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We print letters from you, the readers. Letters may be edited for the sake of brevity.
Editorial Comment (Ed) is by Philip Powell (PP) or Siam Bhayro (SB)
AS usual correspondence from and to our readers has been very lively. In our LETTERS PAGE this time we focus on four major issues that relate to recent topics that we have addressed:

1)  Brian Houston's book, You Need More Money
2)  Philip Powell's article: CESSATIONISM versus BIBLICISM;
3)  Ron Riffe's presentation of CALVINISM ( CETF Vol 6.2 );
4)  Historicism versus Futurism

Other general letters, which are not related to the above, are interspersed throughout. First here are a few short encouraging letters, followed by a longer one, which covers several of the issues listed above. We value your prayers and contributions:

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Dear Friends,
You have kindly sent us Contending Earnestly for The Faith and Vanguard for some years, and my wife and I have greatly appreciated your staunch stance for the gospel. Although we are not Pentecostal or Charismatic (in its current common usage) we are lifelong convinced evangelicals, and are being subjected to some pretty powerful pressures for holding steadfastly to what we hold to be true. We are Baptists by conviction, and between us we can claim at least 270 years of continuous family membership with the Baptist denomination. Although you state that these publications are free, we wish to make a contribution … for your encouragement as you work for Christ. Please
accept my cheque for $200 as an expression of our solidarity with you in your witness.

L & M G
ACT, Australia

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Thank you for the excellent Vanguard publication I received this morning. I particularly enjoyed the opening article on Revival. This is an issue our church has been praying for over twenty years. We love God's Word and seek to be faithful to it. However, we are surrounded on all sides by false ecumenism and a form of spiritualism that you often address in your articles. My main purpose in writing to you is to ask if you would pass the article "Who will stir himself to take hold of God?" to me so that I could place it on our church website (http://www.kirkcaldy-pathheadbaptist.co.uk) I will, of course, then make a link to CWM. I look forward to hearing from you.

Rev Dr D. H.G.
Scotland

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I just wanted to say that I have found your site (www.christian-witness.org) and really like it. Some magazines landed on my dad's doorstep and amongst them was your April 2000 issue which was a godsend (literally). I looked up your site when I got home and I will certainly be returning. I run a small site myself at www.thewatcher.co.uk. Please take a look, I would be grateful for your opinion. Anyway, just wanted to say keep up the good work and I pray God will bless you in all your work

Anon, UK

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Dear Brother Powell
I read my first CWM Volume 6.1. It made excellent reading. My wife who for many years has given a tenth of our income to the church has recently been punishing herself because we have fallen upon lean times and are not now able to give a tenth all of the time to our church, but when she read your article on page 24 "Curse Myth Number 1: The Tithing Tantrum" she feels easier in her mind. She had got herself into a quagmire of despondency and began to imagine that she was robbing God, your article, however has given ease to her mind and she now sees the sense in what she read, thank you. We have always believed in giving a tenth of our income to the church and when things get better we will no doubt return to doing so once again, hopefully it will be more than a tenth. The CWM and the Vanguard are such a blessing.Thank you.

A.L.L
Scotland

Editorial comment:
Tithing was an Old Testament procedure to support the Israeli nation in its various functions including the religious activity through the priesthood. It was part of the "tax system" which totalled about 23 percent of a Jewish citizen's earning. It is unreasonable to transfer the tithing principle holus bolus to any modern church. The New Testament writers neither endorse nor condemn the practice of tithing. As a fair basis of voluntary distribution it is reasonable BUT the individual remains answerable to God where he pays the money. Today many by remaining on the tithing "gravy train" are not only putting their money into a bag with holes but are actually supporting false teaching and false teachers, while worthwhile ministries and churches constantly struggle in their work. Don't be
intimidated by what you hear from the platform.

(PP)

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Dear Christian-Witness Ministry workers! Thank you for an audio tapes which you sent me. I am very glad for these sermons. I am 27 years old and am a pastor in a small church. After Latvia became independent from the Soviet Union many new teachings came in. Copelands, Benny Hinn and others have preached here and the sound Christianity, which once was here has changed. So I am glad that pastors in the many countries are standing for the truth. If you have more free tapes or literature please don't forget me. God bless you,

E,
Latvia

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Dear Brethren in Christ
I read with interest of your journal Vanguard in some correspondence received from St Matthews Publishing, and would be obliged if you would place me on your mailing list. Having been graciously delivered from the Word-faith Movement and Toronto I am only too aware of the subtle and not-so subtle teachings that are around today. I wish you all success with Vanguard praying that the LORD will use it to open blinded eyes and to keep the saints from error.

DH
Birmingham, UK

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Dear Philip
I have appreciated reading your latest Contending Earnestly for the Faith (Vol 6.2). You have invited comments, so thought that I would like to make brief comments about three of the articles.

Cessationism vs Biblicism
I take a moderate cessationist view on the miraculous gifts; basically the view that God gave miraculous gifts to fulfil certain important purposes at the time of the early church. With those purposes … fulfilled, God in His sovereignty ceased giving those gifts, at least as the common experience of believers. This is not to say that God will never give such gifts today, but it is not that believers should seek after or expect the miraculous gifts as part of the normal Christian life. (That is a brief summary of my present view of the subject.)
I appreciate the way you have approached the subject … It is good that you have considered what some of the cessationists have had to say. I don't intend to comment on everything you have written ... However, there are a few points, which you didn't mention in your article, which you might like to consider.
1. IMMUTABILITY & SOVEREIGNTY … God has done many things … in history, which it is not His purpose to repeat e.g. the Flood, parting the Red Sea, … manna for the Israelites. While there's no doubt that God has the power it is very much doubted that it is His purpose to repeat them today. For a believer to go praying that God will supply him with manna for the next 40 years is almost certainly to pray outside the will of God. God's attributes and character do not change, but what He purposes to do does change. This does not prove cessation of gifts, but it does mean that just because something is described in the gospels or Acts it does not follow that we must expect God to do exactly the same thing today.
2. Apostles and prophets were "foundation" gifts — Ephesians 2:20...Jesus Christ is the true foundation ... the apostles and NT prophets had an important role in the first 70 years of the church's existence — there was no New Testament initially so instruction from those directly authorised by the Lord or granted direct revelation by Him was essential. However, their task was foundational, and with the foundation laid (as recorded in the New Testament), there is no relaying of that foundation.
3. SIGN GIFTS — 1 Corinthians 14:22; Mark 16:17. The function of signs is to point to something else, particularly to indicate God's approval and to confirm the message proclaimed (see Hebrews 2:3-4; Mark 16:20). "Sign" in John's gospel shows that the miracles of Jesus were phenomena confirming His credentials and message. The Jews had an interest in signs (John 2:18; 1 Corinthians 1:22). Jesus refused to provide signs just because people wanted them (Matthew 12:28-40; 16:1-4). The Word of God, (the gospel), has been confirmed by the signs
that have been given. Adequate proof has been given; further miraculous proof is unnecessary.

The ABC's and XYZ's of Salvation
I have some concerns about Ronald Riffe's article. The problem he discusses is certainly a very important one ... but I am not sure that a strong emphasis on God's predestination is at all helpful. He gives 11 signs of life to help believers know whether they are truly saved (many of which can be based on 1 John), but he does not say how one should preach the gospel or how one can answer an inquirer who asks, `...what must I do to be saved?' (Acts 16:30).
Predestination is clearly taught in the Bible, but I don't see how it helps the proclamation of the message. We don't know who the elect are — only God does.
All true Christians have a point in their lives before which they were not children of God and were perishing, and after which they are in God's family, have eternal life and are
being saved
I served as a missionary in Zambia for 6 years … The problem of "easy believism" was apparent there, because most people in Zambia profess to be Christians, most are interested in Christian things and it is relatively easy to get a response from the proclamation of the gospel. However, the problems faced by … churches indicate that not everyone who professes salvation is truly saved. My own conclusion was that the gospel was often not being preached effectively on account of lack of background understanding (i.e. who God is, our responsibility to God, the nature of sin, our need for salvation, the work of Christ on the cross) and/or lack of proper instruction about the response God requires (i.e. repentance and faith). The same problems can apply in our countries today.
Baptist churches in Zambia had problems from extreme teaching on predestination, which appeared to confuse believers and hinder their outreach to others. One of their speakers criticised the use of `appeals' and the kind of counselling booklets (similar to Bridge to Life) which some of us were using, but did not provide any better method or booklet with which to help people who were anxious about their salvation.
It is instructive to work through Acts noting what the early preachers said to unbelievers that they must do in order to be saved. I don't think any of them preached predestination in their messages to the unsaved, but urged them to repent and to have faith in Jesus Christ. "Receiving" Christ is a biblical concept — see John 1:12; Colossians 2:6. However, the usual terminology in apostolic preaching is for people to "believe" in Him (e.g. Acts 10:43; 13:39; 16:31). In explaining to enquirers what it means to `believe' in Jesus Christ, I have found it useful to link it with repentance (e.g. Acts 17:30; 20:21) and acknowledgement of Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9), but the concept of receiving Christ as the step of personal faith (using the picture of welcoming Him into one's life, c/f Revelation 3:20) is also helpful.
In view of inadequate presentations of the gospel, I prepared some bible studies covering some of the main concepts. I have not had much feedback on them. Some of the New Tribes Mission material such as Firm Foundations is useful in giving people an adequate background to the gospel so that they can understand what it really means to have faith in Christ.

