Strange Fire by John MacArthur
One area many – dare I say most – current day evangelicals have gone astray from orthodox Christianity is the topic of MacArthur’s latest book. From Southern Baptists to contemporary “Christian” radio, slogans and anecdotes fill space and airways with the message that it’s normal to hear from God. This is not the biblical message of “hearing” from God as you read and study His Word – it’s the dangerous practice of believing inferences and confirmations from myriad sources are God’s way of “speaking to your heart”. It is this claim of extra-biblical revelation that MacArthur addresses in Strange Fire. If your blood isn’t stirred up by the thought of reading and entire book detailing the train wreck of uninhibited charismania, it’s important, maybe more so – that this book also provides the child of God very good counsel on the identity, mission, and work of the Holy Spirit.
MacArthur’s book is comprised of 12 chapters on topics covering new apostles and prophets, gifts of healing and tongues, the work of the Spirit in salvation, sanctification, and the Scripture; the last chapter is an open letter to his continuationist friends. And he provides a handy appendix with several pages of quotes from the past on the topic of the continuation of spiritual gifts, in support of his claim that the current craze is not part of historic, orthodox Christianity. I’ve heard from some who think MacArthur has lumped all continuationists into one bucket of heresy – drawing equivalence between some respected theologians and the likes of Benny Hinn. But MacArthur’s letter to his friends is very clear that he sees much good in the work of these friends, as well as much thin theological ice that their “open canon” represents. He considers them dear brothers who need to be awakened to the danger they pose by sharing some views with flaming heretics – sometimes endorsing and appearing with them.
I will leave it to you to read the chapters detailing the train wreck of the strange fire doctrines, and focus some attention on the last third of the book. Citing an observation from A.W. Tozer, MacArthur says our “view of God is the foundational reality in our thinking, and it encompasses all that we believe about the Holy Spirit.” He points out the truth that while many miracle seekers flock after Benny Hinn and Todd Bentley, a true miracle takes place every time a spiritually dead sinner is raised to new life in Christ. This is too mundane for experience-based Christians, but is glorious to behold by those who inhabit the heavens – and ought to be recognized as such by us. The Holy Spirit works in the birth of new saints by a.) convicting the unredeemed of their sins, b.) convicting unbelievers of righteousness, and c.) convicts sinners that divine judgments are real and necessary. The Spirit of the living God then regenerates the elect – removes the heart of stone and gives a heart of flesh by granting faith to believe the gospel. This is work man cannot do, any more than man can bring about his own natural birth. Salvation is of the Lord, as Jonah declared from the belly of the fish, and the triune God does not share His glory with anyone.
Still in this vein, the Holy Spirit also brings repentance to those He regenerates, liberating us from the power of sin and death and producing love for His righteousness. He enables fellowship with God and makes sweet the fellowship of the saints. We are heirs of the kingdom, free from the dread of God and drawn to Him as our Father, enabled to joyfully sing praises to Him. And here, then, is one biblical truth that cannot be reconciled with the “second baptism” doctrine: the Holy Spirit indwells every man, woman, and child He raises to new life in Christ. He is our Comforter and Helper; protecting, empowering, and encouraging us.
MacArthur delineates the difference between being filled with the Spirit of God and the heretical notion of being drunk on the Spirit. Drunkenness is irrational, out-of-control behavior, while filled with the Spirit is joyful, self-controlled submission to God. Being filled with the Spirit of God is an ongoing experience in the life of every Christian – not an occasional orgy with John Crowder. “Rather than being hopelessly distracted by charismatic counterfeits, believers need to rediscover the real ministry of the Holy Spirit, which is to activate His power in us through His Word, so that we can truly conquer sin for the glory of Christ, the blessing of His church, and the benefit of the lost.”
His last chapter on the true work of the Holy Spirit focuses on the Spirit’s role and identity in the Scriptures. MacArthur gives us a very quick run through history, highlighting a few of the faithful men used by God and several of those who fell or jumped into heresy and have misled countless simple folk. “By departing from the sole authority of Scripture, bot Roman Catholicism and theological liberalism became enemies of true Christianity, fraudulent versions of the very thing they claimed to represent. … Because He is the God of truth, His Word is infallible. Because He cannot lie, His Word is inerrant. Because He is the King of kings, His Word is absolute and supreme.” The Spirit inspired the writing of Scripture, provides illumination for the minds of Christians, and the Spirit gives power to the reading and preaching of Scripture. To reject the Scriptures is to reject the Spirit of God – and the entire trinity.
