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   The April 2000 Pneuma Informer
In this issue:
  • Excerpts from the Spring 2000 issue of the Pneuma Review:
    • From "That Glorious Day When Tongues are Not Needed: Until Then . . ." Part 1, from the Praying In the Spirit series by Robert Graves
    • From the Messianic Foundations Series by Kevin Williams, "Cheleb: The Finest"
    • Periodical Review: "Blessed Are Those Who Mourn," Charisma (Sept. 1999), by Ken Walker. Review by Raul Mock
    • Special Excerpt from the yet to be released Summer 2000 Pneuma Review: "Should Christians Expect Miracles Today? Objections and Answers from the Bible", by Wayne Grudem
  • Prayer Requests & Praise Reports

Excerpts from the Spring 2000 issue (Vol 3. No 2) of the Pneuma Review

From "That Glorious Day When Tongues are Not Needed: Until Then . . ." Part 1 of 2, From the Praying in the Spirit series by Robert Graves
. . .

The second passage used by cessationists to prove that the office of apostleship ceased is Acts 1:21-22, which describes the replacing of Judas with Matthias: "Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection." These verses indicate that only a man who had walked with Jesus "the whole time" and had witnessed His resurrection could qualify for that apostolic ministry (Criswell, Baptism, p. 61).

There is no disagreement here between Pentecostals and charismatics and cessationists. Judas' replacement had to fulfill certain requirements that locked the office into the first century. He had to (1) be baptized by John, (2) be with Jesus throughout His earthly ministry, and (3) be a witness of Jesus' resurrection. Beyond Judas, the Bible nowhere informs us of the replacement of one of the Twelve, even though it records the death of the apostle James, the first martyred apostle (Acts 12:2). But the question arises, Were these the only apostles or a special twelve among apostles?

This question brings us to another passage used by cessationists. It is actually a cluster of three passages: "Jesus said to them, 'I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:29-30 parallels Matthew here). John wrote, "The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb" (Revelation 21:14). Pentecostals and charismatics can agree with W. A. Criswell: "When they died the office ceased to exist. There are no more twelve apostles" (Baptism, p. 61).

These Scriptures prove beyond doubt that the twelve apostles were unique. When these men died, indeed, the particular positions they held as the first twelve apostles ceased. But were these the only apostles? Paul is called an apostle, so is James, the Lord's brother (Galatians 1:19), also Barnabas (Acts 14:14; 1 Corinthians 9:5-6), Silas (1 Thessalonians 1:1 and 2:6), Timothy (1 Thessalonians 1:1 and 2:6-7), Andronicus (Romans 16:7), and Junias (Romans 16:7). In his apologetic for the resurrection of Jesus, Paul lists as eyewitnesses the Twelve, 500 brothers, James, then all the apostles, and finally himself (1 Corinthians 15). Obviously, apostleship was not limited to the Twelve.

Second Corinthians 11:13 speaks of "false apostles"; 2 Corinthians 12:11 speaks of "super-apostles." It is unlikely that such terminology would have developed if it were not possible for there to be more than the Twelve apostles. It should also be noted that Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:14) and the "super-apostles" of 1 Corinthians 12 (or at least the Corinthians' attitude toward them) demonstrate that "signs, wonders and miracles" were not limited to the Twelve.
. . .

From the Messianic Foundations series, "Cheleb: The Finest" by Kevin Williams
"For I am the LORD, I change not." (Malachi 3:6)

God has changed. Or at least that seems to be what many are teaching in our day. There are denominations that teach that the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament holding that the old God was mean and wrathful, but the new God is loving and full of mercy. One theory goes so far as to state that God has matured from a juvenile attitude to having a more adult disposition.

It is certainly true that God demonstrates awesome power in the Old Testament. Yet it's fair to say what happened in ancient days will be mild compared to what He is going to do in the end of days, when the wrath of God is poured out and entire segments of the world's population will cease to exist! This demonstrates either a God who cannot make up his mind, or a changeless God of perfect continuity.

