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Devotional - Throwing Out The Holy Spirit With The Charismatic Bathwater

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Jan 25, 2014.

  1. Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. - 1Corinthians 12: 1 (NIV)

    Yet we remain uninformed as the Body of Christ. We remain sharply divided when we should not. If we were to be honest with ourselves there are areas of doctrine which are simply unclear. It is not the fault of God, it is the fault of man. Two people can view the exact same passage and draw two different conclusions. The truth of God is always absolute but man's interpretations can always be imperfect. We strive to have clean rules for hermeneutics but at the end of the day sometimes we must learn to disagree without being disagreeable. As long as it a side doctrine issue that does not infringe upon salvation. I think that most people who are not false teachers genuinely love God's Word. Core doctrine cannot be altered but side doctrine we may just have to agree to disagree and unite behind Christ to bring as many people to the foot of the cross as possible before He returns. For example there are different opinions as to when the rapture of the saints will occur. One might be pre-trib and another post-trib but that should not be a line of division. Someone is wrong but it will not affect anyone's salvation.

    So we come to the most divisive issue amongst believers today it seems - the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Respected Pastor, John McArthur recently held an entire conference to denounce Charismatic preaching and went as far to call it demonic. This elicited a response from Pentecostal circles and the war was on. The reality is that both sides have their points and both sides have Scriptural support so to claim omniscience in this area is simply arrogant. I understand the desire to be cessationist, I really do. The abuses within Charismatic circles are well detailed and extensive. The vast majority of false teaching these days resides squarely in the house of Charismania. The most egregious types that twist and pervert the Gospel and deceive people every day are found in Charismania. In our rush however to discard the sullied Charismatic bathwater let us not throw out the Holy Spirit that lives within us.

    One of the best arguments for continuationism is the sheer volume of Scripture in the New Testament devoted to explaining the gifts. It defies logic to think that in every other area of the Bible we have specificity relevant through today but when it comes to this subject, God was only speaking about the apostolic age. In fact, one of the most used and correct arguments to defend against the cultural relevance arguments from the world is to say that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. That argument cannot become yesterday...and through the Apostolic age. I don't think cessationists have thought that logically through. In order for their position to be true - God changed upon the death of the Apostle John even though there is no indication of that anywhere in Scripture. Not only that but let's continue to be logical here. The Book of 1Corinthians for example (which contains writings about the gifts) was written around 57 AD and the Council of Nicaea, which determined the canon of Scripture was in 325 AD, 270 years later and 230 years after the end of the apostolic age. Since we all agree theologically that the canon of Scripture was written under divine inspiration, why would the Holy Spirit inspire Paul to write about something that had only 28 years of remaining relevance and would be completely irrelevant at the time it would become Scripture? That does not sound like the omniscient God we all know and serve. Why would God ensure that it was included at the Council of Nicaea if He knew it contained obsolete theology that we should not follow? No, logic must dictate that since God selected the canon of Scripture, it is all relevant and not subject to cultural or time related arguments. It is literally a Rob Bell argument, thinking that something doesn't apply for today that once did apply.

    Now, once we conclude that the gifts must be subject to continuation we must also conclude that they are being misused today. They are misunderstood today. They are being mis-taught today. That is where our collaborative focus should be, on correcting false teaching; gift by gift if we must. Before we go there however it is important to differentiate between offices and gifts. During the apostolic age we still had apostles and prophets. But the Bible makes it clear they were foundational:

    So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.- Ephesians 2: 19-22 (ESV)

    The Bible makes clear that in order to be an apostle, you must have been witness to the resurrected Christ, thus the office is closed today even though there are many charlatans who want you to believe they are apostles. Who gave them that authority? The answer is they gave it to themselves. False teachers like the New Apostolic Reformation claim divine revelation for their "apostleship", so that few feel like they can question it. I however have no problem questioning it because it goes against Scripture and God would never violate His own Word. The other office false teachers like to usurp is that of prophet. Prophet is a little more difficult because there is clear Scriptural evidence that at least the term prophet was continued to be used. Acts 21: 10-11 tells about Agabus the Prophet. 1Corinthians 14 has several references to prophets including how many should speak in an organized service. Once again, it makes zero sense to believe the Holy Spirit inspired this writing in 57 AD, knowing it would only be relevant for 28 years. In our quest to find middle ground I would hope all can agree that if someone needs to tell you they are a prophet, my guess is they are not. They might move in the gift of prophecy but Jesus Christ is the last Prophet we needed. The Bible is His revealed will to us and it says nothing can be added unto it. So then, what is the point of having a prophetic gift? I can admit that I may not be entirely sure but we cannot avoid Scripture:

    Do not treat prophecies with contempt - 1Thessalonians 5: 20 (NIV)

    Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. - 1Corinthians 14: 39 (NIV)

    It doesn't say be eager to prophesy for the next 28 years and then stop. The verse from Thessalonians is dealing with what the will of God is for us in Christ Jesus, why would God include not treating prophecies with contempt? Did His will change after the Apostle John died? Of course not. Now, I do not consider anyone to be a prophet but I have known people who moved in the prophetic. Not the clairvoyance nonsense that passes for prophecy today. Paul teaches that prophesy is for the edification of believers. What edifies believers more than the Word of God? The role of prophesy in the Old Testament was to convey what God was saying. Today we have the Bible so we do not need any additional revelation. However, there is no admonition against reinforcing what has already been revealed. I have seen prophecy used correctly which is to reiterate what sayeth the Lord or even apply it to our lives today. Not the false prophecies we see out of Kansas City or the New Apostolic Reformation. Those are abuses of prophecy.

