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A Jet Tour Through the New Testament
Monday, October 12, 2015 | Comments (94)

Two years ago this week, Grace to You hosted the Strange Fire conference at Grace Community Church. Coinciding with the launch of John MacArthur’s book Strange Fire, the conference featured a comprehensive critique of the charismatic movement and the blasphemous abuse of the Holy Spirit that goes on under its purview. While the response to the conference was overwhelming, many of the issues that were raised have yet to be seriously acted upon. Our goal is to fan the flames of this important discussion and continue the call for discernment and discipline in the charismatic movement. To that end, we want to rerun some of the important articles from before and after the conference, and encourage you to visit the Strange Fire website for all the sermons, articles, and videos from that landmark event. –GTY Staff

by Phil Johnson

A prodigious wacko fringe has always been one of the charismatic movement’s most prominent features. In little more than a century, the Pentecostal and charismatic movements have spun off so many bad doctrines and bizarre characters that I have a thick dictionary in my office just to help me keep track of them all.

Furthermore, I’m convinced it’s not just some kind of fantastic cosmic coincidence that has loaded the movement with an unusually high number of charlatans and heretics. I’ve suggested on more than one occasion that a major reason the charismatic movement has produced more than its fair share of aberrant behavior is because the distinctive doctrines of charismatic belief foster gullibility while constantly seeding the movement with all kinds of whimsy. Specifically, the charismatic belief that it’s normative for Spirit-filled Christians to receive extrabiblical divine revelation through various mystical means has opened the door for all kinds of mischief.

I would not for a moment deny that there are some relatively sane and sensible charismatics who love Scripture and generally teach sound doctrine while avoiding most of their movement’s worst errors. I think they represent a fairly small minority of the worldwide charismatic community, but they do exist. A few of them are good friends—even longtime friends—of mine. I have friends (for example) in the Calvary Chapel movement, which is mildly charismatic in doctrine but whose worship is generally more Bible centered than even the typical non-Charismatic seeker-sensitive church. As a matter of fact, my chief concern about the Calvary Chapel movement would not even be its advocacy of charismatic views, but its increasingly aggressive campaign against Calvinism.

That’s not all. I have warm affection and heartfelt respect for most of the best-known Reformed charismatic leaders, including C.J. Mahaney, Wayne Grudem, and Sam Storms. [Let’s call them “Type-R charismatics.”] I’ve greatly benefited from major aspects of their ministries, and I regularly recommend resources from them that I have found helpful. I’ve corresponded with the world-famous Brit-blogger Adrian Warnock for at least fifteen years now and had breakfast with him on two occasions, and I like him very much. I’m sure we agree on far more things than we disagree about. And I’m also certain the matters we agree on—starting with the meaning of the cross—are a lot more important than the issues we disagree on, which are all secondary matters.

But that is not to suggest that the things we disagree on are nonissues.

Candor, and not a lack of charity, requires me to state this conviction plainly: The belief that extrabiblical revelation is normative does indeed “regularly and systematically breed willful gullibility, not discernment.” Even the more sane and sober [Type-R] charismatics are not totally exempt from the tendency.

Remember that Paul Cain and the Kansas City Prophets found an amazing amount of support from Reformed charismatics on both sides of the Atlantic, even after it was clear to more objective minds that the “prophets” were regularly and systematically issuing false prophecies.

And that fact ought to have been clear very early. In 1989, the senior Kansas City Prophet, Bob Jones, acknowledged that he could claim an accuracy rate of no higher than two-thirds. By 1991, Jones was utterly discredited because of his own sexual misconduct with women who came to him seeking prophetic counseling.

Shortly after that (in early 1992), John MacArthur, Lance Quinn, and I met with Paul Cain and Jack Deere in John MacArthur’s office at Jack Deere’s request. Deere wanted to try to convince John MacArthur that the charismatic movement—especially the Vineyard branch—was on a trajectory to make doctrinal soundness and biblical integrity the hallmarks of Third Wave charismatic practice. He brought Cain along, ostensibly so that we could see for ourselves that Cain was a legitimate prophet with a profound gifting.

But Cain was virtually incoherent that day. Lance Quinn remarked to me immediately afterward that it seemed as if Cain had been drinking heavily. (In retrospect it seems a fair assumption that this may indeed have been the case.) Even Deere apologized for Cain’s strange behavior that day, but Deere seemed to want us to assume it was because the Spirit was upon Cain in some unusual way. They both admitted to us that Cain’s “prophecies” were wrong at least as often as they were right. When we cited that as sufficient reason not to accept any of their prophecies, they cited Wayne Grudem’s views on New Testament prophecy as justification for ignoring the errors of prophecies already proven false, while giving credence to still more questionable pronouncements.

That meeting was extremely eye-opening for me. Deere was unable to answer basic questions about certain practices that Lance and I had personally observed him participating in at the Anaheim Vineyard just a few weeks before. Specifically, we asked him about two “prophets” whose public words of knowledge in the morning service were flatly contradictory. (The dueling prophets were apparently using their “gifts” to air out a dispute over some decision the church’s leaders had recently made.) Deere acknowledged that the prophecies that morning were contradictory. And he could not explain why John Wimber let both prophecies stand without a word of explanation or clarification. (He seemed to shrug off our concern by speculating that perhaps even Wimber wasn’t sure which prophecy, if either, was the true one.) Again, he appealed to Grudem, perhaps the most theologically sound of all charismatics, as justification for accepting the two prophets’ gifting as legitimate anyway.

I left that meeting amazed that anyone would give credence to such “prophets.” But several of the best Reformed charismatic leaders—all citing Grudem for authority—continued to give credence to Cain, the Kansas City Prophets, and others like them for a long, long time. Some of the Reformed Charismatics who lent Paul Cain undue credibility did not really renounce him as a prophet until about twelve years later, when his personal sins finally came to light.

(And it may be stretching things to say that everyone concerned actually “renounced” Cain’s supposed prophetic gifting even then. He has lately made something of a comeback. [Jack Deere’s book still touts Cain as a superprophet, and the book was recently released in Romania, where it has left a massive amount of confusion in its wake. Wayne Grudem’s endorsement of the book remains unaltered. I recently wrote him to ask if Cain’s moral failure would spur him to modify or remove his endorsement of Deere’s paean to Cain, and Grudem wrote to asssure me that his endorsement of the book still stands.])

As long as Reformed charismatics justify the practice of encouraging people to proclaim “prophecies” that are unverified and unverifiable—and which frequently prove to be wrong—I’ll stand by the concern I expressed: Even the very best of charismatics sometimes foster unwarranted and unreasonable gullibility.

And gullibility about whether God has really spoken or not is seriously dangerous.

When a false belief is truly dangerous and comes replete with the kind of long and dismal track record that extrabiblical revelation brings with it, it’s not “uncharitable” for those who see the danger and are truly concerned about it to sound a shrill warning rather than humming a gentle lullaby.

My charismatic friend Dr. Warnock insists that I have been uncharitable because I have stated my opinion about the dangers of charismatic doctrine without explicitly exempting him and others whom he likes from my warning against gullibility. It makes him “uncomfortable” to read such things on our blog as often as we post them (even though the vast majority of our [2007] posts on the charismatic issue were in fact made at his behest).

I have to say in reply that his appeal to how our posts make him feel, while he declines to give any rational or reasonable explanation for why he thinks our candor must be motivated by a lack of charity, is an echo of the very tendency that I think is so dangerous in the charismatic mindset.

I do realize some people are uncomfortable with such a firm stance against the charismatic position. I’m equally uncomfortable with the charismatic position itself. Let’s both remember that our respective comfort levels are not reliable gauges of our brothers’ charity (or lack thereof), and let’s try to focus on the actual issue under discussion.

This article was first published by Phil Johnson in November of 2007.


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Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. (Proverbs 16:24 ESV)


#1  Posted by Samuel Kennedy  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 at 1:20 AM

Thank you Phil & particularly to Pastor John & the Grace to You team for the excellent work you are doing in equipping the saints about many of the false teachings or in some instances the misleading teachings postulated by the charismatics!In South Africa this movement is huge, outside of the roman catholics & anglicans! Now every new church springing up is what I call 'ultra charismatics' as they espouse strange beliefs, like ppl falling all over the place under some 'anointing'; money is the main driver Not Christ although the name Christ is used as an endorsement of this foolishness; the Bible is secondary to their power evangelism-power in themselves, power to determine the future; power to name & claim; power to cast out devils & heal the sick.Sadly their halls(I am at pains to call it church as it blasphemes what Christ meant as a church) are full of lovers of music; lovers of pleasure;lovers of worldly things like fancy cars; big houses; clothing; politics. Jesus Christ & the Holy Scriptures are Not the object of their worship & reverence-This is Strange Stuff.Having come out of this movement as a preaching elder of a large church I still have many friends who are still there but are confused as it is all they know & understand.We love them as souls of the Master, even at the expense of being painfully sidelined by many of the pastors, for sticking to & reverting to Biblical hermeneutics, Sola Scriptura-Jesus Christ as Lord & we as His slaves!very painful my Brother when this happens to you, but...I am Not ashamed of this Gospel, irrespective of the circumstances. I know my Master, I know His Word,what they are doing is temporal-please continue to skill our ppl, we need & rely on the resources of John & Grace to You in our walk as we preach the Gospel.Thank you & God bless,Amen

#2  Posted by Steven Smith  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 at 3:25 AM

I am not familiar with what a "Type R charismatic" is, could someone give me a resource that I can educate myself on this issue? Thank you

#58  Posted by Adam  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 10:05 AM

I think the "r" stands for reformed charismatics. But someone correct me if that's wrong.

#59  Posted by Blaine Simons  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 10:15 AM

Charismatics who hold to Reformed theology (Hence the "R").

#62  Posted by Some Guy  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 10:39 AM

It would seem to be someone who is Reformed --- holds to the doctrines of grace as it pertains to salvation, so that their charismatic views are not resulting from poor soteriology.

