more praise. Jonah rehearses what has happened to him (You had cast me into the deep, v. 3; Weeds were wrapped around my head, v. 5). Notice, Jonah is still inside the fish while he is praying this prayer (cf. v. 10), yet he consistently speaks of his deliverance in the past tense. And heres the amazing thing about this prayer: Though Jonah must have been as desperate as anyone who ever prayed for rescue from the Lord, his prayer contains not one single request. It is a pure, resounding expression of worship and faith in God, who alone could deliver Jonah. The key sentence is verse 7: While I was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple. The focus of Jonahs prayerlike all great prayerswas the glory of God. Although no one, perhaps, has ever been in a situation where it would be more appropriate to plead and beg God to answer, there was none of that in Jonahs prayer. And the past-tense references to Jonahs deliverance were the furthest thing you can imagine from the contemporary prosperitypreachers notion of positive confession. Jonah wasnt under any illusion that his words could alter the reality of his plight. He was simply extolling the character of God. And that is precisely what our Lord was teaching when He gave the disciples that model prayer in Luke 11.

So it ought to be clear that when Jesus taught His disciples to regard prayer as worship, that wasnt anything novel. The great prayers we read in the Old Testament were likewise expressions of worshipincluding those that were prayed in the most desperate situations. With that in mind, look a little more closely now at Jesus model prayer. The first verse of this prayer alone includes three truths that remind us our prayers are supposed to be expressions of worship. Gods Paternity The prayer starts with a reference to Gods paternity. The first wordthe addressis a reminder that God is our heavenly Father. We go to Him not only because He is a sovereign Monarch, a righteous Judge, and our Creatorbut because He is a loving Father. That beautiful expression reminds us of the grace that gives us unlimited access to His throne (Hebrews 4:16)and it encourages us to come boldly, just as a son or a daughter would come to a loving dad. That, by the way, is the basis for our boldness in prayer. The point is not that our words have any kind of magical power, not that God is somehow obliged to give us whatever we ask for, and certainly not that our faith merits material rewardsbut that God in His sovereignty invites us to come to Him as a gracious and loving Father. The intimacy of the Father-child relationship does not diminish the reverence we owe Him as our sovereign God. Far less does it give us any reason to exalt ourselves. Instead, it is a reminder that we should be childlike in our dependence on Gods goodness and love. Ultimately, because He is our sovereign Lord, Creator, Judge, and Father, He is the only One on whom we can rely to supply all our needs and satisfy our deepest longings. If our prayers are truly worshipful, they will be permeated with recognition of that truth. Take, for example, the prayer of Isaiah 64:8: But now, O LORD, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand. That is the proper spirit of prayer: Lord, You made us. You gave us life. You alone can supply the resources we need. We are united with Your beloved Son by faith, and therefore we are Your children in every sense totally dependent on Your will, Your power, and Your blessings. That is very different from the prayer of a pagan who comes to a vengeful, violent, jealous, unjust, man-made deity, believing some merit or sacrifice must be brought to the altar to appease that hostile deity. The biblical perspective we bring to prayer is that God Himself offered the ultimate sacrifice and supplies all the merit we need in the Person of His Son. All who by faith lay hold of Christ as Lord and Savior are sons of God (Galatians 3:26; cf. John 1:1213; 2 Corinthians 6:8). See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are (1 John 3:1). In other words, the sacrifice of Christ was offered on our behalf, so we have already received the very best God has to give. And He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32). As if that werent enough, in Matthew 7:711, Jesus makes this promise: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your

children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! So when we pray, we are going to a God who is our loving heavenly Father. We can go with a sense of intimacy. We can go with confidence, in the same tender, trusting way a little child would go to an earthly father. We can go boldly. We are approaching a loving deity who does not need to be appeased, but who embraces us as His own. In fact, because we are His true children, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba! Father! (Galatians 4:6). Abba is a term of deep affection, a common term for father derived from the Chaldean dialect. Because it is easy to pronounce, it was how little children in New Testament times commonly addressed their fathers, like Daddy, or Papa in todays English. But when we call God Father, or Abba, it is not a casual nod of crass, presumptuous, or easygoing familiarity. Used properly, AbbaFather is an expression of profound worship, filled with childlike trust: God, I recognize that Im Your child. I know You love me and have given me intimate access to You. I recognize that You have absolutely unlimited resources, and that You will do what is best for me. I recognize that I need to obey You. And I recognize that whatever You do, You know best. All of that is implied in the truth that God is our Father, and thats how Jesus taught us to begin our prayers. Dont miss the point. When we pray to God as our heavenly Father, we are not only acknowledging our responsibility to obey Him, we are also confessing that He has a right to give us what He knows is best. Above all, we are offering Him praise and thanks for His loving grace, while confessing our own complete trust and dependence. In short, we are coming to Him as worshiping childrenand all of that is implicit in the very first word of Jesus model prayer. Gods Priority The entire opening sentence of the prayer is a straight-forward exclamation of worship: Father, hallowed be Your name (Luke 11:2). That is expressed as a petition, but it is by no means a personal request; it is an expression of praise, and it reflects Gods own priority: I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another (Isaiah 42:8). Jesus established the truth that prayer is worship by beginning His model prayer that way. To worship God is to Sing the glory of His name (Psalm 66:2). Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name (1 Chronicles 16:29; Psalms 29:2; 96:8). Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory (Psalm 115:1). Such expressions capture the true spirit of a worshiping heart. Moreover, that first sentence qualifies every other petition in the prayer. It rules out asking for things with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures (James 4:3). It eliminates every petition that is not in accord with the perfect will of God. In the words of Arthur Pink:
How clearly, then, is the fundamental duty in prayer here set forth: self and all its needs must be given a secondary place and the Lord freely accorded the preeminence in our thoughts, desires and supplications. This petition must take the precedence, for the glory of Gods great name is the ultimate end of all things; every other request must not only be subordinated to this one, but be in harmony with and in pursuance of it. We cannot pray aright unless the honor of God

bedominant in our hearts. If we cherish a desire for the honoring of Gods name we must not ask for anything which it would be against the Divine holiness to bestow.

What does that expression mean: Hallowed be Your name? In biblical terms, Gods name includes everything God isHis character, His attributes, His reputation, His honorHis very Person. Gods name signifies everything that is true about God. We still use the expression my name in that sense at times. If we say someone has ruined his good name, we mean he has disgraced himself and spoiled his reputation. He has diminished others perception of who he is. And if I give you power of attorney, I have authorized you to act in my name. You thereby become my legal proxy, and any legal covenants you enter into are as binding on me as if I signed them myself. That is precisely what Jesus meant when He taught us to pray in His name: Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it (John 14:1314). He was delegating His authority to us to be used in prayerauthorizing us to act as if we were His emissaries when we let our requests be made known to God. But by teaching us to begin by asking that the name of God be hallowed, Christ put this built-in safeguard against the misuse of His name for our own self-aggrandizing purposes. If we truly want Gods name to be hallowed, we would never sully the name of His Son or abuse the proxy He has given us by using His name to request that which He himself would never sanction. To do that would be to take His name in vain, and that is a violation of the third commandment. Furthermore, immediately after Jesus delegated the authority of His name to His disciples, He said, If you love Me, you will keep My commandments (v. 15). He then restated the principle with all the necessary qualifications just one chapter later in John 16:7: If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you (emphasis added). It should be clear, then, that the expression Your name signifies far more than just a proper noun. Gods name represents everything He is, everything He approves, and everything He is known for. So when we pray, Father, hallowed be Your name, we are expressing a desire for Gods character, His glory, His reputation in the world, and His very being to be set apart and lifted up. The word hallowed (Greek hagiazo) means consecrated, sanctified, or set apart as holy. It includes the idea of being separated from all that is profane. Putting it as simply as possible, this phrase is a prayer that God Himself would be blessed and glorified. Jesus Himself prayed for that very thing in John 12:28: Father, glorify Your name. It is a petition God delights to answer. By starting His model prayer that way, Jesus was reminding us of the ultimate purpose of every prayer we ever offer. The proper aim is for God to be glorified, exalted, honored, and known, in every conceivable way. That, by the way, is a further reminder not to call God Father in a cheaply sentimental or overly familiar way. He is our loving Father, but we are not to forget that His name is Holy. The fatherhood of God in no way diminishes His glory, and if we find ourselves thinking that way here is the corrective: Father, hallowed be Your name.

