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Holy Confusion

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
July 18, 2023 12:00 am

Holy Confusion

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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July 18, 2023 12:00 am

Access the full-length version of this message, or read Stephen's manuscript here: https://www.wisdomonline.org/teachings/acts-lesson-18

The Church is full of people who are sharing their dreams, visions, signs and supernatural encounters. They will not be held accountable to the Word of truth if it disagrees with their experience. We live in an era of Holy Confusion! In this sermon, we will explore the story of how the Holy Spirit came to the people of Samaria. We will learn how the Holy Spirit empowers us to live a life of faith and love.

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When you think about the New Testament book of Acts, you need to keep a certain perspective in mind. This bridge takes a person from the old to the new, the old covenant to the new covenant, from Judaism to Christianity, from the introduction of the church to the instruction that the church will receive. You need to make sure you get over the book of Acts and through it, learning all you can, and then you move into the doctrinal teaching of the apostles, which is found in the epistles.

And we happen to live daily with the benefit of having traveled in some degree over that bridge. As Stephen just described, the book of Acts serves as a bridge. It describes a transition as we moved from the Old Testament era into the New Testament era.

What was happening in that time of history was critical. Because the book of Acts has that unique role, we need to be careful how we approach it. For example, we shouldn't assume that everything that happened in the early church should also happen with us. Visions, signs, and wonders all fall into that category.

And Stephen's going to explore this in detail today. This very important message is called Holy Confusion. I happen to believe that we are living in a day of great confusion, especially as it relates to the Holy Spirit. And if anything, I want to provoke your thinking along the lines of his baptism and his working, his manifestations in our lives.

I think we could clearly call our generation an era of holy confusion. And I have just cataloged different articles and things that I have read in my notes, and I have heard a lot of different things. And you turn on the television and you'll hear some rather bizarre things among others. Some of the more bizarre illustrations that supposedly the Holy Spirit is involved in today are miracle coins, that if you get this coin, God will prosper you, pets coming back to life. I have heard preachers talk about out-of-body experiences where they've traveled to heaven and where God has given the messages to give back to people when they return. Some have even gone to hell and back, and they come back to warn people. Angelic visitation at night, providing revelation. Some of the talk shows that I have surfed a little bit have talked about, among others, washing machines, being healed.

I could use that. And demons exercised from vending machines. Amazing experiences seem to be the order of the day. And these are the more bizarre. But everywhere we turn, there's something supranatural, paranormal, especially within a growing element of the evangelical church.

And I happen to believe that what we are addressing today as we talk about differing opinions are opinions within the evangelical church. This is a family problem, and more people need to speak up. More people need to go to their word.

More people need to study. This is not something that should be aired outside these walls. I am not doubting the charismatic individual's salvation. For the most part, I believe they are as saved as I am.

You are. They've placed their faith in Christ alone for salvation. I'm not also doubting their sincerity. In fact, part of the trouble that you may have had in your own family or friendships or maybe your own experience is the fact that you know people who are deeply committed to Jesus Christ, who are involved in these miraculous manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Have you sensed the confusion with, well, they have a walk with God. Well, that's part of the problem.

They do have a walk with God that is sincere. And as a result, we have an attitude, and I have cohorts in the ministry who do not speak up because, well, this is a family issue, and let's just leave it alone. Let's not make an issue out of it, and certainly let's not condemn it.

Let's not even question it. And I think that has created a great deal of the confusion that we are experiencing today. So the challenge is not for us to avoid confrontational truth.

I think truth is in and of itself somewhat controversial, and it divides and it separates at times. But I think it's time to begin asking critical questions, especially as it relates to the Holy Spirit. I'm concerned about the nature of the Holy Spirit as it is understood not only by my charismatic brethren, but by those in this body who may have come from the movement or may not know the differences. For instance, how do we believe in the Holy Spirit's role for the believer today?

What do we hold to? What's the nature of evangelism? The movement is basically saying now and more recently that we need power and signs and miraculous interventions from the Holy Spirit in order to be effective evangelistically. We need to do what the apostles did to prove what the apostles proved.

What do you believe? I have a problem with the prominence and the open-armed acceptance of extra biblical further revelation from God. I believe the Bible is complete.