In his “open letter”, the last chapter, MacArthur observes that, “rather than confronting charismatic errors head-on, continuationists leaders find themselves flirting with aspects of a movement that is full of serious error and corrupt leadership.” These otherwise solid theologians allow the charismatics to set the vocabulary, changing the meaning of words and phrases from what the Bible and history show them to be, in order to justify the nonsensical babbling that passes for tongues in modern churches. “The continuationist position invites any personal impression or subjective feeling as a potential revelation from God. Moreover, it removes any authoritative, objective standard for questioning the legitimacy of someone’s supposed revelation from God.”
All in all, this should be a welcomed book in any Christian’s home. We do need to be provoked to think biblically – about gifts and the One Who gives them.
I watched the strange fire conference online. Granted, I’ve not read the book though. Having been raised by a full gospel pastor, I’ve struggled with the fact that the gifts are spoken of in the NT and yet how abused they are and have been in my generation.
My father would force us to pray in tongues when I was a child. At the top of our lungs, “till we raised the rafters” and if we didn’t do it loudly enough, we would be beaten and forced to do it again until we’d prayed that way for at least an hour.
I assure you, no one knows how abused the Holy Spirit is than someone from my background.
However, John MacArthur goes to far in my opinion. There were statements he made that were clearly not unbiased and if you’re going to combat a lie correctly, you must use truth, not bias and personal opinion.
Have you watched the entire conference?
Pr 18:17 He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.
Dr. Michael Brown has written a response to Mac Arthor’s book called “Authentic Fire.” I have not read it, but it seems that both sides of the issue should be read before making a final judgement on these very important matters. Here is the link:
Also watched and listened to conference online. Not sure why “this should be a welcomed book in any Christian’s home.” MacArthur treats this material the way Bill Maher treats the issue of theism in his movie “Religulous.” It is a catalog or logical fallacies, incendiary remarks, as well as poor scholarship.
He misrepresents the history of the Charismatic movement and the Jesus movement in America. He labels the entire Charismatic movement a cult group (see pg 128). And makes soteriological claims that no scholar would support. There are some great discussions to be had about the spirit that is behind the Lakeland (socalled) Revival, the Toronto Blessing, Kansas City Prophets and Morningstar Ministries (See Andrew Strom’s book below). There are also some great resources on the Health and Wealth false doctrine (See Gordon Fee’s book below). And finally for a intellectual discussion of how evangelicalism can be strengthened not weakened by the gifts see Rich Nathan and Ken Wilson’s book “Empowered Evangelicals”.
Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, and Augustine write similar quotes about the gifts of the Spirit as Novation (210-280):
“This is he [the Holy Spirit] who places prophets in the church, instructs teachers, directs tongues, gives powers and healings, does wonderful works … and arranges whatever gifts there are of the charismata; and thus making the Lord’s church everywhere, and in all, perfected and completed.”
In fact hundreds of church fathers in all church ages have written about these experiences (See Nathan and Wilson below).
There are signficant problems in the Charasmatic movement that are not biblical. Their is demonic deception that needs to be dealt with harshly. However, because of fallacious handling of the matter (hasty generalizations, false analogies, weak and incorrect facts, equivocation, ad homenim attacks, etc.) no charismatic can take MacArthur’s legitimate claims seriously.
He has missed his opportunity to open up a serious examination of the three issues I raised earlier. More importantly MacArthur has also not recognized that his legalism is not just a serious misunderstanding of God’s Grace but cheapen’s Christ’s work on the cross the same way that licentiousness does. Fundamentalism turns out to be just the other side of the counterfeit grace coin.
Details on the rise of deceptive spirits in Toronto Blessing, Kansas City Prophets, and Lakeland:
Health and Wealth deception:
Defense of evangelicalism with the gifts of the spirit:
Steffiedotorg – I am sorry to hear about your upbringing; that is a sad tale of abuse, reflecting how one’s theology affects his behavior. I watched none of the conference, having seen first hand and read about the dangers within the charismatic movement.
Bo – The abuses from within the charismatic movement are well known and this is not the first book to document them. Mac does not put all charismatics in the heresy bucket. Having rec’d Mac’s book for free (in exchange for writing a review) I am not going to spend money on another book by a dispensationalist making an argument against another dispensationalist on the matter of tongues.
Uber Genius – It’s very easy for people closer to the apostolic era to think these gifts of the Spirit continue throughout time. That doesn’t make it so.
Here’s a site that takes a detailed look at the issue of cessation of spiritual gifts: http://cessationism.com/
True there are abuses in Charismatic churches…and in fundamentalist ones, Catholic ones, Baptist ones, Lutheran ones, Methodist ones, Church of Christ ones…did I hit your brand yet?