Arthur Pink, The Sermon on the Mount (Lafayette, IN: Sovereign Grace Publishers, 2001 reprint), 162.

The spirit of that plea is contrary to the main thrust of the so-called prosperity gospel. I once heard a televangelist teaching the positive confession doctrine, and he told his audience that if they tacked the phrase Not my will but thine onto any of their prayers, they were not praying in faith. That is a lie from the pit of hell. Jesus Himself prayed, not My will, but Yours be done (Luke 22:42). By teaching us to begin all our prayers with a concern that the name of God to be hallowed, He was teaching us to pray for Gods will over and above our own. The kind of God who is at everyones beck and call and who must knuckle under to someone elses desires is not the God of the Bible. Those who portray prayer in such a fashion are not hallowing Gods name; they are dragging His name through the mud. Their false teaching is a denial of the very nature of God. It isnt just bad theology, it is gross irreverence. It is blasphemy. They are taking Gods name in vain, and that is directly antithetical to the spirit of this plea. Luthers catechism (section 39) asks and answers this question: How is Gods name hallowed among us? Answer, as plainly as it can be said: When both our doctrine and life are godly and Christian. For since in this prayer we call God our Father, it is our duty always to deport and demean ourselves as godly children, that He may not receive shame, but honor and praise from us. So when we pray Father, hallowed be Your name, we are asking God to glorify Himselfto put His power, His grace, and all His perfections on display. One way He does that is by answering our prayersassuming our prayers are expressions of submission to His will rather than merely flippant requests that arise from our own selfish desires. We were not created to enjoy prosperity in a fallen world. We were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. We ought to be more concerned for the glory of God than we are for our own prosperity, our own comfort, our own agenda, or any other self-centered desire.Thats why Jesus taught us to think of prayer as an act of worship rather than merely a way to ask God for things we want. Gods Program The closing phrase of Luke 2 is Your kingdom come. It is a prayer for the advancement of Gods Kingdom. Like every phrase of the prayer we have looked at, this is antithetical to the prayers typically prayed by those who are concerned mainly about the advancement of their own program, the building of their own empire, or the padding of their own pockets. This is a prayer that Gods program be advanced, and that His will be done. In fact, in some Greek manuscripts, the text includes the phrase, Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth (KJV). Jesus Himself included that phrase in the model prayer when he gave it in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:10). Every request we make in our prayers should first be run through this filter: Is it in harmony with the goals and principles of Gods kingdom? Is it consistent with the expansion of the Kingdom? Does it truly advance the Kingdom, or does it merely fulfill some selfish want? Name-it-and-claim-it theology is myopic, self-indulgent, and small-minded. All it cares about is self-interest and selfish desires, with no thought for the greater cause of Christs kingdom. The spirit of Christ says, Lord, advance Your Kingdom if that means I lose everything. Thats what the phrase Your kingdom come implies. The kingdom, of course, is the sphere where Christ rulesthe realm where He is Lord. To pray Your kingdom come with sincerity is to submit ones desires and to yield ones heart

without reservation to the Lordship of Christ. To affirm the program of Christs kingdom is to set aside ones own fleshly, materialistic, or selfish prayer requests because, after all, the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). There is truly nothing wrong with praying to God for things we desireas long as the desires of our heart are holy. Indeed, we are encouragedrepeatedlyto ask, and to trust, and to align our desires with the will of God. And we are promised answers to such prayers. Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). Remember, Jesus said, If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you (John 15:7). If you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you (John 16:23). This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us (1 John 5:14). Pay close attention to the qualifiers: If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you [then] . . . whatever you wish. Anything in My name. Anything according to His will. Jesus model prayer has those same qualifiers built into it because of the way He taught us to recognize Gods paternity, yield to Gods priority, and get on board with Gods program before we ever make one petition for ourselves. Any prayer that follows a different pattern is not an act of true worship, and therefore it is not a legitimate prayer. Conversely, all true prayer is worship. We go to a loving Father, accepting that He knows best. Our prayers, then, reflect an obedient heart, a passion for His glory, and a desire to see the extension of His Kingdomthat God might be honored.

Salvation Accomplished by the Son: The Work of Christ

By Robert A. Peterson, Crossway Books, 2012 Reviewed by Pastor Lance Quinn

What could be more edifying for the Christian than to read about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ? Robert A. Peterson, Professor of Systematic Theology at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, has written Salvation Accomplished by the Son: The Work of Christ, a splendid summation of the Person and Work of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. What is both a rare and commendable feature about this large volume (575 pages of text), is how Peterson provides excellent, detailed, and lucid exposition of virtually every Old Testament and New Testament passage which either anticipates or explains the various aspects of the earthly (and beyond) work of Jesus. He provides significant exegesis in order to substantiate his various perspectives on the work of Christ, especially where disagreements and disputes have arisen. The book is an attempt by Peterson to comprehensively portray the entire biblical teaching on the doctrine of salvation. In the first section of the book (21269), Peterson capably fills out our understanding of what he calls the nine saving events of Christ. Obviously, some of the events he references as being in the saving category need to be nuanced by him, because some of these events arent usually discussed by theologians as being associated within the more narrowly defined doctrine of soteriology. While Peterson readily acknowledges that Unequivocally, Scripture highlights Jesuss death and resurrection when it speaks of his saving accomplishment, he also contends that the Bible paints a fuller picture and mentions seven additional aspects of Christs saving work (23), namely His: incarnation sinless life ascension session Pentecost intercession second coming

Introducing the incarnation, Peterson writes in chapter one: Jesuss incarnation saves. It does not save in and of itself, by the mere fact of Gods becoming a man. It does not save apart from Christs death and resurrection. But it is an essential prerequisite for those saving events (28). For Peterson, this means that one cannot maintain a coherent soteriology without a comprehensive Christology. Likewise, when discussing the sinlessness of Jesus in chapter two, Peterson posits that Scripture teaches the saving significance of Christs sinless life (48). Having declared the nature of Christs sinless life in the schema of divine salvation, Peterson nevertheless acknowledges: As indispensable as the incarnation and Christs sinless are, they do not save by themselves. Rather, they are essential preconditions for Christs central saving eventshis death and resurrection (60).

In chapter three, Peterson defends the doctrine of the vicarious, penal, substitutionary, sacrificial death of Christ upon the cross (cf. 70, 7778), as over against modern notions which deny or distort the doctrine (he devotes an entire chapter to the subjectchapter twelve). Peterson also defends the doctrine of justification by faith alone, his view essentially matches the historical understanding of this truth as taught by the magisterial Reformers (8398). A noted emphasis in chapter four by Peterson is the belief that the doctrine of the resurrection has been quite overlooked as compared to the emphasis on Christs death upon the cross. Peterson desires to see equal weight given to both, and therefore states that Jesus died as our substitute . . . but he also saves us as our resurrected representativeas the One who lives on our behalf. His resurrection saves us as he, who died for us, is freed from death by God (128). He also writes: Christs death and resurrection are so essential to Christianity and so inseparable that when the Bible speaks of either one of them, we are to infer the other as well (130). Peterson maintains that Christs resurrection from the dead brings justification and forgiveness, establishes our peace with God, and inaugurates the new creation (139150). One of the unique contributions by Peterson is the discussion of the vital link between the death and resurrection of Christ and those aspects of His post-death/resurrection work. This includes His ascension, session, the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, Christs present intercession for believers, and His second coming. Regarding Christs ascension in chapter five, Peterson writes: Unfortunately, many Christians today neglect the doctrine of the ascension. Perhaps this neglect is due to the fact that although Christians confess belief in the ascension of Christ, they do not understand the ascensions place in the work of Christ or its effect on their lives. The Bible, however, teaches that the ascension is a saving event (152). He explains: The ascension is the linchpin of Christs saving work bridging his earthly and heavenly ministries, an essential part of his sacrificial work as he presents his perfect sacrifice before the Father, and a fuller realization of the reconciliation between God and man as Christ represents humanity in the presence of the Father (152).

