God is still giving the gift of prophecy to his people; we should desire all gifts and the gift of prophecy in particular; and we should strive to practice this gift in obedience to scripture. Prophecy as practiced in the NT church was primarily concerned with the edification, encouragement and consolation of God's people rather than with prediction of the future. Contrasted with the gift of tongues, although both gifts are equally a work of the Holy Spirit, prophecy is able to be understood by all; it is addressed towards people rather than towards God; it builds up not only the speaker but also the hearers; and it convicts unbelievers. Phil also discusses some practicals of prophecy in the Lord's day meeting in our church.
We need guidance as we walk through life and as we face decisions because we are sinners—we are prone to self-deception and to walking in unbelief and disobedience, and because we are creatures we are limited in our understanding, wisdom, and foresight, being dependent on God. There are three ways that God has provided to us to understand his will and obtain guidance from him. First, we obtain guidance from his word, which provides us with commands that direct and limit what we do, and which also provides us with clear principles that we must follow as we live. Second, we obtain guidance by discerning God's will, by learning and cultivating wisdom from his Word, and by seeking out counsel as we seek to make wise and informed decisions. Finally, we obtain guidance by waiting on the Lord, by seeking him in prayer and asking for direct and specific guidance.
Sanctification is progressively being made like Christ. It is a work of grace, but one which the believe cooperates with, unlike salvation which is purely the work of God, faith and repentance being merely our response to that work. Justification is instantaneous and complete; sanctification is progressive and incomplete until we are glorified in heaven. Justification means the end of the unconquerable dominion of sin; sanctification is the gradual growth in the power and desire to obey. Biblically, our greatest enemy is sin, the flesh; it is not the devil and our circumstances, though these can introduce temptations to us. Sanctification is a work of man and requires us to renounce sin (Tit 2:11f), mortify sin (Col 3:5), and cannot be done casually. Thus, we need to recognize that because of the power of sin, even things that are biblically allowable might be for us unhelpful and lead to further temptations. These we need to remove from our lives. This fight also must be specific. Sanctification is also a work of God and requires the Holy Spirit (Phil 2:13). We are dependent upon him to understand and love God's word, to walk in obedience, and thus we need to pray regularly to be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18).
Worship is first drawing near to God through the blood of Christ, something we should not take for granted, since before Christ's victory over sin very few people had the privilege of drawing near to God. In our worship, we are to commune with God through the means of grace, such as preaching, God's Word, baptism, the Lord's supper. But we are also to encounter and experience God through the work of the Holy Spirit as expressed through the gifts of the spirit—God is truly near to his people, and is present in corporate worship in a unique way.
Suffering is an inescapable part of life in a fallen world. If we are not suffering presently, we will certainly encounter it at some point. We must prepare our hearts and minds to approach suffering with faith in God. Three anchors serve to help us hold firm in times of suffering. First, we know that God is sovereign over all things, even our suffering. Second, we know that God uses our suffering, for his own glory but also for our own good, to produce the peaceful fruit of righteousness in us. Finally, we know that God answers prayer, and we do not simply pray to endure our suffering, but we persistently appeal to him in faith to deliver us from it. God is near to us in our suffering, and desires that we would turn to him as our only refuge in suffering.
Prayer is communion with God, and God desires that we approach him as confident seekers when we pray. We are to be confident in God's presence because we come in the name of Jesus Christ, our mediator and advocate. We are confident to make requests of him because we are not simply allowed but welcomed to make requests; we should pray with the expectation that God's spirit will move and intervene. And we are to pray with confidence in God's sovereignty, knowing that not only is he in complete control of all things, but he is good and wise and loving.
This is the first message in a series of messages on what it means to be both reformed and charismatic. These are Christian distinctives that you don't often find in combination. Each has its own particular stereotypes and its own unique tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses; we believe that at their best, both positions are biblical, and our goal will be to capture and embrace the strengths of both as we see them in Scripture. In the way that reformed believers approach Scripture, one of their particular strengths is to emphasize the truth, authority, infallibility, sufficiency, and God-breathed nature of Scripture. Scripture is God's word to us and it is our source of truth and it is our authority in all matters of life and death. Scripture is to serve as the one objective measure by which we judge all other subjective matters of experience. In the way that charismatic believers approach Scripture, one of their particular strengths is to emphasize the effect that Scripture is to have on us and the proper response that we are to have. In our reading of Scripture, God is communicating not merely truth to us, but also encouragement, comfort, and hope, as well as warnings and admonition. Scripture is to cause us to grow in joy, contentment, peace, and humility. It is to change us, bring wisdom to our foolishness, and speak to every area of our lives. Fortunately, we do not have to choose between these two! We are to eagerly study Scripture as our source of truth, and we are to hungrily apply that truth to our lives as we grow in faith and affection for God, resulting in worship toward him.