Harry Potter: Harmless or Hazardous?

Chris Pollard's article mentioned an endorsement in Christianity Today for the Harry Potter books in the January editorial (January 10, 2000) and a footnote referred to a favourable review appearing in the September 4, 2000 edition.
It should be noted that Christianity Today has also carried at least one article, which is highly critical of the Harry Potter books. In October 23, 2000 issue, p113, an article in the section "Matters of Opinion" is "The Perils of Harry Potter" by Jacqui Komschlies. The letters to the editor following the two articles, which gave some favourable comment on Harry Potter, reflected a diversity of opinion, including criticism of any endorsement of the books.
I pray that the Lord will continue to guide you and protect you as you contend earnestly for the faith of the gospel.

MG
Wellington, NZ

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YOU NEED MORE MONEY
by Brian Houston

Dear Sir
I was looking at your article entitled "Houstons: we have a problem". I'm sure Brian Houston stands by everything he has said in his books and I'm sure you will twist them to fit your bitter conspiracy theories. For the record, Pastor Houston lives in a normal middle-class home, and he doesn't have a host of flash cars. The accusations you make, to my mind, amount to libel and I will be forwarding a copy of your web page to Pastor Houston. I think much of your discourse is pedantic twisting and misses the face value of what he was getting across. Personally, I would hate to write a book if every word was examined, cross-examined and debated. I think we'd all have regrets. If you have such a problem with the Houstons why don't you just get on with building the kingdom — rather than "pulling out the tares" and giving them more exposure? I think it's due time that the church receives an apology from some of it's (sic) "apologists" for the way they conduct themselves. Regards,
JA
Australia

Editorial Comment:
I responded to the above email point by point as follows (the headings are inserted for ease of reference) and copied it to hills@ hillsong.com where my mail was blocked so one of our voluntary web workers forwarded my correspondence from his private email address. To date there has been no response from either Brian Houston or JA. (PP)

CONSPIRACY THEORIES: What do you mean by "conspiracy theories"? We did not so accuse Brian Houston. Rather we have accused him of false doctrine and have provided evidence for our accusation based on his own writings. Either you don't understand the term that you have used or I have missed something. Please explain.
ACCUSED OF LIBEL: What accusations are you referring to? Did we publish anything to the effect that Brian Houston lived in anything other than what you have described? Have I missed something? I have read the article written by Neil Richardson who is a London based school teacher and I endorse totally what he has written. It is an objective article written as an honest critique of Brian Houston's book entitled "YOU NEED MORE MONEY". I fail to see your point but am open to any sensible documented explanation. Please identify what was written in the article to which you object.
 LETTER FORWARDED TO BRIAN HOUSTON: That's fine by us. I sincerely trust that Brian will take the matter up though I very much doubt it. Frankly I don't think he is capable of a reasonable response to what we have published or what we propose to publish further on the matter. I am open to be proven wrong.
PEDANTIC TWISTING (sic): Personally I stand by all that I write and all that I preach. That does not mean that I consider myself to be perfect or that I am incapable of making a mistake. If I am proven to be wrong I will gladly admit it and if I were shown to be guilty of false doctrine I would immediately repent as publicly as the false teaching had been publicised. This I believe is the ONLY way to get rid of the "little leaven" that will corrupt the whole lump unless it is "purged". What is important is not my opinion or your opinion or Brian Houston's opinion. We have God's Word to guide us and that, rightly divided, MUST take precedence over everything. Paul the apostle said that he had taught "the whole counsel of God". Nowhere does he even hint at the ideas that are espoused and preached by Brian Houston in his book. What Mr Houston has written, taken as a whole, is rank heresy and error. Can you imagine a man like CH Spurgeon, or Andrew Murray or John Wesley writing a book entitled: "YOU NEED MORE MONEY"? What we need is more of God and a greater fear of the Lord which will arrest this giddy pursuit after materialism which is destroying men both inside and outside of the so called church.
PULLING OUT THE TARES: We are seeking to build the Kingdom of God and according to scripture that involves "warning every man and teaching every man" — see Colossians 1:28. Timothy was commended as a true minister of Jesus Christ because he did warn against error and false teaching. Both Testaments are full of such warnings even to the point of telling us that we would be invaded with "seducing spirits and doctrines of demons" in the end times. The teaching of Brian Houston, in my opinion fits into that category and I am happy to discuss the matter with him at any time in a public debate or in a dialogue before witnesses. False teaching leads to immorality as witness a number of things that have happened in the camp to which Brian Houston belongs. Please tell him I said so.
APOLOGISTS APOLOGISING: It appears that you don't understand the word "apologist". It has nothing to do with apologising. I know that some inept comment was made along this line by one of the TBN directors, who also showed his ignorance in this regard. An "apologia" is a defence. So a Christian apologist is one who defends the faith. In other words he does what Jude tells us to do — "earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints". The faith prosperity stuff that Brian Houston and others churn out actually denies and undermines true faith, simply because it is unsupportable by scripture rightly divided. Brian Houston's premise from Ecclesiastes is no different from what the Jehovah's Witnesses do in trying to establish their false teaching as being biblical. In fact the cult of the so-called "Faith Movement" is just as heretical as the other cults such as JWs, Mormons, Christian Science etc.
REGARDS: Thank you. Please feel free to respond and please do your best to ensure that this reaches Brian Houston and his father, both of whom I know very well. Tell them there is more to come.
Yours sincerely in the love of THE Truth,
 Philip L. POWELL

Editorial Comment:
What follows was written in response to our OPEN LETTER TO BRIAN HOUSTON -- see www.christian-witness.org/not_in_pubs/openBrianH.html (Republished on this page for the sake of those who haven't read it
before.) The author of the following letter is quite well known in New Zealand and someone who has visited us in our home. I have hesitated to publish the letter and only do so to show the muddled thinking that has surfaced on this and similar issues. Below you will find my response. The original was copied to hills@ hillsclc.org.au There has been no further correspondence to date.

Open Letter to Brian Houston
2 October 2000
Dear Brian,
Vanguard has published the first in a series of articles in which we plan to examine and do our best to expose the false doctrine in which you are now entrenched and which you are pursuing. As you should know I have done my best to engage in dialogue with you and with others of my former colleagues. Your (their) stone-wall policy has made it impossible for me to do other than what I am now doing for the sake of those whom you are deceiving and leading astray I have tried to discuss matters with Andrew Evans and with your father, Frank, who told me that he was referring my correspondence to his solicitor. I told him to go ahead and have heard nothing since. That must be more than a year ago now.
I have been invited to do a Radio Interview which will proceed, God willing, on 19 October 2000 and which will in all probability include matters relating to your book You Need More Money and to the grandiose Australian Christian Churches that you and the modern Pentecostal false revivalists have set up. Frankly I consider what you have done to be an insult to the other Christian groups in Australia who would not want to be a part of what you are projecting in the false Prosperity teaching in which you are engaged. I believe you are engaged in a con and that your pursuit is condemned by Peter the apostle in 2 Peter 2:3 "By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words: for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber."
I remain open to discuss this and any other issue with you and/or with anyone whom you care to nominate so long as I also have an opportunity to choose representation if you make it other than private. I am copying this to a number of key people as witnesses and will do my best to make the issue as public as possible. May the Lord Jesus Christ be honoured and praised in all things. You may know that I have now returned to Australia. My contact details are as follows.
Yours sincerely in the Love of THE Truth,
Philip L. POWELL.

