NT Literature: The Johannine Corpus

As I shared in a previous post, I am hoping to provide a high school level class for students who will be doing virtual learning or homeschooling as a result of COVID-19. I am waiting to make this class official until I have at least 5 students signed up but am spending the bulk of today creating the course overview and curriculum. In my search online, I could not find any classes that I felt were adequate so I am creating one on my own.

Below is the course description. If you know of any high school students who would like to be part of this class, please have them reach out to me via e-mail – tyler@renovationchurchsd.com

TITLE:
NT Literature: The Johannine Corpus

DESCRIPTION:
This is a one-semester course which will meet once a week for 15 weeks for an in-depth study of the Gospel of John as well as overviews of the rest of the Johannine Corpus (i.e. 1st John, 2nd John, 3rd John, and Revelation). We will consider the authorship, structure, historical background, and 1st century setting to grasp a fuller and deeper understanding of this ancient text. The class will meet on Thursdays at 9am via Zoom (beginning on Thursday, September 3rd). Class sessions will be around 2 hours long and the student should expect to complete 1 – 3 hours of homework per week for this class. This will be more academic than a regular Bible Study but the goal remains the same: to help the student connect with God in a deeper and more authentic way.

REQUIRED TEXTBOOKS:
ESV Study Bible (ISBN – 978-1433502415)
N.T. Wright for Everyone Bible Study Guides: John (ISBN – 978-0830821846)

New Testament Survey/Church History Class

Hi everyone,

I know that many parents have adopted homeschooling or virtual schooling for this year. If you would like your kids to take some type of religious education class, I would be more than willing to organize some classes via Zoom – possibly a New Testament Survey class with some church history mixed in. I have a Master of Divinity degree from Sioux Falls Seminary, have been in pastoral ministry for 8 years, and served as a teaching assistant for graduate level courses on similar subjects.

If interested, send me an e-mail – tyler@renovationchurchsd.com. The only thing I ask is that you make a donation to Renovation Church in any amount you are able to give. We will use the money that you give to help our local teachers purchase extra supplies that they need for COVID-19.

(If you are an adult and would be interested in something similar, let me know. If there is enough interest, I can try to to teach an adult class as well.)

Prison Break (Acts 12:1-17)

This past Sunday I had the honor of teaching through the Book of Acts by studying Acts 12:1-17. In this passage, we looked at two major events of history – the first is the death of the Apostle James and the second is the deliverance of Peter from prison at the hands of an angel.

This passage poses many questions that we still wrestle with today:

– Why does God allow good people who love him to die at a young age while others are delivered from death?

– If God already knows what is going to happen – what is the point of prayer? Does prayer actually change anything?

– We may not be in a physical prison but so many of us are imprisoned to alcohol, drugs, sex, consumerism, comfort, or entertainment. How can we ourselves experience deliverance from these prisons?

The full message is below and below the message you can find the Sermon Discussion Guide to help you go deeper in your faith. We will be meeting this Wednesday at 8pm via Zoom to talk through the Sermon Discussion Guide and all are invited to join us. The connection information is here: https://renovationchurchsd.com/online-service-information/

Book of Acts – Week 29 – Acts 12:1-17
Discussion Guide

Before working on this discussion guide, please do the following:

1. Watch the message from this past Sunday if you were unable to attend the online service. You can find the message on our Facebook Page and on our website (renovationchurchsd.com).

2. Spend 5 minutes or so in prayer. You can either pray through the “Lord’s Prayer” or simply share what is on your heart. It is also good to spend at least 1 full minute in silence so that God can quiet your heart and mind as you prepare to study the Scriptures.

Discussion Questions

1. Read slowly and prayerfully through Acts 12:1-17. What stands out to you? What questions do you still have after reading through the text?

2. In the beginning of this chapter, we are introduced to three major people: King Herod, Peter, and James. Explain briefly who each of these people are and their relation to Jesus.