When Peterson ties the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus to His session in chapter six, He explains: Jesuss session saves. After his death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus sat down at the right hand of God the Father, the place of highest honor and authority in the universe. He did not walk, as in his earthly ministry; stretch out his arms, as on the

cross; or lift his hands in priestly blessing, as he was carried to heaven in his ascension . . . . Instead, he sat down to complete his exaltation begun in his resurrection and ascension. He sat down as prophet, priest, and king (203). According to chapter seven, the work of Christ at Pentecost is also part and parcel of His saving activity: Pentecost is Jesuss unique, nonrepeatable deed, as unique and nonrepeatable as his dying for our sins and rising again (206). He goes on to say: The giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, predicted by Joel and the Four Evangelists, is especially Jesuss deed. It is an act that he performs. It is as much an aspect of his saving work as dying for our sins and rising on the third day. Pentecost is properly understood only as a saving action of the Christ whereby he applies the benefits of his death and resurrection to the church. Pentecost is a unique and unrepeatable redemptive-historical deed of the Messiah. It is important to understandPentecost is as singular and unrepeatable a work of Jesus, as is his being delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification (Rom. 4:25) (214215). Jesus Christ, the baptizer with the Holy Spirit, therefore places the elect into the body of Christ at Pentecost and who sends the Spirit to His church so that they may serve their heavenly Father as the new covenant community. Moving into the Sons work as our intercessor in chapter eight, Peterson reasons from Scripture that, When Christ ascends to heaven and sits at the right hand of God, he assumes his place as our exalted prophet, priest, and king. Specifically, as our priest he is now interceding for us. . . . Having made the final sacrifice for sin, our High Priest has now entered into the heavenly tabernacle to perform the second half of his priestly work, to make intercession. . . . Christ saves his people, not only by sacrificing his life for them, but also by offering himself to the Father in their behalf and by effectively praying for them that they might persevere until final salvation (227228). In his culmination of these points, Peterson speaks of the necessity of affirming our Lords second coming in chapter nine: The second coming triggers the final outworking of the saving purposes of God. . . . Jesuss return will save because only then will he give his people their inheritance and place in Gods final kingdom. . . .

They will enter into the fullness of their salvation only when their King comes back (251, 253). In the second section of the book (273575), Peterson amplifies the work of Christ by detailing six biblical pictures of the Sons role in salvation as: Reconciler, Redeemer, Legal Substitute, Victor, Second Adam, and finally, our Sacrifice. These selected pictures help fill our understanding of what Jesus did in His earthly role in order to redeem His people. Taking these facets of Christs saving work from various dimensions of human life, Peterson explains: Scripture interprets Christs saving work by painting pictures. It uses images, motifs, themes to explain what Jesus did for us. Although there are many such images in Scripture, I count six major ones. These pictures come from six spheres of life: human relationships, the institution of slavery, the court of law, the battlefield, creation, and worship (274). As to Christ as our Reconciler, Peterson acknowledges that the Old Testament does not provide a clear link to later New Testament teaching on the subject: Surprisingly, unlike any of the other major biblical pictures describing Christs saving work, and unlike the great majority of New Testament themes, reconciliation appears to lack clear Old Testament background (277). Within the New Testament however, Scripture gives this picture of our salvation as a wonderful way to show how God the Father takes the initiative to become our friend, even while we were His avowed enemies. Reconciliation is a picture of salvation drawn from the arena of personal relations. And the need of reconciliation is fractured personal relations. We need to be reconciled because we are Gods foes due to our sins (280). Because of the work of Christ the Mediator, God no longer reckons believers sins against them; that is, reconciliation through Christ brings forgiveness (284). Peterson can even speak of the doctrine of reconciliation as operating on more than one level: Reconciliation operates on multiple levelsindividual, corporate, and even cosmic. . . . This universal uniting brings harmony or reconciliation to Gods universe. . . . The cross, therefore, is multidirectional. Taking into account all of Scriptures teaching, the cross is directed toward God himself (in propitiation); toward our enemies, including demons, to defeat them; toward men and women to redeem them; and toward the whole creation to deliver it from its bondage to decay and to bring it into the freedom of the glory of the children of God (Rom. 8:21) (295, 301). In addition to Christ as Reconciler, Peterson shows us His work as Redeemer. He affirms that the Old Testament narratives that describe the deliverance of the children of Israel forms the pattern by which the New Testament draws its language and background for the redemption of sinners by Jesus, most notably, Mark 10:45. He concludes: Redemption in the New Testament is a picture of Christs saving work that depicts lost persons in various states of bondage and presents Christ as Redeemer, who through his deathexpressed in a number of waysclaims people as his own and sets them free (353).

In chapter twelve, Jesus Christ is our Legal Substitute is discussed. He argues for the vicarious, penal substitution by Jesus on behalf of sinners. Studying all the Old Testament passages, especially Isaiah 53, he concludes: Isaiah 52:1353:12 is a powerful prediction of the substitutionary atoning sacrifice of the Christ (371). Summarizing his position, he writes: In Scripture a loving and holy God takes the initiative and propitiates his own justice by bearing the brunt of his wrath against sin to freely forgive his rebellious creatures (375). Citing Galatians 3:13 as a key text in the New Testament, he concludes: This is as strong a statement of Christs being our legal penal substitute as is found in Scripture (386). Further arguing against a universal or general atonement, he states that Christs substitutionary atonement is effective. . . . And if his saving work is substitutionary and efficacious, there are only two possibilities: either it is universal and everyone is saved, or it is particular and all whom God has chosen are saved. Universalism is incompatible with the Bibles message, so Christs atonement is vicarious, effective, and particularhe has died to save his people from their sins (411; cf. also the appendix, 566575, where Peterson argues for a definite, particular atonement ). Peterson also makes a considerable effort in defending the doctrine of penal substitution, answering common objections (396407). He thus ends the chapter by writing, Christ dies as a penal substitute for individuals, for his church, and to deliver the whole creation from the curse of sin (Rom. 8:19-23; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 John 2:2; 1 Pet. 3:18) (412). Chapter thirteen pictures Christ as Victor. Acknowledging the warrior motif in Scriptureespecially in the Old Testamenthe cites numerous passages where God the Father is seen as the vanquisher of all His enemies, thus proving His sovereign conquest over all His foes. When Peterson starts to survey the New Testament data, he writes: The Old Testament divine-warrior image becomes incarnate in Jesus Christ who is Christus Victor (425). Citing the obvious differences between Christ as Victor in the New Testament and God the Father as divine warrior in the Old Testament, including the spiritual battles Jesus wages against Satan and his demon followers, Peterson nevertheless writes: Jesus is the champion of his people who binds the strong man, plunders his house, and divides his spoil (Luke 11:22); he overpowers the demons and frees those who have been possessed by them (429). Regarding the spiritual vanquishing of sin on behalf of sinners, Peterson concludes: The Synoptic Gospels, especially Matthew, include divine-warrior motifs when presenting Jesuss crucifixion and its effects (431). Surveying the book of Acts, Peterson affirms: The Lord Jesus, our champion, routed the demons in his earthly ministry and continues to do the same through his apostles in the Acts (439), and for the apostle Paul, Peterson summarizes: For Paul, Christ is the mighty Victor, who defeats our adversaries in his death and resurrection (441). And in the resurrection of Jesus, Peterson can surmise: It is clear that the Fathers raising the Son and seating him at his right hand are the supreme displays of power from which the readers are to draw confidence. And we can imply that Christs forever being far above all rule and authority and power and dominion means that the evil powers are subject to him, the Victor (442). He summarizes his findings: Christ our champion is the New Testament picture of Jesus as the incarnation of Yahweh, the divine warrior of the Old

Testament. The mighty Son of God who became a human being defeats foes that are far more powerful than we through his death and resurrection. His work as Christus Victor brings us partial victory now and complete deliverance in the resurrection and new earth (460). Peterson presents in chapter fourteen the picture of Christ as our Second Adam. For instance, commenting on Romans 5:12-21, Peterson writes: Underlying Pauls teaching is his assumption that one of the ways Adam is a type of the one who was to come is as a covenant head. Adam and Christ are the two covenant heads of their respective races. Adam is the covenant head of all humankind; Christ the covenant head of the race of the redeemed. . . . Paul presents Adam as the representative of the human race, whose primal sin brought Gods verdict of condemnation and resulted in death, both physical and spiritual. . . . Adam ruins his race and Christ rescues his. . . . All human beings are fallen in Adam, and all believers are saved in Christ. . . . Paul exalts the work of the second Adam. His lifelong obedience resulting in death counters Adams primal disobedience. . . . (47275). As our Second Adam, Peterson can reason thus about Jesus: His sinless life has a role to play in his work of salvation. As the second Adam he had to undergo human life without sin from conception to adulthood in order to be qualified to save his people from their sins. His living a sinless life was a prerequisite to his saving death and resurrection. In that sense, his sinless earthly life saves too (496). Peterson concludes in chapter fifteen with the picture of Christ as our Sacrifice. This chapter, rich in the explanation of both the imagery and teaching regarding the Old Testament sacrificial system (501512), helps us also see how the New Testament fills out and explains the Person of Jesus as the final and complete Sacrifice for sin, especially from the Book of Hebrews. For instance, Peterson writes: The book of Hebrews is a literary and theological masterpiece that has more to say about Christ as High Priest and sacrifice than the rest of the New Testament combined (522). It was Christ, the Mediator of the new covenant whose sacrifice redeemed Old Testament saints from the transgressions committed under the first covenant (Heb. 9:15). This means that Christs atoning sacrifice not only saves all who come after him and trust in him as Lord and Savior, but it also saves all who came before him and believed the gospel communicated through the sacrifices (530). He concludes by writing:

