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24 October, 2013 13:08

October 24, 2013

John MacArthur’s recent attack against the Charismatic / Pentecostal movement has certainly put him in the cross hairs of many. What possessed him to lash out against us is unknown. Was it sheer arrogance, ignorance or was he tempted or troubled by an evil spirit of some sort?

I can well understand some enthusiastic young buck zealously overstating his belief about some pet doctrinal belief he adheres to; but there is no excuse for a father in the faith to do the same. What grieves my heart and the heart of many I know is the untold damage done to the young of the flock. Jesus warned us about this very thing when He said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea.” It is only when you consider the severity of the punishment that you realize how great this sin was that Jesus was referring to.

Only this morning I was reading again the story of how a handful of men successfully thwarted God’s purposes. This unbelieving minority caused the majority of God’s people to believe that what God said was possible, wasn’t for them. For the next forty wasted years they wandered aimlessly in the Wilderness. Then they died, never seeing the gifts that God had promised them. Why would anyone follow their example, and in so doing rob God’s people of the very gifts He purchased for them at the cost of His precious blood! “When He ascended on high He gave gifts unto men.”

You recall the day when the disciples were returning from one of their numerous field trips and began to tell the Lord what they had encountered. “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name; and we tried to hinder him because he does not follow along with us. “Then a few verses later we are told that they wanted to call fire down from heaven and consume those who rejected the Lord. Jesus turned and rebuked them saying, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of.” One would have to wonder the same about John MacArthur.

While I will freely admit that the Charismatic movement could stand a little weeding in its own garden, I can also testify to the reality of the Holy Spirit’s power. The FBI does not have a host of undercover agents working tirelessly to track down the counterfeiting operation of criminals churning out millions of thirty dollar bills. The reason is simple, there are no genuine thirty dollar bills. The fact that there is false fire is a testimony to the real fire.

One of the sure proofs that the Holy Spirit is at work is evidenced by the presence of the enemy at work. In the parable of The Sower we are told that as soon as the seed was sown, then Satan cometh immediately. Many people mistakenly believe that any demonic or fleshly activity gives them the right to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The scriptures tell us that where there are no oxen the manger is clean but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest. (Proverbs 14:14) Some pastors would rather settle for a clean church with no life, than deal with the aftermath of the Spirit’s activity. Let’s face it, if you are going to have children, expect spilled milk and dirty diapers. If on the other hand you want a perfectly spotless house, then don’t have children. My father would often say that he would rather pour water on a fire than try and raise the dead. Some pastors would rather minister in a morgue than a nursery. The former seems to be John’s preference.

The best cure for a cessationist would be to fly them into some heathen jungle where they are surrounded by every form of demonic activity. Only then would they see the need for the Holy Spirit’s power to be manifest. It is a known fact that numerous evangelicals who have gone to the mission field believing that the gifts of the Spirit have been withdrawn from the church; have returned with the very opposite belief. Being confronted by the reality of the demonic, their only hope was to cry out to the living God and see His miraculous intervention through healings, deliverance, signs and wonders. Only when the people see that the God of the missionary is greater than their god, will they believe. Can you imagine John MacArthur confronting the prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel? It takes more than fine expository preaching. It takes the God that answers by FIRE. Perhaps it’s time for him to climb down from his ivory tower of spiritual intellectualism and take a trip to the jungle for a season.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 24, 2013 2:05 pm

    I have enjoyed John MacArthur’s teaching and have learned from him, I have not heard him speak what you are referring to and it is disappointing to hear. It is however evidence that there are still areas of sin in even the most devote lives. The scripture is pure, perfect, and without error, but because of our still sinful nature we have to deal with, as we look through the glass darkly, we miss it and the error is on our part, then we feel it is our responsibility to correct our brother. There is a place for discipline and correction within the body, but sometimes we want to take it upon ourselves alone the do it. I hope your words make it to John MacArthur’s desk, perhaps his heart will surrender and let the Spirit do His work of love and bring repentance worthy of being repented of.

  2. Watchman permalink
    October 24, 2013 3:39 pm

    I was a hardcore atheist until I was evangelised and saved by God, no Christians or churches were involved. After 8 months God found me a church (independent reformed). I’d never met any Christians before or had any idea what a real church was like. Things started off well, but soon things began to perplex me. I just couldn’t understand these “Christians”. I thought that everyone who is a Christian would have a vital and living relationship with God. I tried to express these things to the Pastor, but he implied that such ideas were “Charismatic” – a swear word in our church – or were for “Christian Mystics”. I don’t know much about Charismatics, but I understand that there are some problems with “wildfire” as your father would put it. I’m a Calvanist, but I have a big problem with Calvanists. Most Calvanists have substituted a love for God with a love for the bible, the Holy Spirit with theology, and the worship of God with the worship of the church. The church I attend is very busy being evangelical, preaching the gospel, open air preaching etc, but nobody gets saved. As far as I can find out (nobody really knows, because it never seems to cross anyones mind) nobody has been saved for at least 10 years and there are doubts that this “convert” is genuinely saved. Calvanists need to get the “plank” out of their own eye before they start criticising other Christians, but that’s difficult when you have a very high opinion of yourself. There is hope for Calvanists. I’ve seen a few sermons by Ian Paisley and I get the impression that this was the way things used to be. And there are other younger, reformed preachers like Paul Washer who are stirring things up – ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53P-L7wu4h0 ). The young Christians in my church are going along with things, but deep down seem disappointed and confused (is this really it?). Many of the older members are very hard-hearted towards God. I would love someone like yourself to come to our church and preach, like you did at the Lifeboat, but most of the older members of my church would chase you away with sticks. God has told me that my church is the “Ephesian church” – “… you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent.”. I can’t change their hearts, neither can you, but God can. So I take my petitions to God.

