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Monday, March 10, 2014 | Comments (69)

by John MacArthur

It’s been nearly five months since the Strange Fire conference, and we’ve been very encouraged to see how many good conversations have started as a result. The conference dealt with a sensitive, deeply ingrained way of thinking, so the potential to hurt feelings and offend friends was very real. I never took that lightly, but I believed it was important to tell the truth about the charismatic movement and proclaim the absolute sufficiency of Holy Scripture.

One reaction of particular interest to me was from my friend John Piper, so when I was pointed to his Ask Pastor John podcasts, I was eager to listen. The first thing I’d like to say is how much I appreciated John’s kind opening remarks.[1] It sounded as if, at the time he recorded that podcast, he still hadn’t personally listened to the material presented at the conference. That put him in the unfortunate position of responding only to what people were reporting was said about him. It seems that those close to John misunderstood certain statements at the conference,[2] so he responded to what he thought were criticisms and misrepresentations of him and his ministry. Given that context, for him to respond with such gracious and humble remarks makes me so grateful for his friendship and the partnership we’ve shared in the gospel for all these years. The feelings of love and appreciation are entirely mutual.

Clarifying a Misunderstanding

But just to set the record straight, I wasn’t commenting on the relative frequency or conviction with which John preaches on this issue in his ministry. My concern is not that he doesn’t seem “exegetically convinced enough to advocate” for the continuationist position with his own flock (though he has expressed his own confusion over this doctrinal issue [3]). Rather, I was making the observation that John’s commitment to the continuation of the miraculous gifts is a rare error—an anomaly—in his otherwise sound theology. It genuinely confuses me that such erudite and sound-thinking brothers like John Piper, Wayne Grudem, and others could get this issue so wrong. Nevertheless, I know that John has never advocated—and has often criticized—the excesses, abuses, and theological errors that have been associated with Pentecostalism and other stripes of the charismatic movement. For this I have always been thankful.

So I hope that clarifies what I said and why I said it. It’s unfortunate that most of John Piper’s first podcast was spent on responding to such a misunderstanding, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to correct it.

Redefining Prophecy

Nevertheless, there are some other comments he made in this first podcast that I’d like to respond to. The first has to do with John’s belief that prophecy is God spontaneously bringing biblical truths to a preacher’s mind. Now, it’s good for a preacher to pray for that. But that is not the supernatural gift of prophecy. This illustrates one of the central concerns of my book Strange Fire: the charismatic movement, even down to the most conservative continuationists, has entirely redefined the New Testament miraculous gifts.

In Scripture, prophecy is always presented as the infallible, authoritative declaration of God’s inerrant revelation. It was not an impression on the mind, whether clear or vague, but a verbal declaration, using words the prophet vocalized audibly or wrote legibly in the presence of others who could hear or read them. Scripture never uses the terminology of prophecy to speak of mystical, intuitive impressions. When continuationists use the biblical terminology of the miraculous gifts to describe something other than the biblical phenomena—when they take a word with a very narrow meaning in Scripture (such as prophecy) and give it a new, broad, unbiblical application—that is, when they redefine the terms—continuationists tacitly concede the central premise of the doctrine of cessationism, namely, that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit as defined and practiced in the New Testament do not occur today. But what concerns me most is that they open the door for falsehood and abuse. They also give cover to false teachers to hijack biblical terms, inject them with strange doctrine, and deceive people.

The Question of Obedience

In another comment John says he advocates obedience to texts like 1 Corinthians 12:31, 14:1, and 14:39. He seems to imply that cessationists are disobedient to those passages. To frame the issue in those terms begs the question. In the first place, cessationist theology allows for the operation of the miraculous gifts at the time Paul was writing Scripture (i.e., before the cessation of divine revelation). But, secondly, the very claim in question is whether the miraculous gifts have continued past that foundational apostolic era. To simply appeal to those texts, which were addressed to believers during a time in which the gifts were operational, and to assume Christians are to apply and obey them in precisely the same way today, John is assuming what he’s trying to prove. But if the rest of scriptural teaching instructs us that we are not to expect the continuation of the miraculous gifts after a particular point, then obviously the way we apply and obey these texts will be different for us than it was for the Corinthians. It’s precisely at that point that we need to have the discussion. Shallow appeals to superficial-level interpretations won’t settle this issue for serious-minded students of Scripture.

