Neil Cole – Erasing the apostles and prophets

I have long been convinced that all the gifts listed by Paul in Ephesians 4:11 are of vital importance to the health of the church. However, having spent my formative years in a cessationist/conservative evangelical church, I have often felt a certain defensiveness when broaching the subject of modern-day apostles and prophets with those who hail from this background.

The conservative evangelicals I know are convinced that it’s clear and obvious that these were special gifts, limited to the first century of the church. In this view, the apostles and prophets were essentially walking, talking Bibles; authoritative sources of revelation that the church could trust. They were given to the church to ensure the Bible was completed with the New Testament witness to Jesus. Since we now have the Bible, we have no need of these more extraordinary gifts and are left with pastors and teachers whose job it is to explain the Bible for the instruction of the church. Where Roman Catholics claim ongoing apostolic validity via apostolic succession traced down the centuries, conservative evangelicals claim apostolicity through their reliance on the Scriptures.

Combined with their reputation as people of the Word, the conservative evangelical certainty on this matter is formidable. They give the impression that the burden of proof lies with whackos like me who suggest that Jesus may still be giving apostles and prophets to the church today, rather than upon themselves who claim God intended a radical ecclesial shift to occur with the passing of the original apostles.

Primal Fire by Neil ColeWhich is all mere preamble to sharing a quote from Neil Cole’s book about the Ephesians 4 gifts, Primal Fire. Chapter 4 sees Cole tackle the evangelical reluctance to accept contemporary apostles and prophets head-on. In the quote below, he pulls no punches in exposing the emptiness of the establishment tactics to theologise the contemporary apostolic and prophetic ministries out of existence. I found it provocative, encouraging, and emboldening:

Opposition to the prophetic and apostolic gifts is nothing new. Jesus spoke against the religious leaders of His day who honored the very prophets their ancestors had persecuted and killed.

Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and it was your fathers who killed them. . . . For this reason also the wisdom of God said, “I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute.
Luke 11:47,49

Today there is no less resistance to the apostolic and prophetic gifts by the religious establishment. But instead of making martyrs of the apostles and prophets and having to raise statues in their name, the religious leaders of our day have found it far easier to theologically define these gifts out of existence. Instead of killing them in public, they have expunged them from their theological textbooks, classrooms, boardrooms, and pulpits. They remove them before they can even become a problem. This is another way of killing them, without having to look like murderers. They simply deny their existence and do not allow any place for them. This they do with their Bibles open, but without a shred of biblical support.

Primal Fire, Neil Cole (p. 62)

New blog, new name

RIP Truth on the Way

While this site is currently shiny, clean, and new, it is by no means the first time I have attempted blogging. For the last 8 years or so, I have sporadically written blog posts at a site called Truth on the Way. Sadly, I was affected by the recent administrative snafu by my hosts 123-Reg and that site was killed in one fell swoop. As a professional geek, I know that this situation was entirely avoidable and it would be an understatement to say that I was appalled at what happened. But it has also given me a chance to make a bit of a fresh start and who doesn’t like a clean sheet of paper? You could say it’s Romans 8:28 in action!

A clean start

Having found myself with no easily-restorable backup, I had decided to set up a fresh site under the old name and restore older articles bit by bit alongside writing new posts. Once I had selected a new host, I saw that I had the opportunity to register a new domain name for free and change the site name. As it happens, I had been growing increasingly uncomfortable with the name of the old site – I chose it as a 24-year-old, and spent all of 2 minutes thinking what it should be. It seemed like a good fit back then, but as I’ve grown and (hopefully) matured, it no longer seemed to say everything I wanted it to.

What’s wrong with Truth on the Way?

In many ways, nothing at all. On the one hand, it nicely summarises that all who name Jesus as Lord are on a journey of discovery with Him. However, I decided to move away from the name because it no longer reflects how I see the Christian life working. To 24-year-old Jon, the Christian faith was essentially about knowing what is true from what is false and then living it out. It’s not an uncommon approach to life. After all, didn’t Jesus say “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free”?

As I’ve grown, I’ve increasingly found it an inadequate way to live. It’s not enough to get your doctrine all sorted and lined up. It’s not enough to attempt to put good Christian principles to work in your life. It’s not enough to ponder theology and wonder about what makes God tick. While none of these are unimportant, they can easily become dead-ends that trap us from the true source of life. The same Jesus who spoke in John 8:32 also said:

You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. And you are not willing to come to Me so that you may have life.
John 5:39-40 (HCSB)

From Glory to Glory

Starting the hunt for a new name, I threw some name ideas down on a piece of paper. I very quickly found myself drawn to names that were inspired by a verse in 2 Corinthians:

We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18 (HCSB)

After searching for possible domain names, I decided that the name for my blog would be From Glory to Glory. I’ll be posting a bit to share what it was about this verse that drew me, and precisely why I settled on this name. For now, suffice it to say that this best represents how I believe the Christian life is supposed to be – a life lived in Jesus, devoted to Him, beholding His glory, and finding ourselves changed by His Spirit into His likeness day-by-day as we do so.

So welcome to my new blog. I hope you find it interesting. I hope you find it inspiring. I hope you find it useful. But above all, I hope you meet with Jesus and get to know Him a bit better through the things I write and share.

If God Is For Us – Vineyard

If God is for us who can be against us
He who gave His only Son; died to save us all
It is Christ who died and rose again and is sitting at the right hand of God
Who can separate us from that kind of love

Not death not life; not angels nor demons
Not powers nor things present nor the things to come
Not height not depth nor any other creature
Can separate us from the love of God

Oh, I know all of the problems of this world
Aren’t worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us
Even when I’m scared and tired and feeling all alone, though I’m hungry I know
We’re more than conquerors with the love of God
Through Christ Jesus, our Lord