  3. October 27, 2013 2:06 pm

    Watchman,
    I am a Charismatic / Pentecostal that of recent have been taken by reformed theology, the view of the Sovereignty of God and unconditional election is glorious. In all my years I have never seen God as big as I see Him now! He is so awesome and so far beyond the box I had Him in. Paul Washer and John Piper have been such a blessing to me in coming to understand this theology, but I have not cast away my Pentecostal heritage. The power of the Holy Spirit is a real reality in my life, but I need to grow in Him so much more.

    I go to a independent Charismatic church and like you it has been 10 or more years since we have seen anyone saved. David preached a sermon “Malachi’s Resurgence” you can find on his web site if you have not heard it, but it speak a great word to the church today. It seems we in the Pentecostal realm want to experience the power of Pentecost but not the sacrifice of time with God to get it. I think you mentioned one of the keys, taking our petitions to God and staying there till we find his presents.

  4. colin permalink
    October 27, 2013 8:07 pm

    When I got saved all I said was a simple prayer and as lay down on my bed a wind left me, then a wind blew back into my body and I sat up and spoke in tounges. This three months before I started attending church. The gifts of the Spirit still operate in the church today, however there is yet a more excellent way for the church to walk in. When the few start to walk in that way they will turn the church and then the world upside down. In the meantime we will have endure another false revival by those who promote salvation + works and attack the body of Christ.

    • October 28, 2013 10:28 pm

      Ten years ago I was directed to Jesus Christ. I was under extreme slavery to sin, and the Holy Spirit through the Law revealed it to me! I cried out to Christ in repentance and asked Him to take control of my life. He did just that! I studied Gods word diligently with a great inner hunger to know Him closer and His Son Christ who was now my Lord. While at work still crying out to know Him more fully. Something likened to electricity came upon my tongue! Young and unknowing I went to the mature people who had been used by God to point me to Christ, for I dared not speak until I spoke to them. They just smiled, I had been coming to thier house almost daily learning Gods word and devouring the classics throught christindom:) God had decided to give me a prayer language that night, we praise God and for the next two and a half years almost daily they disciples me. I praise Christ my all and use my prayer language regularly at Home. So much more has happened since those early years, but Gods word says “do not forbid the speaking in tongues” So even if He had not choose this gift to be given to me. Through fear of His Holy Word, and Christ being my master, I would never deny His truth. Yes, evangelicals throughout Christendom negate and abuse Gods word on all sides, however my Bible tells me what is right, and what is wrong and I must abide by its clear teachings through the Holy Spirits revealing it to me instead of mans traditions, which men will give an account for on the day of judgement to my Lord Jesus Christ. Brothers and sisters read the Bible for yourselves through the teaching of the Holy Spirit. This is the only safe path for you to go so you can be blameless before our Lords throne on that day. God bless you all through Christ our great salvation.

      • October 29, 2013 6:40 pm

        Amen to David Ravenhill. My observation about MacArthur outside of his doctrinal positions is that he is not shy about giving his opinion. In his book “Twelve Ordinary Men” MacArthur wrote that the statement Jesus made to Peter: “if by the sword we live we shall die by the sword” was a “divine sanction for capital punishment”.

        When men make such leaps in scripture, they are reaching for an authority that they do not, nor cannot, attain. That’s as dangerous as anything that troubles MacArthur about Charismatics, in my humble opinion :). Taking bold liberties with scripture and not qualifying it as opinion esteems the author in a way that exposes a clear lack of humility.

        CNN used MacArthur and another pastor to debate the biblical sanction/opposition for “war” at the beginning of the Afgan/Iraq war. It became obvious real quick that each man’s opinion was formed strictly through their ideology and nothing else. And both men made “Christianity” look exactly like the stereotype CNN was looking for….confused men who believed they have the truth in tow yet must agree that both cannot be right.

        Both John Piper and MacArthur argue over the validity of a foul mouthed Mark Driscoll as if having ‘solid doctrine’ is the evidence of salvation and not the fruit of the Spirit that scripture speaks of. When “solid doctrine” trumps biblical truth AND common sense….. then we have created what’s called ‘an idol’. To his credit MacArthur is against a course jester in the pulpit….while Piper is still trying to figure all that out. I really don’t think the Holy Spirit enjoys trying to get super spiritual and elite theologians to see the obvious…even the unsaved can see through the likes of Driscoll.

        Tozer said that there are two ways to be dumb; to never go to school at all, and to go to school too long. Clearly Tozer discerned the latter as being just as detrimental to last day craziness as the former.

        So what does this all mean?? I think it mostly means that no one is exempt from the enemy’s perversions….especially those who think they have the iron clad truth in area’s of doctrine and worship. Both Tozer and Len Ravenhill let God deal with them to the point that there was no room for them to esteem themselves in any capacity concerning the truth’s of God’s word. The fact that they could preach so boldly, and at the same time be so terrified of their ignorance, was a clear testimony that they had been dealt with harshly by a God who will never bow down to man’s flesh.

        One of the gifts of the Spirit is ‘teaching’. So if one believes that the gifts have ceased then obviously a teacher of God’s word does so without it being an exclusive gift from God. Talk about boxing God’s sovereignty in and giving ourselves the credit…. I know this point will be slickly rebuffed but you can’t ignore the premise of such thinking.

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