#3  Posted by George Canady  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 at 5:40 AM

Thank you GTY. I cannot tell you how I have been waiting for this strong stance on the Charismatic movement. I have watched for 30 years as my family has been sucked in to this movement. I think my People realy desire to have an experience with God, but perhaps not from true biblical knowledge. It is heart breaking to watch them as they are destroyed year after year while the people they support prosper.

#4  Posted by Robin Lane  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 at 6:08 AM

Many of us share Phil’s concern that people are so gullible. But surely everyone is gullible to some extent, and that is one reason that the ability to distinguish between spirits is one of the gifts given to the church (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).

Phil’s examples highlight the need for spiritual discernment, which we can only get from God (John 15:5). In turn, that highlights the importance of reading and learning the Scriptures. It is through the Scriptures that we learn about the gifts that God gives and how they are to be used – not for personal acclaim, but to the glory of God in building up the church (1 Corinthians 14:12).

However, the Scriptures do not lead all of us to reject the idea of extra-biblical revelation. Indeed, some of us are greatly puzzled by the Cessationist stance because it contradicts the Scriptures on this point. Paul’s statement in 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22 is just one example. The fact that people are gullible and can be led astray by false prophets should not lead us to conclude that there are no genuine prophecies anymore.

We should not expect any extra-biblical revelation to be on the same level as Scripture, because the Scriptures are unique and complete. But many of us have heard prophecies that seem to have been in accord with the Scriptures, and have been a great encouragement to us. So we earnestly desire spiritual gifts, in obedience to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 14:1), the word of God. Using those gifts produces results that are clearly beyond human capabilities – so God gets the glory.

Our God is a God who speaks to his people (John 10:27). Hallelujah!

#38  Posted by Tyler Schade  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 5:03 AM

Amen! Hallelujah!

#5  Posted by Rebecca Sutherland  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 at 6:38 AM

Hello Bro. Phil,

I have a long standing question that I cannot seem to get an adequate answer to, maybe you can help. Why do you think that people who profess Christ and have His Holy Spirit (supposedly) seem to have varying views on the topic at hand or any topic for that matter? How can Christians be so divided in their interpretation of scripture when the Holy Spirit is our teacher?

Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

#6  Posted by Rod Evans  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 at 7:07 AM

Would someone be so kind as to explain to me the difference between a Christian who has been saved by God's grace alone, through God's granting faith alone, in Christ Jesus alone, and therefore, calling themselves "charismatic," and a Christian who has been saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, and saying that they're NOT "charismatic"? In other words, if let's say that you(anyone)were to say that you're charismatic and I say that I'm not, what's the difference? Thank you for any clarification. God bless the Strange Fire Conference!

Easier stated: a true christian who's "charismatic" versus and true christian who's NOT charismatic; what's the MAIN difference?

#40  Posted by Jerry  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 6:53 AM

This may be over-simplifying the issue but it seems to me the non-charismatic Christian is humbled by the grace of God and the charismatic Christian is looking for 'bragging rights'. I have never attended a charismatic church. My only exposure has been some that I have seen on TV and videos on YouTube but I have always been struck by the almost irreverence of the ministers and some in the congregations. I don't mean to put anyone down. Just saying.

#7  Posted by Errol Hale  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 at 7:54 AM

Thank you, Phil.

Few are able to articulate hard truth with such a measure of both clarity and charity.

While I would not want to say God can't (when it comes to so-called prophecy) it should be abundantly clear that as a mater of practice, in these days He doesn't.

As John Owen observed, test the so called prophecy. If it is not in line with scripture [or is wrong] it is not of God and must be rejected. If it is line with scripture, it wasn't needed.

Let us embrace scripture (alone) with both arms and celebrate God's grace for making it absolutely sufficient.

#8  Posted by Michael Reynolds  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 at 8:48 AM

This is the first time i've heard the term "Type R Chirmatics". That would be me. I was born again at Calvery Chapel' attended the Vineyard,' Gene Scott ministries, raised a Lutheran., Word Of Faith, and so on. I believe in the gifts of the Spirit but not some of the sillyness i've seen and sometimes embarrassed me. However what happened to me was NOT emotion. God really appeared to me and told me how to pray in another language. I've been listening to John Piper, R C Sproll and john Mac..And studying Reformed Theology. I feel for the fist time that my salvation is secure from studying Reformed Theology but i will still be a R Chrismatic.

#9  Posted by Lazar Lazarovski  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Thank you Phil. I'm glad that you confronted even the charismatics who, for the most part are doctrinally sound.

It all really goes back to the issue of sola Scriptura, doesn't it? If we have God's revelation written out through His Word, then why would we need any extra-biblical revelation? For what reason? For what purpose?

I'm always weary when I hear someone prophecied something correctly or performed a miracle because it may just be from satan who often disguises himself as an angel of light. The Bible is all that any believer needs; all that any believer should desire.

Jesus warned us didn't He, in Revelation 22:18-19;

"I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book."

Charismatics, whether reformed or not, are playing a dangerous game which is being propulgated in the hands of the enemy.

Sola Scriptura! brothers and sisters, why in the world would you seek to have anything more or less?

your servant and brother in Christ always,


#10  Posted by Lazar Lazarovski  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 at 9:41 AM

Michael Reynolds,

"God really appeared to me and told me how to pray in another language"

Two Questions:

1. What language?

2. How do you feel and think about what Jesus says in Revelation 22:18-19 in regards to your extra-biblical experience?

your servant in Christ,


#44  Posted by Peter  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 8:14 AM

Lazar, two questions for you:

1) If Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14:14, "For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful", and "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue" (1 Cor. 14:18), can we not conclude that Paul himself did not always know what he was saying in a tongue? If so, how could he have known which language he was speaking?

2) If two prophets are to appear in the future, during the Tribulation (Revelation 11), how is that they can prophesy, as you might say, "extra-biblically", without adding to the Canon of Scripture?

#71  Posted by Anthony Allgood  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 2:02 PM

Hello Peter,

I was thinking about your questions and would offer these responses as food for thought:

1) I don't think that the verses you quoted would indicate Paul didn't know what language he was speaking at all. He may not have known what he was saying, but that didn't mean he didn't recognize the language. I don't know French or German, but I know what those languages sound like.

2) I would like to call attention to the fact that while prophesying does sometimes include new revelation, that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. So we could easily have a situation in Revelation 11 where the prophesying is merely a declaration of God's Word without any new revelation. Also, Revelation is a very metaphorical and symbolic book. I would be hesitant to make any kind of sweeping generalization about the two witnesses prophesying and their signs because the account could in fact simply be symbolic or metaphorical.

#11  Posted by Jeff Hetrick  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 at 9:54 AM

I think the writer should have been more responsible to point the reader to specific resources when he made claims about others so the reader could do the research. Specifically I am concerned about his loose (or no) defining of a "Type R Charismatic". I am not a Charismatic but do consider myself a "reformed evangelical". Here is what I find Wayne Grudem saying about this topic... but unlike this writer I will actually give the reference so folks can look for themselves.

"God’s words of personal address are uncommon, even in Scripture. Furthermore, even if we did hear some words of personal address from God to ourselves today, we would not have certainty that our understanding of it, our memory of it, and our subsequent report of it was wholly accurate. Nor would we be readily able to convey to others p 51 the certainty that the communication was from God, even if it was. God’s words as spoken through human lips ceased to be given when the New Testament canon was completed." Grudem, W. A. (2004). Systematic theology: an introduction to biblical doctrine. Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House.

#12  Posted by Michael Reynolds  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 at 10:26 AM

Lazar Lararovski

to your first question "what language" He sang it to me. I heard it from inside my heart. I dont know what language it was but i knew to repeat it, sing it.

To your second question "how do you feel and think about what Jesus says in Revelation 22:18-19 in regards to your extra-biblical experience" is i havent changed any word in the book of Revelation. My skin hasn't melted off and i still believe in the finished wok of the cross. HE promised to never leave me and to guide me into all truth. My name is still in the book of Life. Does this disappoint you?

#98  Posted by joni  |  Tuesday, October 13, 2015 at 7:17 AM

Ofcourse it is a beautiful thing for your name to be in the book of life. And no one would be dissapointed in that. If you can not understand what you are saying, who benefits from it? Who does it edify? The gifts the apostles had, and used always edified the people that heard them. The edification of the church, was the purpose of those gifts!

#13  Posted by Michael Reynolds  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 at 11:21 AM

Are there any Type R Charismatic churches in Pasadena California. I'm feeling alone. Reformed churches tell me I'm a "waco""gullible" following Satan. My church calls me a "neo-Calvinist" "no heart".

I just want to be free to worship God and here the bible taught.

#14  Posted by Lazar Lazarovski  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 at 11:25 AM

Michael R.

We are edified through the Word of God which the Holy Spirit inspired; our faith is built up through our understanding of and obedience to Scripture.

To ask you an honest and sobering question then; if you didn't understand the language being spoken, how can you be sure it was from God? Also, if you don't understand the language, how can you be edified? It is to say for example, I hear something in Chinese, it gives me an emotional high and I walk away with only good feelings but no understanding of what was even said; that is not edification at all because it only appeals to the human emotion, which is no test to verify truth.

In regards to the second question I asked you about the book of Revelation verse:

Any revelation that is extra-biblical is added revelation to the Word of God; this violates Jesus' warning in the 28th chapter.

The reason I asked for your thoughts on that is to shed some light on the revelation you received. We need to test all things to Scripture, hold fast to what is good and sure (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

And your question: "Does this disappoint you?" No, I rejoice if indeed your name is in the Lambs book of Life! Praise be to God alone for that.

Sola Scriptura my friend. Those questions weren't meant to attack you, but to help you probe down into the deep things of God, encourage you to rest in His Word alone for revelation, that you may be a more faithful slave of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Jesus said,

"If you abide in my Word, then you are truly My disciples." John 8:31

your servant in Christ,


#48  Posted by Peter  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 8:33 AM

" if you didn't understand the language being spoken, how can you be sure it was from God?"

