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Sermon Quotes: "Discern, Don't Despise"

“For Paul the Spirit, as an experienced and living reality, was the absolutely crucial matter for the Christian life, from beginning to end…the health of the contemporary church necessitates that its theology of the Spirit and itsexperience of the Spirit correspond more closely.” Gordon Fee

“In recapturing the dynamic life of the Spirit there will also be the renewal of the charismata, not for the sake of being charismatic, but for the building up of the people of God for their life together and in the world. What must not happen in such a renewal is what has so often happened in the past: holding the extraordinary charismata in such awe that they are allowed to exist untested and undiscerned. Every form of extremism, which is so often the expressed or hidden fear over a renewed life of the Spirit in the church, is ultimately the result of failure to heed the primary Pauline injunction (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22): ‘Do not quench the Spirit by despising prophesying. Buttest all things; and in so doing, hold fast to what is good and be done with every form of evil.’ The failure to ‘test the spirits’ has led to a lack of responsibility and accountability, which in turn has often led to failure on the part of some who were in prominence, as well as to pain and hurt by those who were recipients of ‘prophetic words’ that were either false or unrealizable.” Gordon Fee

“[Prophecy] consisted of spontaneous, Spirit inspired, intelligible messages, orally delivered in the gathered assembly intended for the edification or encouragement of the people by men or women who remained in control of the activity. There is no evidence that such utterances were ever given the same authority as inspired texts (i.e. Scripture) or that they involved what is sometimes referred to as ‘personal prophecy.’ Rather, its focus was on the corporate life of the community.” Gary Shogren

“A verbal report in human words of something God has spontaneously revealed, shared for the purpose of edification, encouragement, or comfort.” 

“In short, charismatic prophetic activity was potentially threatening and divisive, and it is easy to see how some people within a congregation might have wished or sought to minimize it.” Michael Holmes

“Impressions need to be suspected before they are sanctioned and tested before they are trusted.” J.I. Packer

“Any claimed experience of the Spirit that detracts from the dignity of Christ as truly God and truly human and from the integrity of saving work is not of the Spirit (1 John 4:1-3)…[The Spirit] has not come to thematize himself but Christ (John 14-16). Christology is at the center not pneumatology…We can spoil the gospel when the NT sense of proportion is lost and pneumatology becomes our primary emphasis rather than Christology. The idea in some charismatic circles, for example, that ‘the major compass point for moving ahead in active ministry’ is not ‘the cross’ but ‘charisma’ is extremely troubling.” Graham Cole

“It should be noted that the first mention of prophecy in the NT includes the imperative that all such prophecies (and by implication all other such ‘Spirit utterances’ in the community) are to be tested. The awe with which many contemporary charismatics hold prophecy and ‘prophets,’ which in effect causes them almost never to be ‘tested’ stands in basic contradiction to this Pauline injunction.” Gordon Fee

“The KJV translation, ‘abstain from all appearance of evil’ is unfortunate…Its rendering of 5:22 has been the basis for what is virtually a special branch of ethics, that a believer should refrain from any practice which might appear to be evil, typically to another Christian, although in theory, to any person whatsoever. This has led to the principle that one’s behavior should be guided by the perception of others, even if no one has voiced an objection: ‘Well, you don’t think it’s wrong, and neither do I, and nobody has said anything about it, but to someone it might give ‘an appearance of evil,’, and therefore you must refrain from it.’ This is not at all the gist of Paul’s command in 5:22. Paul is not speaking of ‘what appears to be wrong’ but ‘evil, which shows itself in many ways.’” Gary Shogren

“It is as if the Spirit stands behind us, throwing light over Jesus, who stands facing us. The Spirit’s message to us is never, ‘Look at me; listen to me; come to me; get to know me,’ but always, ‘Look at himand see him, and see his glory; get to know him, and hear his word; go to him, and have life; get to know him, and taste his gift of joy and peace.” J.I. Packer