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Strange Fire Recap: Day One

Thursday, October 17, 2013 | Comments (11)

 John MacArthur – “Strange Fire”

Strange Fire launched Wednesday morning with John MacArthur explaining the basis and the need for the conference. Starting with the story of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10), he described the dangers of fraudulent worship and the vital need for discernment, the lack of which is “the biggest problem in the church today.” The purpose of the conference then is to help the church discern the truth about the charismatic movement, which he said has made no contribution to biblical clarity, interpretation, or sound doctrine.

John closed by highlighting the true work of the Holy Spirit—conforming believers to Christlikeness. Working through the life of Christ, he showed that the relationship between Jesus and the Holy Spirit is the model for the Spirit’s work in the life of every believer. Put simply, the Spirit’s work is to mature, sustain, empower, fill, and perfect us toward the likeness of our Savior.

Joni Eareckson Tada – Testimony

To begin the second session, John MacArthur introduced his longtime friend Joni Eareckson Tada. Joni has been paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair for more than four decades, and she explained how the Lord has used her suffering in that time to grow her spiritually. She once longed for a miraculous healing, like the person at the pool of Bethesda in John 5. And while she obviously has not received that kind of healing, she’s thankful for how the Lord has healed her spiritually in the midst of the suffering she’s endured. She said she wouldn’t exchange God’s sanctifying work for any amount of walking.

R.C. Sproul – “Undervaluing Pentecost”

Even though R.C. Sproul was unable to make to the conference in person, he appeared via video as Strange Fire’s second keynote speaker. Dr. Sproul traced the work of the Holy Spirit throughout redemptive history, leading up to the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out and indwelled all believers. His major complaint with his charismatic friends is not that they are overly fixated with Pentecost, but that they actually have a low view of Pentecost. Instead of recognizing that the Holy Spirit fully indwells a believer once, they’ve created a false, two-tiered system of Christianity.

Steve Lawson – “Calvin’s Critique of Charismatic Calvinists”

Steve Lawson opened the third session by asking the question, “What would John Calvin say about the wave of new Calvinists who are ‘open but cautious’ to the charismatic movement?” To answer that question, he looked back at how Calvin dealt with similar controversial movements in his own time. Working through Calvin’s Institutes and his commentaries, Dr. Lawson showed how Calvin understood the apostolic gifts as validation of the apostolic message. He made it clear that Calvin saw no need for the gospel to be revalidated—just faithfully preached. He summed up the session by saying, “If we want to see a new reformation this day, and the revival of Reformed theology continually expand the borders of its influence, we must be exclusively committed to the written word of God.”

Conrad Mbewe – “The African Import of Charismatic Chaos”

Wrapping up day one, Zambian pastor and author Conrad Mbewe challenged the audience regarding the international exportation of the charismatic movement. “The Spurgeon of Africa” spoke about the charismatic chaos in His part of the world, and revealed the true nature of the massive church growth in Africa. He explained how the charismatic church has ignored the Word of God in favor of cultural superstition and prosperity preaching, and that what looks like revival from our perspective is not actually good news. Bible teaching is scarce, and Scripture does not shape the lives of many professing believers. Focusing on Christ's words in John 17:17, Mbewe passionately emphasized the inability of believers to grow spiritually apart from the teaching of God’s Word.

That’s just a brief glimpse of Day One. We hope you’ll join us today for more excellent Bible teaching. Watch the free live stream at, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest conference updates.

GTY Staff


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#1  Posted by Astrea Jones  |  Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Yesterday was wonderful! So full of truth and clarity. All the speakers were great but one of my favorite things was "Johnny" and Joni singing together. My whole family listened to the conference as we went about our day yesterday (home schoolers own their time!) but they all missed the singing! Can you put that on the website? Is there anything "Johnny" can't do!?

#2  Posted by Joseph Spell  |  Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 12:34 PM

Thank you for your encouraging words and truthful assessment of the "Charismatic movement" underway in many places in Africa. I have been serving mission work in north central Ethiopia for 12+ years now. Until recently opposition to the true Gospel was from Coptic Christianity & Muslims. Now a greater challenge has presented itself. The GOD TV channel is spreading this false teaching throughout the continent. Sadly, many well meaning Christians are caught up in the movement as it sows to the flesh, appeals to pride and lust for power.

May the Lord be merciful and deliver His true saints from this great deception.

#3  Posted by Elizabeth Krohn  |  Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Since the Strange Fire Conference has started yesterday, my Facebook page has ignited with all kinds of conversation concerning Dr. MacArthur and this conference.

I spent the first 21 years of my life as a hard-core follower of the Charismatic movement and thank God for using this ministry to lead me to the truth.

I just wanted to write a note of encouragement:

This conference has angered so many people that I know and I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for loving people enough to expose the Charismatic Church/Teachings for the heresy that it is.

Keep up the good work: speaking the truth in love, although may are misinterpreting it as hate.