    Likewise there is clear abuses when it comes to tongues. The Bible is very clear that the public display of tongues is speaking in other languages, as shown on the day of Pentecost. Paul teaches this is for the edification of unbelievers. Think about that for a second and it makes sense. If I am an unbeliever coming to a church and someone is able to speak to me in my native language that they do not actually know! Wow would that be proof of a move of God! But there is another manifestation of the gift of tongues.

    In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. - Romans 8: 26-27 (NIV)

    This is obviously talking about our private prayer language. That when we are at a loss in prayer, the Spirit will guide us and say what we need to say, through wordless groans. The early missionaries for the Assemblies of Gods testified that tongues helped them communicate when there were language barriers but somewhere along the way it seems these two manifestations got flipped. What passes for public tongues today can only best be described as what is supposed to be our private prayer language. Only that makes little sense too because there is no mention of interpreting private prayer language. No, what passes for tongues in Charismatic churches these days is an outgrowth of a very "showy" spirit that has infiltrated the church. It is a "look at me" spirit. It is the same spirit at work in the unbiblical "slain in the Spirit" manifestations and the need to have dancers and flaggers in fluorescent clothing distracting the body during corporate worship. I know that is a lot of sacred cows there but the Bible decides what is right and what is wrong.

    But just because American theology has become flawed does that mean the gift is no longer in operation? Of course not. We just do not see it being done correctly. It would not surprise me to hear tongues as being other languages in countries other than ours.

    Then we move onto healing, one of the most abused gifts. Again, I believe that all healing is sovereign to God but He certainly can use people. I do not think someone is a "healer" anymore than they are a prophet but I have seen people move in the gifts of healing. I know pastors who have healing oriented ministries. These are Gospel-focused and not abusive (yes it can happen). Not everyone is Benny Hinn. But we see the egregious sins of fake healers such as Hinn and we want to cast aside any chance of anyone else being able to use a gift that the Bible teaches is given out as the spirit decides. Most of the arguments against this I have heard from cessationists revolve around using something that didn't happen to prove their point. It doesn't work like that beloved.

    Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus. - 2Timothy 4: 20 (NIV)

    Cessationists will argue why would Paul leave Trophimus sick if there still was healing? That is so flawed I do not know where to start. First of all the apostolic age was not even over yet so according to their own doctrine healing was still around! Secondly, as Barnes Bible Notes surmises, the sentence was probably just letting Timothy know why Trophimus was not making the journey. You do not create doctrine from something so widely open to interpretation. Especially not crucial doctrine which seeks to change how the gifts of the Holy Spirit operate!

    I think we can all agree that a word of knowledge or a word of wisdom is not so unbelievable. I have seen people distribute both correctly and reverently. A word of knowledge being when information is conveyed to someone through the Holy Spirit having to do with someone else. Information they could not have known otherwise. It is not used for anything other than to bring glory to God and increase faith. The same goes for wisdom. Now, I have heard and seen a word of wisdom being completely abused. Another part of the showy spirit in the church where everyone "has a word" for someone. Just because some people abuse it that does not mean we throw the gift away. For starters, I would not even listen to a "word of wisdom" from someone I did not trust in terms of their own walk with God. When Rehoboam asked for counsel to decide on Jeroboam's request he got a word of wisdom from Solomon's elders and a false word from his friends. Unfortunately he chose his friends and the Kingdom was forever split.

    That brings us to discernment of spirits. Certainly we can agree that this is a much needed gift in the body today! With the explosion of false teaching discernment is needed even more. Yes we have the Bible but sometimes somebody can preach just fine. I remember one itinerant preacher came to my old church and gave a solid word only to be followed by a TBN offering. My spirit immediately rose up inside of me because I knew it was not of God. I remember once being at a church and during worship my spirit just stopped me right in the middle of a song. As I paid closer attention the heresies within the song were revealed to me. That is how I first heard of Jesus Culture. Quite frankly, there is as serious lack of discernment today in the body. Everyone wants to hold hands and skip down the broad path to destruction. Not only do I think this gift is clearly still in operation but I think it is desperately needed.

    The interpretation of tongues belongs with our discussion on tongues so that only leaves miracles. Again, it is important to state that I am not suggesting that one man or woman POSSESSES the gift of miracles but rather that God could use someone if He so desired to perform miracles. Maybe we are so jaded that we do not realize it. I have seen pastors visit someone in the hospital and pray over them and the next day the condition is gone completely! Can we not agree that a miracle has occurred through the sovereignty of God? Doesn't that mean that the gift is still in operation? I understand the need to be watchful for charlatans and snake oil salesmen who would abuse the existence of these gifts in order to fleece the flock. But if the end result of a gift is accomplished through man, that brings all glory to God and no benefit to anyone else, what is the problem? We need to be cautious of any false teaching and certainly those that seek to use the Holy Spirit for personal gain. But in our disgust over the abuses and our zeal to preserve the integrity of our beliefs can we not discard the Holy Spirit entirely when we seek to drain the Charismatic dirty water our of our cisterns?

    This is a true call for true unity. There is enough false in this world and the church to focus on. It is not strange fire that is the problem. It is not authentic fire that is the problem. The problem is we are looking at the same fire and insisting we see two different things while dismissing the other side as anathema. And it needs to stop.

    Reverend Anthony Wade - January 25, 2014

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