3. The most troubling contrast in this chapter is the difference between the outcomes of James imprisonment and that of Peter. Why did God rescue Peter out of prison but allow James to be executed? Bringing it to our own day – why does God heal some people and not others? Why does he save some people from death but not others – when He loves both people?

4. During Peter’s imprisonment, the church was marked by “fervent prayer.” There was a time when Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them how to pray. He replied by giving us the “model prayer” known as the “Lord’s Prayer.” Read Matthew 6:5-15 – what stands out to you? What questions do you have?

5. One of the remarkable things about Peter is that he was sound asleep hours before his execution – he seemed to not have any anxiety or worry about his impending death. How was this possible? Are there any Scriptures that come to mind that have helped you in the midst of anxiety or worry?

6. As soon as Peter realized that God, through the angel, rescued him from prison – he immediately went to the church to share his testimony with God’s people. One of the best things we can do is regularly share with those around us how God has worked in our lives. As you look over the past few months, what are some specific ways God has delivered you out of various “prisons”?

Thank You!!!

I wanted to take a minute to say THANK YOU to all of you who support Renovation Church financially. This past week, I took some time to personally send a message to every teacher in the Garretson School District to let them know that we are praying for them and to offer to help purchasing anything needed for their classrooms this year.

So far, we have been able to purchase clear face masks for ALL of the first graders and their teachers (per their request). This will allow these young kids to better see – and respond to – nonverbal communication. We have also been able to come alongside of a local family to purchase backpacks and school supplies for the new year.

We are a small church with limited finances but we want to do everything we can to make this school year successful for our community, teachers, and staff. If you work for the district and are in need of help purchasing extra supplies due to COVID-19, send us a message.

(On a side-note, I also read in the paper that the district is having a difficult time finding substitute teachers since many of them are over the age of 60. As a result, I spoke to Supt. Johnson and signed up to become a substitute teacher this year to help with this burden.)

The Church God Blesses (Acts 11:19-26)

This past Sunday I had the honor of teaching about the most influential church plant in the first century – the church in Antioch. I walk through the text and share four characteristics about the type of church (and Christian) that God blesses. Below the video you can find the Sermon Discussion Guide to go deeper into the text. This Wednesday at 8pm I will be hosting an online small group where we will discuss the Sermon Discussion Guide. The connection info is here: https://renovationchurchsd.com/online-service-information/

Book of Acts – Week 28 – Acts 11:19-26
Discussion Guide

Before working on this discussion guide, please do the following:

1. Watch the message from this past Sunday if you were unable to attend the online service. You can find the message on our Facebook Page and on our website (renovationchurchsd.com).

2. Spend 5 minutes or so in prayer. You can either pray through the “Lord’s Prayer” or simply share what is on your heart. It is also good to spend at least 1 full minute in silence so that God can quiet your heart and mind as you prepare to study the Scriptures.

Discussion Questions

1. Read slowly and prayerfully through Acts 11:19-26. What stands out to you? What questions do you still have after reading through the text?

2. The Church of Antioch was founded in the crucible of suffering. One of the themes of Scripture we conveniently ignore is the dominant theme of suffering in the life of a Christian. Read the following passages and share what stands out to you: James 1:2-8 and 1 Peter 2:19-25

3. The Church in Antioch was started when followers of Jesus were willing to “proclaim the good news about the Lord Jesus” to the non-Jews in that city. If someone were to ask you – what is this “good news” that these early Christians proclaimed – how would you answer it? Do you have a certain passage of Scripture you can point to that contains this good news?

4. When Barnabas arrived in Antioch to check out what was going on, Luke says that he saw the “grace of God.” What does this mean? When the average person walks into most churches today, do they see the grace of God? What are some steps we can take as individuals and as a church so that others see God’s grace in and through us?

5. Another thing that the Church in Antioch prioritized was sound teaching and doctrine. Take a few minutes to carefully read Hebrews 5:11-14 – what stands out to you? Practically speaking, how do we adjust from milk to solid food in the Christian faith?

