We started something new at Southside last Sunday. People will be able to text questions during the sermon and we will try and take some time at the end to respond. Those questions we do not get to we will provide responses to here. The goal is to ask questions related to the sermon, but it’s understandable that sometimes additional questions might come up while we gather to worship…
Q: RE: “gifts of the Holy Spirit for the purpose of mission:” Would Muslims having dream encounters with Christ before meeting Christian missionaries be of the [spiritual] gifts and miracles in present day times?
A: Yes, I think so…There are, at least, a couple of passages that indicate God’s sovereignty in revealing Himself through dream encounters and other supernatural phenomenon: Acts 2:17 (quoted from Joel 2:28):
“It will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions.”
Rev 14:6 —“And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people.”
A well-received book, first published in 1980, titled, I Dared to Call Him Father: The True Story of a Woman’s Encounter with God by Bilquis Sheikh, describes the process of a Pakistani noblewoman coming to a belief in Christ, through dreams and reading the Bible on her own.
Q: Growing up dispensational, now piecing things together between the three views (dispensational, covenant, and new covenant) I struggle with the lack of distinction. If so I can’t choose Him first and ask for the Spirit without the Spirit within me. Will you have more info on this on the blog?
A: It sounds like you are asking about the sovereignty of God related to salvation… There are two more distinctions within Protestantism that we didn’t speak to last Sunday: Calvinism and Arminianism. These theological frameworks have both overlap as well as fundamental disagreements. At the heart of the differences is the human will. Calvinists believe that the human will is incapable of choosing Christ – that we are dead in our sins (Col 2:13) until God’s sovereign electing grace breaks in. While the crux of Arminianism is the assertion that God has bestowed upon humanity an unimpaired freedom of the will and that those who choose to respond in obedience to Christ’s offer of grace will find eternal salvation (Heb 5:8-9).
Q: I am a Christian and I listen to some ungodly [music] – swearing, [graphic] language, etc. but I don’t let it influence me at all. Is it a sin to listen to the music?
A: Great question! The word music comes from the word muse. Muse means to think of or meditate on. The ancient philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC) noted that, “emotions of any kind can be evoked by melody and rhythm; therefore music has the power to form character.” So, it seems that music is quite a powerful tool. One way to think of it is that music opens the soul (our intellect, will, and emotions) and speaks its “truth” into us. I would encourage you to be careful and thoughtful regarding what you fill your soul with. Paul, in Philippians 4:8 says,
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
Here’s an interesting quote by Confucius (551-479 BC): “A wise man seeks by music to strengthen his soul: the thoughtless one uses it to stifle his fears.”
Finally, let me say that Christian meditation is a bit of a lost art in the Church today. This last Sunday we spoke of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Often times it’s meditation that releases the warm presence and power of God into and through our lives. Consider these words from J.I. Packer in the Christian classic, Knowing God: How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God? The rule for doing this is demanding, but simple. It is that we turn each truth that we learn about God into a matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God…Meditation is a lost art today, a Christian people suffer grievously from their ignorance of the practice. Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is the activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God. Its purpose is to clear one’s mental and spiritual vision of God, and to let His truth make its full and proper impact on ones mind and heart.