ppowell@christian-witness.org
Cc: HOUSTON Brian/Bobbie

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Hello Philip,
I have your letter to Brian Houston, and would be very surprised if he were to respond. It would seem to me that GOD is always our justification or judge, and HE will deal with matters as He sees fit. Does he need "little helpers"? The pursuit of truth is one thing, but the verbal abuse of brothers and sisters is another. You appear to make a number of unsubstantiated accusations in this letter that do little to endear you to the reader, or invite a realistic response from any recipient.
Perhaps your zeal for TRUTH could be tempered with a little grace? I know you will probably not agree with my perception, but that's okay. I am very concerned that you are not overtaken with a zeal not borne of God, in the defence of what you perceive to be "truth" from the Word.
I am not writing to approve or condemn Brian! Or others you refer to. I have learned not to criticise or condemn (but not to condone sin) and to leave GOD to deal with His people. Sincerely, in the grace of the Lord Jesus,
Paul Garratt

Thanks Paul,
I appreciate you and your comments. If you were specific with your comments I could consider the adjustments that you desire, but as your letter stands I am unable to proceed. You say I make unsubstantiated accusations but then you, in turn, don't substantiate your claims. Please Paul, if you wish me to correct some faulty text, show me where I am guilty of the thing of which you accuse me. Surely this is the correct procedure, my brother. I believe I have substantiated all of the concerns that I have pointed out. Brian's doctrine is heretical. This is substantiated by his own book, and by Neil Richardson's critique, which cannot be gainsaid. I tell you what has happened in the past in respect of my communications with Frank Houston and that stands as matters of fact in regard to what has happened. Can anyone deny it?
 I'm sorry Paul, you have not, as yet, provided any concrete examples.
To answer your other point — I agree that God doesn't need any of us. He didn't need Paul the apostle, BUT He chose to use him. He didn't need Martin Luther but history records that Luther's involvement changed history. God didn't need Gideon, or Peter, or Matthew or John Mark, but each features in some small or large way. God doesn't need you or your brother (or is he a cousin) who was behind Scripture in Song. God didn't need Neville Johnston and when Neville rose to where people thought he was indispensable and possibly invincible the crash came. May God protect us all from that. The whole point is HOWEVER that God chose to use us and furthermore each of us is commanded to CONTEND earnestly for THE faith and biblically and historically that always involved warning against error, false gospels and heretics. Things have not changed. I suggest you re-read the New Testament especially epistles like those to Timothy and those to the Thessalonians and for that matter 1 John and Galatians and Colossians — and quite frankly Paul there are many more examples.
 God bless you. Thanks for writing and I do trust you'll get your thinking sorted out for your own sake as well as for the sake of those whom you influence.
Yours sincerely in love of the Truth,
- Philip L. POWELL

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Dear Philip, I read with interest the article on your website titled You Need More Money by Neil Richardson that critiqued the book, with the same name, written by Brian Houston. Although I have not read the book, I have attended the Hills church at Castle Hill several times in the past and the unbiblical teachings that Mr Richardson highlights in the book are the same as those that I witnessed being taught in the Hills church. It is alarming to see Brian Houston quoting Ecclesiastes 10:19 out of context to support his belief about money. It just so happens that the Jehovah's Witnesses quote Ecclesiastes 9:5 — "...but the dead know nothing", out of context to support their belief that their is no afterlife. If Ecclesiastes 10:19 meant what Brian Houston claims it does, then the Bible would contradict itself in a big way because there are many bible verses, as highlighted by Neil Richardson, that say the exact opposite about money. It is interesting that Neil Richardson said that his sister picked up the book and said, "This has got `dodgy' written all over it", because any person who knows anything at all about the Bible, either Christian or non-Christian would agree with this. So I wonder how many of the Christian leaders who work at the Hills church, and there are many, have spoken to Brian Houston about the unbiblical teachings in this book?
When I attended the Hills church, it was for the Sunday evening services and there was always an emphasis on money. There was not one service I attended where a lecture was not given about tithing before the collection was taken up; not once was communion served. The congregation was always reminded about giving money, but never reminded about the suffering that Jesus endured to redeem us. And with the lectures on money it was always the same, namely if you give money to the church, God will bless you with financial prosperity in
return. The congregation was never encouraged to tithe out of gratitude for the blessings that God has bestowed on us already. Likewise the congregation was never encouraged to tithe to help the millions of people who are in desperate need around the world. It reminds me what the Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:2 about the last days: "People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money..." Has Brian Houston responded to this critique by Neil Richardson? I am praying to God that the Holy Spirit speaks to Brian Houston about his erroneous teachings. Regards,
Brian Irwin
Sydney, AUSTRALIA

Editorial Note:
The author of this letter wrote to Brian
Houston on March 21, 2001 and received a response on May 1, 2001 in which Brian Irwin was accused of ignoring the "context" of the book "You Need More Money" which the
author claimed to be that of "generosity". We agree with Brian Irwin that it has more to do with greed than with generosity. You don't need more money to be generous. Ask the widow who gave the two mites of whom
Jesus said, "Of a truth I say to you, that this poor widow has cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast into the offerings of God: but she of her penury (poverty) has cast in all the living that she had" — Luke 21:3&4. We can only ask, "Does Brian Houston understand the meaning of words like "context" for he certainly fails to rightly interpret the scriptures?" To our knowledge he has not responded to the critique by Neil Richardson. How can he? However we do know that Brian Houston made a futile effort to answer the Rev Tim Costello's public criticism of his book. We have copies of the relevant correspondence in our CWM files.
(PP)

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CALVINISM versus FINNEYISM

In the previous CETF (Vol 6.2) we published a fairly controversial article entitled THE
DANGER OF EASY BELIEVISM
written by Ronald Riffe of Cutting Edge Ministries - www.cuttingedge.org of USA. This was done for two basic reasons:
a) To provide a balance to two articles written by Bernie Koerselman, which some thought had presented "Salvation by Works" and which addressed the same topic of "easy believism" from an opposite angle; and
b) To stimulate thought and reaction on the part of our multi-viewed readership as to the meeting point of the Sovereignty of God and the Responsibility of man in the matter of Salvation.
Our good friend Jacob Prasch, after reading the article, has suggested that it would have been better had we published a disclaimer, in view of the strong position that pastor Ron Riffe presented in his article. We deliberately avoided this as we felt it would curtail response. As anticipated the article evoked some lively correspondence examples of which are published below. This leads me to say two things:

PRINCIPLE: CWM -- including VANGUARD & CETF -- always encourages prayerful and careful examination and judgement regarding everything that is taught, including what WE teach. The Berean PRINCIPLE must always be applied, "What does the Bible teach? Can we rationally justify by the scriptures what we are hearing or reading?" You the reader must apply this principle at all times.

POLICY: One of our aims is to establish a platform for lively dialogue and debate. On things ESSENTIAL to the Christian Faith and Holy Living we remain immovable (dogmatic) and will not allow the promoting of anything contrary in our hard print or web site publications. In NON-ESSENTIALS we allow for liberty of thought and expression while retaining the right to argue our own particular view strongly. This POLICY will not always be spelled out nor will we always "show our hand" immediately on all issues which allow for variety of opinion.

Obviously by what follows not everyone has grasped or will agree with this procedure - not even some of our close friends including those who have written for us, or so it would appear. For example, notice the divergent view that Bernie Koerselman has to that of Jacob Prasch regarding the doctrines of Charles Finney. Both men disagree with Ronald Riffe, who also strongly disagrees with Finney as does Jacob Prasch but not Bernie Koerselman, who obviously has a strong aversion also to the doctrine of "eternal security". For myself I am quite prepared to rest in the rather quaint statement of the late Dennis Clark, whom I view as one of my mentors "God reserves the right to bless the man who disagrees with me!"
Oh, by the way, we intend to have a serious look at the five points of Calvinism, which are best remembered by the acronym TULIP, something which we just learned our brother Dave Hunt is going to tackle in his next book. I am sure it will be good and well worth purchasing. We plan to keep you informed. No one would dispute the fact that Dave Hunt teaches eternal security, but by all accounts he is not a Calvinist as it's generally understood. We respect Dave Hunt and I am really looking forward to reading his book.

