Thursday, June 23, 2005

More on Piper and Sign Gifts

Three or four years ago I heard a tape of one of Piper's biographical sketches delivered at the 1991 Bethelehem Conference for Pastors. This one dealt with Lloyd Jones and dug deepest into his view of Spirit baptism and revival. I dug up what is apparently a transcript of that presentation, available here.

I remember being frustrated with Piper over this presentation, as were my friends who also listened to the tape. Curiously, I did not experience that frustration again when I re-read the article moments ago, despite the fact that my views on Spirit baptism have not changed. Perhaps a transcript is more clinical, and I am better able to separate Lloyd Jones' views from Piper's on paper. Or perhaps the transcript has been edited from the audio presentation.

This sketch is obviously much more about Lloyd Jones than it is about Piper, but some of his personal views seep through. These are probably the most informative paragraphs:
My own answer to the question how the power of the word and the authenticating function of signs and wonders fit together is this. The Bible teaches that the gospel preached is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:23). It also teaches that the demand for signs in the presence of God's word is the mark of an evil and adulterous generation (Matt. 16:4; 1 Cor. 1:22). But the Bible also says that Paul and Barnabas "remained a long time [in Iconium] speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands" (Acts 14:3; cf. Heb. 2:4; Mark 16:20). So signs and wonders were God's attesting witness to the spoken word of the gospel.

Could we not then say, in putting all this together, that signs and wonders function in relation to the word of God, as striking, wakening, channels for the self-authenticating glory of Christ in the gospel? Signs and wonders do not save. They do not transform the heart. Only the glory of Christ seen in the gospel has the power to do that (2 Cor. 3:18-4:6). But evidently, God chooses at times to use signs and wonders along side his regenerating word to win a hearing and to shatter the shell of disinterest and cynicism and false religion, and help the fallen heart fix its gaze on the gospel (see note 42).


Ben said...

I found out why my reaction to the tape and the article were different. The friend who loaned me the tape a few years back told me that the tape included a Q&A that's not in the article. His memory is that several of the questions provoked confusing or contradictory responses. I'm efforting the tape.

Paul said...

I would love to see a post about the Q&A if you ever were able to make it through the tapes