Vol.XI No.IV Pg.4
June 1974

Process Vs. Product

Robert F. Turner

The process by which divine truth is made known to man is set forth in the product, i.e., the inspired word. Chosen witnesses were selected, equipped, and sent forth into all nations, (LUK.24:48-49, ACT.1:8). Their message was "confirmed" as being of God, by the miraculous "signs" which followed them, (MAR.16:14-20, HEB.2:3-4). They were guided into "all truth" by the Holy Spirit (JOH.14:25-26, 16:12) this being the "more sure word of prophecy," (2PE.1:19-21). These things were written so that later generations would have "all things that pertain unto life and godliness" (2PE.1:3, 13-15, 3:1-2); and even the "signs" were recorded so that we might believe unto life (JOH.20:30-f). The message is "the word of God" and it is understandable to those who read it, seeking truth (1TH.2:13, EPH.3:1-7).

The process involved divinely inspired men — Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers (EPH.4:8-13) — and the product, the fully revealed gospel of Christ, records their presence and operation in the church during the days of direct divine revelation. The process involved the miraculous ability to speak in a tongue the speaker had never learned, (ACT.2:6-11; 1CO.14:), and the product records such gifts. But this record does not warrant our expecting such gifts and manifestations today— any more than we might expect God to mold todays men from the dust of the earth, as He molded Adam. The process was never superior to the product. It was but a means to an end. In the absence of the fully revealed word of God, "signs" served to convince unbelievers that this was Gods doing, and then the message edified and convicted, (1CO.14:22-25). (Note in this context how Paul gives precedence to the message rather than to the process by which it came. See also, vs. 37; 1JO. 4:1-6, where the message (the product) is used to examine and judge the "Spirit" claimed).

Perhaps MAR.16:17-f. is the most widely used passage to "prove" (?) that miracles are for today. "These signs shall follow them that believe." Yet practically all readers admit not all of the named signs, are practiced by all believers. How and to what extent are limitations justified? The "they" of vs. 20 evidently refers to those apostles who were with Him at His ascension (vs. 19) so that vs. 20 is in close accord with HEB. 2:3-4. The confirming signs were performed by chosen messengers, and I followed (accompanied) all believers only in a generic sense. (The word is akoloutheo; with a para prefix in vs. 17, and an epi prefix in vs. 20.) Today, all students have all the signs (set forth in the product) which God felt necessary to produce faith (JOH.20:31).

Was God a "respecter of persons" among the Israelites when He selected Moses as their leader and law-giver? Neither is He a "respecter of persons" among Christians because he selected certain ones as messengers, and gave "gifts" to those who were a part of the process of making the New Covenant known to all mankind.

If we cannot be satisfied with the product of His mighty works, the process will help little. (LUK.16:31)