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RESPONSES TO RONALD RIFFE
FROM TWO OF OUR WRITERS AND THREE READERS

Jacob Prasch of Moriel Ministries (www.moriel.org): As a contributor to VANGUARD & CWM, I have no objection to authors representing views contrary to my own providing a proviso in the form of a disclaimer is included. Despite agreeing with much of what he states, I do however strongly take issue to the article in the previous edition (Vol 6.2) by Ronald Riffe. To begin with by implication the author categorises all non-Calvinists as agreeing with Charles Finney, which is a ludicrous assertion. As a Wesleyan Arminian, I and others like me have repeatedly asserted that Finney was a virtual Pelagian in effect subscribing to an ancient heresy which rejects the doctrine of original sin. Wesleyan Arminians believe that man was born fallen, so must be born again which Finney in essence did not accept. Moreover, because of the fallen state of man who is spiritually dead, unregenerate man cannot accept Christ without a "quickening" by the Lord (the Greek term meaning "to put a measure of life back into someone").
Unless the Lord so "quickens, convicts of sin, and draws" one cannot come to Christ. By this quickening, man is given enough life and therefore will to be able to repent and respond to Christ, which he could not do otherwise. This is also a biblical truth, which Calvinism, akin to the "Inja-allah" beliefs of Islam, rejects. Both Calvinism and Finneyism are opposite errors. Finney denies man is not free before the new birth, and Calvinism denies its restoration in the new birth. Neither are (sic) scriptural. Contrary to Mr Riffe's assertions God is willing and desiring to save all (2 Peter 3:9). Moreover, Calvinism as it came to be defined was begun not by Calvin but by Beza and the Remonstrance of Dort, and Finneyism as it came to be defined was begun not by Finney but by others after him
(JP)

Ed: I confess some difficulty in understanding the above. In my view Jacob Prasch misrepresents Calvinism in some of what he asserts. What do you our readers think? (PP)

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FROM THE READERS:

What a pertinent theme, I thought, as I read the impressive headline, "The ABCs and XYZs of Salvation: The Danger of Easy Believism". Alas! It was only a dose of Calvinism, that "despised doctrine" (author's words); i.e. the list of the saved was decided before the foundation of the world. Such dogma, which is inconsistent with Jesus' teachings and the Bible as a whole, is what cults are made of!
Then the author gives us a list of what he considers Christians should be like. But what does the Bible say? Not a word on sanctification — growing to be like Jesus — and our role in it! He then tells us we can have eternal life now, as a "FREE gift". But what's the point of Jesus' command, the great commission, if the "saved list" is fixed? How contradictory can you get? Another cultic sign!
The answer to his question is NO; the article is not biblical, and is too confusing to be of any help. But an article focused on the theme heading would be most useful!
T & C T
WA, Australia

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Dear Sir
The December issue contained an article, "The ABCs and XYZs of Salvation", in which were some statements with which I disagree. Pastor Ron Riffe gives strong support to the doctrine of predestination, which denies the exercise of man's will in salvation. It was Adam and Eve's free will that got them into sin in the first place, and man's free will to choose to repent now. Why would the Lord command all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30) if they do not have the choice? God's destiny for all is that they repent, and it's up to the church to present the gospel so they have the opportunity. Sure, the Lord foreknows who is going to
respond, but the choice is ours.
AD
NSW, Australia

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The following is condensed from three letters by one author dated January 11 & 23 and March 30.
PLEASE NOTE: Our policy is to deal with Letters to the Editor around the publication date of CETF. This is the only reasonable way we can handle the large volume of correspondence we now receive.

Thank you for the CETF December 2000 edition; it is always a good read. However, in the last edition I noticed that there was a word about salvation, which was written by a Pastor Ron Riffe. This mindset of Pastor Riffe's clearly speaks of ... once saved always saved, predestination and is outlined by the heading "Calvinism"! Was this a mistake or was it intentional … ? Pastor Riffe said, on page 31, if you have been very lukewarm, you need to ask Jesus to forgive you. WHAT FOR … IF YOU'RE PREDESTINED? I have read before … that you are open to question. My question is ... can two walk together if they don't agree? Do you agree with the once saved always saved theory? … and do you agree with predestination, Calvin-style? I look forward to your reply. Did Mr Trask ever reply to you?
Jan 23: Once again, I write to you for an answer regarding the write-up of Pastor Riffe, and may I add it was also very confusing and contradictory. Can two walk together unless they agree? An email takes seconds; there is no excuse for any minister today not to
answer the questions of their critics ... amen. If we are so busy or prefer to attend to other matters that don't relate to the faith, we are in need of prayer.
March 30: Just a small word of encouragement, a scripture or two that might trigger off a small spark in the spiritual realm. Although I never did hear from you on the O.S.A.S.
article in your magazine, I believe that my question was automatically answered. And my belief also is that many questions put to most professing ministers of the Christ will be answered in the same way from here on home. Avoidance reveals more than requested by any critic. May the Father of Lights pour out His grace on you, BUT LET YOUR YES BE YES AND YOUR NO BE NO ... FOR WHAT EVER IS MORE THAN THESE IS FROM THE EVIL ONE ... MATTHEW 5:37.
Unprofitable Servant
Pastor Paul Sheehan
Jesus the Christ Ministries
Brisbane, Australia

Editorial Response:
Well Paul: 1) It is the Bible which speaks of "Predestination" so obviously there is need for an understanding of the doctrine. We plan to deal with this and with Calvinism in general including the question of how permanent is the gift of "eternal life", in several articles in the future. 2) As a pastor you should know the Bible teaches that Christians will stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ where "lukewarmness" and other things will be judged. 3) Amos 3:3 teaches that two cannot walk together unless they are agreed in that walk. This does not mean that they have to agree on everything. There is room for disagreement. 4) I assure you that we do not avoid any sensible question or criticism. It's just a matter of prioritising our time. 5) Your email address is unknown to us and does not appear on your letterheads. It has taken me much more than a few seconds to formulate this reasonable reply, so you are incorrect in what you state. 6) No Thomas Trask did not answer my letter to him; 7) FINALLY, yes I agree with you. We are all unprofitable servants.
God bless you (PP).

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Bernie Koerselman (website — http://www.bereanpublishers.co.nz) In the last issue of CETF, I was amazed to find an article on "The ABC's and XYZ's of Salvation." This was written by a hard-core Calvinist. He tears into Charles Finney (by using the writing of another author). Charles Finney was also opposed by the Calvinists of his day. They lied about him then, just as this man did in this article. Charles Finney is widely regarded as the most effective evangelist/revivalist of the Americas. The most striking thing about Finney was the sticking power of his message and the subsequent conversions. As you may remember from a previous article I did, the present rate of attrition THE FIRST YEAR after "conversion" is 95 percent. Yes, 95 percent presently fall away in the first year according to the statistics of the major denominations. This guy is railing at Finney because Finney was concerned that perhaps less than half of the conversions under his ministry may have stuck. Billy Graham credited Finney with having 85 percent of the people who converted remain strong Christians. Whole communities were changed dramatically for generations. Finney's message clearly was complete dedication to Christ, to holiness and righteousness of life. There was wholesale repentance among those who came to believe, but a kind of repentance rarely seen today. These people would weep over their sins and how they had offended God. Finney made the people realise their condition as sinners before a holy God. But I guess I should ask both of you. Are you, and the others who are writing and screening these writings also Calvinists? I surely hope not. It was Calvinism that caused me to leave the faith. I have written articles about it on my website, and how it offends the message so clearly stated in scripture. I'd like to write a rebuttal against that article. That was truly a misleading and wrong-headed article. If it is on the website, I would surely suggest it be taken off so as not to mislead others.
Blessings, Bernie

Editorial Comment:
Well Bernie, to answer your question: I dislike being put into a box because much depends on definitions. Can I turn the tables and ask you, "Are you a Finneyite?" On the basis of Jacob Prasch's definition, with which I have no doubt you will disagree, it would be pretty damning to answer, "Yes". On the basis of your own perception, which totally ignores most of the issues raised by Ronald Riffe, including the question of the Sovereignty of God in salvation, then I would be prepared to join both you and Finney. But that really is being too simplistic in my view. Quite some time before Charles Finney lived (1792-1875) there was an equally godly preacher named George Whitefield (1714-1770), who is described by the Encyclopaedia Britannica as a "Calvinistic Methodist", whose "influence on religious life in both America and Great Britain was immense".1 He was a revivalist and evangelist of the first order, who saw thousands of men and women soundly converted to Christ. Though disagreeing doctrinally with his compatriot John Wesley nonetheless they were both big enough to accept each other, doctrine and all, on the basis that they were both Christians and both preachers of the one gospel. I hope our common contending for the faith once delivered to the saints will evidence attitudes and actions that are similar. God bless you.