#4  Posted by Robert T. Haynes  |  Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 5:16 PM

I just wanted to let everyone know that Mike Riccardi, the Pastor of Local Outreach Ministries, has been blogging on each of the main sessions at the Cripplegate Blog:

His coverage has been excellent! Thank you very, very much Mike!


#6  Posted by Julie Sanders  |  Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 9:18 PM

Thank you so much for your stance on TRUTH. I can not tell you how much this conference has meant to me. It has moved me and encouraged me to be more available to speak up more to those lost to the Charismatic movement. Thank you for your willingness to be obedient to God and His Word. I was before, and will continue to pray for you and the GTY ministry. I'm so grateful for the live stream which allowed me be a part of the conference. May the Lord continue to bless you and may He receive the glory He so rightly deserves as you, and the other speakers, convey His truth.

Grace and peace to you,


#7  Posted by Mr Landry  |  Friday, October 18, 2013 at 4:40 AM

I'd like to thank the Grace to You staff for the live stream of the conference. I know most of my charismatic friends and family cannot watch or listen, unfortunately, because they think it is too harsh. I think the truth hurts sometimes, inevitably. It's kind of like watching surgery being done. But the truth is so vitally important, and no one else has the guts to say what needs to be said about the charismatic movement at all. There has been an overall level of tolerance by the church at large and it has become as cancer spreading throughout the body. The true bible believers have been silent too long out of fear of rejection by their so-called peers. The first level of persecution in this day and age will and is coming from with the church itself. I don't imagine that there will be a global revival of global proportions dragging people back to the sufficiency of Gods Word, and the true work of the Holy Spirit, rather, I believe the revival will be from within starting with individuals being led by the truth inspired by the Godly work of the leaders of this conference and other similar events. Similar to the parable of the wheat and the tares, God will divide us in his day. We all need to start confronting the insanity in our own churches in a spirit of love and truth, remembering that we will be rejected by most. We are after leading people to a right view of the Lord through scripture. God bless all of you at Grace and please keep it up.

#8  Posted by Jennifer Phillips  |  Friday, October 18, 2013 at 6:15 AM

#3 Elizabeth mentioned that some people have been misinterpreting messages at the conference as hate, instead of love. May all of us balance the truth with love. Not tolerance of error, but patience for those who are trapped in systems that teach error. We should never hesitate to fight for truth and confront false teaching by those who would lead others astray and deceive them, but we still need to have love for the lost who have not yet come to the knowledge of truth - a place where we have all been.

#9  Posted by Fredrick Hunt  |  Friday, October 18, 2013 at 6:39 AM

I sincerely hope you make the messages available for download, internet problems kept me from hearing several on Wednesday.

#11  Posted by Brad Kennedy  |  Friday, October 18, 2013 at 8:03 AM

A note of loving gratitude to all who have worked to make this Conference available to us. Praise the LORD for raising you up for His glory! We are recipients of the wisdom delivered unto us from the GCC pulpit because of your diligent work and tireless efforts manifested in fruit produced out of a love for our glorious Lord and Savior! Praise the LORD for you. Multitudes of people throughout the earth are delivered blessing after blessing after blessing as a result of the labor you perform in sanctifying humility. Well done good and faithful slaves. Well done. Thank you for your part in overflowing our hearts with joy unspeakable this week. Hallelujah. O' the riches of His glory!

#13  Posted by Hanna Morton  |  Friday, October 18, 2013 at 3:34 PM

Again, thank you GTY for doing the live stream of the conference! I would have loved to go, but by the time I got to it, all the tickets were sold out and the waiting list was full. But it is so amazing to just be able to watch via live stream what goes on at your conferences! Thank you so much!

#14  Posted by Lynne Gale  |  Monday, October 21, 2013 at 5:32 PM

Thank you GTY, John MacArthur and the other speakers at the Strange Fire Conference! This conference was such a wonderful vehicle to give Glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit!! I LOVED the live streaming of the messages, such a blessing and service for those of us not actually at the conference. I do hope there will be DVD and CD sets of the entire conference, hopefully including Joni and Johnny's duet and the Breakout sessions which were not live streamed. My church would love to use the DVDs for Bible Studies and Sunday School. I like the CDs in the car.

I got saved in 1985; my sister immediately gave me a 4 tape set on Eph. 3:14-21 by Mac Arthur. I nearly fell over when I heard it. This was who God was?? This was what God had to say!? Oh, Glory be!! I could not get enough of the Word and was so blessed by the clear teaching of MacArthur! I systematically got all of his taped messages going back to his 1969 3 message series on the prophet Habakkuk. (I love it!) When GTY changed to CDs I continued to get them, until I got my tablet. Now I can carry all of MacArthur's messages with me to listen to at anytime.

Lest you think I "worship" this messenger - not so. I listen to the teaching of many others, including Lawson, Mohler, Dever, Duncan, Ferguson, Sproul(s). But I will always be eternally grateful for the foundation of my Christian life that was built upon the clear exegesis, robust exposition and verse by verse (word by word sometimes LOL!) teaching of the inimitable and eternal Word of God.

Thank you John MacArthur and GTY for the leadership you provide for the Church of our God in this world.