Aren't you setting a bar higher than the bar that was set for the early Church? Putting Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 14 together, it seems reasonable to think that the believers at Pentecost did not know themselves what they were saying. Perhaps we should be asking how those believers could be sure what they were saying was from God?

"Any revelation that is extra-biblical is added revelation to the Word of God"

I think Scripture itself teaches us the opposite. Acts 11:27-28 says, "Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius)." Now, Agabus was only one of these prophets. If every prophecy is on the level of canonical revelation, how come the prophecies of the individuals other than Agabus were not included in the Scripture that we have today?

#49  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 8:43 AM


the believers at Pentecost did not know themselves what they were saying.

This issue is not necessarily whether the speaker understood what he was saying, but whether a hearer understood. In Acts the content of what they spoke is clear: they spoke the great things of God (Acts 2:11 and Acts 10:46).

An interpreter is required (1 Cor 14:13, 27-28) because speaking in tongues/languages is the act of communicating truth. It's purpose is communication with others (edification of the church), not personal edification.

#54  Posted by Peter  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 9:32 AM

Gabriel, while I agree that Paul emphasized the necessity for the *hearers* to understand, with all due respect, that was not the issue that Lazar raised. He said: "if you didn't understand the language being spoken..."

I still contend that Scripture shows that it is not necessary for the *speaker* to understand what is being said in a tongue. Whether or not the *hearers* understand is not the issue Lazar raised.

#15  Posted by Barbara McColley  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Praise the Lord for the Grace Community Bible Church I found near me, through the web site on John MacArthur site these church's are being planted throughout the USA. I was in a CEC church, also known as charismatic, all and more that is said here is true, I saw this unfold for 5 years even leaving that church and going to another Presbyterian I found this movement had infected this church and several other Anglican church's out of an African branch. I lost a son and all that I'd saved for 30 years. Now at in my retirement years trying to put my life back together. I had no idea what a pit of quick sand I'd gotten into until it was too late, did manage to get other son and his family out and into a better church. I've moved out of that area to a place to be safe and I do mean safer. I was so blessed 3-4 years ago finding this web site and of course this leading to so many other awesome sources of Pastors and reliable Bible driven material.

The Love of Jesus Christ my Savior, Peace and Grace to each of you.

#17  Posted by Deborah Davis  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Comment deleted by user.
#18  Posted by P B  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 at 3:26 PM

Phil, this is a great article and full of truth. I have posted before about my time in the charismatic movement and what a challenge it is to get one's head straight on what is and isn't biblically solid truth. If what is going on in charismania is not the Holy Spirit as alledged, then it IS an encounter with an angel of light. Which means one is being taken advantage of by a deceiving spirit pretending to be God's Spirit. This is not something to be taken lightly or let alone as if it were merely a matter of differing theological opinions. This is a matter of life and death. My experiences the C.M. made me vulnerable to an "angel of light" experience and as a result I badly damaged my life, my walk with God and made life altering decisions based on what I thought was God. As is often the case where decieving spirits are involved, my life "crashed" because it wasn't on a solid foundation and I suffered damage that impaired my abilty to reason correctly. Such a fall, if not arrested and correct, can result in someone's spiritual and literal death. This is an issue that is about spiritual realities, not differences of opinion. Just as an aside, I noticed during my time in the CM that its promise of intimacy and nurture with and from God attracted many needy, broken people who were drawn by the promise of supernatural parenting and caretaking, which is a distortion of the gospel. Like the whole body becoming an eye or a hand I imagine. I think the more traditional churches helped this along by acting as if God's word didn't have the kind of depth to address such serious issues and treating people's wounds like they didn't matter to God at all; there was often the attitude that real christians don't have " problems like that" and also no instruction outside of pyschology about what to do about the afteraffects of life damage after coming to Christ - perhaps in a mistaken effort not to give too much credence to the flesh and self focus. Flesh is still flesh even when its wounded and demanding attention so yes, we need to respond with God's word and His heart to damaged people but unless I'm mistaken, when we make wounds and needs the basis of how we responded, we are in effect basing our actions on the flesh and not the Spirit.

#19  Posted by Barbara Thayer  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Thank you for this article. I was raised Presbyterian but did not come to Christ until college. Both my husband and I attended a number of churches but eventually landed in a charismatic independent church that was going to right all the wrongs of traditional, boring church worship. We got involved with all the emotions of this church family. My husband served as an elder in this church and when he dared to point out some issues that were not biblical, we were called before all the elders and demeaned as not being good Christians. The pastor heard directly from God and as an elder my husband was supposed to protect him from naysayers.

One Sunday, the pastor threw the Bible across the floor and said that we should not worship the book. He even went and stamped on it. At that point, we left the church. We were devastated at all the false doctrine and teaching that was coming forth.

By God's grace, with time, prayer and counseling, we were able to trust enough to return to an Associate Reformed Presbyterian church. I felt at home again. My heart was healed as I heard the hymns I grew up with once again and felt genuine love from the people there.

This charismatic church is now disbanded or has fallen on hard times. We cannot build a church on emotion. We need solid teaching of the Word. This is what brings men and women to salvation. For ourselves, we want to lead a quiet life of worship without any extraordinary manifestations. The only reason we strayed into the charismatic movement was the false notion that we lacked something more in order to be complete. However, we now know that we have all we need for life and godliness through Christ.

To this day, I know a good number of people that were deeply wounded by that church who will never darken the door of another church. This is so sad. We could have been one of those couples but we found our faith renewed and strengthened in a Reformed church.

#20  Posted by Ben Enders  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 at 5:23 PM


Can I tell you why I think you’re puzzled by the cessationist stance? Because you have not really tried to understand one thing MacArthur and company has said in the last few months. It can be hard to let go of what we have believed for so long.

1 Thess 5:20 is not proof that extra biblical revelation is taking place today. Paul is telling them not to despise the exposition of scripture. You first need to understand what the words in the bible mean in their correct context, so prophesy here is not new revelation from God; it is preaching and applying scripture. Even if you disagree with this, then do you really think that this is a blanket statement and Paul’s intent is to have everyone in the church believe every so-called “prophesy” is revelation from God from anyone who calls themself a Christian? That would be the definition of gullible.

#21  Posted by Michael Reynolds  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 at 5:44 PM

Lazar R

You quoted me Revelation 22:18-19 For I testify unto every man who hears the words of the Prophecy of this book. If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues thatare written in this book and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy God shall take away his part out of the Book Of Life and out of the holy city and from the thing which are written in this book

Your saying flat out through that scripture that I'm adding to the word and will suffer for it. So dont deny what you are saying to me!

As far as my prayer life go's it's just God' me and my bible alone early in the morning. Ipray and read scriptures and pray what come to me. It's not "emotions, chinese or getting high" These are joyful and tender moments for me and i seek to be more and more like Him

He is everything to me and i trust Him to guide me into truth. To keep me safe and to guide me safely Home.

I am more than happy though, if need be to shout"thank you for choosing me and i'm not afraid to let Him know i love Him if front of others.

Wako for Jesus ha ha ha

#22  Posted by Ozzie Barletta  |  Monday, October 14, 2013 at 9:54 PM

I would like to thank GTY for your strong and firm stance against this awful movement that has brought shame to the true gospel of our Lord. At our church here in Las Vegas, we preach against it as well. We understand the resistance that you might be experiencing for we here are having our share as well.

My question for you is this, just have a little doubt about this particular subject: If these tongues that they claim are from the Holy Spirit and I do believe they are not: Could one assume that they are demonic in origin? Can they then be called believers or brothers in Christ?

May God bless you and keep up the good work of preaching the sound doctrine.

Pastor Ozzie Barletta

#23  Posted by David Smith  |  Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 3:49 AM

This is a good article.

I want to comment on Phil's mention of British blogger Adrian Warnock. Adrian belongs to a grouping called New Frontiers, which wholeheartedly embraced the "Toronto Blessing" during the 1990s. And, in 2008, just a year after this article was originally published, they were very positive about the "Lakeland Revival".

So the claim that Warnock and New Frontiers are somehow less gullible than the rest of the charismatic world is not confimed by the evidence.

The truth is that the divide between moderate and crazy charismatics is very narrow indeed. Charismatics need signs and wonders to prove their theology, and the only people that are allegedly doing these are the crazies. All the moderates tend to look to the crazies as role models. In fact, if you take away the crazies, there's basically nothing left.

#25  Posted by David Smith  |  Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 9:37 AM

Pastor Ozzie (#22) :

To answer your questions:

No, tongues are not demonic in origin. They're just a product of the mind - a combination of learned behavior and the emotional atmosphere in charismatic meetings.

Yes, most charismatics and pentecostals are born-again Christians and hence they are fellow believers and our brothers / sisters in the Lord. They've just been deceived by a false teaching.

Hope this helps - do ask if anything is unclear.

#45  Posted by Peter  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 8:20 AM

"[tongues] are just a product of the mind"

That seems to be the opposite of what the Apostle Paul taught: "For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful... I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue." (1 Cor. 14: 18-19).

#51  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 8:52 AM


It seems David (whose comment was from 2013) meant that the modern practice of tongues is a product of the mind. You're right about Paul's point in 1 Cor 14.

It is quite odd to me that charismatic churches feel they need to teach speaking in tongues when it is supposedly a gift of the spirit. But what they teach, according to first-hand reports, is how to "loosen your tongue" and disengage your mind from what you're doing. A lot of modern tongues is, in fact, a learned behavior (and thus a product of the mind, even if the mind is disengaged in its practice).

I don't know what your particular view of tongues is, but notice how the passage you quoted refers to "words" in a tongue. That clearly means that tongues is the act of speaking an intelligible language, not making inarticulate sounds and virtually all charismatics do today.

#56  Posted by Peter  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 9:42 AM

"It seems David (whose comment was from 2013) meant that the modern practice of tongues is a product of the mind"

It is possible that that is what David meant, but as I have maintained before, this illustrates the need to be crystal clear in what we say, and not hide behind "context", putting the burden on readers/hearers to make the correct assumption. Last week, you and I talked about where Dr. MacArthur says that "ALL visions are deceptions", and you said that in context he "really" meant something other than "all". However, many of us took his words at face value!