What [Old Testament] sacrifices cannot do, the incarnate divine Son does. . . . The Son identifies with his people by willingly taking a human body with which he will perform Gods will (Heb. 10:5-7). Christ abolishes the Old Testament sacrifices, associated with the Mosaic law (and thereby abolishes that law), to accomplish Gods will (vv. 8-9) in his body. . . . By doing Gods will and offering himself in his body once for all time there results the definitive sanctification of his people. This is a once-for-all consecration, constituting them the saints of God. Flowing from it is their progressive sanctification, their gradual growth in holiness. . . . (535). Peterson concludes his major study on the Person and work of Christ (550565) by summarizing the work of the Son in three directions: toward God the Father Himself (upward, and which is the most fundamental and profound (563); toward the whole creation (a believers horizontal dimension); and toward our enemies (downward) (560). Salvation is therefore upward, in that Christs work influences the life of God the Father Himself, and thus that God in Christ affects God (563); horizontal, in that it involves the salvation of human beings; and finally, downward (which is a derivative of the upward direction), in that it vanquishes all Gods foes. If there are any areas within the book which I would have cited my own interpretive differences with the author, I could point out his belief that the church of the New Testament spiritually replaces Israel of the Old Testament (e.g. pages 114, 350, and 361), thus making one assume there is no future plan for the salvation of national Israel. And if there are other differences in interpreting some specific passages in light of his overall views, I would nevertheless still commend his work as a marvelously rich study into the blessed work of the Son of God. This book is itself an obvious testament to Petersons long years of reflection upon both the Old and New Testaments teaching on the atonement for sinners, which has been provided believers by and through our Lord Jesus Christ. After reading this important book by a Reformed, thoroughgoing Evangelical theologian, I must say that I was so wonderfully encouraged, edified, and educated regarding these various facets of our salvation in Christ. I heartily commend this book, with the hope that you too would seek to relish the full richness of what the Word of God teaches regarding the believers Salvation Accomplished by the Son.

Did Tongues Cease or Not?

By Phil Johnson Time to face honestly the reality that contemporary charismata aren't anything like the original Pentecostal miracles. Let's not be too quick to write off cessationism. It is an irrefutable fact of history that the supernatural phenomena described in Acts 2 were peculiar to that one day of Pentecost and have not been normative in the life of the church over the centuries. Several visible and audible supernatural features occurred when the Holy Spirit was sent to empower the church at Pentecost. In all of Scripture and church history none of those miracles has ever been credibly documented in any other incident. There was a "noise like a violent rushing wind" (Acts 2:2); visible "tongues as of fire" that rested on the apostles (v. 3); and crowds of thousands, all simultaneously hearing understandable, inspired revelation in their own languages as the Spirit gave utterance (vv. 4-11). In other words, the spoken "tongues" at Pentecost were known, translatable, human languages. (Verses 9-11 list by name ten distinct language groups that were heard.) The human instruments through whom the miracle occurred evidently included not only the apostles but more than a hundred of their cohorts as well (cf. Acts 1:15). All of them spoke in tongues at once unscripted, unrehearsed, and totally unexpected. There simply is no parallel for what occurred on that singular day. It was the inaugural day of the New Testament church. It was unique by God's own design. TONGUES AFTER PENTECOST In all the narrative portions of the New Testament there are only two verses outside Acts 2 where speaking in tongues is even mentioned: Acts 10:46 and 19:6. Both texts record significant transitional events in the establishment of the New Testament church. Acts 10 describes the conversion of Cornelius and his householdthe first graphic proof that the middle wall of partition between the Jewish nation and the rest of the world had been broken down. Tongues on that occasion furnished undeniable proof that the Spirit of God would henceforth indwell Gentile believers exactly as He indwelt those original disciples in Jerusalem. The Acts 19 incident symbolically marks the completion of the transition from Old Covenant to New. With that transition came a new, unprecedented relationship with the Holy Spirit, who would henceforth permanently indwell every believer. These disciples of John the Baptist were Old Covenant saintsmen who had come to saving faith and then evidently left the region before Jesus announced the gospel and His ministry began to eclipse John the Baptist's. Once John's disciples heard and believed the full truth about Jesus, they were immediately brought into the New Covenant relationship. Tongues were the proof that they had received the Spirit just like the disciples at Pentecost. Other than Pentecost and those two subsequent transitional incidents, the only place in the New Testament where speaking in tongues is mentioned is in Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians. His main reason for dealing with the subject in that context was to correct those in Corinth who had elevated tongues to a position of undue prominence. Notice: Paul ranked tongues as the least of all spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:28). He expressly denied that jabbering

noises devoid of discernible meaning were a legitimate expression of the Holy Spirit's gift of tongues (14:10). On the contrary, he stressed that authentic tongues were a form of divine revelation. (That's precisely what Acts 2:4 means: "as the Spirit was giving them utterance.") Paul therefore forbade speaking in tongues unless the message could be translated and its meaning confirmed (1 Corinthians 14:27-28). None of those principles is given proper consideration by contemporary charismatics. Indeed, the so-called charismatic phenomena that abound today don't really look anything like the supernatural manifestations that occurred at Pentecost. There is every biblical, historical, and theological reason to conclude that the gift of tongues has ceased. That goes for all other forms of revelatory prophecy that were common in the apostolic era. CESSATIONISM Prior to the 20th century it would have been hard to find any Protestant who believed the gift of tongues (or any of the revelatory gifts) continued uninterrupted from the time of the apostles through all of church history. The evidence of history speaks loudly against that view. Practically all biblically-minded believers prior to the 1900s regarded revelatory gifts and miraculous abilities as "the signs of a true apostle" (2 Corinthians 12:12). Such gifts faded from prominence in the early church even before most of the New Testament epistles were written. By the time the apostolic era ended, trustworthy accounts of apostolic-quality signs and wonders had ceased completely. That view is known as cessationism. It was almost uncontested among evangelicals for hundreds of years before the mid-twentieth century. Church history is of course peppered with superstitious marvels, exaggerated urban legends, spurious relics, and fraudulent miracle-workers. (Bogus miracle-claims increased dramatically in medieval times along with the rise of extrabiblicalsacerdotalism and the festering corruption of the Catholic priesthood.) But from the post-apostolic era until the 1960s Christians who sought to be biblically-based and theologically orthodox did not believe or claim that they had apostolic miracle-gifts at their disposal. CONTINUATIONISM Things have certainly changed. Cessationism is categorically out of vogue today. Not only has the charismatic movement become massively popular on a worldwide scale, but even many non-charismatics have backed away from classic cessationism, giving it up for continuationism, the belief that all the spiritual gifts of the apostolic era are still available to the church today particularly those gifts that involved prophetic and miraculous phenomena. Continuationism typically fosters an undue fascination with (and craving for) gifts that confer miraculous abilities. Of course, one of the hallmarks of charismatic teaching has always been the idea that it is the birthright of every Christian to prophesy and do miracles. That belief is based on a misunderstanding of Joel 2:28-32 (quoted by Peter in Acts 2:17-21). Notice that the text speaks of apocalyptic signstokens of judgment, actuallyin the sun, moon, and sky. That aspect of Joels prophecy clearly points toward something yet future. Without getting sidetracked with a lengthy analysis of the eschatological significance of Joel 2, it ought to be clear from the text itself that Joels prophecy encompasses far more than the tongues of Pentecost. Joels main focus is an unprecedented display of divine power in the heavens. Most of the signs he describes are

