I’d forgotten all about this ten minutes – I was getting ready to go home!
There is something I would say that is very lacking in Duncan, as much as I appreciate that he is being intellectually as honest as he can see to be and he is going at the pace of his understanding of God’s Word and he does have quite a lot in many areas. However, it seems that when it comes to this area of the gifts and their manifestation and the miracles, he seems to step back and take a very, almost like a Greek philosophic attitude where there is a despising of anything which cannot be tested by firm scientific principles. Now that is part of our cultural heritage in the west. I would say there is a problem there. I would say there is another problem which many people have in this, that is, I don’t know who knows about Christadelphians but they are a group which is very intolerant of anybody who believes different. That puts them in a position where when they look at, let’s say, there’s someone down there who believes utterly different from them doctrinally and who claims that they hear from God, that they perform miracles etc., etc. They would then be in a dilemma of saying “well, although that person disagrees with me, God seems to respect him and to do things in his life”. I feel that the historical Christadelphian intolerance of other groups, and most churches are designated as being false and heretical by Christadelphians – you can read it in their literature – is part of this phenomena of not being able to appreciate, that other people have got gifts of the spirit because otherwise when you look at others you have got say “Is God maybe more active in their lives than He is in ours with all of our true doctrine?” So you come up against this kind of problem when you take a firm doctrinal stance. It leads to intolerance. The gifts of the spirit are here today. I know. Let me give you an example of an experience we had up in Glasgow. Anybody ever been up in Glasgow? Terrible place. Isn’t it! Anyhow in Glasgow there is a place outside called Paisley. Paisley is the place where Paisley was made. Our church in its heyday, in a small church I came from before I went to the States, they used to fast and pray before they would have services. On day into one of those services came a girl who had one leg six inches shorter than the other. She had one show with six inch thick soles. You know how it is when you give an altar call and you say, if anybody’s sick would you like to come out and be healed and honestly, most pastors just hope that it is somebody with a sore throat that is going to come out, nothing bad, just something simple!! Anyhow this girl came out and the pastor prayed for her and he told me afterwards, he said, “John, he says, I did not expect really think anything was going to happen”. That girl was 13 years old. The metal braces that were on her leg burst off and her leg grew and she ran screaming right down the aisle into the road jumping up and down the road and she was shouting “I’ve been healed, I’ve been healed”.
Now if anybody knows the dour Scots and how conservative they are, you do not do those kind of things in Scotland. The next day she came back with all of her family, all of her relatives, all of her friends to the next service, they all repented and accepted the gospel message. Now Duncan is more than welcome to go up to the church and get the documentation. It is there. The girl will stand before him and tell him. This just followed again the same scriptural pattern. God wants to win over the hearts of sceptical men. God is a co-worker with us. Duncan’s testimony is to this that God is doing nothing in the church. But the way God works He says hey guys, you go and do it and I will meet you halfway. You step our in faith and pray for the sick, I will come and honour you and meet you halfway. Exactly what the disciples said, they said, Lord, when we preach the word, you stretch forth you hand with signs and miracles and wonders and do what? Confirm the word. God hasn’t changed.
I would say the thing that grieves me most isn’t really that Duncan disagrees with me, that is his prerogative, what really grieves me is the position that he puts God into. He puts God into a non-active member in the promotion of the gospel. I find that very very sad to think that God is going to sit back and do nothing. I have seen it time and time myself. I have seen the miracles evident and functioning in my own life. I have seen things which would curl your hair if I told you abut them. Really incredible things and that hasn’t been in just little emotional backrooms. This is in major churches in the States, in Germany, in churches which in some cases have thousands of membership, very well educated people too. And they have seen the gifts. I would say the big problem still comes back to the same thing – according to your faith it shall be done to you. If any of you here have not experienced the miraculous – well, don’t condemn yourself- God is a God of love, He is not going to chuck you out because of those things. But believe me there is an area in your life where you can enhance your ability to spread the Word of God. There is an area in your life where if you will say “look Lord, I’m going to go and speak to this person tonight, I want you to help me, I want you to confirm what I say; I’ll leave it to you”, you start stepping out on faith like that, and it’s like taking a step out of the boat and you will see that God will meet you at the other side. I’m not saying which way He’s going to do it. I can’t predict that. But you will see at that point that God is still actively administering and confirming His gospel.
For me, this is a great blessing; it’s a great heritage. It’s the most incredible thing to see lives change and to see the power of God intervening after I’ve done my best at preaching the gospel. It’s quite incredible. I don’t control it. I don’t know how it happens, I just wish that Duncan could step inside me and look and see the things that I’ve seen and experienced. I wish I could share those experiences so that he could have the faith, or I wish he could have been there.
I would say that is all.
When you rounded off your first 25 minutes talk you said that God was divinely confirming the messenger and the message. Now if you want to win this debate tonight, are you the messenger of God?
Is this leading up to “show us a miracle”? Well, that is a non-starter. The question really was – if miracles are still here today and God is confirming the message I should pull some miracle out of the hat and show this is true – well, whether you believe it’s true or not is neither here nor there with me. That’s between you and God. I don’t think that kind of showmanship is inherently within the realms of the gospel. I am not putting you in this category but there is a similar case of the Pharisees said to Jesus – let’s see a sign – he never did do it to the religious world. Who did he do it to? Those who were lost; because when you demand a sign there is a danger (I’m not saying in your case) but there is a danger of a spirit of contempt coming in. Well, let’s see you do it. When I see it, I’ll believe it. That’s neither here nor there with me if you believe it or not. You have to get that from God. I’ll talk to you after quite gladly.
Right! Mr. Heaster to sum up for 10 minutes.