There aren't extra chapters being written today. The Word of God is the litmus test for accuracy. So who is the Holy Spirit? The elevation of experience over doctrine is a concern of mine that's continuing on and on. Finding unity with other faiths simply based upon the fact that they've had similar experiences of the Holy Spirit regardless of doctrinal differences is a great concern.

We live in a day that cries for unity at the sake of truth. Who is the Holy Spirit to you? What is the role of the Holy Spirit in the Christian's life after salvation? Well, the way to understand the work of the Holy Spirit is to begin with the book that introduces the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. Now the book of Acts has got to be understood, has to be understood as a transitional book. A lot of the problem that is being experienced today is that people never quite get over that bridge. They stay there or they camp out underneath it.

They don't move. You have the Gospels introducing. You have Acts where it is modeled in a way. And then you have the Epistles where the church is instructed. You have Jesus ascending and the Spirit descending.

All of that is happening. And these great transitions occur. And part of the problem is when we stay there and use what we find in that transitional period, some of those examples we see, we have differing views on how we pray. What is my spiritual wish list? How is God supposed to respond to me? How do I measure spiritual growth?

Is it by an experience or is it something else? So while some of the issues that we're talking about are not necessarily heaven or hell issues, they are certainly critical issues as they relate to the Holy Spirit in the person's life. This bridge takes a person from the old to the new, the old covenant to the new covenant, from Judaism to Christianity, from the introduction of the church to the instruction that the church will receive. You need to make sure you get over the book of Acts and through it, learning all you can. And then you move into the doctrinal teaching of the apostles, which is found in the Epistles.

And we happen to live daily with the benefit of having traveled in some degree over that bridge. What we wear and eat and what we do on Saturday or the Sabbath are movements that worshiped yesterday rather than today because they didn't go across this bridge and don't have an understanding of what the Holy Spirit had in mind for the church. Now, as soon as I start talking about a few of these things, typically my friends involved in third wave movements will give me a couple of phrases. One of them would be, Stephen, don't put God in a box. Don't limit God.

And I always want to kind of say, what do you mean by that? Do you mean limit God in areas where you think I'm limiting him and we ought to allow free exercise or limiting God, period? Because frankly, I am glad for divinely self-imposed limitations. I am thrilled that God has limited the fury of his wrath to a space in time, seven feet tall and about five feet wide and the Savior impaled on that cross. I am glad that God has chosen to divinely limit the breadth of his memory, as it were, so that he can say to me, I have forgotten all your iniquities. I'm glad that God has restricted or limited the expression of his brilliant glory lest this auditorium be filled with such startling light that we would all be blinded and perhaps reduced to little piles of ashes where we stand or sit. So what are we talking about when we say don't limit God?

I think what we're talking about is don't limit God where I don't want you to limit God. Another thought is, well, Jesus Christ, you know, is the same yesterday, today and forever. It happens to be a good verse of Scripture in Hebrews 13 verse 8, but that passage defines the unchangeableness of the attribute, the character, the nature of Jesus Christ. Now, if we're talking about his function, we cannot mean that he doesn't change, that he is the same yesterday, today and forever.

There have to be changes in his function as to what he does. However, the third wave world will take that out of context and say, well, what he did in Acts he will do today. Well, do we want to say what he did in the Old Testament he will do today? He was the angel of the Lord with a flaming sword in the Old Testament.

Do we really mean that? Well, I think we ought to understand then that there are at least four changes that are significant changes related to the function of Jesus Christ. We're not talking about his deity changing. We're talking about his function changing. First of all, there is a change in Jesus' position.

That is his sphere. John 16, I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. I am leaving the world again and going to the Father. How do you explain that?

But I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you. We ought to also understand that there are varied appearances and differing focuses of the Lord's ministry. In the Old Testament he is the angel of the Lord. In the Gospels he is the teaching dying Messiah. In Acts he is the commissioning ascending son. In the Epistles he is the interceding chief shepherd.

In Revelation he is the conquering reigning king. Changes in Jesus' functions. Second, there are changes in Jesus' commission. Matthew 10 reads, these 12 Jesus sent forth and commanded them saying, do not go into the way of the Gentiles and do not enter into any city of the Samaritans. Now later in Acts 1 verse 8 he says, you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria. Wait a second, did Jesus change? Did he just feel sorry that he had said that about the Samaritans and now, well, okay, let's take the message of the Gospel to them next.