6. Overall, the key to the success of the church in Antioch is found in verse 21 – the Lord’s hand was with them. This is something all of us want to experience but very few of us do. If someone were to ask you, “How do I experience the blessing of God” – how would you respond?

Unmasking the Mask Debate.

This past Sunday, I did a special online service that consisted of answering questions that were submitted both ahead of time and while I was doing the service. One of these questions asked if there were any guidelines or principles to consider for the current debate over masks.

Here is a short clip from the full service where I seek to answer this question while remaining faithful to the Scriptures.

(If you are reading this in your e-mail, you may need to go to the actual page to see the video).

God Has No Favorites (Acts 10:1-48)

Unfortunately the Christian church throughout history has been one of the main proponents of prejudice, racism, and ethnocentrism. This is not a new problem in the church; instead, it was even propagated by the great Apostle Peter. In this message, I teach through Acts 10:1-48 and we see how Peter’s prejudice & ethnocentrism is challenged and transformed by the Gospel (and how all of it applies to the church today as well).

The sermon discussion guide can be found below the message. We will be meeting on Wednesday evening at 8pm to discuss these questions and all are invited to join us. The connection info is here: Online Service Information

Book of Acts – Week 27 – Acts 10:1-48
Discussion Guide

Before working on this discussion guide, please do the following:

1. Watch the message from this past Sunday if you were unable to attend the online service. You can find the message on our Facebook Page and on our website (renovationchurchsd.com).

2. Spend 5 minutes or so in prayer. You can either pray through the “Lord’s Prayer” or simply share what is on your heart. It is also good to spend at least 1 full minute in silence so that God can quiet your heart and mind as you prepare to study the Scriptures.

Discussion Questions

1. Read slowly and prayerfully through Acts 10:1-48. What stands out to you? What questions do you still have after reading through the text?

2. One of the tensions we need to understand to fully appreciate this text is the tension between Jew and Gentile. Can you think of any Old Testament Scriptures or stories that would have led to this tension in the early church?

3. Prejudice and even racism can still be found in the church today. We may not be prejudice towards Gentiles (since we are all Gentiles) but there is no shortage of other groups we are prejudice towards. What are some groups of people that tend to be rejected or mistreated by the Church? What are some practical steps we can take to offer them the love of God?

4. In this passage, we see God go through a lot of effort to get Peter in front of Cornelius. It would have been way easier to just have the angel that appeared to Cornelius share the Gospel with him. Why didn’t this happen? Why was it so important for Peter to show up?

5. After God shows Peter the vision about the different animals and God commands Peter to eat them, Peter responds by saying, “No, Lord!” which is an oxymoron – if you say no then Jesus clearly isn’t Lord. What are some ways that Christians today say, “No, Lord!” to clear teaching in Scripture?

6. Although God taught Peter in this passage that he must not call any person impure or unclean, he falls into this same trap again and is rebuke by the Apostle Paul. Read through Galatians 2:11-21 – what stands out to you?

7. Finally, what is at least one way you are seeking to apply this text to your life?  

How To “Achieve” Sainthood

What comes to mind when you think of the word “saint”? For many of us, we tend to think of a super spiritual person who seems to be closer to Jesus than the rest of us – the Mother Theresas of the world. Others of you likely think of your grandmother (let’s be honest, our grandmothers really do seem to know Jesus better than the rest of the world). Of, if you have a Roman Catholic background, you may think of certain Christians throughout history who have been canonized as “Saints” by the Catholic Church.

This past Sunday I had the honor of teaching through Acts 9:32-43 at Renovation Church. This passage begins by describing Peter as visiting “the saints who lived in Lydda.” When we read passages such as this one we need to ask good questions; namely, who are the “saints” being visited by Peter? Are these super holy Christians who have been canonized by the early church for their acts of charity and devotion? Are they all the grandmas who seem to know Jesus better than the rest of us? Who are they?