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RE THOMAS TRASK

I really appreciate the article by Rossini concerning the "mixed message Trask gives on TBN." (ref CETF Vol 6.1 April 2000 — http://www.christian-witness.org/archives/cetf2000/battle.html and www.christian-witness.org/archives/cetf2000/yourletters62). I believe that men like Trask and any other legitimate preachers of the gospel are encouraged to appear on TBN just to give that
`ministry' some form of validation or legitimacy. If those who really love and preach Jesus would boycott promoters like TBN, the weirdness of that `ministry' would be exposed and eventually dry up. But maybe not,
because it is said that in the last days men would rather believe the lie than the truth. So be it. It is also said that Satan would deceive the very elect, if it were possible... Maybe we have to have the strange and questionable to have a standard of sorts to measure the Truth against? God bless you all in your effort to proclaim the Truth.
GK
Oregon, USA

Editorial Note:
Thomas Trask, General Superintendent of AG USA was one of the guest speakers at the recent AoG Conference in Australia. By all accounts he preached a good and sound message, BUT sadly he is continuing to send "MIXED SIGNALS" not only by his association with TBN but also by his perceived links with the Ecumenical Movement, which is causing concern among his own USA
constituency and the world-wide AoG family. It is high time he faced the reality of his
duplicity. [See Stop Press, p27]


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CESSATIONISM versus BIBLICISM

As the real fruit of the "ministry" of men like Rodney Howard-Browne and his many
mimics — Tim Hall and Jeff Beacham, to mention just two from Australia — in the false "River Revival Now" movement become
evident, thousands of one time Pentecostals and Charismatics are fleeing for safety back to the traditional denominations that many of them left in the 60s and 70s.
Classic Pentecostals often search in vain for a safe "church" where the Word of God is preached and biblical "manifestations" (not "gifts" in an exclusive sense) of the Holy Spirit occur. There is undoubtedly an enormous pendulum-swing taking place worldwide.
Sadly some are jettisoning the genuine by over-reacting to the false. CWM is trying to redress this situation. I and my editorial
colleague Siam Bhayro, are classic Pente-costals, which means that we believe in the present day reality of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in fruit and gift including the supernatural "manifestations" listed in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11.
The positive to all this is that increasingly hard line evangelical churches are interested in a sane presentation of the classical Pentecostal view. For example, I personally have found a warm welcome among Presbyterian churches, one going so far as to invite me to preach on the Ministry and Work of the Holy Spirit.
It is our intention to continue the
series on "Cessationism versus Biblicism" so we have not answered the points which are raised by readers in the letters that follow as these will be answered in time by way of
articles on the subject.
For those who are interested, however, I have done a mini-series of 3 bible talks on the topic as follows: 1) Are the Gifts of the Spirit Valid Today? 2) When May We Speak in Tongues _ If Ever? 3) Not By Might … But By My Spirit. These talks are available on audiotape, as listed in our CWM Resource Catalogue.
One pastor after listening to two of the
messages told me he would order 10 or 15 sets so that his home groups could study the material. Please feel free to respond to any or all of the following and see page 24 for a continuation of this topic with more to come.

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Dear Philip
I have just read your article in CETF for December 2000, re Cessationism vs Biblicism. I basically agree with all you write, with maybe small variations about the meaning of a few passages, but complete agreement about what the Word teaches. To me, 1 Corinthians 13:8_12 clearly proves the gifts would be available to believers "until that which is perfect (complete) is come." That is, until we have immortality (our complete
"inheritance") at Christ's return. Now, we have received a portion, and foretaste of it. When we are immortal, the "partial" gifts of the Spirit will be "done away". That is, swallowed up in the total inheritance, "the powers of the age to come." Then "we will know, even as we are known"; that is, total, not partial knowledge. I view with dismay many of the modern "manifestations", which are not mentioned in scripture. We should judge the "manifestations" and the "prophets" by the Word of God, which is the great standard of truth that God has given us (1 Corinthians 14:29). I think you agree. It is good to read that you are now living in Brisbane. Welcome to Queensland.
God bless you.
EW,
QLD Australia


Subject: Departing from the faith
Dear Philip,
As a Pentecostal pastor speaking to a Pentecostal pastor, what is Vanguard's position on tongues as the initial evidence of Baptism in the Holy Spirit? I see no endorsement of this position in the doctrinal statement in the latest edition.
Pastor Paul Kent
Australia

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Dear Philip,
I always read Vanguard with keen interest, if not always with complete agreement. I have had a quick look at your paper. I haven't time to do a thorough review, but here are a few brief comments which might be helpful. Overall, I commend you for your approach. Trying to find a sensible, biblical middle ground is not always easy. And it's not likely you'll convince anyone in the extreme camps. But it's worth having a go! Generally, I think you've made a pretty fair fist of it. Now for some particular comments —
1) I like your comment comparing God's sovereignty with His immutability.
2) In my opinion, your argument that there are `three other baptisms' cannot be substantiated. The third one you mention (1 Corinthians 12:13) seems to me also to be a reference to baptism in the Holy Spirit. Certainly, the structure of the Greek expression is identical. The English translations have obscured this, but it should read `in' not `by' one Spirit. I think Paul is arguing here that just as John's baptism was `for' (Greek eis) or `with respect to' a repentance that had ALREADY taken place, so baptism in the Spirit is `for' (eis) or `with respect to' an incorporation in the body of Christ which had already taken place. In regard to baptism in water, the preposition eis is never used of the element, only the purpose. I think the same applies here; eis refers to purpose not element. An alternative way of looking at it is that `baptise' is a metaphor, and like other biblical metaphors (eg yeast, lion) does not always refer to the same thing. So Paul may be referring to regeneration here, whereas Luke uses the metaphor re enduement. I believe evangelicals will be quick to dispute this section of your paper as it stands.
3) Re tongues being human languages. There is a substantial body of Pentecostal scholarly thought, which disputes this. (See journals like PNEUMA). Personally, I don't see why tongues have to be human languages. There is no reason why glossolalia cannot be a form of communication with God, which transcends human skills. In fact, if all we do is speak another human tongue, we are still limited. The beauty of free vocalisation is that the Spirit can enable our spirits to pray with unlimited expressiveness (Romans 8:26f; 1 Cor 14:14f). There is only one NT reference to human languages being spoken. We need two or three witnesses (Deut 19:15) to build a case on. The NT evidence is all to the contrary (1 Corinthians 14).
4) Number of Incidents — There are six Acts incidents if we include Acts 18. Although there is no mention here of anything supernatural, on the basis of 1 Cor 2:1ff and 12:1ff; 14:1ff it is fair to assume glossolalia occurred initially at Corinth too.    
5) Re Acts 19. I doubt if the disciples were Christians initially. But by the time they were baptised, they were. Then Paul laid his hands on them. He must necessarily have done this one by one. So there is still a clear distinction between regeneration and Spirit-baptism. Consistency does not demand that the word disciple has the same meaning here as elsewhere. It depends entirely on whose disciples they were.
6) Re Montanism — What Broadbent says of the Montanists is substantially correct. See F.F.Bruce, The Spreading Flame for some good evangelical stuff on them. Also you need to read Tertullian on them as well. Some of my recent research into Australian origins is interesting. Also, Wesleyanism and Dowieism were primary tributaries for Pentecostalism. (My thesis is finished and accepted but not yet published.) Sorry I can't give you more.  Overall, I agree with your general thrust. I would, no doubt, be more temperate, especially re Pentecostal colleagues (but not practices).
Dr Barry Chant
NSW, Australia

