DEMONSTRATION NOT ARGUMENTATION

James D. Bales

ertain of God's people worked miracles to confirm the word while it was being revealed (Mk. 16:17-18, 20; Heb. 2:3-4). The total truth was not revealed during the personal ministry of Christ nor on Pentecost (John 16:12-13). As far as I

know, no miracle workers argued that they could work miracles. They did not quote a promise of the Lord concerning miraculous confirmation, and then argue that they could work miracles. They engaged in no argumentation on this subject, but they did demonstrate miraculous powers time and time again. Furthermore, there are vast differences between the variety and characteristics of the miracles recorded in the New Testament, and the futile efforts of so-called miracle workers today. A miracle worker in the New Testament may have reminded someone of the miracles which he had done in their presence, but they never argued they could work miracles. They simply worked them.

Jim Gregory argued for miraculous powers today, but he cited no demonstration of such powers today. He argued that miraculous gifts would not cease until Christ comes again. He wrote of gifts but neither demonstrated nor claimed a miraculous gift ("When Perfection Comes," THE EXAMINER, March 1991). His failure to demonstrate does not lead him to desist from arguing that if we would hear Jesus (by opening "the doors of our inner-beings, our spirits, to our living risen Lord"), "I think we would be amazed at the wonders he would perform through us...".

He claims our lack of faith keeps Jesus from working miracles through us and for us and others today. He cited Mark 6:5; 13:58. He said we are quenching the Spirit, that we are not allowing Christ "to have free ... reign ...in our lives" and that we have been bound by human traditions. Unless these accusations are true of him today, he must claim and demonstrate some miraculous gift. What gift or gifts does brother Gregory have? Argument is not proof that he has a miraculous gift. If he has the gift of inspiration, is his article inspired? Should we place it in the next printing of the Scriptures? He realizes that Paul wrote Scripture. If Gregory does not write scripture, will he tell us who are the apostles today, and prophets, who write Scripture today? Does Gregory have an inspired recollection of all Jesus taught? Does he know anyone who does? He cited John 14:25-26. If any of the gifts are available today, all of them are available. All or none are available today although all would not be available to everyone.

Was all the truth of which Jesus spoke revealed in the first century (John 16:12-13)? If not, Jesus' promise to His apostles failed. Will Gregory tell us one truth, revealed through recent revelation, which I cannot show is revealed in the Bible, condemned by the Bible (and therefore not a moral or spiritual truth), or is discernible by human reason in which case we do not need the gift of knowledge.

Gregory quoted Hebrews 4:12-15 and said the word refers to Christ and "is not the written word". He said it refers to the accounting we shall have to give to Christ on judgment day. If this is the case, it has nothing to do with whether or not miraculous gifts are available and functioning today. If it refers to anyone being taught today it would mean that they are taught personally by Christ apart from the written word.

Gregory passes judgment on the brethren, and as far as I could tell he made no exception, and said "we've kept him imprisoned between the covers of a Book!" Although the word is the word of Christ, I have never in my wildest imaginations (nor do I know of others) failed to distinguish between Christ and His word. He is not imprisoned between the covers of a book although we know very, very little about Him apart from the Bible. The Bible is important because God, Christ and the Spirit are important. The Bible is the word of God (1 Thess. 2:14; 2 Pet. 1:21); it is pure (Psa. 12:6; 119:140), true (Psa. 11:19, 138, 142, 160), sanctifies us (John 17:17; cf. 1 Pet. 1:22; Col. 1:13), is powerful (Psa. 19:7), and it has the power of the life of the seed (Luke 8:11).

The word endures (1 Pet. 1:23-25; Matt. 7:24-27); it is living (1 Pet. 1:23-25; Matt. 7:24-27, life-giving (1 Pet. 1:213; Luke 8:11, and it is spirit and ... life" (John 6:63). The word is steadfast (Heb. 2:1-4, we shall be judged by Christ and His word (John 12-48-50; Acts 17:30), it gives light (Psa. 119:130), it is spiritual food Matt. 4:4), and it is a mirror(Jas. 1:22-25).