Dr. Brown has asked for a debate with Mac Arthur, and if I am not mistaken, Mac Arthur declined. Brown did debate a premier cessationist named Dr, Sam Waldron with James White moderating though. Here is the link to the debate:
Below is a link to a summary of Waldron’s cascade argument that he used in the debate. Please read my rebuttal which is contained in the first posts following the outline. As you will see, the cascade argument does not stand up to close scrutiny and hinges, really, on a single verse that is being interpreted questionably.
Bo – I heard about the Waldron-Brown debate and have no interest in watching it. Most people on Waldron’s side think James White should have been the one debating Brown.
Of course there are abuses in all church circles – that’s not the subject of this book or my review of it. At its core, the continuationist position is very problematic – for reasons MacArthur explains in his book: it strikes at the doctrine of Sola Scriptura and opens the door to mysticism.
If you were to read my reply to Waldron’s cascade argument, you would see a big flaw in the idea that continuationism effects Sola Scriptura. Not every word spoken by the Apostles, Prophets, Moses, or Messiah were included in scripture. Not everything that they wrote was included either.
If we have prophesy going on today, it would be the same as the prophesy that Philip’s daughters did…true and not included in scripture. According to Paul, prophesy in his day was to be judged. The same would go for our day. Sola Scriptura would be upheld by such judgment just like it was in Paul’s day.
Cessationists make a false claim that Sola Scriptura would be damaged by continuationism…at least on the topic of prophesy. Messiah specifically authorized His Aposltes to speak authoritatively for Him. He also used men as prophets to purify His assembly. These prophets were very rarely used to write scripture…James and Jude come to mind. They at least were not Apostles in the same sense of the twelve. The prophets and prophetesses in the early assembly of believers gave local direction and not all encompassing direction for the saints.
Then there were those that prophesied that were not in the office of prophet. Their words were for edification, exhortation and comfort. These prophecies were likely not even for direction most of the time.
The ministry gifts in Ephesians were given to produce mature believers. If apostles and prophets are gone, why not pastors and teachers and evangelists? I know that there are men that are called apostles that are not the real thing. The same with prophets. The same with pastors.
Church history gives testimony to the fact that the gifts of the Spirit continued throughout time. More importantly, the scripture tells us when they will stop. When that which is perfect is come. When we shall know as we are known. When we do not need healing or miracles to happen. When we will have all come to the unity of the faith and the fullness of the stature of Messiah. Not before.
As far as continuationism opening the door to mysticism…
We could also say that cessationism and Sola Scriptura opens the door to legalism and Phariseeism. Scripture tells us that we must worship in Spirit and in truth. Not just truth. Paul says be filled with the Spirit and let the word of Messiah dwell in you richly…causing songs of praise and exhortation.
Mysticism is evil. So is dead religion. If we are always terrified of the ditches on the sides of the road, we will never get into our cars and go somewhere. We will bury our talents in the earth. We are bound to make mistakes on both sides of the road. I guess that is why we need tow trucks and mechanics and repair manuals and guardrails…the ministry gifts, the indwelling Spirit and the Bible.
There are many abuses in the thing that calls itself the Church. Always have been, always will be. The kingdom of heaven is full of wheat and tares. Do we pluck up the tares (the mystics and non Sola Scriptura guys) and mess up the wheat in the process? Is Mac Arthur a prophet or an apostle that has authority from heaven to speak to the whole assembly and relegate vast quantities of them to the fire? He does not believe in Apostolic or propphetic authority in our day, but speaks as if he is one…interesting.
I hate the abuses on both sides of the road. I love the road. I love the one that made the road. It is narrow and few there be that find it.
Re 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
Well, here I am a Sola Scriptura guy and a continuationist. It has never even crossed my mind to be a mystic or to go with some leading of the Spirit that goes against the testimony of scripture. I speak in tongues, and have laid hands on the sick and seen them recover. And the funny thing is that I have never spoken in tongues in the assembly for the purpose of ministering and the times that people were healed was not in the assembly either. Neither gift is for show, but for the glory of YHWH and the edification of the saints.
I try to base my life on every word that has come from the mouth of YHWH. He didn’t give us any passage of scripture that declares that the gifts have ceased. His Spirit never tells us something in contradiction to the Scripture. I am not a member of a pentecostal/charismatic assembly. I am not a part of a cessationist assembly either. But I am a member of the Body of Messiah. I do not condone the excesses of the modern churches on either side of this subject. They bring much harm. But I try to be careful to not throw the baby believer out with dirty doctrinal bathwater.