undeniable cosmic wonderssomething far more convincing than the questionable miracles claimed by the contemporary charismatic movement. In any case, when Peter quoted Joels prophecy at Pentecost, what he emphasized was the promise of salvation: Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. That was the introduction to Peters sermon. He said nothing whatsoever about the apocalyptic elements of Joel 2. He said nothing further about speaking in tongues or prophesying. Peters Pentecost sermon was not a message about the charismata; it was about Christs work of redemption and the guilt of the nation for having crucified their Messiah. Acts 2 and Joel 2 combined simply do not bear the weight of continuationist doctrine. All charismatics are continuationists by definition, of course. And not so long ago, virtually all non-charismatics were convinced cessationists. The lines of difference and debate were clearly drawn. Those distinctions have been severely blurred by the advent of a middle-road position. Many non-charismatics now hold a continuationist view of the apostolic-era gifts. Typically they say they find continuationism compelling not because they think today's charismatic phenomena actually look like apostolic miracles (they clearly don't), but because they have concluded there is no sound exegetical basis for the cessationist position. On the surface, that may sound like a conscientiously biblical and objectively even-handed position. In practice, however, it has led to a significant decline in critical thinking about charismatic claims. The middle of the road is a hard place to hold one's ground, and there is a relentless magnetism between continuationist presuppositions and charismatic practices. THE DEATH OF DISCERNMENT Meanwhile, as cessationist conviction has fallen out of fashion, the voice of biblical discernment has been all but silenced. Among Reformed and evangelical leaders, it sometimes seems as if a moratorium has been declared against any negative assessment of modern charismatic doctrine or practice. Over the past decade and a half, leading Reformed continuationists have shown an almost obstinate unwillingness to voice any strong words of caution against even the most outlandish charismatic fads. To cite a few examples: John Piper and his pastoral staff investigated the Toronto Blessing in the 1990s and declined to make any judgment about whether it was spurious or not. Sam Storms lent his credibility the so-called Kansas City Prophets for at least a decade. Wayne Grudem likewise aligned himself with some very bizarre prophetic abuses in his association with the Vineyard movement and its offshoots. Jack Deere renounced cessationism in the 1980s and within a few short years virtually engineered the spiritual train wreck that culminated in the public disqualification of Paul Cain. And I can't think of a single Reformed continuationist leader who sounded a clear warning (or even a mild disclaimer) about Todd Bentley's shenanigans when the Lakeland disaster was at its peak. It seems fair, then, to point out that the Reformed continuationist track record has been less than stellar with regard to resisting dangerous and unbiblical elements in the charismatic movement. That ought to be a burning embarrassment to our Reformed continuationist brethren. A CLOSER LOOK AT CONTINUATIONIST CLAIMS

Furthermore, it seems to me that the continuationist position is both logically and exegetically indefensible. The distinctive claim of contemporary charismatic and Pentecostal teaching is that all the charismata are available today just as they were in apostolic times. In particular, continuationists teach that he miraculous and revelatory gifts seen in the very early church never ceased. Supposedly, everything the Holy Spirit was doing throughout the book of Acts and 1 Corinthians 12-14 should still be happening today. That's the inevitable implication of true, consistent continuationism. The problem is that virtually no one really believes that. Consistent continuationists are not only extremely rare; they are also exceedingly dangerousoften claiming apostolic authority for themselves and usually acting as if they believed the most vital and authoritative revelation available to the church today is to be found not in Scripture, but in their own dreams and prophecies about the latest "move of God." It is a clear and indisputable implication of Scripture that the miraculous gifts of the apostolic era had a specific and clearly defined purpose. It is likewise clear from Scripture that apostolic miracles did diminish in both frequency and importance, and they faded from use after the era described in the book of Acts. In the earliest days of the church, Peter and John healed a man who had been lame since birth (Acts 3:2-8). Even Peter's shadow had healing power (Acts 5:15-16). When the gospel first came to Ephesus, the sick could be healed and demonized people liberated by contact with pieces of fabric that Paul had touched (Acts 19:12). But at the end of his ministry, Paul left Trophimus sick at Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20), and he counseled Timothy to drink wine medicinally for "frequent ailments" (1 Timothy 5:23). That, by the way, was years before the New Testament canon was complete. Moreover, the decline of miracle gifts was fully to be expected based on what Scripture does say about miracles. Miracles validated the apostles' authority and confirmed their testimony "at the first" (Hebrews 2:3-4). They were not permanently normative, even in the apostolic era. They were an essential corroboration of the preached message in that transitional era between the covenants. There is no question that many important things were in flux during the transition from the Old Covenant era to the New. The whole point of the book of Hebrews is that the ceremonial law of the Old Testament is no longer binding on believers in the New Testament era. The priesthood, and the Tabernacle, and the whole sacrificial system are no longer part of God's relationship with His people. Why? Because those things all pointed to something better. And now that the better thing has come, the inferior things are done away with. (That is the very same point the apostle Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 14, where he deals with the gift of tongues.) It is the very principle that makes some degree of cessationism a necessity for people who take the Bible seriously. LOOKING FOR A PROOF-TEXT? Charismatics and continuationists will inevitably return to the main point they think settles the issue: there is no passage or proof-text that tells us the miracle-gifts would cease at the end of the apostolic era. Furthermore, continuationists believe they do have proof-texts for their position. Hebrews 13:5: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." There's also John 14:12, where Jesus says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do."

But consider what those verses actually teach. Hebrews 13:8 says nothing about the apostolic gifts. It's about the immutability of Christ's character. In fact, the problem with the Hebrews 13:8 argument is that it proves too much. If that verse proves that everything in the book of Acts should be happening "forever," what about "yesterday"? Does the verse also suggest that these things must have been happening throughout redemptive history? Were miracles commonplace throughout the Old Testament? For that matter, did anyone ever repeat the miracles Moses performed? If the principle of Hebrews 13:8 proves continuationism, why are miracles relatively rare not only in the Old Testament, but also in the later narrative passages of the New Testament? After Moses, we see multiple miracles from Joshua, Elijah, and Elisha. Scripture also describes a handful of isolated miracles involving some of the Judges and prophets. But miracles were by no means commonplacenor were they a reliable gauge of whether God is working or not. God is always working providentially, but miracle-gifts are extremely rare. Consider John the Baptist. In Matthew 11:11, Jesus said: "Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist." If miracle-working ability were a valid measure of one's greatness and power, we might expect someone like John the Baptist to be an amazing miracle worker. After all, according to Luke 1:17, John was sent to prepare the way for Jesus "in the spirit and power of Elijah." Elijah, of course, did many miracles. Miracles were practically the emblem of his ministry. But John 10:41 says "John did no miracle." What happens to the typical charismatic application of Hebrews 13:8 in light of John the Baptist's ministry? For that matter, what about John 14:12? When charismatics cite that verse, it's fair to ask: Is there any miracle-worker in the entire charismatic realm who has ever actually performed greater signs and wonders than Jesus did? The answer, definitively, is no. But that's not the promise of John 14:12 anyway. The text promises "greater works," not more spectacular signs. The apostles' work of preaching the gospel exceeded Jesus' ministry in immediate scopenot in power or perfection. They "turned the world upside down" (Acts 17:6). As a cessationist, I'm willing to concede that there is no easy proof-text that furnishes a ready explanation in a single, explicit biblical statement about when and how the apostolic outpouring of miracles ceased. But I don't find that argument particularly persuasive. It's not really different from the argument of the Jehovah's Witness who points out that there's not a single proof-text that proves the doctrine of the Trinity. What is the appropriate answer to that? The doctrine of the Trinity is the fruit of comparing Scripture with Scripture and understanding everything the Bible teaches about the Godhead. The same principle applies to cessationism. Cessationists base their conviction not on a single proof text or exegetical argument. It is a theological conclusion drawn from a number of biblical arguments, borne out by the plain facts of history. Again, Scripture does teach that the charismata had a specific, foundational, temporary purpose. They are part of a hierarchy of supernatural signs and wonders associated with the founding of the church. That hierarchy is clearly outlined in 1 Corinthians 12:28-30, and the text expressly states that the miraculous gifts are not given universally to everyone in the church: God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. All are not

apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? Not every church leader is an apostle. By that very same principle, gifts of tongues and miracles were never intended for every believer. Nowhere in Scripture are we taught that the life of every Christian is supposed to be one long string of miracles. "Signs and wonders and mighty works" are expressly called "the signs of a true apostle" in 2 Corinthians 12:12. The miraculous elements that were so common in the early apostolic church were given to validate and authenticate the apostles' authority. Apostles were instruments of divine revelation. The miracles were undeniable verification that these men who claimed to be speaking for God were indeed speaking the truth of God with God's authorization. In the words of Hebrews 2:4, "God [was bearing them] witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will." YOU'RE PROBABLY A CESSATIONIST, TOO Regardless of your views about the charismatic giftsunless you are someone who is far out on the fringe of charismatic lunacyyou probably believe the apostolic office ended with the death of the apostle John. Here's the thing: There is no proof text for that. Can we agree also with the historic Protestant conviction that the canon of Scripture is complete and closed? New, inspired, inerrant, authoritative Scripture is not being written today. But there is no easy, irrefutable proof text for that, either. The biblical and historical rationale all Protestants use to justify our belief that the canon is closed is the very same biblical and theological logic that persuades me the miraculous gifts served their purpose in the apostolic generation and no longer function in the church. I'll go further: I think in their hearts, even the best charismatics believe that more than they might wish to admit. No one but the rankest crackpot charlatan (or a pope) would ever claim to be a pure and complete open-canon non-cessationist with infallible apostolic authority. Consider this carefully: charismatics who acknowledge that the canon is closed and the gift of apostleship has ceased have already conceded the very heart of the cessationist argument, proof text or no. That's not all. Continuationists who genuinely seek to be biblical cannot possibly defend the assertion that all the charismatic gifts are functioning today in exactly the same way they did in the book of Acts. And even though many will loudly claim otherwise, they have not shown any willingness to put that claim to the test. I became a Christian 40 years ago in Tulsa, a thriving center of charismatic activity. For decades I have been challenging my charismatic friends to document a single verifiable, authenticated, apostolic-quality miracle-gift. (For example: identify someone who has the ability regularly and reliably to command healings, the way Peter and Paul did.) I have yet to meet a charismatic miracle-worker who is willing to subject his miracle-gift-claims to any kind of careful, biblical scrutiny. Think about this: millions of people claim to be speaking in tongues, but there is not a single well-attested, tape-recorded, verifiable case of a recognizable, translatable, identifiable language such as we see at Pentecost. Has any charismatic preacher truly raised a Eutychus from the dead? With the 20th century's proliferation of charismatic faith-healers, why do the healings nearly always involve invisible ailments? Why are people with congenital disabilities, complete blindness, and other permanent infirmities routinely screened from the healing lines?

Wayne Grudem has more or less conceded that the charismatic phenomena of today are not really apostolic-quality spiritual gifts. His book The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today (Wheaton: Crossway, 1988) was written to defend the practice of seeking personal prophecies directly from God. A hundred pages or so into the book, Grudem makes the startling claim that "no responsible charismatic holds" the view that prophecy today is infallible and inerrant revelation from God.4 He says charismatics are arguing for a "lesser kind of prophecy,"5 which is not on the same level as the inspired prophecies of the Old Testament prophets or the New Testament apostlesand which will probably be fallible more often than not. Grudem writes, there is almost uniform testimony from all sections of the charismatic movement that [today's] prophecy is impure, and will contain elements which are not to be obeyed or trusted. In Surprised by the Power of the Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993), Jack Deere likewise admits that he has not seen anyone today performing miracles or possessing gifts of the same quality as those that were being manifest in the apostolic era. Deere argues throughout his book that modern charismatics do not really claim to have apostolic-quality gifts and miracle abilities. One of Deere's main lines of defense against critics of the charismatic movement is his claim that modern charismatic gifts are actually lesser gifts than those available in the apostolic era, and therefore, he suggests, todays charismatics should not be held to apostolic standards. Consider the implications of that claim: The chief apologists for charismatic theology have, in effect, conceded the entire cessationist argument. They have virtually admitted that they are themselves cessationists of sorts. They are in effect confessing that the true apostolic gifts and miracles have ceased, admitting that what they are doing today is not what is described in the New Testament. Contemporary tongues-speakers do not speak in understandable or translatable dialects, the way the apostles and their followers did at Pentecost. Not one tongues speaker has ever gone to a foreign mission-field and miraculously been able to preach the gospel in the tongue of his hearers. Charismatics have to go to language school like everyone else. No modern worker of signs and wonders can really duplicate apostolic power. Even the most vocal advocates of the gift of prophecy admit that no modern prophet can legitimately claim to have infallible authority. No modern faith healer can actually produce instant, visible healings that are like the healings we see in the New Testament. Though some make fantastic claims, no modern faith healer is opening the eyes of people born blind, and no one is able to make truly lame people walk. Above all, despite many fanciful and unsubstantiated legends that have been circulated, despite the vast numbers of charismatics who claim the ability to do even greater works than Jesus Himself, there is not one credible, verifiable case of a charismatic miracle-worker who can raise the dead.

Grudem, p. 111. Ibid, p. 112.

The simple fact is that the gifts that operate in the charismatic movement today are not the same gifts described in the New Testament, and even most charismatics are ultimately forced to admit that. Its time for Reformed continuationists to face these facts humbly honestly. Instead of stifling debate about charismatic doctrine in the name of charity and unity, we ought to be pursuing the debate with greater vigor, until we all attain to the unity of the faith (Ephesians 4:13).


By Nathan Busenitz It was just over 500 years ago, in the fall of 1510, that a desperate Roman Catholic monk made what he thought would be the spiritual pilgrimage of a lifetime. He had become a monk five years earliermuch to the surprise and dismay of his father, who wanted him to become a lawyer. In fact, it was on his way home from law school, that this young manthen 21 years oldfound himself in the midst of a severe thunderstorm. The lightning was so intense he thought for sure he was going to die. Fearing for his life, and relying on his Roman Catholic upbringing, he called out for help. Saint Anne, he cried, Spare me and I will become a monk! Fifteen days later, he left law school behind and entered an Augustinian monastery in Erfurt, Germany. The fear of death had prompted him to become a monk. And it was the fear of Gods wrath that consumed him for the next five yearsso much so, in fact, that he did everything within his power to placate his guilty conscience and earn Gods favor. He became the most fastidious of all of the monks in the monastery. He dedicated himself to the sacraments, fasting, and penance. He even performed acts of self-punishmentlike going without sleep, enduring cold winter nights without a blanket, and whipping himself in an attempt to atone for his sins. Reflecting on this time of his life, he would later say, If anyone could have earned heaven by the life of a monk, it was I. Even his supervisor, the head of the monastery, became concerned that this young man was too introspective and too consumed with questions about his own salvation. But the haunting questions would not go away. This young monk became particularly fixated on the apostle Pauls teaching about the righteousness of God in the book of Romans, and especially Romans 1:17. In that verse, Paul says of the Gospel, In it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, But the righteous man shall live by faith. But this young mans understanding of that verse was clouded. Reading it through the lens of Roman Catholic tradition, he twisted its meaning, thinking that he had to somehow become righteous through his own efforts in order to live a life of faith. But therein was the problem. He knew he was not righteous. Despite everything he did to earn Gods favor, he knew he fell short of Gods perfect standard. And so, as he would later recount, he came to hate the phrase the righteousness of God because he saw in it his own condemnation. He realized that if the perfect righteousness of God is the standard (which of course it is), and if he as a sinful man could not meet that standard (which of course he couldnt), then he stood utterly condemned. So, out of frustration and despair, he plunged himself all the more fervently into the strict practices of monastic life trying his hardest to work his way to salvation. And he grew more and more discouraged and desperate.