If you continue to read through this passage you will begin to understand that the word “saint” is being used to describe normal and every-day followers of Jesus. Matter of fact, whenever the word “saint” is used in Scripture, it is referring to regular followers of Jesus. One notorious example of this is when Paul writes a letter to the church in Corinth. Corinth was far from being a haven of godliness and holiness; in one case there was a man sleeping with his step-mom and, rather than rebuking him, the church celebrated how tolerant they were (see 1 Cor. 5:1). In addition, as the church gathered to celebrate communion, some of the Christians were actually getting intoxicated by the communion wine (1 Cor. 11:21). This isn’t to mention the division, spiritual abuse, and quarreling going on in the church!

Nevertheless, Paul refers to these very messed-up Christians as “saints” in 1 Corinthians 1:2. The English word “saints” comes from the Greek word hagios. The term literally means to be set apart for the purposes of God. According to the New Testament, sainthood is not something we achieve but instead an identity we receive through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In other words, the moment you become a follower of Jesus regardless of how screwed up you are, you have now become a saint.

So… why does this matter?

On September 22nd, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War. This executive order instantly changed the identity of all slaves to freedmen in the northern and southern states. Unfortunately, many of these now freedmen continued to live their lives as slaves because the news of the Emancipation Proclamation was kept away from them by their cruel “owners.” Although they were no longer legally enslaved to these former owners, they continued in their slavery because they did not understand that they had received a new identity.

As Union Troops pushed into the southern states, they distributed leaflets and other material to spread the good news that slavery had been demolished through the Emancipation Proclamation. As these former slaves received the good news that their identity had been changed, they were empowered to leave their life of slavery and pursue life with a brand new freedom.

Likewise, I would argue that many Christians today are paralyzed and enslaved by sin because we do not understand our new identity in Christ. Before a person becomes a Christian, the Scriptures describe them as being “enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6:15-23). This is what Martin Luther referred to as the bondage of the will. The human will has become so twisted, corrupt, and depraved through sin that humanity has become spiritually dead – unable to even respond to God on our own (Eph. 2:1). Nevertheless, the moment God causes a person to be born again, their identity changes from being an object of God’s wrath, to an object of God’s love; from a child of Satan, to a child of God; from being without hope, to experiencing the fullness of hope; from being enslaved to sin, to experience the glorious freedom made available through Christ.

Unfortunately, we forget our identity in Christ because our minds are assaulted by accusations from the enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). In the same way that the wicked slave owners of the south kept their former slaves from hearing the good news of the Emancipation Proclamation so our even more wicked slave owner seeks to deafen us to the Emancipation Proclamation heralded through the Gospel.

The way we combat these accusations and false identities is to regularly remind ourselves of our true identity in Christ – including the Sainthood that we have received not on the basis of our works but on the basis of Jesus’ perfect work. Neil Anderson, an author, pastor, and professor has helped me understand this concept in a much greater degree. His book “Victory Over the Darkness” is a must-read for every Christian who desires to conquer sinful habits that choke out our spiritual lives. In the book, he has numerous lists that are meant to be read out loud because faith comes through hearing the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17).

Below is one of these lists. I want you to honestly read this list out loud so you can hear it being spoken over you. Each of these things are true about you not because of what you have done but because of what Jesus has done for you.

I AM ACCEPTED…
John 1:12 I am God’s child.
John 15:15 As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1 I have been justified (declared righteous).
1 Corinthians 6:17 I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I have been bought with a price and I belong to God.
1 Corinthians 12:27 I am a member of Christ’s body.
Ephesians 1:3-8 I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.
Colossians 1:13-14 I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.
Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete in Christ.
Hebrews 4:14-16 I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ.

I AM SECURE…
Romans 8:1-2 I am free from condemnation.
Romans 8:28 I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances.
Romans 8:31-39 I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be
separated from the love of God.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 I have been established, anointed and sealed by God.
Colossians 3:1-4 I am hidden with Christ in God.
Philippians 1:6 I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me.
Philippians 3:20 I am a citizen of heaven.
2 Timothy 1:7 I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.
1 John 5:18 I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.