The Pharisees said that Messiah’s mighty miracles were of the devil. Mac Arthur is in danger of doing the same thing…if he hasn’t already done it with his blanket statements. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is not good. Maybe the modern American charismatic movement has gone beyond the extremes of the chruch of Corinth. Maybe it is full of a bunch of unsaved mystics. But maybe there is some wheat among the tares. Do we have the authority to yank them all up? Does Mac Arthur?
You stated, “It’s very easy for people closer to the apostolic era to think these gifts of the Spirit continue throughout time. That doesn’t make it so.”
First “That doesn’t make it so” is a meaningless remark.” Just saying something doesn’t make it so is something we all learned on the playground when we were 5 years old. Apologetics, Hermeneutics, philosophy of religion, theology, all rely on cumulative evidence. That it to say that dozens of reasons, with a multiplicity of data lead an individual to believe that a certain claim IS MORE REASONABLY TRUE THAN ITS NEGATION.
So to be more clear for those on this BLOG that have missed the obvious. My claim is that John MacArthur’s claim that history supports his cessation view is false. And my framework for the rebuttal evidence was to name a number of individuals who were classified as church fathers and suggest that further research would support a similar pattern across church history.
To your point abou it being “easier”, It is not “easier” for Church Fathers named in my comment since it is equally impossible on cessationism for anyone to experience the gifts after the end of the Apostolic age. Point is that after the closing of the canon with the writing of the book of Revelation in the late first century there should be NO experience of the Charisma. After the death of John toward the end of the first century there should be No experience of the gifts. Yet all the church fathers mentioned shared experiences of the gifts and write centuries after these two cessation boundary events.
Secondlly, I claimed that on investigation one could easily find that church history is full of examples of church leaders that practiced the gifts. You chose not to do the research.
Huguenots -In 1685, as the Huguenots earnestly sought the Lord for consolation “the spiritual gifts of the Apostolic Church reappeared — miracles of healing, prophecy, and talking in tongues.”18 By 1689, Pentecostal experiences were quite common among the Huguenots of the Cevennes.
Quakers – literature records visions, healings, prophecies, and a power which they liken to Pentecost. Occurances from mid-1600s to present day.
Moravians 1720s under Zinzendorf
Methodist – John Wesley became acquainted with Moravian missionaries (1738) who challenged the young minister to seek a deeper Christian experience. Wesley’s journals abound with references to Pentecostal-like demonstrations that occurred among his followers during his meetings. One of Wesley’s most trusted preachers was named Thomas Walsh, he recorded the following charismatic experience in his journal. The event is dated March 8, 1750: “This morning the Lord gave me a language that I knew not of, raising my soul to Him in a wonderful manner.”
Edward Irving -1830 revival in England, Irving was teaching that the initial evidence of a believer’s receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues . According to Irving, unless the believer speaks in tongues he has not yet received the gift of the Holy Spirit(I don’t personally believe this is biblically defensible). As a result of Irving’s teaching, the first public manifestation of the gift of tongues in his church occurred on April 30, 1831.39 And as one might expect, numerous other spiritual gifts followed.
Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, D.L.Moody.
There are hundreds of more historical references from Moody’s time unto present.
So to take John MacArthur’s claim that people that share this charismatic view of the working of the Holy Spirit in the Church after the closing of the canon and Apostolic age are cult leaders who have blasphemed the Holy Spirit and are going to hell leads him to condemn the Methodist, Moravians, Quakers, Episcopalians (Dennis Bennett 1960s), Catholics , Lutherans (Christenson 1960s) as well as 3 pillars of the Evangelical movement in America, Edwards, Finney, and Moody. Wow… I guess in MacArthur’s view everyone except people that believe just the way he does are going to hell. Oh, sorry … we knew that already…that is the definition of Fundamentalism.
Here is John Wesley’s view on why most churches don’t experience gifts of the spirit more regularly the way his church did.
“It does not appear that these extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were common in the Church for more than two or three centuries. We seldom hear of them after the fatal period when the Emperor Constantine called himself a Christian; and from a vain imagination of promoting the Christian cause … heaped riches and power and honour upon the Christians in general, but in particular upon the Christian Clergy. … The cause of this was not, (as has been vulgarly supposed) ‘because there was no more occasion for them’ because [supposedly] all the world was become Christian. This is a miserable mistake; not a twentieth part of it was then nominally Christian.