So it was, five years after he became a monk, in the year 1510, that this desperate man made what he thought would be the spiritual pilgrimage of a lifetime. He and a fellow monk travelled to the center of Catholic thought and powerthe city of Rome. If anyone could help him calm the storm that waged in his soul, surely it would be the pope, the cardinals, and the priests of Rome. Moreover, he thought that if he paid homage to the shrines of the apostles and made confession there, in that holy city, he would secure the greatest absolution possible. Surely this would be a way to earn Gods favor. The young man was so excited that when he came within sight of the city, he fell down, raised up his hands and exclaimed Hail to thee, holy, Rome! Thrice holy for the blood of martyrs shed here. But he would soon be severely disappointed. He tried to immerse himself in the religious fervor of Rome (visiting the graves of the saints, performing ritualistic acts of penance, and so on). But he soon noticed a glaring inconsistency. As he looked around him, at the pope, the cardinals, the priestshe did not see righteousness at all. Instead, he was startled by the corruption, greed, and immorality. As the famous church historian Philip Schaff explained: [The young man was] shocked by the unbelief, levity and immorality of the clergy. Money and luxurious living seemed to have replaced apostolic poverty and self-denial. He saw nothing but worldly splendor at the court of [the] Pope . . . , [and] he heard of the fearful crimes of [previous popes], which were hardly known and believed in Germany, but freely spoken of as undoubted facts in the fresh remembrance of all Romans. . . . He was told that "if there was a hell, Rome was built on it," and that this state of things must soon end in a collapse. A desperate man on a desperate journeyhaving devoted his life to the pursuit of selfrighteous legalism and finding it emptywent to Rome looking for answers. But all he found was spiritual bankruptcy. Needless to say, Martin Luther left Rome disillusioned and disappointed. He reported that, in his opinion, Rome, once the holiest city was now the worst. Not long after, he would openly defy the pope, calling him the very antichrist; he would condemn the cardinals as charlatans; and he would expose the apostate tradition of Roman Catholicism for what it had become: a destructive system of works righteousness. Luthers journey to Rome was a disaster. Yet, it played a critical part in his journey to true, saving faith. Not long after, the fastidious monk discovered the answer to his spiritual dilemma: If he was unrighteous, in spite of his best efforts, how could he be made right before a holy and just God? In 1513 and 1514, while lecturing through the Psalms and studying the book of Romans, Luther came to realize the glorious truth that had escaped him all those years before: The righteousness of God revealed in the gospel is not only the righteous requirement of Godof which all men fall shortbut also the righteous provision of God whereby, in Christ, God imputes Christs righteousness to those who believe. Luthers own remarks sum up the glorious transformation that discovery had on his heart:

At last meditating day and night, by the mercy of God, I gave heed to the context of the words, In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, He who through faith is righteous shall live. Then I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that through which the righteous live by a gift of God, namely by faith. Here I felt as if I were entirely born again and had entered paradise itself through the gates that had been flung open. An entirely new side of the Scriptures opened itself to me . . . and I extolled my sweetest word with a love as great as the loathing with which before I had hated the term the righteousness of God. After a lifetime of guilt, after years of struggling to make himself righteous, after trying to please God on his own, and after a disappointing trip to Rome, Martin Luther finally came to understand the heart of the gospel message. He discovered justification by grace through faith in Christ; and in that moment, he was transformed. For Martin Luther and his fellow Reformers, the doctrine of Gods grace became a central part of their preaching and teaching; in direct contradiction to the Roman Catholic teaching of their day. The five solas of the Reformation, Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura, Solus Christus, Sola Gratia, and Soli Deo Gloria not only include grace alone but also underscore grace at every turn. Faith alone means that justification is not by works but by grace through faith. It was not a form of easy-believismbut rather the realization that our works contribute nothing to our righteous standing before God. Christ alone speaks to the fact that Jesus is Lord, and that it is His work, not ours, by which we are saved. To the glory of God alone indicates that, because salvation is by grace, we cannot boast in ourselves, but only give glory to God. And Scripture alone is the authority upon which we must derive our understanding of the gospel. But all of this raises a key question. Was the Reformation understanding of the gospel as summarized by these five solassomething new? In other words, did Martin Luther and his fellow Reformers invent the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone based on the finished work of Christ alone? Some Roman Catholics certainly think so. It was in May 2007 that Francis Beckwith, then president of the Evangelical Theological Society, announced that he was resigning the positionbecause he was leaving Protestantism to join the Roman Catholic Church. His stated reasons were largely related to church history, and included statements that: The early church is more Catholic than Protestant, and that Catholics have more explanatory power to account for both all the biblical texts on justification as well as the churchs historical understanding of salvation prior to the Reformation all the way back to the ancient church of the first few centuries. Another Roman Catholic apologist (with whom I interacted in an online debate forum) said it this way: As far as Protestant Christianity goes it did not exist until the 1500s. I challenge anyone to find the current protestant beliefs and practices before the 1500s. He

further clarified his position by claiming that no one could demonstrate where Protestant theology existed before the 1500s (sola fide, sola scriptura for instance). He was claiming that the evangelical gospel did not exist before the sixteenth century in church history; and that core Protestant doctrines such as faith alone and grace alone were essentially made up by the Reformers. Now that would be a devastating charge, if it were true. Thankfully, its not. In this series of articles, we will examine the evidence from both the New Testament and the pre-Reformation history of the church, demonstrating that the Reformers did not invent anything about the gospel. Rather, they were committed to the recovery of that very gospel taught by the apostles and church fathersthe gospel embraced by all genuine believers throughout every generation of church history.

Cutting it Straight
By Rich Gregory 2 Timothy 2:15 Somewhere underneath that war torn shard of rock, a miner heard the first muffled sounds of a pick ax chinking its way towards him. A smile must have crept upon his face as he stopped the work to listen, knowing that mere feet separated him from his fellow laborer. As the noises grew in volume over the successive hours - perhaps days - that followed, there would have been great satisfaction in knowing that they had been successful. Commissioned by their king, these men set out to carve a tunnel that would save their city from a looming Assyrian siege. In modern times, the same feat of engineering would be known by the name of its patron - Hezekiahs tunnel. While history remembers the king, the names of the engineers are long forgotten. The testimony to their brilliant labor is found in the inscription left behind in their tunnel. Their words bear witness that these were men who took great pride in cutting their tunnel straight: On the day of the piercing the workmen struck each to meet the other, pickax against pickax. And there flowed the waters The Biblical account of this event records that Hezekiah directed the waters into the city (2 Chronicles 32:30). In the passage, the original language uses the Hebrew word rvy, a term meaning to make level or straight. This same passage in the Septuagint is translated by the Greek orqotomew, which likewise means to cut straight along a line. It is a word that carries the force of doing something carefully and accurately. This is the sense in view in 2 Timothy 2:15 where the apostle commands his protg to be diligent to present yourself to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. The admonition is to carefully cut, or rightly divide the word of truth. That one sentence relays the task of the expositor in glorious summation. It is a task that closely resembles that of Hezekiahs workmen. The exegetes job is to tunnel deeply into Gods Word, carefully cutting a path straight through bedrock to arrive at the point of contact between truth and life. In the process, he gains the ability to deliver not water to a thirsty city, but the words of truth to parched souls. This is a challenge that requires trust in the power of an omnipotent God. It also requires spiritual and physical preparation. This is a holy task that begins with a mans spiritual preparation, not only for the delivery of a particular sermon, but also for his very preparation of that sermon. He must be, approved unto God. As this passage states he is to be dokimos; tried and true, found to be pure as gold. His life must reflect his station as the herald and ambassador of Gods truth. In Pauls first epistle to Timothy, the bar is raised to lofty heights for this very reason. It is through this man of flesh and bone that the spiritual power of Gods word flows into the hearts of Gods people. There can be no twist, turn, or tear in his spiritual fiber. Just as Hezekiahs tunnelers sought to create a straight tunnel in the heart of the earth, so the heart of this man must likewise be level if he is to be an effective conduit of truth.

The impact of this verse is not only felt upon the spiritual preparation of Gods man, but it is also felt in the physical preparation of his message. In approaching the Word of God, care and precision must be his closest companions. Accurate handling or straight cutting is imperative. In his study, there can be no room for shoddy workmanship. Paul warned Timothy that difficult and diligent labor lay before him if He was to be an approved workman. A true worker is imminently familiar with the ache of sore muscles and the reality of dirty hands. That workman never shies away from the pain and sweat that comes with such toil. He embraces it as his lifes work. The man approved to handle the Scriptures eagerly anticipates getting his hands into the text, and mentally exercising himself by utilizing the truths of Scripture. The Holy Spirit empowered spiritual and physical preparation of the preacher must cut a clear channel where the Word of Christ may flow. This is a task not undertaken lightly or with ease. It is a task that is deadly serious and wonderfully joyous within the same stroke. It is a task that leaves a mark upon the life of him who undertakes it. It is the responsibility of this man to see the truth delivered as clearly as possible to the hearer. This is the sacred privilege of being a handler of Scripture. As Thomas Carlyle so eloquently stated, having been called to be a preacher, would stoop to be a king? In short, the title of expositor not only describes what the preacher must do, it describes who he is. He is a man impacted by the word of God, living to understand the truth of God, and comprehending the duty placed upon him by the calling of God. He is the conduit by which the word of truth flows to the lives of the hearers. Difficult as it is, his task is to simply cut it straight. It is to these men who have been approved by God these straight cutters that this column is dedicated. Its purpose is to contain expositions for expositors that will motivate and encourage them to continue in the work of rightly dividing the truth for their flocks. It is meant to be a reminder to pastors and shepherds toiling in ministry to take the necessary time to make the word of truth paramount in their week and preeminent in their heart. Being an expositor is a field where hands get dirty in study. Backs become sore from the spiritual load. It is finally a place where knees must bend before the word of the almighty God. This is our task, for we are unashamed workmen, and we seek to cut it straight.