Having said that, I’d like to address the texts Piper mentioned in his podcast. Because we began that discussion in the Strange Fire book, permit me to quote extensively from the portions of the book that deal with those texts. That’ll help us carry the conversation forward. On 1 Corinthians 12:31:

First Corinthians 12:31 is often translated as a command: “But earnestly desire the best gifts.” Yet that choice of translation raises a serious question. If spiritual gifts are given by the Spirit’s independent prerogative (1 Cointhians 12:7, 18, 28), and if each gift is necessary to the building up of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:14–27), then why would believers be told to desire gifts they had not received? Any such notion would go against Paul’s whole argument in 1 Corinthians 12, where each individual believer is to be thankful for his or her unique giftedness, contentedly employing it in ministry for the edification of the church.

In reality, 1 Corinthians 12:31 is not an imperative. Grammatically, the form of the verb desire can also be rendered as a statement of fact (indicative), and the context here supports that translation. After all, there is nothing in the flow of Paul’s argument to expect a command, but much to commend the indicative. [Note 28: Charismatic commentator Gordon Fee acknowledges the legitimacy of the indicative view (Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987], p. 624). Fee lists a number of additional scholars who take that same view.] The New International Version rightly captures the apostle’s point in its alternate reading of this verse: “But you are eagerly desiring the greater gifts.” The Syriac New Testament similarly states, “Because you are zealous of the best gifts, I will show to you a more excellent way.”[4]

And on 1 Corinthians 14:39:

The apostle Paul ended his discussion regarding the gift of tongues with these words: “Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:39–40). Because all the gifts were still active when that corporate command was written, the Corinthian believers were not to forbid the legitimate and orderly exercise of the gift of languages. The corporate nature of the command is important; this was not a mandate for every individual within the Corinthian congregation to seek the gift of prophecy. Rather, the church as a whole was to prioritize prophecy over tongues—because it did not require translation in order to edify others.

Charismatics sometimes use verse 39 to insist that anyone who forbids the practice of charismatic glossolalia today is violating Paul’s injunction. But the apostle’s command has nothing to do with the modern imposture. At a time when the authentic gift of foreign languages was still in operation, of course believers were not to forbid its use. But today, it is incumbent upon churches to stop the practice of the spiritual counterfeit. Because unintelligible speech is not the true gift, to dissuade someone from such a practice is not a violation of Paul’s command in 1 Corinthians 14:39. Quite the contrary. The disgraceful jumble and irrational blabber of modern glossolalia is actually a violation of verse 40—and those who are committed to decency and order in the church are duty-bound to suppress it.[5]

First Corinthians 14:1 is very similar to the first part of 1 Corinthians 14:39, and so should be interpreted in the same way. Thomas Edgar comments:

That 1 Cor. 14 refers to priority of activity in the assembly rather than to the priority of individual desires is obvious, but must be kept in mind in order to understand the verses involved. Therefore, it is the priority given by the church as a group to the ministration of gifts in the assembly that is discussed. . . . The phrase “that you may prophesy” definitely refers to the attitude of the church as a whole, since the context of 1 Cor. 14 is decidedly against every individual prophesying. Paul has already stated that all are not prophets. The concept that everyone is to prophesy would also invalidate the entire emphasis of chap. 12, viz., that all members do not have the same function. Therefore, 1 Cor. 14:1 must refer to the attitude of the church as a whole.[6]

Finally, even if John or others were to quibble with those interpretations, there is another way to respond to the implied accusation that cessationists are “disobedient” to those texts. Consider how a Christian living under the New Covenant is to obey the commands for animal sacrifice prescribed in the book of Leviticus. Does the refusal to slaughter a lamb on the Day of Atonement mean that a Christian is disobedient to the clear command of the Old Testament? Of course not. Based on what the totality of Scripture teaches about atonement for sin, we “obey” such commands by looking to the perfect sacrifice of Christ, which fulfilled and eclipsed those sacrifices, and by resting in His once-for-all finished work. Similarly, because of what the totality of Scripture teaches about the purpose, function, and temporary nature of the miraculous gifts, the cessationist obeys the commands to “earnestly desire to prophesy” by looking to the perfectly sufficient revelation of the written Word, which fulfilled and eclipsed all previous revelation, and by resting in His once-for-all finished Word.[7]

In the next Ask Pastor John podcast, episode 215, John Piper speaks clearly and transparently about his view of the gift of prophecy. I’m eager to respond and interact with him on that point in the next post, because that is the question at the very heart of the debate. Be sure not to miss the next post.