[No,] The real cause was [that] ‘the love of many,’ almost all Christians, so called, was ‘waxed cold.’ The Christians had no more of the Spirit of Christ than the other Heathens. The Son of Man, when He came to examine his Church could hardly ‘find faith upon earth.”
If anyone has read the books I recommended (or done other research) and would like to respond feel free but you must be out of preschool to ride this ride. The Charismatic movement has numerous serious problems that should be addressed with equal seriousness not Fundamentalism and foolish retorts.
Both you guys use too many words for me. Wisdom is lost in a multitude of words.
History and experience do not prove a point – Scripture alone does. The foundation stones – Christ and the apostles and prophets – has been laid. There is no use for more foundation work once the foundation has been put down. Argue all you want – imagine all you want. I do not exist to prove something to you that you are not willing to see.
I don’t break fellowship with reasonable people who are continuationists, but I need to know the Bible more than I need to understand why some people think its foundation stones are stilling being produced.
Wisdom comes from the study of God’s Word, with illumination by the Spirit of God.
Miracles are still performed by God, but since prophets and apostles have ceased, no man has the sign gifts of healing, etc. which were given to those men by God for the establishment of His bride, the church.
“Both you guys use too many words for me. Wisdom is lost in a multitude of words.”
Did Benjamin Franklin say that? How many words are contained in Mac Arthur’s book? Let me see there are quite a few more words in the Bible than either of us that you have disdained have penned to you. Your lack of actually dealing with our arguments shows more your lack of willingness to deal with our arguments than our lack or loss of wisdom. You refuse to read the book that is the detailed and scholarly response to “Strange Fire.” You refuse to read my rebuttal to the cascade argument. You are set. You are right no matter what we say. I have said nothing that would even hint at the idea that “the foundation stones are still being produced.” You have shown no argument nor scripture to back your idea up.
Please deal with the actual argument I raised instead of a straw man. Where is that passage of scripture that definitively shows when and how the gifts of the Spirit were to vanish? You say you get your wisdom from the scripture. Let us be made aware of this wisdom that we have missed.
If you will not, then lets try this passage on for size:
39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
What promise? Is the promise of the Holy Spirit and the gifts designed by YHWH to buildup the body of Messiah only to those that were right there? Or to those that are far off in time and space? Was the promise only to that first generation and their physical offspring? Or is it for us and our children too? Is it to whoever YHWH will call or only to those that were called within a generation of the apostles?
To be clear, I did not mention history as a primary source for proof of continuationism, but as a reminder that cessationism is a recent doctrine. The Bible is my primary source and final authority for believing that the spiritual gifts and ministries exist till the body of Messiah has reached the the fullness of the stature of Messiah. The Bible holds the truth for us both, and we cannot both be right.
I do not mean to be overly confrontational, but your statements have as of yet had no scriptural backing produced for us to be helped to see the light, if it is indeed light.
And for the record, all 3 of my post’s words put together, before you wrote, “Both you guys use too many words for me. Wisdom is lost in a multitude of words.” is about 1000 words less than your original article. 🙂 I am sure that you do not want us to just use bumper sticker-like slogans as doctrinal statements…do you?
Bo – the promise of Acts 2:39 is oft misunderstood. Mostly abused by paedobaptists. That verse is tied to what came before, when the covenant with David is being presented by Peter. The promised son of David has come to redeem the elect.He promised the Holy Spirit, Who would guide those in truth, which is found in the Scripture the Holy Spirit delivered through men.
As to the many prophecies, etc. that were not put into the canon; they prove nothing. Most believe Paul wrote at least three letters to the Corinth church. Yet if we found that missing letter, it would not be part of the Bible, it would not be considered inspired. To believe otherwise is to impugn the integrity of God – as He would not have superintended the writing and preservation of His Word. Of which, we read that His Word is truth – not the imaginations of us creatures.
Cessationism is NOT a recent development. Citing those who did not hold to this does not prove there were not others who did hold to it.
As for too many words – I think there’s a world of difference between reading an article or a book and reading an argument, the substance of which is familiar. A couple of short paragraphs in response are likely to get read than 400 words and a reference to a book and another cite to go find and read some comments.
I did not post this review to take up a charge to prove to all continuationists that ya’ll are wrong. I posted it because I think it makes a reasoned argument against certain abuses AND presents good truth about the person and work of the Holy Spirit. That web site that I posted a link to in a comment above is the place to find comprehensive arguments about why cessation is the most reasonable and biblical position.
“I did not post this review to take up a charge to prove to all continuationists that ya’ll are wrong. I posted it because I think it makes a reasoned argument against certain abuses..”
Fair enough, as a “continuationist”, I don’t know any mature true believer that supports hinn, Lakeand, ihop, etc.