God's word is also a fire (Jer. 23:29), a hammer (Jer. 23:29), a sword (Eph. 6:17), seed (Matt. 13:18-23; Lk. 8:11-15), the Spirit bears witness or testimony through it (Heb. 10:15-16). His word can produce faith (Lk. 8:12), it is the voice of a prophet (Acts 13:27), to have their word is to have Moses and the prophets (Luke 16:27-31), and to read aloud the word of Moses is the preach Moses (Acts. 15:21 ).

Is not to read Christ's word to be preached to by Christ and to read it publicly to preach Christ to those to whom it is read? It can produce certainty (Lk. 1:3, 14), it can produce understanding (Eph. 3:4), regulate our conduct (1 Tim. 3:15), and God's commands can be written (1 Cor.14:37). His word can warn us (1 Cor. 4:14), guard us (2 Tim. 3:10, 13-15), make us wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:15), stir us up (2 Pet. 1:12-13), exhort (1 Pet. 5:12), make our joy full (1 John 1:4), etc. (1 Tim. 3:15-17).

Is not one minimizing Christ when one minimized His word? Let us study and preach His word that men may learn of Christ from the Father and be drawn to Christ (John 6:44-45).

Brother Gregory, if you have imprisoned Christ between the covers of a Book, open the Book and let Him speak to you. You are not like those of John 14:25-26 who had an inspired recollection of what Christ taught in His personal ministry. How much do you know about Christ and His personal ministry which you learned apart from the Bible? How much truth do you know which you received by direct inspiration (John 16:12-13)? I assure you, brother Gregory, that I have no aversion to personally having an inspired recollection of Jesus' word, or of being inspired by the Spirit to teach the truths of John 16:12-13, or of being able to work miracles. However, my knowledge of Christ and His word comes by perspiration and not by direct inspiration. I believe life confirms at least some of his teaching, but I know nothing which has come to me thorough direct revelation.

INCOMPLETE AND COMPLETE

Brother Gregory writes: "Clearly, Paul enjoyed great, varied, wide ranging knowledge. Yet, despite this vast storehouse of knowledge, Paul considered his knowledge to be only 'in part,' partial, incomplete, or 'imperfect.'

"Note the contrast he made between this partial knowledge with that which would become 'perfection.' The word rendered 'perfection', in this context, always means completeness in quantity . Therefore, he knew that there was yet more knowledge to come or to be gained. It was only when 'perfection came' that the 'imperfect,' partial knowledge would 'disappear' (vs. 10)."

The contrast is not between partial knowledge and the perfect person Jesus Christ, but between knowledge in part and knowledge in completeness. Jesus does not now exist in part, partial, incomplete, or imperfect prior to His second advent. He does not become complete, etc., at his second advent. Truth was revealed during Christ's personal ministry, but all the truth was not revealed then. Jesus said: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come" (John 16:12-13). Truth was revealed on Pentecost, but all the truth, the truth in all of its parts, was not revealed on Pentecost as more was revealed later. A part was revealed at one time and another part at another time. By the time the last person died, to whom the promise of John 16:12-13 was made, all truth, the truth in all of its parts, had been revealed or Jesus' promise failed. But His promise did not fail.

Gregory said: "Would Paul's knowledge have been any more complete after he had finished writing his part of the New Testament than it was even as he wrote his words? Did his 'imperfect,' 'in part' knowledge just suddenly, at that time, become perfect, total in quantity and discernment? I believe the answers are obvious. Who did Paul expect to come at some future time whose knowledge would be total in quantity and discernment? There is but One whose knowledge fits this description."

Truth was revealed to an apostle or a prophet before it was spoken orally or in writing. Therefore, the total truth could be revealed before it was all committed to writing. But in the New Testament we have this total truth. If we do not, there is no way we can learn what the "all truth," of John 16:12-13, is. When all truth was revealed anyone who knew all of this truth had complete knowledge, but the complete knowledge was conveyed in the first century, and is contained in the Bible today, regardless of how many do or do not, or if any one today does not, know all of the truth. The total truth exists although I do not think anyone has a complete grasp of it.

Paul did not say when He who is perfect is come, but "when that which is perfect is come" (1 Cor. 13:10).

There is more that needs to be said concerning brother Gregory's article, but space forbids at this time.