"It is quite odd to me that charismatic churches feel they need to teach speaking in tongues when it is supposedly a gift of the spirit"

Let's focus again not on what modern churches do, but on what Paul did and said: "eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy" (1 Corinthians 14:1); "Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy" (1 Corinthians 14:5); "So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues." (1 Corinthians 14:39). Paul's exhortations here may or may not correspond with what modern charismatic churches teach, but on the GTY blog I think the most pertinent question is: does GTY's teaching match Paul's to the extent that he, in these verses, encouraged speaking and tongues and prophecy?

#63  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 11:40 AM

Welcome to our comment thread, Peter!

does GTY's teaching match Paul's to the extent that he, in these verses, encouraged speaking and tongues and prophecy?

The problem with this question is it is cherry picking parts of the biblical text and making significant assumptions about how we are to apply them. Those statements and encouragements from Paul are written in a particular historical context, at a particular time in church history, and in response to particular problems in a particular church.

Before we can quote Paul and declare that every believer must pursue prophecy and speaking in tongues, we need to do the hard work of exegesis on the entire text starting with the relevant portions of Acts, and starting with Paul's entire train of thought in 1 Corinthians 12.

By doing a study of the entire text of 1 Corinthians 12-14 in its historical and literary context, we will allow Paul to make his sub-points in the context of his larger points. For example, with regard to pursuing prophecy and tongues, they must be understood in light of Paul's teaching that:

  • the gifts are a sovereign gift of the Spirit, not something individuals can personally attain by their own faith or power (1 Cor 12:4-6, 11).
  • the gifts are to be used for the edification of the body, not for personal edification (1 Cor 12:7).
  • the gifts are to be used in an orderly fashion, with only a small number of people expressing the gifts in a gathering (1 Cor 14:27-33).

All this to say, too many charismatic proponents focus on certain details without regard to the larger context. Our website doesn't have all the detailed and necessary studies, but it has quite a bit here:

#65  Posted by Some Guy  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 12:22 PM

Prophecy, explained by John MacArthur in a sermon on the subject where he goes into the Greek, comes from pro+phemi, which is "to speak before." In the sense that prophecies were spoken before an event came to pass, in the OT, that satisfies the meaning of the word. But it also means to speak before, as in, before a congregation. JMac explains that prophecy is simply the verbal declaration of the will of God. Telling the future was one variation on this, which was done in the past but is not done any longer. Telling what was previously unwritten in Scripture was one variation on this, which was done in the past, but is also not done any longer. Now the gift of prophecy is simply the ability to speak God's Word (as it is written) to others.

The irony here is that not only does prophecy not mean new, private revelation, but John MacArthur himself has the gift of prophecy.

#67  Posted by Peter  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 1:02 PM

Gabriel, thank you for the welcome!

It is not my intention to cherry-pick verses, and I don't deny either (1) that Paul was addressing specific concerns in the Corinthian church (evidently they too abused the gifts of the Holy Spirit), or (2) that your three bullet points are a valid representation of key points of the teaching in 1 Cor. 12-14.

That said, verses such as those I quoted (1 Corinthians 14:1, 1 Corinthians 14:5, 1 Corinthians 14:39) cannot simply be glossed over; they too require an explanation, even if they are inconvenient to the cessationist worldview.

My feeling is that Dr. MacArthur dodges this problem in the book "Strange Fire", essentially through circular reasoning and other questionable logic. For example, Dr. MacArthur correctly states that 1 Cor. 12:31 is ‘often translated as a command’. (That is exactly how most English translations, from the 400-year-old King James version to the modern English Standard Version, do have it, and as is apparent from the previous two verses, the 'higher gifts' include at least some of apostleship, prophecy, teaching, miracles, healings and tongues.)

Dr. MacArthur claims that ‘in reality, 1 Corinthians 12:31 is not an imperative [a command]. Grammatically, the form of the verb desire can also be rendered as a statement of fact (indicative), and the context here supports that translation.’ (Strange Fire, p. 146). Yes, the indicative and imperative have the same form (ζηλοῦτε); however, it would be more normal with an indicative in Greek to include the personal pronoun ‘you’, i.e. ‘ὑμεῖς ζηλοῦτε’, or ‘you desire’, just as in English. None of the various Greek texts of the New Testament actually include the word ‘you’, lending support to the idea that the meaning truly is a command – ‘desire the greater gifts!’.

So the circular reasoning, essentially, is that 1 Cor. 12:31 "must" be a statement rather than a command, simply because that is what fits best with cessationism, even though it runs counter to the way the overwhelming majority of Bible translators have understood it. Or instead of circular reasoning, we could call it "eisegesis".

This is just one reason I came away from reading "Strange Fire" convinced that cessationism is not based in truth. Even the "inconvenient" verses need to be faced up to and explained, regardless of where that may lead. Yes, context is important, but so are the details and minutiae of Scripture, otherwise they would not be included for our benefit!

#68  Posted by Peter  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 1:09 PM

The only part of this I would question is: what is the Scriptural basis for saying that "telling the future was done in the past but is not done any longer"? Where do we see in Scripture that one type of prophecy went away but not another type? Doesn't 1 Cor. 13:8-10 say that prophecy (not distinguishing between the types) will pass away only once the perfect comes, when we see face to face, and isn't the most natural interpretation of "the perfect" Jesus's perfect kingdom (Revelation 22:1-4)?

#70  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 1:39 PM

Peter (#67),

I can understand why someone may not be satisfied or completely convinced by the book Strange Fire. I'm pretty sure the intent was not to provide a definitive, all-encompassing exegetical argument. It's been a while since I read it, but it put forth some arguments to affirm the position, but it didn't attempt to deal with all the relevant passages and data.

There's some more detail on our website via the link I gave in the previous comment. However, I would recommend the book/commentary Understanding Spiritual Gifts by Robert Thomas. It's a highly detailed and careful exegeted commentary on 1 Corinthians 12-14. He also interacts with opposing interpretations. There isn't a more carefully argued commentary that concludes that the gifts are no longer normative for today.

So the circular reasoning, essentially, is that 1 Cor. 12:31 "must" be a statement rather than a command, simply because that is what fits best with cessationism

I'm not sure, but that appears to be your circular reasoning, not one used by cessationists. When I've heard/read John MacArthur's teaching on why that verb should be taken as an indicative he gives contextual reasons. Nevertheless, cessationism doesn't stand or fall on that verb. In fact, in Thomas' commentary he takes it as an imperative, but offers an alternative meaning for the statement (also argued based on the context).

Yes, context is important, but so are the details and minutiae of Scripture, otherwise they would not be included for our benefit!

It's interesting you say that. I'm currently engaged in an exegetical study of the minutiae of 1 Cor 12-14 and the further I get the more convinced I am of cessationism. On the flip side, I find pro-charismatic arguments to generally downplay or ignore both context and the minutiae, instead relying on an "easy" interpretation that doesn't take all the exegetical facts (and the rest of Scripture) into consideration.

For example, just this morning I was reading two exegetical treatments of 1 Cor 13:8-13. The pro-charismatic treatment had some reasonable points, but when I read the pro-cessationist commentary it brought a wealth of biblical and exegetical nuance that the other didn't even take into consideration. Now that's just two commentaries... but that's a pattern I've noticed.

You will be interested in reading The Master's Seminary Journal volume 14 from 2013. There are some very detailed and nuanced treatments of the texts in that volume devoted to the subject of cessationism. There are also a couple helpful articles in volume 25 from 2014.

#76  Posted by Some Guy  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 2:43 PM

"Where do we see in Scripture that one type of prophecy went away but not another type?"

This is why systematic theology is so important. The thing that made prophecy what prophecy is was never the future-telling aspect of it. That was incidental to the main thrust of the prophecy (repent, believe, etc), as a proof of its divine authorship. But the fact that made it prophecy was the fact that it was God's will put to words by human speakers.

That has never gone away. But there is no NEW revelation given through prophecy. All prophecy these days is based in what is already given to us in Scripture.

#26  Posted by Robin Lane  |  Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 1:22 PM

Hello Ben,

Good to hear from you again; grace and peace to you.

You think that I have not really tried to understand what John and the others have said recently. On the contrary, I have thought about the Cessationist stance for many years – it is what I was taught at first.

I slowly came to challenge it as I studied the Bible for myself. As I read the Gospels I started to think more about why people were telling me that God no longer heals. As I studied the Book of Acts and the Epistles I thought more about why people were telling me that God no longer blesses his people with dreams, visions, words of knowledge, or prophecies.

Then slowly and graciously God showed me that he does still do these things. So whilst I agree with John MacArthur that we don’t get our theology from experience, I think that we should look for our experiences of God to match what the Scriptures tell us about him.

Tell me please, how is it that you interpret Paul’s command in 1 Thess 5:20 ‘Do not despise prophecies’, as referring to exposition of Scripture, when his previous command in 1 Thess 5:19 is ‘Do not quench the Spirit’?

Surely, if he wanted to refer to the exposition of Scripture, he would have written: ‘Do not despise the Scriptures’, or ‘Do not despise the preaching and teaching of the Word.’

#37  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 4:02 AM

"Then slowly and graciously God showed me that he does still do these things."

Why do you think He showed that to you, and not to the millions of Christians, who has found the claims not to be true?

The question is not if God can heal, He can and He does by many means, but if the gift of healing, prophesy and miracles is ceased or not. I still wait to see someone with the gifts as described in Scripture.

You show me one? Anyone?

#46  Posted by Peter  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 8:22 AM

"I still wait to see someone with the gifts as described in Scripture."

It is interesting that often when cessationists are challenged, they appeal to experience rather than the Word of God. If the Bible does not say these things ceased, that should be enough for us, without even having to see one instance of authentic Holy Spirit healing, tongues, etc. for ourselves!

#50  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 8:52 AM

I'm not challenged. Presenting falsehood as truth, is not an Biblical option. If you have the gift, you produce the fruits!