I will assume that if you are reading the Pneuma Review, you agree with Scripture that God is changeless. This conjecture being true, then the grace, mercy, and compassion "others" claim are absent from in the Old Testament must, in fact, be there. Such is the case in the story of Cain and Abel.

"And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD (Gen.. 4:2)." This sounds reasonable. It even sounds like Cain had a good head on his shoulders to have decided to bring an offering to the Creator.

Yet the key to understanding the sibling rivalry between Cain and Abel is found in the next verse.

And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering. The Hebrew word for offering is minchah. It is not merely any offering, but a specific offering. This comes to a fuller understanding in the tabernacle period, but there are elements we can appreciate in Cain and Abel's offering (See Pneuma Review Vol 2 No 2 Spring 1999 for more explanation on this and all the Levitical sacrifices).

Specifically, the minchah offering was a voluntary sacrifice made as a tribute to God from the deep convictions of one's heart. In the tabernacle period it was grain, specifically unleavened loaves of bread, anointed with olive oil.

Cain's offering-also called minchah in our text-was a perfectly acceptable "form" of sacrifice. There is no apparent deliberation on God's part as to whether Abel's lamb was more acceptable-or more appropriate-than fruit. To make such a distinction on our part is to say that Abel's works were better than Cain's, and we know that people are justified not by works, but rather by faith.[1]

So what was the problem?

We also read of Abel's offering that it was "the firstlings of his flock and the fat thereof" The firstlings also point to later days, when God would require the firstborn of every womb,[2] but it also points to a Firstfruits offering[3]-a tithe if you will.

Likewise the Word tells us that it was the "fat thereof." The Hebrew for "fat" is cheleb. It certainly can be translated as fat (which will belong only to God in the Tabernacle period-a soothing aroma),[4] but it is equally translated as "best, finest, or choicest." The best and finest becomes part of the later sacrificial system also, that no blemish or fault could be found on the animal being given to the Almighty.

We therefore see a remarkable picture of Yeshua in Abel's offering. The sacrifice was voluntary, the Firstfruit, and the best-without spot or blemish.

"Able made his offering . . . based on the purest and most humanly natural motive for any sacrifice: thankfulness. It was to thank God for His infinite goodness and kindness that Abel chose the firstlings of his flock and the choicest parts thereof. He put his heart into giving the offering. He desired to make it of exceptional quality. [Rabbi] Ramam points out that this example should serve as a model for all who wish to offer a sacrifice to God."[5]

One of the most important lessons for us in Abel's sacrifice is that he was expressing sacrificial love. He was willing to give his first and finest to the Almighty. His sacrifice was accepted not because of its components or ritual, not on the basis of works, but because of the condition of Abel's heart. It is in this regard that the Old Testament reminds us, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."[6 ]
. . .

Periodical Review:

"Blessed Are Those Who Mourn," Charisma (Sept. 1999). Ken Walker. Pp. 38-46, 91.

This review is now available at PneumaReview.com: Ken Walker: Blessed Are Those Who Mourn.

Reviewed by Raul Mock

Special Excerpt:

To be appearing in the Summer 2000 issue of the Pneuma Review (subscribers will be receiving in May 2000)
"Should Christians Expect Miracles Today? Objections and Answers from the Bible", Part 3 of 4, by Wayne Grudem

21. When Paul says, "As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away" (1 Cor. 13:8), doesn't he mean that prophecies and tongues would cease early in the history of the Church?

Some have argued that 1 Corinthians 13:8 means that Paul expected prophecy and tongues to cease early in the history of the Church. But does the passage really teach that? We must look at the larger context: Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. 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 gave up childish ways. For now we see in a minor dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully even as I have been fully understood, So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Cor. 13:8-13).

In verse 9, Paul gives the reason why prophecy and tongues will cease: he says, "Our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away" (1 Cor. 13:9,10). So he says that prophecy will pass away at a certain time, namely, "when the perfect comes."