I AM SIGNIFICANT…
John 15:5 I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life.
John 15:16 I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.
1 Corinthians 3:16 I am God’s temple.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 I am a minister of reconciliation for God.
Ephesians 2:6 I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm.
Ephesians 2:10 I am God’s workmanship.
Ephesians 3:12 I may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

Which of the statements above is the most difficult for you to believe? Why? What are some steps you can take or Scripture you can meditate on this week so that you realize your new identity in Christ and experience freedom from the bondage of sin?

Plundering Satan (Acts 9:32-43)

This past Sunday I had the honor of teaching through two incredible miracles in the Book of Acts – the healing of a paralyzed man and the raising of a dead woman. In this message, I teach verse-by-verse through this passage and explain how it applies to our lives today. The sermon discussion guide can be found below the message.

Book of Acts – Week 26 – Acts 9:32-43
Discussion Guide

Before working on this discussion guide, please do the following:

1. Watch the message from this past Sunday if you were unable to attend the online service. You can find the message on our Facebook Page and on our website (renovationchurchsd.com).

2. Spend 5 minutes or so in prayer. You can either pray through the “Lord’s Prayer” or simply share what is on your heart. It is also good to spend at least 1 full minute in silence so that God can quiet your heart and mind as you prepare to study the Scriptures.

Discussion Questions

1. Read slowly and prayerfully through Acts 9:32-43. What stands out to you? What questions do you still have after reading through the text?

2. In Acts 9:32, Luke refers to the Christians in Lydda as “saints.” Why does he do this? Are the Christians in Lydda especially holy? How should Luke’s use of this phrase change the way we view ourselves and our relationship to God?

3. What we see Peter doing in this passage is in fulfillment of Jesus’ words in John 14:12-14. Read through this passage and explain it in your own words – what are the things you notice?

4. In the sermon, I (Tyler) made the claim that miracles are possible but are not normative for the Christian life. First, what does this mean? Second, in what ways have miracles been abused in the Christian church by so-called teachers? Third, do you agree or disagree with what I said and why? (be honest!)

5. Many people refer to passages such as Tabitha rising from the dead and Lazarus coming from the tomb as “Resurrections.” The only Resurrection we have in Scripture is Jesus. What is the difference between Resurrection and what happened to Tabitha & Lazarus?

6. Miracle accounts in Scripture are always true and almost always have a deeper meaning beneath the surface. As you consider Aeneas being healed from paralysis and Tabitha being brought back to life – do you notice any deeper meaning in this text that we should apply to our lives?

7. Every person who is a Christian is truly a walking miracle. For many people, your life is the only Bible they will read. What are some characteristics you want those around you to recognize about Jesus – write them down. Considering this list, what are some changes we can make to our lives so people see these things in us?

Do Dramatic Miracles (Healings, Raising the Dead, etc.) Happen Today?

My philosophy for preaching is to go verse-by-verse through books of the Bible at Renovation Church. So far, I have had the honor of teaching all the way through the Gospel of John and 1 Peter. Now we are working our way through the Book of Acts.

One of the many benefits of this type of preaching is I am forced to deal with difficult questions I would tend to ignore on a Sunday morning. This past Sunday, we looked at the account in the Book of Acts when Peter healed a man who was paralyzed and then later raised a woman named Tabitha from the dead. Although most Christians would agree that dramatic miracles such as these DID happen during the New Testament, many Christians would say that these kinds of dramatic miracles no longer happen today. (On a side-note, I find it interesting that it tends to only be Western Christians who make this claim).

In contrast with this belief system, I believe that dramatic miracles are possible but they are not normative. In other words, I fully believe God does, at times, perform the same types of dramatic miracles we see in the Book of Acts but it is not a normative experience for every Christian. I believe the reason many Christians have come to the conclusion that these miracles no longer happen is there are many false teachers who think that these miracles should be normative for the Christian life. In other words, they teach that if you have enough faith you will never get sick, experience suffering, or endure poverty. Those who proclaim this type of message are false teachers pushing a false gospel that will damn a person to hell; as a result, many of us are leery of all miracle claims.