To your comment “Both you guys use too many words for me.” My reply:
You’ve got to graduate to something other than comic books. Try the Dick and Jane series perhaps. Still lots of pictures but will help you develop the rigor to complete three and four-sentence paragraphs. Seems like logical dodges and quoting scripture out of context will never cease. Good news is that you are going to Heaven with MacArthur and his followers. Bad news is most of the rest of the so-called Christians are not.
To your comment “History and experience do not prove a point.”
I laughed out loud at this comment. The initial point MacArthur makes is that History and Experience prove that Charismatic gifts ceased after the closing of the canon and apostolic age. He chose to argue those points not me. It was foolish of MacArthur to do so without research but like I said in my opening remarks he argues for cessationism the way Bill Maher argues for Atheism. So History and experience are exactly what proves the point.
Here are some scriptures for you and John MacArthur:
“Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved… Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”Acts 15:1, 10-11
“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” Gal. 3:1-3
Fundamentalism puts everyone under the Law because it doesn’t recognize how powerless the law is.
MacArthur violates the scriptures by stating that the proper ecclesiastical view, specifically the cessationist view of the gifts, is required for salvation. HERESY!!
MacArthur unnecessarily divides the church with a position that is NOT in scripture.
“Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.…”
Finally, if you want to stick with scripture to make MacArthur’s case (since his argument from History was such an abysmal failure), then you will have to do an exegesis of 1 Corinthians 13:8–10. As well as a word study of the Greek word for perfect, teleion. 3 views will emerge, and the scholars find the closing of the canon view to be unsupportable by the context of the passage.
In time you will able to distinguish the correct things that MacArthur says for the fallacious, foolish, or heretical things he says. Enjoy his teaching but learn to discern the true from the false and divisive teaching most amply demonstrated in his Strangefire conference.
Uber – Narratives are not normative. To make your case from narratives is off track. What took place in the apostolic times (that narrative in Acts) is not something that can be claimed as normative in church life. To use 1 Cor the way you do turns the gifts on their head – again, Paul was in the apostolic times and the gifts were still active. Read Mac’s book if you haven’t. Believe what you want – but don’t rag on me for what Mac wrote. As you will see in post late next week, I am not a Mac fan. When he tells the truth, I am in his corner. When he wrong, I am not.
Where does he say that cessation is required for salvation?
Why are you trying to show me the way of salvation?
The real question is this! Is what is happening today in Pentecostal and Charismatic churches the SAME as what is said to have occurred in the early churches?
Where are the languages (glossa) being supernaturally spoken? Have linguists been able to identify language patterns or is it merely gibberish? Have linguists been able to identify the correctness of the alleged translations (interpretations)?
Are miraculous gifts of healing actually occurring in their midst or not? Sure, there may be psycho-somatic healing occurring today, but where are the medically verifiable organic healings occurring?
I think an empirical examination of Pentecostal and Charismatic claims will show that what is happening in their midst are solely human manufacured phenomena, and that neither miraculous nor revelational phenomena are ocurring today.
This is a separate question that whether the revelational and miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit are meant to continue or to cease. So what I am saying is this. Even if one was a continuationist, I doubt (that the same things that are alleged in the bible to have occurred in the early church prior to the completion of the NT) are occuring today. The burden of proof is surely on the continuationist to show that they do, not merely to BELIEVE that they do. After all, it is easy to be deluded.
Amen, John. Thanks for stopping by.
John Arthur and Manfred,
Here is another long post for you.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
OK, if the burden of proof is on the tongue talkers to prove that theirs is the same as the 1st century believers, then then the same burden of proof is required of those that say that they have the Holy Spirit but do not speak in tongues. The same burden of proof is on all of us that say that we are born again. We cannot actually prove it. We can only live out our lives and others will either judge us as true believers or not. They may be wrong or right and we may be wrong or right. In the final analysis, only YHWH knows absolutely. It is not our jobs to prove that our experience is real to someone else. It is our job to be faithful and pleasing to our Master.
15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
16 But T H I S I S T H A T which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:..
32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath S H E D F O R T H T H I S, which ye now S E E A N D H E A R .
44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was P O U R E D O U T T H E G I F T O F T H E H O L Y G H O S T.
46 F O R T H E Y H E A R D T H E M S P E A K W I T H T O N G U E S, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
What was tongues the sign of in Acts? That believers had received the Holy Spirit! I am not saying that one cannot receive the Holy Spirit and not speak in tongues. I am saying that the speaking in tongues was the sign in the NT that someone had received the Spirit. It may be hypothetically possible to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and not speak in tongues, but there would be no proof as far as Peter and Apostles were concerned.