I still wait to see someone with the gifts as described in Scripture. Either reality is wrong, or your interpretation.

#52  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 8:58 AM


If someone screamed as loud as possible and called that tongues, claiming that tongues had continued, what would you say? They have as much evidence for their practice of "tongues" as do those who speak something other than a human language.

Everytime Scripture describes the practice of the gift of tongues/languages, it describes it as a human language. To claim that it is something other than that is to invent something not in Scripture. Therefore, it is not an argument from experience (as in, my experience) to say that tongues have ceased, it is an argument from nearly 2,000 years of church history (in addition to exegetical arguments which could be made). However, it is an argument from silence to say that they have continued and transformed into what most practice today.

#57  Posted by Peter  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 9:50 AM

"If someone screamed as loud as possible and called that tongues, claiming that tongues had continued, what would you say?"

I would, of course, ask myself whether anything similar was ever called "tongues" in Scripture. And I think Scripture would show that "screaming as loud as possible" would be more likely to be a symptom of having a demon.

"Every time Scripture describes the practice of the gift of tongues/languages, it describes it as a human language."

I am not sure I agree with that. 1 Corinthians 13:1 says "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels...", implying (even if only tangentially) that the languages one may speak when speaking in tongues are not only human languages.

"it is an argument from nearly 2,000 years of church history"

But still an argument based on experience which is necessarily incomplete. What I mean is that no one can possibly know about every instance of purported speaking in tongues since the 1st Century AD, and even less can anyone say for sure that every purported instance was a fake. Better to go with the "sola Scriptura" position, and don't say "never" unless Scripture itself says it!

#64  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 11:54 AM

I am not sure I agree with that. 1 Corinthians 13:1...

What you find in 1 Corinthians 13:1 is a list of hypotheticals, with the second in each pair being highly unlikely, if not impossible. Just compare the pairings in verses 1, 2, and 3. Paul isn't listing things that anyone could or should do.

Add to that, apart from this text, there is no example in Scripture of what an angelic language would sound like other than a human language. All the angels speaking in Scripture speak human languages, both on earth and in heaven.

As well, if there is such as a thing as an angelic language that someone on earth could speak, it would be articulate, meaning, it would have the characteristics of language that allow beings to communicate with each other (things like words and grammar that convey meaningful content).

Typically, those who argue for angelic languages believe that tongues is ectatic, meaningless, inarticulate sounds. That is not defensible biblically, again, any more than screaming (which is a kind of inarticulate sound).

What I mean is that no one can possibly know about every instance of purported speaking in tongues since the 1st Century AD

I agree with that! But one would know if it speaking in an unlearned language was a normal part of the Christian life that was empowered by the Holy Spirit. One would know that because it would be clearly represented throughout history—even if it only happened to a some people in most or every church.

It's not a matter of "never," but rather that clearly the Holy Spirit does not sovereignly bestow the gift of tongues as a normal part of church life. Cessationism is not "never," but "not normal or expected."

Charismatic theology = some variation of the idea that the miraculous gifts are to be a normal part of church life and Christian experience.

Cessationism = some variation of the idea that miraculous gifts served a specific purposes in the early life of the church and are no longer normative for church life and Christian experience.

#69  Posted by Peter  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 1:39 PM

"What you find in 1 Corinthians 13:1 is a list of hypotheticals"

Agreed, and that is why I hedged a little by saying "I am not sure I agree with that..." and "implying (even if only tangentially)". Still, a hypothetical by its nature is not an impossibility, just as being burned at the stake (1 Cor. 13:3) clearly has not been in history. And I even think we should take Jesus at His word, hard though it is, when he said "if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20).

"one would know if it speaking in an unlearned language was a normal part of the Christian life"

True, and I for one do not say it is normal or normative, but I still resist having the label "cessationist" put on me, since the label naturally implies someone who believes that certain gifts "ceased". Why should we make any statement about how frequently these gifts are manifest today - what is to be gained? I think there is, to the contrary, a risk: the risk that we may inadvertently attribute the works of the Holy Spirit to human beings, or, worse, to Satan. I think the safer approach (from the point of view of not getting on God's wrong side) is to live and let live, teach the truth uncompromisingly but leave the weeding out of the tares to Jesus to do in His own good time.

I also feel there is a little bit of inconsistency here: in your words you say "Cessationism = some variation of the idea that miraculous gifts... are no longer normative for church life and Christian experience". Elsewhere, too, you have said that you don't say "never", even for today, to these gifts. But the actions of GTY say otherwise: for example, in this blog and on Facebook, I've seen plenty of commenters implying that it's ALL fake without any pushback from the moderators (please correct me if my impression here is wrong). That to me says that GTY may be falling into the trap of letting all the charismatic excesses distract from teaching what the authentic article really looks like.

#73  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 2:03 PM


I'm really appreciating this substantive interaction. Thanks for sticking with it.

I even think we should take Jesus at His word

But we must not ignore the reality that language is not always intended to be literal. Jesus' often used hyperbole, as He did regarding faith moving mountains. Paul, too, used hyperbole in 1 Cor 13:1-3.

Why should we make any statement about how frequently these gifts are manifest today - what is to be gained?

It's not a matter of frequency per se, but about what is supposed to be a normal part of the life of the church. Everyone should agree that the Scripture prescribes certain things to be normal—preaching the Word (though so few do it), prayer, singing, fellowship, etc. So when someone says that prophecy (new revelation from God) and tongues (unintelligible sounds) should be normative, Christians should be able to examine the Scriptures to see if these things are so. And if they are not, which you seem to agree they aren't, then we should promote the true teaching on the gifts and the Holy Spirit.

Cessationists are not, as some claim, anti-supernatural. "We" do not believe, as some accuse, of the trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Bible. Such accusations are gross misunderstandings and ignore the wealth of biblical teaching that many prominent cessationationsts (like John MacArthur) have put forth on the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

I think the safer approach (from the point of view of not getting on God's wrong side) is to live and let live

This would be fine if charismatic teaching wasn't so spiritually dangerous and damaging. I don't know your role or ministry in the local church, but those of us who have ministered to, taught, and counseled others have discovered how much damage charismatic teaching can do in a person's life. If can as "mild" as depression over the fact that one can't speak in tongues or as dangerous as refusing medical treatment out of supposed trust that God will heal, and everything in between.

When people believe that God speaks to them personally (i.e. they live by their feelings) or they think that there are two levels of Christians—those with and without the baptism of the Spirit, serious problems occur in individual lives and in churches. As a biblical counselor I've had people tell me about the totally unbiblical tactics used by charismatics to try to "heal" all kinds of maladies by casting out demons.

Yes, I'm painting with a broad brush here, but that's because the charismatic movement exists as an indiscriminate movement which includes the wild majority and those on the fringe who try to be biblical.

#74  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 2:11 PM

That to me says that GTY may be falling into the trap of letting all the charismatic excesses distract from teaching what the authentic article really looks like.

This assumes that there is an authentic article. Again, what we're talking about is what is normative in the church, not what is possible around the world.

Also, I haven't been tracking Facebook today. While I do comment from time to time on there, it's very difficult to keep engaged on that platform. But before I push back on someone who says that it's all fake, it seems better to address those who are willing to be identified along with the vast majority of false manifestations. Plus, it's one thing for someone (you) to argue for the genuine article, but it's another thing to show it. We're not talking about a theoretical or ethereal concept. We're talking about the practical manifestation of the Spirit that can be seen and heard.

#75  Posted by Peter  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 2:42 PM

"I'm really appreciating this substantive interaction. Thanks for sticking with it."

Thank you - I was debating over the weekend whether there was anything to be gained by continuing the conversation, and as you can see I decided it was worth it. I hope you can see my reservations are genuine, and that the spirit in which I am reasoning with you is the Holy Spirit and His sword, the Word of God.

"This assumes that there is an authentic article"

You must agree at least, I think, that there WAS a genuine article and it looks exactly as it is described in the New Testament. And I thought you also agreed that this genuine article could still exist today. In which case, shouldn't we assume that the way it looks today is the same as the way it is described in the New Testament?

"Cessationists are not, as some claim, anti-supernatural"

Again I personally feel this is belied by your response last week to my own Facebook post in which I dared even to suggest that a demon might have been cast out. I worded that post very carefully and I stand by what I wrote; but if I am honest, I found some similarities between your response ("You could just have easily interpreted the silence to mean that the man's wife got online while her husband stepped away and, seeing his foolish posts, she deleted his comments") and the sort of response I sometimes get from naturalistic non-Christians. Please don't interpret this as a personal attack. Perhaps my interpretation of events was mistaken; but I have no problem with saying that the Holy Spirit can take all the credit for what I observed, and any responsibility for error rests with me.

"those of us who have ministered to, taught, and counseled others have discovered how much damage charismatic teaching can do in a person's life"

I can believe that and would affirm there is nothing wrong with confronting error. Personally I would imagine the error of Islam is a greater threat to the world than the errors of charismatic circles, but even so, confronting charismatic error is clearly Dr. MacArthur's ministry and I don't think there's anything wrong with having "specialists" in the Church who confront a particular type of error... just so long as we all keep our eye on the ball enough to avoid assimilating those same kinds of error as those we confront. I did wonder about that with the errors in reasoning and use of Greek that I observed in the book "Strange Fire", at least one of which I have mentioned here today...

"I don't know your role or ministry in the local church"

Just FYI, my main role/ministry is to teach on an as-needed basis in a Sunday School class. It's not part of my local church role but I also extend my teaching role into my Youtube channel (BlbleChristian), where I have made videos in English, Russian, Spanish, French, German, Polish, Hindi, Chinese, Hebrew, Persian (Farsi) and Arabic. I am a linguist by education but my ability to do this is thanks to the availability of God's Word in so many languages.

#78  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 3:23 PM

And I thought you also agreed that this genuine article could still exist today.

