Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Theology of Lying

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

Then there’s the little boy in Sunday School, who, when asked what a lie was, said:

“It’s an abomination unto God, and an ever present help in time of trouble.”

(from Dutch Sheets, Intercessory Prayer: How God Can Use Your Prayers to Move Heaven and Earth. Regal Books, 1997, p115.)

Prophecy Versus Preaching

Sunday, September 10th, 2006

There is a common equation made among more conservative evangelicals (and liberals) between prophecy and preaching. Reluctant to allow for the direct gift of prophecy to be still operating today, they instead wish to believe that it has been replaced by inspired preaching. This, notwithstanding that the offices of prophet, pastor and teacher are listed as quite separate by Paul.

Certainly, there are times when a prophet will preach, or a preacher will prophesy. And sometimes the two merge together in prophetic preaching. Does this mean that as well as wishing that “all would prophesy”, Paul would insist that all should preach? I don’t think we could assume this, though all may do so at times. Nor does it mean that prophet equals preacher, or that prophesying equates to preaching.

An example which brings this home to me is the case of C.H. Spurgeon – often called the ‘Prince of Preachers’. Spurgeon was indeed a gifted preacher, with the power of the Holy Spirit very evidently operating in him and amongst his listeners when he spoke from his pulpit. But even Spurgeon was careful to distinguish between prophecy and preaching.

Ernest Gentile, in Your Sons and Daughters Shall Prophesy: Prophetic Gifts in Ministry Today, says “He reckons that there were as many as a dozen cases in which, interrupting his sermon, he had suddenly pointed to someone in his audience and given a striking description without any knowledge of the person. These spontaneous descriptions had usually caused the conversion of the person addressed.”

Bishop David Pytches, in Does God Speak Today?, pp 48-49, recounts a story Spurgeon related in the first volume of his autobiography, C. H. Spurgeon Autobiography: The Early Years, 1834-1859 :

“While preaching in the hall on one occasion, I deliberately pointed to a man in the midst of the crowd and said, ‘There is a man sitting there, who is a shoemaker. He keeps his shop open on Sundays. It was open last Sabbath morning, and he took ninepence – with fourpence profit from it. His soul is sold to Satan for fourpence!'”

Later a city missionary happened to meet the shoemaker. As they discussed Spurgeon, the shoemaker explained that Spurgeon’s word was exactly right and had caused his conversion. Fearful at first to return to the church and risk further exposure, the man finally concluded that it must have been God. From then on he shut up his shop on Sundays and went to God’s house to hear the Baptist prophet preach. (Gentile, Your Sons and Daughters Shall Prophesy, p 81)

Spurgeon himself described the ‘unction’ that came upon him at such times as, “a dew from the Lord, a divine presence which you will recognise at once … ‘an unction from the holy one.'” (Lectures to My Students, p49)

Another common misunderstanding is that prophecy equates to powerful preaching about societal ills, sin in politics, environmental destruction, exploitation of the vulnerable, and similar important issues. Of course, prophets and preachers may thunder about such things, and probably will, but it is not the thundering which makes such preaching become prophecy. Rather, it is the accuracy and authority which comes from hearing a direct word from God about what to say. As we can see in Spurgeon’s example – he could not have known what he said before he said it. This is one mark of true prophecy.

Anyone can preach about the sin they are aware of among those around them, but few have the gift of speaking about what they do not know beforehand – at least without making fools of themselves.