1 Corinthians 14
2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries…
13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.
14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
According to Paul, tongues is not a human language. No man understands what is being said…not even the speaker. The communication is between the believer’s spirit and YHWH. It takes the companion gift of interpretation of tongues for anyone to understand what is being said. So if the tongues are understood in a natural way, they are not the Biblical kind of tongues. There is no such thing as the “translation of tongues.” It is a miracle of the interpretation of tongues.
5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
Acts 2 says that the devout heard the disciples speaking in their own tongues. It says that every man heard them all speak in his own language. It does not say that the disciples spoke every language from every nation under heaven. That is lot of languages for a few people in the short period of time to speak in in such a way for the multitude to all hear and be astonished. It was only 9 AM by the time Peter started preaching. It was a miracle, not of speed or of loudness, but of interpretation of tongues.
So your definition above is wrong about tongues being human languages. The other thing that is a bit obtuse of you to say that the medical profession needs to verify healings today. None of the miracles in the scripture were verified by the medical profession? Why should those miracles today be verified?
I am not saying that the things that are called speaking in tongues and healings and miracles today are all the identical things that happened in the early believer’s assemblies. (I am skeptical of much that is done and reported.) I am saying that we are foolish to invent our own ideas about how to verify these things…or to insist that they be verified naturally.
There were many that saw Messiah’s miracles first hand that did not believe that they were true or that they were done by the power of the devil. Some of the people that witnessed the 120 speaking in tongues on the day of Pentecost thought that the disciples were talking gibberish…like drunken fools. That we cannot verify by natural means the authenticity of tongues or miracles does not mean that they are any different than the what the Bible describes.
The real burden of proof is on YHWH…not us. It is not our job to get things medically certified or find someone that knows the language that the tongue talker is speaking. If he allows us to look foolish to the mockers that do not understand us or if He allows us to look crazy to the medical profession that mocks at our claims of healing, so be it. The gifts are meant to edify the body of Messiah, not to convince the skeptics. Let the skeptics mock. Let YHWH be true and every man a liar.
Be careful that you judge righteous judgment. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit by attributing His works to the devil or even man is no small matter.
Bo – Once again: the narrative accounts in Scripture are information, but they’re not normative. By your logic, those two accounts where people were given the gift of tongues when the Holy Spirit came upon them are a hermeneutic rule that we can take over to Act 28 and claim to be immune from snake bites. How many passages talk about the Holy Spirit and His role with us and have no mention of the apostolic era gifts? MacArthur makes note of this in his book. The role of the Holy Spirit is to guide us in all Truth (the Word He inspired) and comfort us while we inhabit the inaugurated but not consummated kingdom.
Gifts were given to validate the Apostles. Job done. The foundation was laid – one Chief cornerstone, other foundation stones comprised by the prophets and apostles. No more foundation being laid.
Here’s a line to be drawn: God heals miraculously. Man uses medicine. God does not need man to heal His creatures. When He heals, it is real – that does not mean the gift of healing is extant. Can you heal when and where you wish? Have you tried to heal and it didn’t work?
We don’t live in apostolic times and we do not require a sign.
And don’t blame me for John MacArthur’s definition of tongues. I haven’t given a definition.
Your challenge that one prove he is saved is a red herring. I’ll pass.
Your attitude is one that I find interesting – why make such a big deal over gifts, when clearly – even they are extant – they are portrayed in Scripture as mush less desirable than clear teaching of the Word of God?
You real burden of proof isn’t on Yahweh. Paul, himself, points out that we should test all things. We are not expected to be gullible and accept all so-called supernatural phenomena as being of God.
You, yourself, admit that some of the so-called Charismatic phenomena as being practiced by some Charismatics is false. You admit that some of it is not the same as that which occurred in the first century. I would like to know how you know this. Did you have some alleged special revelation from God or some inner feeling or did you juge these things to be false by the Scriptures or by the fact that they do not conform to empirical reality?
You also threaten me by insinuating that I am in danger of blaspheming the Holy Spirit for saying that I believe that what is occurring today is most probably human induced phenomena.What you seem to be saying is that I should NOT test all things, but simply gullibly believe that what is happening in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles is of God.
The only real “proof” that a person is “born from above” is a transformed life. it is the fruit of the Spirit that tells a person whether one belongs to God or not. And people have the right to judge.
Jesus said that all human beings would KNOW that you are my disciples by the LOVE you have for one another.