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Dear Philip,
I worked through the article. Thank you for sending it. I am in basic sympathy with your position especially concerning miracles. I am not actually a strict cessationist. I believe that miracle men probably do not exist, but miracles certainly happen. Just a few more thoughts and comments relating to some of your ideas:
1) I think there were 12 basic apostles (to replace or reconstitute) the 12 patriarchs, but there were others (e.g. Barnabas, James the Lord's brother). The fact that there were false apostles implies there must have been more than 12 otherwise one could simply list their names.
2) I think Montanism probably had a fair bit wrong with it and Martyn Lloyd-Jones, for example, was a bit naîve to be sympathetic to it. One of the problems is that we don't know much about it. There are only 16 sayings, which are extant, which are regarded as coming from Montanists. We are thus relying on our view of Montanism on the movement as its opponents saw it. The Montanists seem to have predicted the second coming, with the New Jerusalem descending on Phrygia. Oops!
3) You probably need to interact with B.B. Warfield's Counterfeit Miracles. He says miracles were only to confirm the status of the apostle or prophet. I think he is onto something but overdoes it.
4) I actually take the view that Peter is the rock (as Abraham is in Isaiah 51:1-2).
5) The apostles saw themselves as exclusive, but I think there were 12 basic apostles plus others.
6) Tongues shall cease — the argument (which is not convincing) is that tongues will pass away (in the middle voice), i.e. pass away of themselves.
7) Baptisms — I am not convinced that 2 and 5 really differ from one another. See Romans 8:9-11. Number 3 of course is figurative.
8) Prepositions — The Spirit is "with" His people in the OT, "in" them in the NT. I think that explains John 14:17.
Do you know Iain Murray's Revival and Revivalism? There is a lot wrong with the  Moody  approach,  although  he  is  better  than  Finney. Essentially  I  agree  with  much  of  your  position.
Christian  regards,
Peter Barnes
Lecturer Presbyterian College,
SYDNEY

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Dear Mr Powell
Just a note to thank you for your article "Cessationism versus Biblicism", enclosed with a recent copy of Contending for the Faith. I found it a tremendous help and it has gone a long way to cleaning up the confusion over this issue in my own mind. God bless,
E.A.
Glasgow, UK

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Dear Editor
I write with reference to the article in the March issue of Vanguard, "A tribute and modern history lesson" by Jacob Prasch. The
article makes mention of the contribution of David Powell to the growth of Pentecostalism today. There is no doubt that David Powell was a man of God. Although I never had the privilege of meeting him, I have heard many remarkable things about him. However, I am somewhat amazed at the "whiter than white" image Prasch portrays of Powell. Powell was by no means perfect and any balanced and honest article would have to point this out. Even men of God like David Powell made mistakes! PRASCH THEN GOES ON TO UNLEASH A STRING OF ACCUSATIONS AGAINST THOSE WHO WILL SPEAK AT THE NEXT AOG CONFERENCE. HE DOES NOT SO MUCH AS EVEN ATTEMPT TO PRESENT ANY EVIDENCE TO BACK UP HIS CLAIMS. I was also amazed at the comments that
Prasch made against the current AoG General Superintendent Paul Weaver ".... whose track record of proven failure included his JIM CHALLENGE".  
I am sad that you would allow such comments to be published in your magazine. Perhaps the JIM challenge was not perfect, but when all is said and done, there are
people sitting in churches today who would otherwise be on their way to hell had it not been for the witness of that campaign. There is no wisdom in such comments. I know that Mr Prasch will argue that he is dealing with principle and not personality when he accuses sincere man of God like Paul Weaver? One day, we will all answer to God for the decisions we have made. Jacob Prasch will answer to God for the comments he has made and will be judged with the judgment with which he has judged. Will someone please ask Mr Prasch this question "If you knew that today was your last day on earth before you stand before God to give an account for your accusations, would you continue to make such comments?" Please understand me, as a relatively new minister in AoG; I am as frustrated as anybody at the apathy that exists in our nation. There is need for sincere repentance for our waywardness. However, Mr Prasch seems to separate himself (in this case, along with David Powell) from this. The attitude that comes across is that of "The problem is with everybody else, not me". The problem is, we're all in this together! Mr Prasch recognises that things are not what they should be. I have no doubts that he sincerely loves the Lord and is convinced that what he is saying is right. However, it seems to me that such personalised comments are unwise and should not be published. I would appreciate your consideration of my comments.
Yours sincerely in the Lord Jesus,
Rev Roy J Todd
Bethel Community Church
Royston, BARNSLEY, UK

Refer also to M Cerullo Court case
Response by Jacob Prasch:
In response to the letter of Mr Todd, a new AoG minister, I am baffled at his request for proof. Surely anyone coming into the AoG ministry under the leadership of Paul Weaver should be aware of the promotion in the AoG in its literature and conferences of:
a) The Toronto Experience and ministry of Rodney Howard-Browne and others;
b) The promotion of faith-prosperity preachers;
c) The promotion of the now split and nearly defunct Pensacola deception; (to name just a few deceptions), and the absence of any dissenting voices addressing their conferences or contrary views in their publications. All of this takes place while Mr Weaver is at the helm. As for the failed `car raffle' evangelism of JIM Challenge, where are even 1
percent of the 250,000 who were suppose to come to Christ through it? I did not criticise it as the gimmick I believed it to be at the time in case any were saved — but where are they? Moreover, Jesus never said to make converts but disciples; what were the few saved into — the Toronto deception of drunkenness and animal imitations? The Christian Research Centre and Brierly report says the UK alone has seen a 16 percent decrease in Pentecostals and Charismatics since Toronto. Does Todd wish to say that the ministry of Tommy Tenney or the pro-Cerullo antics of Colin Dye or the false prophetic predictions of Gerald Coates who were featured at the AoG conference, as I reported them are
untrue? Every fact is a matter of record and everyone knows they are, including Mr Weaver, Mr Dye, and Mr Coates, which is why one can only suspect they do not respond for themselves. If pastor Todd wishes proof of Tommy Tenney's beliefs that "The Word of God is dusty old Truth, and the bible is where God has been, not where he is" why does he not simply read Tenney's book for himself? Concerning David Powell, I wrote no hagiography. In an obituary I simply eulogised a brother, whom I had the privilege and blessing to know, with a written tribute but whom Todd by his own admission did not know.
Indeed, if Todd had had the opportunities to know old time Pentecostals like David Powell, he might be able to see through men like Paul Weaver, Colin Dye, Tommy Tenney, and Gerald Coates for himself. The AoG as it once was in the days of godly men like David Powell, sadly  no longer exists. Fortunately, as the Lord raises up new independent Pentecostal ministries under the leadership of those with the good sense to get out of the AoG such as Jim Simbola and David Wilkerson, this new fangled unbiblical AoG under men like Weaver is dying, as the demise of Pensacola proves and 16 percent decline since Toronto proves. This is for the better — let it die. We need to clear away the old rubble so the Holy Spirit can build up this new biblical Pentecostalism.
Sincerely,
Jacob Prasch

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Dear Mr Powell,
This is just a short note to tell you how sorry I was to hear of the passing away of the late Mr Powell. I had the privilege, and it was a tremendous privilege and pleasure, of meeting Mr Powell and of preaching in his church on a Sunday morning, when I was a first year student at Mattersey Hall in 1991. A personal friend of Mr Powell's, by the name of Jack House (he was the Bible College gardener at the time, now retired), asked me if I would come and preach at Mr Powell's church.
I hadn't a clue who Mr Powell was, as I was from the Irish Republic, and had not moved in AOG circles. I had never preached either, but felt that was what the Lord would have me to do.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was introduced to Mr Powell before the meeting, and will never forget his welcome, and the aura of his presence. If memory serves me right, my sermon lasted twelve to fifteen
minutes and I promptly sat down. When the meeting was over, we all went back to Mr Powell's house for a lovely dinner. During the dinner, Mr House asked Mr Powell what he thought of the preacher that Sunday morning, as it was the first time he had preached. I nearly choked on my food!! However, I will never forget his answer. He looked me straight in the eye and asked me if that was correct that I had never preached before, and after telling me firstly that I should have had a title for my sermon(!!), he went on to tell me that he sensed in his heart and spirit that I had the making of a preacher/teacher, and if I kept myself humble, and stayed at the feet of Jesus, by the time I had reached his age, the Lord might have made a half decent preacher out of me!!
I have never, ever, forgotten that, and what a privilege it was to sit at his feet for the remainder of that afternoon, and listen to his godly advice and counsel. I will never, ever forget that day. It left a tremendous impression on me. He was a godly, godly man and no doubt will be missed tremendously.
I completed my studies at Mattersey in 1994, and am now serving as a pastor/elder in an Independent Pentecostal Church, known simply as "The Christian Assembly", here in Dublin. We encourage our people to read and digest "Vanguard" and "Contending Earnestly for the Faith", and then to
distribute them to other believers in other churches. We have also placed a number of your preaching/teaching cassettes in our church library and have encouraged members to listen to them and then to pass them on to Christians in other churches.
Keep up the good work, Philip, you and all on the team at "Vanguard", and "Contending Earnestly for the Faith". We are praying that the Lord will use you more and more in these days, and that He will raise up more and more men of the calibre and strength of the late Mr Powell. God bless you. I was extremely touched and moved by the tributes paid to Mr Powell in the last Vanguard. They both summed him and the present situation up perfectly.
SM (pastor)
Dublin, Eire