I believe that God is capable of intervening and doing miraculous things such as healing, giving a special word of knowledge, and speaking in a human language one has not learned. But I do not believe that if and when He chooses to do such things that it validates the continuation of the spiritual gifts. Miracles can and do happen because God is God and is sovereignly engaged with His creation. The two witnesses in Revelation will be able to do what they do by the power of God, not because they receive the gifts of the Spirit.

I am a cessationist, but like all cessationists, I do not believe the gifts continue in the church as they did in the first century.

I have no problem with saying that the Holy Spirit can take all the credit for what I observed

But again, in that account you didn't have very much information to go off of. John MacArthur has told the story of dealing with someone undeniably demon possessed. He could see and hear the person and the effects the demon had on the individual. Put another way, in a court of law, what you observed was circumstantial evidence at best. How one interprets the same evidence you had would depend on their worldview. Personally, based on my [unfortunately] extensive time online reading comments, I'm quite used to people making the most irrational and hateful comments. To me that is almost more common than rational, reasonable comments. So while I didn't see the comments of this specific individual, I would be hard pressed to assume a commentor was possessed by a demon. Irrationality, hatred, and vitriol are too common online to be definitive, or even indicative, signs of demonic activity. But I can understand that someone who is more open to the possibility of demonic activity would more naturally turn to that as an explanation.

the error of Islam is a greater threat to the world than the errors of charismatic circles

I would disagree for this reason: Islam is not a threat the genuine Christianity. But charismatic errors have promoted a false Christianity around the world. Specifically, the two strands of Catholic Charismatics and the charismatic Word-Faith movement. Most of the largest churches in the world proclaim a false gospel. But they portray themselves as true Christianity. So the hundreds of millions of people in those churches are self-deceived because they think they know Jesus, but He doesn't know them (Matthew 7:21-23).

I am a linguist by education

So you have the "gift" of tongues! :-D

#79  Posted by Peter  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 3:40 PM

"I would be hard pressed to assume a commentor was possessed by a demon"

I just want to point out that the idea of a person being "possessed by a demon" is not actually what the Scripture says - per the Greek, a person "has" a demon (not the other way around) (e.g. Luke 13:11), or is "demonized" (δαιμονίζομαι). I believe the idea of people being "possessed by demons" has crept into our understanding through the 400-year-old English of the King James Version, which is perhaps misleading to modern ears.

Also, it's interesting to note that in Luke 13, Jesus called the woman who "had the disabling spirit" a "daughter of Abraham", implying that she was a believer (contrast this with the way he told certain Jews in John 8:39 that they were not sons of Abraham).

What I do know for sure is that false teaching, lies, and slander all originate from demons. It was for that reason that I had no compunction about commanding the demon(s) I believed were speaking through the man to cease and desist in the Name of Jesus. What actually happened to the man I don't know, but as I previously said, not only did the posts stop, but his previous posts suddenly started disappearing.

I had another instance like this when I was participating in a Christian friend's Russian-language blog about a year ago. A man from Moscow was posting things like "Glory to Satan". In that instance, too, I issued a command in the Name of Jesus - addressed not to the man but to the demon(s) - to stop. Next thing I knew, his social media account was frozen and all his posts weren't viewable...

Like I said, this is my personal experience and it doesn't have the weight of Scripture. I could be wrong in my interpretation of what happened and why. But I say, let the Holy Spirit take the credit, and I'll be responsible for any errors!

#99  Posted by Neal Doster  |  Tuesday, October 13, 2015 at 7:38 AM

“What I do know for sure is that false teaching, lies, and slander all originate from demons”


The first paragraph and the statement above seems to normalize having a demon. I disagree with the statement because it does not recognize that man is a sinner in and of himself, he is not neutral. He not only has the ability, but he has the propensity to lie, slander and teach falsely. These things originate and most often do in humans. The statement above prop’s up the claim that you cased out demons, thus the supernatural. You are more objective when you acknowledge that you really don’t know what happened in the spiritual realm. I’m grateful you give God the glory but you don’t have to sensationalize your experience to do that. God can act in us anytime He pleases, but that does not validate the claim that one has a supernatural gift. Blessings

#101  Posted by Peter  |  Tuesday, October 13, 2015 at 8:28 AM

I think I can safely stand by my statement "false teaching, lies, and slander all originate from demons" (which I worded carefully) on the basis of Genesis 3:1-6. Note that I did not say that everyone who sins has a demon! In two instances in question on social media, however, the opposition was, in my fallible assessment, demonic. I chose to act on that assessment, and the results were what they were, however you might explain them.

'Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’” “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.'

I also reject the idea that I claim to have a special supernatural gift. I simply choose to exercise the authority that I believe Jesus gave (and note, could not have intended to limit to just the Apostles, since 72 [Luke 10:17] is more than the number of Apostles [Revelation 21:14]). To be clear, I believe Jesus gave this authority to every believer who chooses to exercise it: "The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:17-20).

#27  Posted by Barbara Henderson  |  Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 2:40 PM

Many Christians have had experiences that are unexplainable but seemingly real. Personally, I have had several that were very real to me and I believe they were from God. However, there is no way to interpret them in light of Bible teaching, and they are actually relevant only to me in the specific circumstances in which they occurred. They were things like very specific comfort to me in grief over the loss of my sister, comfort that a particular prayer was going to be answered (and boy was it answered!), and a couple of other times. They just happened, and I definitely was not seeking something out of the ordinary, I despise 'emotionalism' as a pseudo-worship. I was not seeking 'evidence' of anything or some specific revelation. I was surprised. I was comforted. If something like that every happens again I will be surprised again. The idea of demanding God do something unusual to put you into an emotional high is like demanding God be a drug dealer.

I hate to say this - and if you think it is offensive - don't publish it - but this is my personal observation. Silly gullible women seem to rule the charismatic movement. They are actually terrifying people in person. When I was a teenager my granddad took me to an Apostolic Tent Revival. three hours into the 'service' the women were still singing repetitive choruses, strumming discord on guitars and demanding that God/god? show his presence at the meeting. We left around ten pm. Grandad said, 'I just thought I should show you this in person. Did you get it?' I said, 'Yes Grandad - I got it.'

#30  Posted by Timo Heule  |  Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 5:25 AM

The belief that extrabiblical revelation is normative does indeed “regularly and systematically breed willful gullibility, not discernment.”

This proposition is very true!

In certain sects and charismatic churches the attitude is anti-mind, anti-thinking and pro-let-go. Very much like Bhagwan eller Soto: ”I am a drunkard, you can believe or not, but I am a drunkard. You can look into my eyes and you can see it. Religion (Charismatic Christianity) is a art of intoxication. This has to be understood, because without a deep intoxication, your life will never have any meaning. It will remain superficial proze, it will never become poetry.

You will walk but never be able to dance, and unless you dance, you have missed!

Unless you dance, with such an abundance, with such forgetfulness, that you disappear in it. That the dancer is lost and only the dance remains. " (From Bhagwan, The Movie 1978) The Bhagwan sect with populated with western academics who desired after a deeper spirituality. Very much like the reformed who desire after "more of the spirit". Suddenly colleges and friends offer the "new wine" and psycho-sexual experiences in the charismatic move, with explanation, "This is the Holy Spirit".

But what if God has decided to be quit? The church leaders have fallen for the temptation to give people a religious experience without God, anyway. Voilá: Strange Fire. And it works! It is better, more exciting than the real thing!

Only, to bad that the healings are false. People might feel better, but they are not better. Therefore, the cameras are our best friends! Röntgen picture, compare them, before and after. Did anything realy change? How do people do after a few months, still better?

Facts, reality, and the media products of the charismatic themselves are the best aids to show that they have to turn around and go back to the scriptures and the old Reformed faith, (without the post-modern-healing-pony-laser-show).

I Kings 22: 20ff

#31  Posted by Gian Monzeglio  |  Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 7:56 AM

a mess - unfortunately. time to speak some strong truth. this conversation has been too one-sided for far too long and heavy eternal damage has been done as a result GLOBALLY . Type R charismatics in spite of their credibility have ended up discrediting themselves somewhat. Dr Al Mohler mentioned this type of heresy when talking about the conservative resurgence - its called the heresy of the "well intended". a bit like Aaron versus Moses type leadership or Jehoshaphat sharing chariots with Ahab - not wise. Amongst anointed and chosen leaders, some are more prone to error than others unfortunately. ex pentecostal - from south africa where this movement has run riot across all racial boundaries. term born again has become a household joke. God has been blasphemed - speak up Dr Mac - need some clear consistent honest leadership - desperately.

#33  Posted by Ozzie Barletta  |  Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 8:09 PM

David thank you for answering. My question is based not on the tongues that were spoken in the New Testament but in our days. Hope this can clarify my question. I am talking about the mumbling and screaming and out of control convulsions they project while they claim it is the tongues of those days which I know they are not.

I will rephrase my question: Are today tongues of demonic origin then if they are not from God?

Thank you so much for your time

pastor Ozzie

#53  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 9:04 AM

Though this is an old comment, I'll respond for the benefit of all.

Are today tongues of demonic origin then if they are not from God?

That is a false dichotomy. Divine and demonic are not the only two options available. It is likely, in fact certain in most cases, that modern tongues are a psychological effect whereby the "speaker" has trained him or herself to disengage their mind and let loose their tongue.

Whether it's in a private prayer closet or an emotionally hyped up church service, one is able to train themselves to learn to make unintelligible sounds. This ability is precisely why some (many?) charismatic churches have classes on how to speak in tongues. But even if one doesn't take a class, it's not a difficult behavior to pick up once observed in others.

In short, much of modern tongues is simply a learned behavior, not divine or demonic.

#34  Posted by Rick Ayers  |  Friday, October 18, 2013 at 6:32 AM

To Steven Smith: A type "R" charismatic is a charismatic that holds the "Reformed"/Calvinist view of salvation as does John MacArthur. They usually exist mainly in the theologically higher educated Third Wave branch of the movement. Personally, I see myself as type "C" Reformed as I'm increasingly reviewing and abandoning former theologies.