Criminalizing the Criticism of Islam

By Mathias Kern Welcome to Global Issues in Focus, a regular column designed to provide pastors and church leaders with insights and analysis of issues and events shaping the world today. The U.S. State Department recently hosted a three-day, closed-door conference in Washington, D.C. to advance a diplomatic initiative that would make it an international crime to criticize Islam. Also known as the Istanbul Process, the initiative aims to enshrine in international law a global ban on all critical scrutiny of Islam and/or Islamic Sharia law. The effort is being spearheaded by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), an influential bloc of 57 Muslim countries.Based in Saudi Arabia, the OIC has been pressing the United States and the European Union for more than a decade to implement a legally binding institutional instrument that would impose limits on free speech and expression about Islam. Because previous American administrations resisted OIC efforts to criminalize so-called blasphemous speech due to concerns about U.S. Constitutional guarantees of free speech, the OIC changed its strategy in early 2011. Rather than seeking to limit speech that involves the defamation of religion as before, the OIC is now engaged in a multi-pronged diplomatic offensive to persuade Western democracies to curb any speech that can be viewed as incitement to violence. The cornerstone of the new OIC strategy is United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) Resolution 16/18, formally titled Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons based on religion or belief. HRC Resolution 16/18, which would criminalize any speech that incites violence against others on the basis of religion (such speech is all-encompassing and ranges from cartoons depicting Mohammed to Christian sermons and literature critical of Islam) is widely viewed as a significant step forward in OIC efforts to advance the international legal concept of defaming Islam. Resolution 16/18 was adopted at HRC headquarters in Geneva on March 24, 2011. However, the HRC resolutionas well as the OIC-sponsored Resolution 66/167, which was quietly approved by the 193-member UN General Assembly on December 19, 2011remains ineffectual as long as it lacks strong support in the West.

The OIC therefore scored a major diplomatic coup when the Obama Administration agreed to co-sponsor the first meeting to advance Resolution 16/18 in Istanbul in July 2011, and then to host a three-day Istanbul Process conference in Washington, DC on December 12-14, 2011. By doing so, the United States gave the OIC the political legitimacy it has been seeking since 1999 to globalize its initiative to ban criticism of Islam. Following the meeting in Istanbul, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, We are pursuing a new approach based on concrete steps to fight intolerance wherever it occurs. But Muslim officials insist that although the approach has changed, the objective remains the same, namely the criminalization of criticism of Islam. According to Pakistans Ambassador to the UN, Zamir Akram, the OIC will not compromise on anything against the Koran, anything against the Prophet [Mohammed] and anything against the Muslim community in terms of discrimination. OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said that passage of Resolution 16/18 clearly demonstrated that, as a mature international organization, the OIC was not wedded to either a particular title or the content of a resolution. We just wanted to ensure that the actual matter of vital concern and interest to OIC member states was addressed. He added: The adoption of the resolution does not mark the end of the road. It rather signifies a beginning based on a new approach to deal with the whole set of interrelated issues. The OIC now wants to develop a legal basis for Resolution 16/18 that will help in enacting domestic laws for the countries involved in the issue, as well as formulating international laws preventing inciting hatred resulting from the continued defamation of religions. The OIC is, of course, referring to countries in the West, not the Middle East; the OIC blasphemy initiative does not foresee guaranteeing the rights of Christians and Jews in the Muslim world. Says Akram: Resolution 16/18 was driven more by the kind of discrimination in Europe and the West in general against Muslims. I dont think any country in the Muslim world is deliberately discriminating against minorities. Ihsanoglu concurs: The Islamic faith is based on tolerance and acceptance of other religions. It does not condone discrimination of human beings on the basis of caste, creed, color, or faith. Now that it has secured the support of the Obama administration, the OIC is focusing its attention on the 27-member European Union, which has promised to host the next meeting of the Istanbul Process. Many European countries lacking First Amendment protections like those in the United States have already enacted hate speech laws that effectively serve as proxies for the all-

encompassing blasphemy legislation the OIC is seeking to impose on the European Union as a whole. In Austria, for example, an appellate court recently upheld the conviction of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, a Viennese housewife and anti-Jihad activist, for denigrating religious beliefs after she gave a series of seminars about the dangers of radical Islam. Also in Austria, Susanne Winter, a politician and Member of Parliament, was convicted for the crime of saying that in todays system Mohammed would be considered a child molester, referring to his marriage to six-year-old Aisha. Winter was also convicted of incitement for saying that Austria faces an Islamic immigration tsunami. Winters was ordered to pay a fine of 24,000 ($31,000). In Denmark, Lars Hedegaard, a journalist and historian, was found guilty of hate speech for saying in a taped interview that there was a high incidence of domestic violence in areas dominated by Muslim culture. Hedegaards comments violated Denmarks infamous Article 266b of the penal code, a catch-all provision used to enforce politically correct speech codes. Although Hedegaard was ultimately acquitted by the Danish Supreme Court, it was on a legal technicality; in its ruling, the Supreme Court stressed that the substance of the charges against Hedegaardpublic criticism of Islam is still a crime punishable by imprisonment. Also in Denmark, Jesper Langballe, a politician and Member of Parliament, was found guilty of hate speech for saying that honor killings take place in Muslim families. Langballe was denied the opportunity to prove his assertions because under Danish law it is immaterial whether a statement is true or false. All that is needed for a conviction is for someone to feel offended. In Finland, Jussi Kristian Halla-aho, a politician and well-known political commentator, was taken to court on charges of incitement against an ethnic group and breach of the sanctity of religion for saying that Islam is a religion of pedophilia. A Helsinki court ordered Halla-aho to pay a fine for disturbing religious worship. In France, novelist Michel Houellebecq was sued by Islamic authorities in the French cities of Paris and Lyon for calling Islam the stupidest religion and for saying the Koran is badly written.Meanwhile, the actress turned animal rights crusader Brigitte Bardot was convicted for inciting racial hatred after demanding that Muslims anaesthetize animals before slaughtering them. Also France, Marie Lafort, one of the countrys most well-known singers and actresses, was forced to defend herself in court against charges that a job advertisement she placed discriminated against Muslims.

The 72-year-old Lafort had placed an ad on an Internet website specifying that people with allergies or orthodox Muslims should not apply due to a small Chihuahua. Lafort claimed that she made the stipulation because she believed that Muslims view dogs as unclean animals. The pro-Muslim group Movement against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples (MRAP) lodged a criminal complaint against Lafort, whose lawyer said she knew that the presence of a dog could conflict with the religious convictions of orthodox Muslims. It was a sign of respect. Muslims rejected her defense. In the Netherlands, Geert Wildersthe leader of the Dutch Freedom Party who had denounced the threat to Western values posed by unassimilated Muslim immigrantswas recently acquitted of five charges of inciting religious hatred against Muslims for comments he made that were critical of Islam. The landmark verdict brought to a close a highly-public, two-year legal odyssey. Also in Holland, GregoriusNekschot, the pseudonym of a Dutch cartoonist who often mocks Dutch multiculturalism, was arrested at his home in Amsterdam for drawing cartoons deemed offensive to Muslims. Nekschot was charged for eight cartoons that attribute negative qualities to certain groups of people, and, as such, constitute a hate crime according to the Dutch Penal Code. Nekschot said it was the first time in 800 years of satire in the Netherlands that an artist was put in jail. In Italy, the late OrianaFallaci, a journalist and author, was taken to court for writing that Islam brings hate instead of love and slavery instead of freedom. A judge in Switzerland, acting on a lawsuit brought by Islamic Center of Geneva, issued an arrest warrant for Fallaci for violations of Article 261 of the Swiss criminal code. Fallaci died of cancer just months after the start of her trial. In the United States, the OIC is pressing the Obama administration to impose restrictions on free speech that are similar to those already in place in many European countries. Christians in the United States and abroad should be aware that Resolution 16/18, if fully implemented, would restrict what they can say regarding Islam. This would encompass any critical examination of the beliefs or practices of Islam. If taken to its logical conclusion, it would also include the proclamation that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, since this is considered blasphemy within Islam. Mathias Kern teaches international relations at the Masters College.