No, that isn't what it was at all. We simply understand the changing nature of his plan for the evangelization of the world. That it would begin primarily with the Jew and that began in Jerusalem and then it would expand.

And I'll talk a little bit about that later in more detail. Number three, there is a change in Jesus' revelation and influence. In the Gospel records his life is revealed. In the book of Acts his power is revealed.

In the Epistles his leadership is revealed. And you might add to your notes, in Revelation his judgment will be revealed. Fourth, there is a change in Jesus' activity. In the Gospels there's another way of saying it. He's crucified and resurrected. In the book of Acts he's ascended. In the Epistles he is interceding.

In Revelation he's returning. So also for the believer then there are changing forms of instruction that we are to focus on and to look at. I don't go to the book of Deuteronomy to discover how I act before God and what I'm to do. I can learn from Deuteronomy. For Christ said it is all profitable.

But there are things that they were to literally do that I certainly won't. Nor will you in this new covenant that we call the dispensation or the covenant of grace. In the Gospels Christ is a model. In the book of Acts the Church receives an example. In the Epistles the Church receives an explanation.

In Revelation we receive the fulfillment. In Jesus do we see then that he is the same yesterday, today and forever. As to his deity and his decree, yes, he never changes. But as to his function and those things that he does that interact with people he does indeed change. Now prosperity preachers and those in the movement will constantly apply Old Testament commands and covenants to the New Testament Christian.

And there's great difficulty there and I'm left picking up the pieces many times with people who bought into that. For instance the promise to Abraham, if you obey me you will prosper. Ladies and gentlemen that is relating to material stuff. Herds will increase his riches. Abraham was a wealthy man. That was the covenant promise as God set him apart by faith. You obey me and Abraham I promise you, you and your people will prosper. And they did until God's plan even changed for them. But what about us? What about those who experience bankruptcy?

What about those who lose a job and go through very difficult waters? Is it because they were not obeying? If that covenant promise is literally applied to the New Testament Christian, yes, they are not obeying. If we understand the change in the instruction between God and man, no. God told Abraham or God told Adam, another illustration, that he was to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air. And before the fall he gave Adam the ability to command the animal kingdom. In fact at one point Adam is naming all of the animals. He had rule over them and they subjected themselves to him. What about me?

None of my pets obey me. There are movements that will place the church in Revelation chapter 4 through 18 when God's wrath is revealed on planet earth. We call it the tribulation. And so those who believe that literally apply it and consistently by building bomb shelters in their backyards and stocking it with dry foods.

I know people who are doing that. You see how heaven or hell issues directly although not determining their place in the future kingdom, they certainly determine how they live their life and what their focus is. There are those who want to place the experiences of the church in the book of Acts and then ladies and gentlemen live with the frustration if they are honest intellectually with themselves that they are unable to experience the experiences in the book of Acts.

Maybe a few, but certainly not what they saw and what they did. So here are some principles that let's use to just tie this thing up. Number one, we are to follow the teaching of the apostles not teach the experience of the apostles. The vast difference between those two viewpoints of interpreting scripture. Perhaps you're thinking well that's just because you know you don't believe in the sign gifts for today.

Well let's look at some of those sign gifts and take a look ourselves at what we'd like to interpret and apply. Mark chapter 16 refers to the apostolic community that's part of this transitional bridge period between old and new. And they went out and preached everywhere while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.

What were they? Well back in verse 17 here they are. In my name they will cast out demons. They will speak with new tongues. They will pick up serpents and if they drink any deadly poison it shall not hurt them.

They will lay their hands on the sick and they will recover. There are five signs and wonders listed in this passage of scripture that's used during this past tense time of confirmation. They didn't have the written word and so a man came along as a messenger of God saying I am from God and I would have said prove it. You mean I'm to go from Judaism to Christianity from my animal sacrifice to no sacrifice? I would be in judgment of God.

God graciously allowed this epic period, this new era with its miraculous signs. Now one of the things I will caution you, my friend, is you cannot pick and choose in that verse what you'd like to do and what you wouldn't like to do. Take a good look. You can't circle two or three and say I like that one and I like that one and I like that one but handling snakes? Let's have a vote.