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HISTORICISM versus FUTURISM

Dear Editors,
Firstly let me say I like your Publication CEFT _ Jude verse 3. I believe there is a great need for this in all ages, especially today.
At first as I read your articles I thought you may have been going too far, but now I find, to my distress, that what you are writing about is happening everywhere, even here in a small country town.
I … would like to comment please on the first letter by Rhys P. James. I quote: "…. We do not think that this is an issue which should divide us..."
I agree, this should not divide us! I have many wonderful futurist brothers and sisters who are precious to me. I love all of Christ's redeemed people … I know an AOG pastor who was asked to surrender his credentials because he believed and taught the historical view. In the not too distant past those with such a view were tolerated, but not heard. I hope your invitation is genuine.
May I share with you that I was saddened by your response. But I do realise a thing in print can appear more severe than the heart of the writer. So I would say if I have misjudged you, please forgive me? Also if my letter hurts you, "please forgive".
As I understand it, the book of Revelation was all future at the time of writing; as the events unfolded they became history, and even now there are some things which are future, such as the coming of Christ and Armageddon etc. This is the historical position. As I understand the futurist position, Revelation 1-4 is the church age, followed by the rapture in chapter 4:1, followed by the seals, trumpets, and vials; which the raptured church would not go through, (not appointed to wrath I understand you are saying in your first comment: "The historicist camp has a poor exegesis of Revelation, which leaves the book void of any purpose"! Surely, just the opposite is true! What purpose are the seals, trumpets, and vials to futurists, if they are not going through them? On the other hand, Jesus' last letter to his love slaves was of great comfort to them as they saw themselves going through the seals, trumpets, and vials. As you know, the church was historical for many hundreds of years, especially during the dark ages.
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death" (Revelation 12:11).
Your second quote is: The "historicist view is deeply rooted in Roman Catholic theology". Please, "help". As P. James and also Professor George E. Ladd of Fuller Theological Seminary (not historical) in his book, The Blessed Hope, p37 points out. Because the Protestants (all historicist) were saying that the Papacy was the Antichrist, the Pope commissioned a Jesuit named Ribera to study the Bible and come up with a different interpretation to prove that the Papacy was not the Antichrist. The Protestants rejected his interpretation until S.R. Maitland 1826 and J.N. Darby 1827 resurrected it. Acceptance was slow at first, but today is widely accepted among Protestants. This is just the opposite of your claim.
Your quote: "Doctrine should be decided by recourse to the scriptures alone". I agree, that is why the true historical view recognises the fulfilment of prophecy after the event; whereas futurism predicts what will happen in the future, and as P. James pointed out most predictions, especially of recent times have failed to happen.
You say, "It is foolish to conclude that it is Jesus being referred to in Daniel 9:27". Your quote, "The `he' who makes the covenant refers to the proper noun which immediately precedes it, in this case the "prince" of verse 26." Well, praise the Lord, I agree that the context of verses 25, 26 & 27 is Messiah the Prince.
You have unknowingly confirmed who the "he" of verse 27 is. He was God's covenant with Israel — Isaiah 49:8. The covenant He confirmed, was the covenant in His blood Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 8:6. He was cut off in the middle of the week. The old covenant sacrifice and offering came to an end — verses 26 & 27 — regardless of what the Jews may have done since the veil was torn from the top to the bottom.
God does not recognise any way but the cross — the altar of burnt offering, which stands as a barrier or an entrance into God's presence.
You say, b): "Answer why He causes the temple sacrifices to cease?" I have just
answered it; but of course I understand, in your mind it is a Temple somewhere down the track that Antichrist supposedly helps the Jews to build. Tell me if he did, how does he consecrate it as you say? Only God's presence can make a thing holy! If it is not holy, how does he defile it after three and a half years? This temple idea is the brainchild of Ribera.
About the anti-semitism bit. When God wanted to punish Israel for their idolatry He used Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon, God called him His servant Jer 25: 9 c/f Deut 28: 36-41. But who really punished Israel? It was God! Was God anti-semitic? God said He would use Rome to punish Israel Deut 28:48-50 if they disobeyed Him. He did! He used Titus in AD70. But who really did it?
Was it not the prince of Dan 9:26? "The Prince who is to come". The only Prince in the context is "Messiah the Prince". There was not even a whiff of a suggestion of an Antichrist here; until Ribera and Darby invented futurism.

Stephen said Jesus would "destroy this place" —the Temple (Holy place) and Jerusalem Acts 6:3-14. How did Stephen know that? Jesus had said: "Your house — the Temple (He disowned it) is left to you desolate! Not one stone was to be left upon another." Was Jesus anti-semitic?No, His great grace spared them, and us also for that matter. They had requested that "His blood be upon them and their children". That should have been total annihilation. Dare we say that God did not, or has no right to bring corrections?
The reinstatement of sacrifices at a consecrated temple! This is questionable theology; no one knows as yet if Ezekiel Chapters 40 to 48 are literal or what. In the absence of light on these chapters, we should walk in the light of the New Testament, which says God has abolished animal sacrifices; and leave it to a sovereign God to do what He will.
Quote: You say, "The Olivet Discourse was not fulfilled in AD70". Well, what we have here in Luke and Matthew is two writers quoting the same event; this is clear from Luke 21:5-6 and Matthew 24:1-2. In response to Jesus' statement, the disciples asked Jesus two questions Luke 21:7 and Matthew 24:3. Jesus answers two questions: (1) The destruction of Jerusalem Luke 21:20-24 and Matthew 24:15-26. (2) The coming of Jesus Luke 21:25-28 and Matthew 24:29-31. Clearly Luke 21:20-24 is AD70. Comparing Luke 21:23 with Matthew 24:19 proves
beyond doubt that this is AD70.
Matthew 24:21 speaks of "great tribulation". It was for Israel! But this is not THE Great Tribulation that is in the minds of Futurists when they read this. They confuse this tribulation for Israel with God's wrath on an unbelieving world i.e. Armageddon etc, which God has not appointed for believers 1 Thessalonians 5:9.
However, Jesus said: "In the world you shall have tribulation", which has been the experience of Christians throughout the church age.
I'm not quite sure what you mean by: "Non-existent links to dodgy groups". Let me give you my background. I first heard the gospel and accepted Jesus as Saviour and Lord in the early forties when an AOG preacher came to our country town; I remained in that situation until about 1984. I am now Independent. In about July 1992 as you may remember we were bombarded with the news — Jesus is coming at 1am 29th of October, Brisbane time. This so disturbed me that I sat down and put in print the problems I had with futurism. As you may have guessed as an AOG I only knew futurism. I even taught it. It took me ten years of searching until I came to the point of accepting that the historicist view was more likely to be closer to the truth.
Perhaps by "dodgy groups" you mean the "cults" which stayed with the historicist view on prophecy, when the bulk of Protestants abandoned it in favour of futurism. Of course they see themselves as the ones going through the seals, trumpets, and vials, rather than all believers throughout the whole church age. Their acceptance of the historicist view does not prove or disprove if it is right or not. Many Futurists won't even look at the historicist view, because of the cults.
I hope this is what you meant by "a vigorous exchange of views". I hope you still love me. I will send you a copy of "my problems with futurism".
Before closing may I put this to you:
Futurists believe Antichrist will rule the world after the rapture, and behead thousands of somehow repentant lukewarm believers who missed the rapture. Revelation 20:4-6 says that those beheaded by Antichrist are raised from the dead in the first resurrection, which is the rapture of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Surely this shows that Antichrist is sometime before, not after the rapture. Why would so many cling so desperately to futurism's wrong theories?
LP
QLD, Australia