In this article, I want to show you from Scripture, history, and experience that God continues to use the so-called “sign” gifts that we see in the New Testament. The “sign” gifts are the more remarkable miracles such as prophecy, raising the dead, and gifts of healing.

Scripture

First, let’s begin with Scripture. All other experience and viewpoints must be evaluated by the measuring rod of Scripture. Those who believed that these types of dramatic miracles ceased with the time of the Apostles and the creation of the New Testament generally point to 1 Corinthians 13:8-13. In my study of this topic, there is virtually no other passage of Scripture that defends the viewpoint that certain miraculous gifts have ceased with the close of the apostolic age or the creation of the New Testament canon. As a result, let’s look closely at this passage and seek to discover the original intention of the author (i.e. Paul).

1 Corinthians 13:8-13
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known. 13 Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love—but the greatest of these is love.

First, let’s begin with the context. This is a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the church in Corinth. Corinth, among other things, was known as a place of spiritual immaturity and they had a strange obsession with the gift of tongues (sounds like some Christians today, doesn’t it?). The meaning of this passage hinges on a proper understanding of verse 10 – “but when the perfect comes, the partial will come to an end.” Those who believe these types of miracles have ceased (known as Cessationism) claim that the “perfect” being spoken of by Paul refers to the completion of the New Testament. According to this line of reasoning, the New Testament allow us to see God “face to face” and to know God “fully.”

Let’s consider this for a moment.

First, Paul had no idea that there would be such a thing as the New Testament. At this time, the Bible of the early church was the Old Testament Scriptures. The Church read the Old Testament through a Christ-centered framework. According to the Apostle Paul in another letter he wrote to Corinth, it is only through Christ that the veil of the Old Testament is removed and we understand the true purpose of these Scriptures through Jesus (2 Cor. 3:16). Virtually all scholars would agree that in writing this passage, Paul did NOT have the New Testament in mind.

Second, it is clear as you read the entire passage that the “perfect” being referred to is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This fits the use of this language elsewhere in Paul’s letters (and the letters of the other New Testament authors). Even now, with the incredible benefit of the New Testament, we do not see God “fully” as we are “fully known” by Him. If this was true, there would be not disagreements throughout the church. This language of knowing God fully is the word ἐπιγνώσομαι which is a type of knowledge of God that will only be possible when we are fully and entirely in God’s presence at the end of the ages when the Kingdom of God is fully established on earth as in heaven.

Third, the best rule in understanding difficult Scripture is to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. In other words, we should use passages that are more clear to help us interpret passages that are less clear. Every other passage in the New Testament that speaks about miracles, signs, or spiritual gifts are written with the expectation that these things will continue until Jesus comes back for the Church.

Fourth, if you read Paul’s very next sentence, this is what he says, “Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy…” In other words, failure to desire spiritual gifts – especially the sign gift of prophesy – is in contradiction to Paul’s clear command to not only the church in Corinth but to all Christians who receive the Scriptures as God’s Word for us. The burden of proof is not on those who believe these gifts continue until the present day; it is on those who claim the gifts have ceased. The passage above is the only passage they point to in defense of their beliefs but an honest and intellectual look at this passage in its surrounding context makes it clear that the “perfect” is Jesus – not the completion of the New Testament.

History

The next place we should examine is the course of church history. If it is true that the miraculous gifts ceased with the death of the Apostles, there should be no more dramatic miracles after the death of the Apostles who wrote the New Testament. Even an extremely brief survey of the church fathers (the leaders of the church directly after the Apostles) would prove that this is a terribly false claim. Here are some quotes you will discover if you begin studying the church fathers (which I HIGHLY recommend!). For the sake of time, let me share with you the writings of two of the most famous church fathers – Irenaus and Origen

Irenaus (late 2nd century):
“the Lord raised the dead, and the apostles did so by means of prayer, and this has been frequently done in the brotherhood on account of some necessity. When the entire church in that particular locality entreated God with much fasting and prayer, the spirit of the dead man returned, and he has been bestowed in some answer to the prayers of the saints.”