#36  Posted by Ric Kilby  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 3:55 AM

I commend Grace to YOU for the Strange Fire Conference and Phil Johnson's Type R blog. Earlier in my life I drank some of the charismatic cool-aid and it still leaves a foul taste in the mouth. Unfortunately TV is rife with a wave of wacko TV pulpiteers confusing the body of Christ. Thank you for fanning the Strange Fire flames. That was an exciting conference that surely helped a lot of folk see straight again.

#39  Posted by Antje Beyer  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 5:22 AM

Oh God please help us!! Thank you for the great ressources! Help us with our church plant in East Germany ... we feel alone in holding the view of reformed cessationism ... Thank you therefore for granting us the good teaching via Grace to You!! Without it we may have suffered bigger loss later, when the church is filled with superficial music lovers... now we grow slower for sure, but in the might, time and hand of our GOD alone!!

#41  Posted by Peter  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 7:12 AM

"I’m convinced it’s not just some kind of fantastic cosmic coincidence that has loaded the movement with an unusually high number of charlatans and heretics."

I'd submit that this is indeed NOT a cosmic coincidence, nor is it unique to the "charismatic movement" (however that might be defined). Biblically speaking (and note, "charismatic movement" is not a Biblical phrase), let's not forget all this is a sign of Jesus's soon return:

"Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray... Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray." (Matthew 24:4-11).

The next verse contains a sobering warning followed by a promise: "And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved."

I for one do not want to let the doctrinal problems of others cause my love to grow cold. I want to stand firm on the TRUTH, not be distracted by all the FALSEHOODS out there!

#43  Posted by Jason Larose  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 7:53 AM

I, too, cannot miss the fulfillment of Matthew 24 taking place before our eyes. However, there's a balancing act here. While we can't let the false teachings distract us, we also shouldn't be leaving those who are brothers and sisters in Christ to suffer under said teachings for lack of truth.

It's not so much that we need to prove every false teaching wrong. However, being aware of the popular false teachings provides insights as to what truths the body is lacking and needs to be reminded of. We are not responsible only to ourselves (Ephesians 4:15-16).

#42  Posted by Jason Larose  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 7:44 AM

The discouragement of discernment is everywhere in the church. There are a million issues (not just signs and wonders) that have the church all split up today.

Often, they are the same problems that plagued the congregations to which the epistles were written. However, when a person appeals to the scriptures there are no end to people waiting to give the "alternate interpretation" to disarm their appeal.

First, we would do well to acknowledge that if two people hold contradicting beliefs that *at least* one person is promoting a false teaching. "Different strokes for different folks" really can't be our answer if we're going to claim to be at peace and edifying one another (Romans 14:19).

Second, we need to understand that the Spirit of truth is our ultimate guide through the scriptures. It shouldn't surprises us when the unbelieving world has a different interpretation, but when two people each maintain that the other is a brother in Christ and they hold to two different interpretations of scripture at least one is quenching the Spirit by placing personal preference over the conviction of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 1:10).

As a side note: 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 is frequently cited as a defense for extra-biblical revelation, but the issue rests in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, which calls for discernment and rejecting what isn't good (such as a false prophets, as explicitly defined at least since Deuteronomy 18:22). Yet discernment is frequently discouraged by the same groups that promote 1 Thes. 5:19-20 as their reason for accepting just about anything.

We suffer from the division of the church. Not just in that we suffer a lack of unity (obviously) but also that spiritual maturity is stifled when the church as a whole decides we can all have our own pet "truths" so long as we are willing to look the other way for someone else as well. Our call isn't to ignore the speck in our brothers eye, but to remove our own plank so that we are in a position to help our brothers!

#84  Posted by JR  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 4:53 PM

This post is welcome. I am not nor ever have been a "charismatic" nor been at all attracted to any of their denominations.


The Strange Fire conference lacked sufficient acknowledgement of the "type R" charismatics, including Calvary chapel, and the Good they do. This letter had a more proper balance, thank you.

On the whole though, that conference was needed. Most charismatics, LIKE MOST PRESBYTEREANS, have spun off into crazy town. So you know, I am a Presbyterian, PCA, but the fact is that most Presbyterians are still in the PC-USA and even those leaving the PC=USA join liberal denominations that :

1- refuse to sign on to the Chicago Statement on inerrancy

2- have women pastors

3- preach theistic evolution

As a Presbyterian, before I stridently condemn charismatics as a group, I ought look at the rampant liberalism that has swallowed the bulk of those claiming to be Presbyterians. Even my own PCA is currently infected by theistic evolutionists (Tim Keller) and sacerdotalism (the Federal vision).

We need to acknowledge our own logs before attacking the specks in groups like Calvary Chapel.


#47  Posted by Susan  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 8:28 AM

I wonder why so many christians think they need new revelation. I do not know one christian, including myself, who understands all the revelation given to us in scripture and are also applying it in daily life. If that is the case, does God need to impart anything new? The apostle Peter even said he never tired of reminding believers of the same truth! We could spend more than a life time trying to understand and apply the truths of scripture. Let's focus on trying to understand and do what God has already commanded and revealed in His precious word. Thank you for your faithfulness to teach scripture accurately and clearly.

#55  Posted by Carson Hoy  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 9:40 AM

I am PAOC have been for 55 years. We have also been a supporter of GTY for many many years and generally speaking really appreciate the teaching found there.

One thing you can be sure of when one part of the body starts making blanket name calling statements I have to seriously question who it is serving.

We have actively been involved in many evangelical churches and outreaches over the years. In all cases I have found solid believers and well grounded Christians. I have also found many of questionable doctrine. Certainly a large number that are very sure that no one but them has the answer, even through they seldom take the time to seek THE HOLY SPIRIT, and seldom give the Bible any more than a glancing look.

If some wants to take the time to slam dunk a part of the body then do it with specific facts and not general name calling. The Author of this piece should go back to the basics and start with Matthew 22- 37 to 40.

#61  Posted by Chris Mills  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 10:39 AM

Thank you Phil and John MacArthur and the rest of the grace to you staff!

I came out of the charismatic movement by the grace of God and by the grace of God I believe that Scripture is enough,the written word leads us to the living Word the Lord Jesus Christ.

God told us what we need in scripture,the bible is a complete book.

Thank you so much GTY for honoring our Holy God and His holy word the bible.

#66  Posted by Some Guy  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 12:34 PM

The thing about the charismatic interpretation of things is, if the gifts are given to believers, then why don't cessationists get the sign gifts, too?

The fact that no cessationist speaks in tongues or declares new revelation or heals cripples with their bare hands is strong evidence that whether one claims to exercise these gifts is directly dependent on whether one believes these gifts are present -- and normative, to reference Gabriel Powell's term.

Is God incapable of sanctifying those whose doctrine is not perfect? Certainly not. And unless charismatics are willing to claim that all cessationists are unsaved, then the burden of proof is on them to explain where in the Bible there is any indication that only those who believe in the existence of the sign gifts are able to exercise them -- or that the Holy Spirit's sanctifying work is able to be thwarted by incompletely accurate doctrinal belief.

We can be hyper-confident that John MacArthur and others are saved. The palpable lack of exercise, by them, of any sign gifts is by itself proof enough via common sense that the gifts are not for today. If they were necessary, important, or even useful, for God to bless or use a ministry like Grace To You, then He'd have done so at least once over the last 50 years. But nope.


#77  Posted by Peter  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 2:51 PM

I'm not at all sure the lack of miracles among cessationists is the proof that you think it is. What about Matthew 13:58, "And he [Jesus] did not do many mighty works [δυνάμεις, often translated as 'miracles'] there, because of their unbelief" - couldn't this be an equally possible explanation, and one which is more grounded in Scripture than the one you suggest?

#80  Posted by Some Guy  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 4:09 PM

The context of your reference is not sanctification. Signs were to those who would believe, before they believed, to cause them to believe. It was not for spiritual maturity -- and to be very plain, the Holy Sprit had not been given then, and we are talking about how the Holy Spirit operates in believers. 3 reasons your rebuttal is not satisfactory -- or relevant.

#82  Posted by Peter  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 4:43 PM

"Signs were to those who would believe, before they believed, to cause them to believe"

Why then is an aorist tense used for "believe" in Mark 16:17, implying that the signs are observed in believers only ONCE they have believed?

"These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues..."

#83  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 4:47 PM

Peter, you may be interested to listen to John's sermon on why Mark 16:9-20 is should likely not be considered Scripture.

I link you to his sermon because we're on the Grace to You website, but there are plenty of scholars who would affirm this position.

#85  Posted by Peter  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 4:56 PM

Ok, if you don't think Mark 16:9-20 is part of the canon, how about Acts 19:1-6 which also demonstrates that the signs were observed AFTER people believed: "There he [Paul] found some disciples. 2And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized inb the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7There were about twelve men in all.when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying"

#86  Posted by Some Guy  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 6:02 PM

What Gabriel said, but also, the context of 'belief' in the last chunk of Mark is, once again, saving faith and not "right doctrine."

Does God only save those who are perfect in doctrine? Of course not.

Does God only sanctify those who are perfect in doctrine? Nope.

So, then, if exercising a gift of tongues/prophecy/healing is part of a Christian's sanctification, why would the content of his faith affect his ability to do what you seem to imply Mark says will be normative among most if not all Christians?

Unless those who don't speak in tongues or heal or speak new revelation are not saved. What do you say?

#87  Posted by Some Guy  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 6:06 PM

I think you might have misunderstood what I meant with 'signs were to' -- that's not talking about signs Christians could exercise -- Corinthians would seem to indicate, if Paul is *not* speaking in hypotheticals, that people who had gifts were abusing them, stemming from poor doctrinal understanding among other things. My reference to Christ not doing signs is specifically that signs were a demonstration for (not from) those who would believe, as a confirmation of the message.

Incidentally, that's the purpose they had when apostles and other early Christians exercised them, too--they were confirmatory signs to the people being evangelized -- not for the user. That's another big problem with continuationists -- I am often told that tongues are a private prayer language, which defies their use as a sign in Scripture.