Editorial Footnote:
I can vouch for the accuracy of what LP has written above regarding the shoddy treatment of the AoG pastor (Eric Watson) by the hierarchy because he believed and taught the historicist view. The action occurred prior to my appointment as National General Secretary and when I issued a letter stating that historicism was not contrary to the AoG tenets and that David Cartledge (Qld Super) had acted outside his jurisdiction, my position was threatened. Coincidentally the same AoG National Executive (also prior to my appointment) showed an incredible degree of hypocrisy in allowing one of their cronies to retain his credential when in fact he denied the pre-millennial return of Christ, which was contrary to AoG tenets at that time. This was a contributing factor in my ultimate resignation. When truth falls in the streets of any church movement corruption is inevitable. No wonder AoG is in such a spiritual mess. (PP)

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Dear Sir,
Firstly, my gratitude for your sending CETF and Vanguard to me. I have agreed with just about everything that I have read to date and anything that I'm not sure of I hold on to for future clarification. However, in this latest CETF I have a problem with a section of the response by Siam Bhayro to the letter from Rhys P. James.
The part I have difficulty with is the last part of `C' in which it is stated, `CWM believes that Jesus will return to establish, for a period, the Jewish religion upon the earth and reinstate the sacrifices at a consecrated
temple.'
Since you always claim to base your beliefs on scripture alone could you please send me, and I am quite willing to pay for the expense of your doing so if you will send an invoice, the scriptures and line of thinking that is behind that statement.
I've been a Christian for 20 years now and have been an ardent student of the Word but that is the first time I've ever read anything like that. Having said that let me say I'm not condemning it but at this point would like to study the theology and scripture behind it.
CCP
Maroochydore, Australia

Editorial Response:
When the first temple was dedicated, the Lord spoke and said, "For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and my eyes and my heart shall be there perpetually" (2 Chronicles 7:16). There was a warning, however, of destruction and exile should they sin:
"But if you turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them; Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations. And this house, which is exalted, shall be an astonishment to every one that passes by it; so that he shall say, Why has the LORD done this to this land, and to this house? And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore he has brought all this evil upon them" (2 Chronicles 7:19-22). This was fulfilled with the Babylonian exile of 586 BCE.
At that time, the question was, "Has God rejected the Jews forever?" Was this to be a final judgment? Had God abandoned his holy temple? [Remember that the "holy city" is only "holy" because of the temple.] The prophet Jeremiah, writing at the time of the exile, stated that the Jews would return with God's blessing [Jeremiah 30-31]. When this occurs, "... it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever" (Jeremiah 31:40). This passage does not, however, mention the temple and its sacrifices. Another prophet, Ezekiel, also living at the time of the exile, wrote concerning this [Ezekiel 40-47]. These chapters describe in great detail as yet unfulfilled events, including a temple, sacrifices, priests etc. all along the lines of the Jewish covenant. Scripture does not say this is an allegory. Scripture does not say that God has changed his mind. In fact, speaking of the Jews, Paul states very clearly that what God has given them and called them to do cannot be changed [Romans 11:29]. If we choose not to take Ezekiel 40-47 at face value, but instead opt to allegorise it, why not allegorise the whole Bible? It would certainly solve many disputes ... no more eternal conscious punishment in Hell, no eternal bliss either, no sin, no Satan and, for that matter, no God. Let those who deny the restoration of the temple and sacrifices in the next dispensation tell us their exposition of Ezekiel 40-47 — what does it all mean? Here are some verses they really need to explain [my comments in square brackets consider the consequences of allegorising these passages — I do not actually allegorise them myself!]
"Thus says the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel" (Ezekiel 44:9). [If they allegorise this, then none of us can enter into God's presence!]
"Afterward he brought me to the temple, and measured the posts, six cubits broad on the one side, and six cubits broad on the other side, which was the breadth of the tabernacle. And the breadth of the door was ten cubits; and the sides of the door were five cubits on the one side, and five cubits on the other side: and he measured the length, forty cubits: and the breadth, twenty cubits. Then went he inward, and measured the post of the door, two cubits; and the door, six cubits; and the breadth of the door, seven cubits. So he measured the length, twenty cubits; and the breadth, twenty cubits, before the temple: and he said to me, This is the most holy place" (Ezekiel 41:1-4). [This temple has never been built. If it is an allegory, please somebody explain the meaning of all the measurements! If they have no meaning, isn't it a rather pointless bit of scripture?]
"Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looks toward the east: And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory. And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city: and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face. And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east. So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house" (Ezekiel 41:1-4). [This certainly hasn't happened yet!]
"And he said to me, Son of man, thus says the Lord GOD; These are the ordinances of the altar in the day when they shall make it, to offer burnt offerings, and to sprinkle blood upon it. And you shall give to the priests who are Levites of the seed of Zadok, who approach me, to minister to me, says the Lord GOD, a young bullock for a sin offering. And you shall take of the blood, and put it on the four horns of it, and on the four corners of the ledge, and upon the border round about: thus you shall cleanse and purge it. You shall take the bullock also of the sin offering, and burn it in the appointed place of the house, outside the sanctuary" (Ezekiel 43:18-21). [This was written after the temple was destroyed. The temple in which it takes place has never been built. If we allegorise this, was God engaging in pointless wishful thinking?]
I think it is pretty clear that the Bible explicitly tells of a future temple with sacrifices and priesthood. Denying this opens a real theological can of worms, and its consequences are unacceptable. [Responses are of course welcome and encouraged.] (SB)

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PAUL WEAVER
General Superintendent AoG, UK
[PP = Philip Powell; PW = Paul Weaver]

From PP to PW:
Dear Paul: Greetings in the Name of the Lord. It is quite some time since we had meaningful contact. Last time I think it was in connection with my speaking at the assembly you pastor and unfortunately you were away at the time so we didn't meet. A friend has just sent me your email address so now that I have you on line we may be able to correspond from time to time.
 I guess you will be aware of the controversy surrounding Tommy Tenney, who I understand was one of the guest speakers at the recent British AoG Conference. We have heard that he left the Conference unexpectedly on the Wednesday when he was scheduled to preach at least one more time. It is also alleged that you, as the British AoG Superintendent talked to him one week before conference about his ONENESS links. I would be grateful to you if you are able to tell me exactly what happened in this regard.
 We certainly are living in unusual times when it behoves us all to take to heart the command of Jude the apostle to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." In my view his alleged links with the Oneness issue is incidental to Tenney's obvious denial of the authority and sufficiency of scripture as contained in the 66 books of our Bible. Oh yes I remember how the UK AoG Conferences struggled with this issue those many years ago. I was actually on the resolutions committee at the time!! Tenney's God Chasers mark him as a heretic. That you even so much as considered him as a speaker, let alone invited him, is INCREDIBLE. I look forward to hearing from you ASAP.

Sincerely in the Love
of THE Truth
Philip L. POWELL
From PW to PP:


Dear Phillip,
Thank you for your email. Due to my lack of faith in the integrity of your journalism, I do not wish to enter into any correspondence or dialogue on any subject now or in the future. Yours for THE TRUTH,
Paul Weaver,General Superintendent

From PP to PW:
Dear Paul,
Thanks for your reply which we will probably publish unedited unless you change your mind. I am attaching hereto the lead article for CETF Vol 23 which should hit the streets, God Willing, very shortly. My co-editor wrote the article and suggested that I should send it to you and invite your comments which we promise to publish un-edited.
 As you will note he has mentioned the name of Mike Jarvis, with whom I was very friendly at one time. Can you please either forward this attachment to Mike or let me have his email address by return? Many thanks. Be assured there is no rancour or bitterness on my part, notwithstanding what you have written. If you can provide evidence for your assertion then I shall endeavour to mend my ways, BUT in the meantime it seems very clear to me that AoG in UK under your leadership is heading for disaster if not already overtaken by it.
 Please Paul consider well what Siam Bhayro has written and DO something about it. All that is required is a public acknowledgement that you and your colleagues have been wrong. Turn my brother. Repent and live.
 I am copying this to my co-editor. Oh by the way do you question his journalistic
integrity too?
 God bless you,
Yours sincerely in CHRIST
who is the TRUTH,
Philip L. POWELL

As there was no response Philip wrote further as follows: 

From PP to PW:
Dear Paul,
Further to mine of 22/05/01, I confirm that we will proceed with our intention as outlined and hereby challenge you to prove your accusation against our honour or to apologise. We plan to publish all that has transpired between us and to make our challenge to you public.

Yours in the love of THE Truth,
Philip L. POWELL


*1 Encyclopaedia Britannica Copy 1964, Vol 23 p576A.

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Appeared in Issue CETF 7.1 June 2001
"...contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" -- Jude v3


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