It's unanimous. Well, two boys down here want to handle snakes. How about proving the validity of your message by allowing someone to attempt to poison you and then proving his power by not being sick or dying. Let's move on to the next principle. In the absence of the written word of God, supernatural signs then confirm the message of God and I hinted at that earlier but here's a verse, Hebrews 2, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation after it was at the first spoken through the Lord it was confirmed to us, past tense was confirmed to us by those who heard. Who are those? The apostles. God also bearing witness with them both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit.

What were they? He didn't tell us there but I think Mark informed us on some of them and I think those would be among those implied in Hebrews chapter 2 verse 3. Now does that mean that God doesn't miraculously heal today? He sure does. Does that mean that God doesn't free a person from the demonization that they experienced prior to their conversion?

He sure does free them. The difference is we do not have men that we can call upon as we'll look at in a moment who can come along and say I will heal you. They have the power of Christ to do that. The apostles did. I think it's interesting too as you read through the book of Acts and then into the Epistles the written word came to its completion, the miraculous witness of the apostles diminished. It's kind of a fascinating thought that Paul in his early ministry healed extensively. In fact in Acts chapter 19 we read that handkerchiefs that touched his body and then touched the body of a sick person. That sick person was healed.

He had that power that God had invested in him to prove his message. However later in Paul's sunset ministry he's offering medical advice to his son in the faith Timothy. Why not pray the prayer of faith Paul?

Have you no faith? We read later on in 2 Timothy chapter 4 verse 20 in the last book that Paul wrote that he left Trophimus sick in Miletus, one of his co-workers. Why not give him your handkerchief? Why not heal him? Wouldn't that have been cruel to have the power to do so and not do it? Also Paul left another co-worker Epaphroditus who nearly died of sickness in a city and Paul talks about being grieved that he was sick.

Why not heal him? Well I think you see a diminishing validation as the New Testament is coming to its completed close. I think even this miraculous ministry can't be fleshed out literally by the charismatic movement. I thought it was interesting to read how several years ago Pentecostals held a world council or conference in Jerusalem to celebrate the ongoing miracle of Pentecost. They held this conference in Jerusalem and they had delegates from all around the world celebrate Pentecost, the ongoing miracle of Pentecost. I thought it was ironic that all the delegates had to wear earphones and have interpreters to help them understand what was being said.

Exactly the opposite of what happened to Pentecost. Now why isn't somebody raising a question? Why aren't people being honest and saying now wait a second this doesn't really fit? Even if we say we want to fit it doesn't work.

I'm afraid people are silenced by intimidation for one reason and I say a lot of this folks, not to make fun but because I believe that it's not only errant but I think it's potentially dangerous. A couple of years ago a three year old child died because the parents were claiming to hold to their prayer of faith alone and they avoided medicine. Where'd they get that from? The book of Acts. Two years ago three pastors died from venom by handling snakes in North Carolina.

Where'd they get that from? The gospels. I will grant them greater consistency than most of the third wave movement that chooses to select one or two or three where these attempt to experience all of them.

Alright? What about the question of Acts 8, 10 and 19? Well these are three instances of the Holy Spirit entering on the scene through the hands of the apostolic community. Those apostles.

What's going on? Well first of all we need to understand that these four instances are different and that's a critical thing to understand. They are different. If you seek to follow consistently the model of Holy Spirit manifestation you will not find it in these four instances. The only four are vastly different.

Let's take a look at them. Well Pentecost, Acts chapter 2, preaching in tongues by the apostles, repentance, water baptism and then the reception of the Holy Spirit. Now in Samaria it changes. Turn to Acts chapter 8 and look at verse 14. Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God they sent them Peter and John who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit for he had not yet fallen upon any of them. They had simply been baptized, that's by water, in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they began laying their hands on them and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. So what do we have?

Well here's the order. We have preaching, repentance, water baptism, prayer by the apostles, laying on of hands and the reception of the Holy Spirit. Now by contrast we have no speaking in tongues, water baptism, a delay of the Holy Spirit after conversion until Peter and John arrive.