In 1 Cor.14:2, 13, 14 the word “unknown” is not in the Greek Manuscripts. “For anyone who speaks in a language does not speak to men but to God”. This is human language but it is unknown to the speaker.
“For this reason, anyone who speaks in a language, let him pray in order that he may interpret. For if I pray in a language the spirit in me prays, but my mind is unfruiful. …”
Paul is NOT saying that the language is not human, but that it is unknown to the one who is speaking it. It is not an “unknown langauge” and therefore not human, but it is a human langauge that is not known to the speaker. Else why would there need to be an interpretation?
You say that the miracle at Pentecost was in the hearing and not the speaking. In Acts 2:1-4, we read in verse 4 that “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to SPEAK (lalein) in other languages (glossais) as the Holy Spirit gave them to speak out”.
So according to the text the miracle wasn’t in the hearing but was in the speaking.The word “other” is from the word heteros (i.e. another of a different kind). So they spoke in different langauages from their own (Galileans spoke in Aramaic) and those gathered heard them speak, each in the various dialects and language of the hearers ( Jews who came from all over the Roman Empire. to celebrate the feast of Pentecost).
So Acts 2 does not DENY that it was human languages that were spoken. The 120 did not know these langauages in which they spoke, but the hearers did.
Read what Paul has to say on the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into the one body – Jews and Greeks, slaves and free – and we were all made to drink of the one Spirit” (1 Cor.12-13). The Greek preposition ‘en’ is used and translated “in”. It could be used locatively and be translated “by” or it could be translated “in” or “with”. Paul makes it clear that all Christians have been baptized “in”, “with”, or “by” the Holy Spirit into (eis) the body of Christ.
Paul also makes it clear that not all Christians can speak in tongues (glossalalia). The gifts of the Spirit are sovereignly distributed according to the will of God, if you believe the text. And the gifts are distributed for the “common good”, to build up the body of Christ.
That tongues are a sign of having received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is only mentioned in Acts 10 whereas in Acts 19 they spoke in tongues and prohesied . In Act 2 they spoke in tongues but in Acts 8 it does NOT mention tongues.
These historical ocurrences cannot be made normative at the expense of Paul’s clear statement that all believers have been baptized in the Holy spirit but not all speak in tongues. Nowhere does Paul say that the normative sign of the Baptism of the Holy spirit is ‘speaking in tongues’.
And there is only ONE spiritual baptism. (Ephesians 4). Nowhere in the NT outside of Acts does it say that the sign of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues.
In regards to Genie’s post, I thought blog policy was no personal attacks allowed. Has there been an exception made in his case?
Sola Scriptura is the coin of the realm the final arbiter of truth as you have boldly defended. The continuationists are the chief violators of the proper exercise of the very gifts they claim to have. When you gather together every word uttered, by the Apostles inspired command 1 Cor. 14,, was to be examined and tested on the spot before the church. According to Paul every sermon every teaching every prophecy every tongue translated and tested by all of the elders every time, period. The testing of the spirits was a command not an option. it was to be tested foremost by the written word as the Bereans did. This requires the elders to be exceptionally well studied in the entire Bible. Further this requires prayer. In Acts we read that after hearing Paul, the council said that it seems to us and the Holy Spirit.
By violating these clear commands of not testing of not examining the wicked counterfeit Kundalini spirit has taken root. This is the vehicle of the great apostasy that will drive the tares straight into the arms of the antichrist.
lastly Jer. 23 is one long rebuke from God who’s wrath is kindled by any and all who say ” thus sayeth the Lord when I did not say”.
Thanks for your comment, T.I.Miller. I will be preaching from Heb 1:1 – 4 this Sunday and that concept of a closed canon and what that means is part and parcel of that text. I pray it is received with an eye towards trusting God and what He has given us in the Scriptures.
The majority of the extant crowd readily profess that the utterings of modern apostles are non-canonical. By conceding this reality they have conceded that God divinely ceased that office/gift. They cannot argue that all gifts are extant. If one then why not others?
Gods standards also remain extant. If anyone says such and such says the Lord and it does not come to pass then I did not say it and they are false. anyone found proclaiming even one false thing is a false prophet. God cannot get it wrong therefore the self proclaimed prophet proclaimed his own imaginings. They are disqualified they are to be rejected and shunned. any casual search can produce an abundance of false utterances by every top dog in the extant movement.
Remove everyone who has ever erred in such a manner from leadership. Those who love Me keep My commands. Jesus commanded that we are to live by every word that proceeds from God. Failure to do so exposes what your hearts love above all else. not only are your prophets false your profession of love is also.