Hopefully this clarified the subject of my statement better.

#103  Posted by Peter  |  Tuesday, October 13, 2015 at 8:45 AM

Responding to what some guy said (#86), I did not claim anywhere that "a gift of tongues/prophecy/healing is part of a Christian's sanctification". I also do not claim that you have to speak in tongues, heal, or speak new revelation in order to be saved. The canonicity of Mark 16:17 was questioned by Gabriel, but even if we just take it at face value as Scripture, all it says is "these signs will accompany..." - not "if you don't see these signs, you'll know they are not believers..."

A gift is simply that, a gift. The way I see it, God gives gifts to His Church to allow the Church to be more effective in doing His will (e.g. Ephesians 4:7-13). We can choose to accept none of the gifts, some of the gifts, or all of the gifts. Of course, if we believe these gifts aren't available any more, it stands to reason that that will affect our choice. But whatever we choose, the AVAILABILITY of the gifts is a different question and we should look to Scripture, not experience, to determine whether they really did cease. I do not see anywhere in Scripture that they did cease.

But again, no matter whether we choose to accept these gifts from God, they are separate from the gift of salvation, and even from sanctification; my understanding is that any who are saved WILL be sanctified (Philippians 1:6).

#72  Posted by larry  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 2:03 PM

nailed it tks for your leadership .

#88  Posted by Rev. Bob Allen  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 7:03 PM

Thank you Phil for the post. I am upset most of all by Grudem's stand. I have all of his Systematic Theology books and I am tempted to trow them out. It is upsetting to find among those who are supposed to carry the torch such a lack of discernment. How in the world are we suppose to relate to these men when they are involved in such error? I have been teaching for forty years and it is hard to teach when I have to spend so much time refuting those who are well known and so wrong. Thank God for the ministry of Grace. I have been learning for more than forty years from John and others at grace. I never had to opportunity to attend Bible College or seminary but I was tutored by Dr. Walter Martin for 6 years and I received an education via John MacArthur for over forty years. Please send my thanks to John and thank you for your faithfulness in ministry.

Robert L. Allen

Midwest Apologetics Research Service (MARS)

I Peter 3:15

#89  Posted by Chris Mills  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 7:48 PM

when the Canon of Scripture is closed its closed

we have the completed word of God the Scripture.

I love Charles Spurgeon's teaching on providence,

the church needs to hear more teaching on the providence of God

and be not looking for so called prophecies and visions,its very sad and leads to fear

pride and confusion.We hear from God when we read Scripture.

Thank you GTY I love this ministry and its devotion to Scripture alone.

Sola Scriptura

#90  Posted by Jodi  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 7:56 PM

Ye do err brethren, not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God. God would not have us to be ignorant. Has anyone searched the scriptures for God's definition of prophecy? Revelation 19:10 "(john)and I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: FOR THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS IS THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY." Sharing the pure Word of God in obedience to our Lord Jesus, bringing others the message of salvation from the scriptures is prophecy. Anyone who shares the testimony of Jesus and way of salvation is a prophet. Jesus was "that prophet" Deuteronomy 18:18. He shared the message of salvation everywhere he went. The disciples were prophets. They preached Christ and him crucified. Why? John 14:29 "and now I have told you before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass, ye might believe." This speaks of Jesus' soon sacrifice for sin and glorious ressurection, whereby we are saved. A "prophet" in some church telling you the gender of your baby is not the prophecy God intended. Much "prophecy" in charismatic churches(speaking from having been called out of one by the light of his glorious truth as revealed in scripture) is silly fortunetelling. Stick to the scriptures. Confirming what happened and was prophesied-that Christ's blood would be poured for the salvation of all who would believe in truth. Also, preach the imminence of his return. Which again is prophesied in His Word. Be instant in season and out of season, always ready with an answer for the hope that is in you. I exhort everyone of you. Be a true prophet, testify of Jesus. Prophesy-testify (Rev 19:10) of the saving Gospel message and the Lord's return through His word only. Lest we be found to be liars by adding or taking away from his word. Preaching as Paul, "the full counsel of God." We have the prophets for our example. "Thus saith the Lord." I hope and pray this will be received by those with an ear to hear.

In the love of Christ, Jodi

#91  Posted by Chris Mills  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 8:02 PM

Thank you GTY for standing on Scripture alone.

Grace alone

Faith alone

Christ alone

Scripture alone

To the glory of God alone.


#92  Posted by Rod Curranr  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 8:48 PM

Possible complementary series: Pastor John MacArthur's 2004 Expository Series on the Epistle of Jude; Sermon Codes 65-1 thru 15. My (I'm sure unoriginal) comment about Jude: I'm amazed with Jude's focus on primarily how they (false teachers) were in reality living daily life contrary with basic Christian morality, let alone their false teaching!

Does the one lead to the other? I'm sure it can and does. So often these days things seem to come back to Christ's words in Luke 13:23-24 (I like Eugene Peterson's MSG on this): "A bystander said, “Master, will only a few be saved?” He said, “Whether few or many is none of your business. Put your mind on your life with God. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires your total attention" (See great Sermons: 42-184/5). I thank God everyday for this ministry, that keeps me on that focus, fights so diligently yet compassionately to keep God's truth pure and holy.


One who started Christian life outside Reformed Theology, but is now soaking it up like a man coming off the desert after many days without water!


(Gotta say it once: I love you Pastor John!

I'm believing, God's irresistible Grace has finally found even me, through this wonderful Church, ministry, and oh so profound Reformed Theology. Thank you for your great courage, tenacity, and dedication)

#94  Posted by Tony  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 9:14 PM

Brothers, for those of you who are still doubtful regarding Jhon's approach.

Please, BIBLICALLY reason with me for a second,

The Sin of Unbelief and Its Consequences described for us in the 1rst chapter of Romans verses 18 all the way down to 32 are SERIOUS STUFF!

The KEY words in the whole section are "GOD, GAVE, THEM, OVER " to all kinds of immorality which lead to enternal doom!

Note that the verb "TO GIVE" is in its past tense form there, God GAVE them over ! He already did that to them!

NOW, the question is the following,

If God already GAVE those who exchanged HIS GLORY for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures OVER to Homosexuality and all the above, here comes the question,

HOW in the world idolaters, homosexuals and all the above are currently being saved ALL THE TIME?!!


The fact that God gave someone/ group of people over to gross immorality or to a certain level of deception DOESN'T MEAN that the blood of the spotless Lamb can't reach you where you are!

Thanks for reading.

God bless!

#95  Posted by Prvb2119  |  Monday, October 12, 2015 at 10:24 PM

When the faith healers walk the hospital halls healing there with only docs and nurses witnessing their gift THEN I will begin to take notice.

#96  Posted by Victor  |  Tuesday, October 13, 2015 at 12:29 AM


I'm an r rated charismatic. How would you answer the question what if some prephecies are accurate? Also do you cessationist pray for healing?

#102  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Tuesday, October 13, 2015 at 8:30 AM

Hello Victor,

To be clear, this post is referring to "R-Type," not "R-rated" charismatics :).

In answer to your questions, it's no surprise that some individuals might get some things right. The real problem is what to do with the vast majority of prophecies that are wrong, and that no modern prophet (that I'm aware of) it 100% right all the time. That's a far more serious problem than that some get it right from time to time.

Second, cessationists do indeed pray for healing. And that is because we believe that the Lord is still sovereign and able to heal should He choose to. But His ability to heal, and His choosing to heal when He does, is not related to the "gifts of healings" in 1 Cor 12 which appear to be a more common experience in the early church.

Grace and peace.

#97  Posted by Julie  |  Tuesday, October 13, 2015 at 7:01 AM

Well said:)

#104  Posted by Janet  |  Tuesday, October 13, 2015 at 2:07 PM

I was invited to church at the age of 9 by a Pentecostal Family. Their daughter that was my age is still my good friend. I learned about my being a sinner and I repented and placed my faith in Jesus in that very small church. They all speak in tongues. I remember going forward (back then) and being prayed over to received the "gift of tongues" but it didn't happen for me. I asked my friend (we were probably 10 yrs old then) why I didn't receive the gift. Being just a kid she really didn't know but said "maybe you wanted it too much". This has been an issue in my life for so long. Until I, 40 years later, started reading and listening to John MacArthur. Studying Reformed theology and the Sovereignty of God I had always felt like I was "less than" because I didn't have this "gift". I wondered what was wrong with me and was I really a Christian since this gift was evidence that I had the Holy Spirit. When I lived in So Cal my husband and I even went to a prayer meeting at the Vineyard in Anaheim to "receive the Holy Spirit". Nothing changed in our lives. A couple years ago this childhood friend, another Charismatic friend and I drove to So Cal for my daughters baby shower. On the way home my childhood friend was talking about her church (in Modesto) and how great it was. They had a WONDERFUL children's pastor who was "teaching those little kids to speak in tongues". It was such an eye opener to me. A gift is a gift. I don't have to be taught to receive it and if it is OF GOD why would a MAN have to teach it?? Also, watching the youtube videos of East Indians (Hindu?) "speaking in tongues" which sounded just like I had heard from Charismatics was quite shocking.

I have had my Charismatic friends in my living room and we have prayed after our time together. They break out into their "private prayer language" (even their 8 yr old daughter) and just pray away. My husband and I are standing there wondering "what the heck are they saying?? (if anything) My understanding is that this language is private. Well, so many times it is abused. There is was no edification at all that evening.

My childhood friend and her mother were reading "Jesus Calling". I tried to speak to my friend about the book and how it is channeled by a spirit. My friend said "If there was anything wrong with it the Holy Spirit would tell me. I just trust the Spirit inside me." I agree that letting your emotions be your guide to what truth is is dangerous. And that is the danger that I see with the charismania. It is driven by emotions.

Just my thoughts. Thank you to Grace to You, John MacArthur and Phil Johnson for sound teaching and helping me to understand that I am not "less than" my friends. I am no scholar, just someone who has been searching for the truth.

God Bless.