So you have a difference there. Now Caesarea is another illustration. Turn to Acts chapter 10. Look at verse 44. While Peter was still speaking these words, that is he hadn't even finished his message, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. And all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also for they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit, just as we did, can't he? And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

Then they asked him to stay on for a few days. All right, what do we have? We have the order, preaching, reception of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues and water baptism.

Now by contrast, here's what we do not have. No laying on of hands. There's no delay. There's no prayer to receive the Holy Spirit. And there's no water baptism after tongues that preceded it. Now go to Ephesus, that's Acts chapter 19, for the last illustration of the only four in the book of Acts on the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in a miraculous way.

Acts 19, look at verse 1, And it came about that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul, having passed through the upper country, came to Ephesus and found some disciples. And he said to them, Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? And they said to him, No, we've not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit. And he said, Well, then what were you baptized? And they said, Into John's baptism, that is, into the baptism of an Old Testament prophet. And Paul said, Well, John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus. And when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.

And they were there in all about 12 people. Here's the order of events, preaching, repentance, water baptism, baptism of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues and prophesying. What you do not have is an influence by Peter and John, delay of the Spirit dependent upon Paul's laying on of hands, you have that, and tongues came after water baptism. Now, if we take those four illustrations that I hope if you have any questions, you'll just sit down and study.

Let me just give you what I've created in the form of question as to how we're to apply it. If we're to understand the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, how he's received in the life of a Christian, all right, how does it work? Do we need the laying on of hands or not? Do we baptize new converts by water first, telling them the Spirit will baptize them after some delay? Do we wait until they've been baptized by the Spirit and then baptize them with water? Are we to expect a new convert who has been baptized by means of the Spirit to speak in tongues or not? Do we expect them to prophesy in addition to tongues? What if they express prophecy and not tongues?

Is it real? Is the baptism of the Spirit to be prayed for by others or should it simply follow the preaching of repentance? Enough questions for you? Something else has to be going on in the book of Acts. There's a lot going on.

The reason for so much confusion is because people don't view these as unique experiences. These passages are teaching this. They are illustrating the unity of the new church by means of apostolic authority. In Acts chapter 2, you had Peter, you had all 12. Acts 8, you had Peter and John. Acts chapter 10, you had Peter. In Acts 19, you had Paul. The apostles bestowal of the Spirit. There was a delay so that an apostle could get there that was teaching the unity of this new creation called the church so that they had to look to the teaching of the apostles. Do we look to the teaching of the apostles?

We sure do. They're called the epistles written by the apostles. Second, the authority of Paul is seen as equal to that of Peter and this is very important for this new church. Paul will become the apostle to who?

Tell me. The Gentiles. Well, how do we know Paul has what Peter had? Well, Ephesus is that illustration for the iller church to read that Paul came and the delay was there until Paul manifested the Holy Spirit to the new believer by the laying on of hands. By the way, we have some problems in our church today obviously if we believe that the manifestation of the Spirit occurs like acts simply because we do not have apostles living who can come to our church and display that power.

So if you're waiting for that, you will wait forever. Third, the sign gift of tongues was expressed by both Jew and Gentile and therein lies the significance to it. It isn't that the Jews in Jerusalem had an experience that revealed the power of the Spirit who would come.

You also had that occurring where? With the mixed breed, the Samaritan and then also with the pure Gentile. So you can see how his extension occurred and it included first the pure Jew in Jerusalem, Acts 2. Then it extended to the half Jew, half Gentile, the Samaritan in Acts 8. And then you have the extension in Acts 11 and Acts 19 to the pure Gentile.

What do those four illustrations teach us? What the epistles will explain that there is no Jew nor Gentile in the church. The church is won by those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. I hope today's lesson from God's Word has helped clear up some theological truth for you. Our commitment here at Wisdom International is to allow God's truth to be the deciding and determining factor in what we should and should not do. I hope this lesson helped you. If you know someone who would benefit from hearing the message you just heard, we posted it to our website, wisdomonline.org. The lesson title you're looking for is Holy Confusion. You'll find it there and you'll also find it on our smartphone app. Be sure and install the Wisdom International app to your phone. And please join us next time here on Wisdom For The Hearts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-18 03:45:20 / 2023-07-18 03:56:37 / 11

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