“We also hear many brethren in the church who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages (!), and bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men.”

Origin (late 2nd century):
“Traces of those signs and wonders are still preserved among those who regulate their lives by the teachings of the Gospel.”

“The Jews no longer have prophets or miracles. Yet, traces of those things are still found among Christians to a considerable extent. Some of those miracles are more remarkable than any that existed among the Jews. I have witnessed these myself.”

In addition, verifiable accounts of miracles at the hands of Christians have been testified to in every century from the Book of Acts until the present day. I shared one such modern account that can be verified through medical journals and other peer-reviewed literature of a dead person being raised in a previous blog post – as well as a resource that documents and verifies these many miracle claims from an academic viewpoint from the 1st century until 2015: Raising the Dead

Experience

Finally, I will share briefly from my own experience. The reason this one is last on the list is because personal experience is subjective and can be used to manipulate others. We should never establish doctrine or seek to interpret Scripture through our own experience. Instead, our experience must always be judged in light of Scripture and the teachings of Christians throughout the centuries (that’s why I begin with Scripture and then moved on to history).

When I first became a Christian, I was invited to start a Bible Study for other teenagers at the home of Lisa Hubers in Pipestone, Minnesota. We would meet one day a week, Lisa would graciously open her home and cook a meal for us, and then we would study the Bible together. At the end of the Bible Study, we would take time to pray for one another individually. It was at this Bible Study where I first witnessed the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit being in operation. Lisa, as many people know, has a prophetic gift. One of the things I love about Lisa is that she believes fully in the gifts of the Spirit but is rigorously academic – holding a Masters of Divinity degree and understanding Greek better than I do. As Lisa prays over people, the Holy Spirit often reveals to her an image, a vision, or a Scripture for that person. It’s incredible to watch Lisa pray for people she has never met and as she shares about the picture God is showing her, people tend to break down in tears because it is something from their childhood or a passage of Scripture that is especially relevant to them. After watching the example of Lisa, I used to go around Pipestone (especially the Pipestone Monument) and ask people if I could pray for them. I can recall a handful of times in prayer where the Holy Spirit also revealed to me either a picture, a word, or a passage of Scripture that seemed to be especially relevant to that person.

The reason many Christians are leery of this understanding is they think it downplays the place of Scripture. Hopefully, as you have noticed in my explanation, experience should never come before Scripture. Scripture is the only objective standard & revelation of God that we have; nevertheless, the Holy Spirit uses Scripture (and spiritual gifts) as a means of making the person of Jesus personal to those we come into contact with. Our aversion to such things as prophetic prayer is in direct contradiction to Paul’s admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21, “Don’t stifle the Spirit. Don’t despise prophecies, but test all things. Hold on to what is good.”

Finally, let me close by sharing with you one of the “pictures” Lisa Hubers shared while she was praying for me. This is from when I was 16 years old and brand new to the Christian faith. I had no idea what my future held but I had no plans on entering into pastoral ministry. As she was praying for me, she said that she saw me leaving the large cities and big churches in order to go into the “highways and byways” of a rural community and inviting people to the wedding supper of the Lamb (an allusion to Revelation 19). She shared how she saw me going to a community that is generally overlooked by big churches and shining the light of the Gospel for those in that small town.

Ten years later, I am the Lead Pastor of Renovation Church in the small town of Garretson, South Dakota. My job literally consists of inviting people in my small town – and neighboring communities – to experience the true life and hope that is found in Jesus and Jesus alone.

Finally, if you are interested in developing a thoroughly Biblical understanding of the spiritual gifts, please reach out to me. I would love to schedule a monthly Zoom meeting with you and we can go deeper into Scripture and study this topic together. This would be free of course – just reach out and we can set it up!