But when is that? It has to be the time when the Lord returns. This is because it has to be the same time as indicated by the word "then" in verse 12: "Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully even as I have been fully understood." To see "face to face" is an Old Testament phrase for seeing God personally (see Gen. 32:30; Exod.33:11; Deut. 34:10; Judg. 6:22; Ezek. 20:35--these are the only Old Testament occurrences of this Greek phrase or its Hebrew equivalent, and they all refer to seeing God). The time when I shall know "as I have been known" also must refer to the Lord's return (1 John 3:2; Rev. 22:4).

Some have argued that "when the perfect comes" refers to the time when the New Testament canon is complete. (The last New Testament book written, Revelation, was written in AD 90 at the latest, about 35 years after Paul wrote 1 Corinthians.) But would the Corinthians ever have understood that from what Paul wrote? Is there any mention of a collection of New Testament books or a New Testament canon anywhere in the context of 1 Corinthians 13? Such an idea is foreign to the context. Moreover, such a statement would not fit Paul's purpose in the argument. Would it be persuasive to argue as follows: We can be sure that love wilt never end, for we know that it will last more than 35 years? This would hardly be a convincing argument. The context requires rather that Paul be contrasting this age with the age to come, and saying that love wilt endure into eternity.

Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones observes that the view that connects "when the perfect comes" (1 Cor. 13:10) to the time of the completion of the New Testament encounters another difficulty. "It means that you and I, who have the Scriptures open before us, know much more than the apostle Paul of God's truth....It means that we are altogether superior...even to the apostles themselves, including the apostle Paul! It means that we are now in a position in which...'we know, even as also we are known' by God...indeed, there is only one word to describe such a view, it is nonsense."49 John Calvin, referring to 1 Corinthians 13:8-13, says, "It is stupid of people to make the whole of this discussion apply to the intervening time."[50]

This means we have a clear biblical statement that Paul expected the gift of prophecy (and, by implication, probably all spiritual gifts[51]) to continue through the entire Church age and to function for the benefit of the Church until the Lord returns.[52]

Prayer Requests

  • Dave and Debbie Johnson, Assemblies of God Missionaries to the Philippines, have requested prayer and financial assistance in a disaster that has struck the Bicol region in southern Philippines. Mt. Mayon has erupted causing widespread economic upheaval and displacing 68,000 people.
    They report, "While most of the people have gone home, the crises continues. The vast majority of the people are rice farmers, most of them being sharecroppers who have to split the harvest with the landowner. Under even normal circumstances they are very poor and now will probably suffer even more. The ash from the eruption destroyed 70% of the rice crop and the ensuing rains have threatened the rest. And if the 10 metric tons of lava mud, called lahar, that are currently on the side of the mountain, are jarred loose by the rains and come down, the destruction will be much worse.
    "Like sharecroppers in the States, these farmers incur debts during the growing season in order to eat. When the harvest comes, they pay their bills and try to live off the rest, living right at subsistence level even in the best of times. But this time the harvest isn't coming. Now they have two choices: go further into debt in order to eat until the next harvest comes in September, adding to both their burdens and that of their creditors, or face possible starvation."
    Helping to feed some of these families is "a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate the love of God to them and their neighbors over the next few months in the spirit of John 13:34-35:
    'A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another' (NKJV)."
    Write to the Pneuma Foundation for more information and about how you may assist in this human crisis. Please pray for Dave and Debbie as they reach out with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this time of great need.
  • Please pray for the Pneuma Foundation to receive the funds it needs to begin regular mailings to its members and those who would be interested in receiving information about Pneuma Foundation ministry efforts.

Praise Reports

  • Congratulations to Missionary Dave Johnson (see above prayer request) who has now become a candidate for the degree of Doctor in Missiology. Dave Johnson is a contributing editor for the Pneuma Review

  • Please send us your prayer requests and praise reports. We have a great God who always meets our needs.
  • If you would like more information about how you may help in meeting these needs, please E-mail us.