[1] Piper: “Well, the last thing I want to do is in any way diminish or obstruct John MacArthur’s incredibly fruitful expository ministry. I love John. I love that ministry. I have an app on my phone called DownCast, which is for managing your audio podcasts, and I listen to very few people, and John MacArthur is one of them. And that’s because his attention to the text, and his love of the Bible, and his ability to apply it in forceful and relevant ways is incredibly helpful to me. And I don’t hesitate to tell people, ‘Go there and grow.’ So anything I say by way of disagreement is not in any sense a diminishment of that. And I continue to benefit from John’s ministry to this very hour” (Ask Pastor John, episode 214, 0:46–1:44).

[2] Interviewer: “Allegedly, it was said that while you do have a category for prophecy and tongues today, and while you are personally open to them, this is an ‘anomaly’ to your overall theology, and you don’t seem exegetically convinced enough to advocate that others pursue prophecy and tongues for themselves. What are your thoughts when you hear something like this?” (Ask Pastor John, episode 214, 0:24–0:45).

[3] He describes this issue as one that has caused him the most “heart-wrenching uncertainty” throughout the entirety of his ministry, picturing himself between two stacks of books that take opposite positions on the issue. After reading these books, searching the Scriptures, and praying, he says, “I wind up again and again somewhere in the middle with a lot of uncertainty.” (Phil Johnson cited these remarks in his seminar at the Strange Fire Conference, “Is There a Baby in the Charismatic Bathwater?”)

I can understand the difficulty that John expresses there, and I know there are many Christians who struggle with that very same confusion and uncertainty. It’s not always easy to make decisions on some of these very complex interpretive issues. But that is precisely why we’ve dedicated so much time and effort to unfolding the biblical teaching on this issue. Strange Fire represents my earnest effort to serve the church by bringing clarity to this complex debate.

[4] John MacArthur, Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2013), p. 146.

[5] Ibid., 153–54.

[6] Thomas R. Edgar, Satisfied by the Promise of the Spirit: Affirming the Fullness of God’s Provision for Spiritual Living (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1996), 51n14.

[7] Some may object that this is an illegitimate comparison, since the change from Old Covenant to New Covenant has no counterpart in the cessation/continuation discussion, which takes place entirely within the church age. However, such an objection does not take into sufficient account that the New Testament speaks of (a) a foundational period associated with the ministry of the apostles and prophets, and (b) a post-foundational, post-apostolic period after which that ministry would cease (Eph. 2:20) (cf. Sinclair Ferguson, The Holy Spirit [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996], p. 229). Anyone unwilling to allow for the continuation of Pauline-type apostles is forced to admit this.


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#2  Posted by Miles Brazil  |  Monday, March 10, 2014 at 11:18 AM

The body of Christ benefits greatly from productive, encouraging discourse like this. Well done, Dr. MacArthur.

#3  Posted by Manuel Jr. Reyes  |  Monday, March 10, 2014 at 11:48 AM

The Biblical interpretations on each verse which the continuationists embrace are downright investigate and coherent with Apostle Paul's intentions (which is the implicit thought of the Holy Spirit). It proves the correlation of the texts contrary to many proof-texting rationales of the Charismatics.

#4  Posted by Matthew Robinson  |  Monday, March 10, 2014 at 12:48 PM

If Dr. M could explain, "desire"is translated from the word ζηλόω in 1Cor. 14:39, which appears in the text as ζηλοῦτε. Now, it is certain that the 2nd person, plural imperative morpheme is τε and contains no connecting vowel (an ε before the morpheme) . The 2nd person plural indicative (present active) is τε but contains a connecting vowel (ε). Thus, the NASB, ESV, KJV, and many others rightly translate "desire" in the imperative. You, Dr. M, have sided with the known looser and less reliable NIV. How do you reconcile your above statement with verse 39's grammar? Thanks.

#5  Posted by Christopher Heady  |  Monday, March 10, 2014 at 12:52 PM

OK, so where in "all of Scripture" do we clearly see the "temporary" nature of the miraculous gifts? There is nothing in this explanation that denies the gift of prophecy to pastors/teaching elders/elders or other members of the Church. The active gift of prophecy in the church, according to the Holy Spirit, causes conviction and the glorification of God: "But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you" (1 Cor. 14:24, 25 NASB and throughout).

There is no conviction except through the active work of prophecy by the Holy Spirit, "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment..." (Jn. 16:8) There also is no way to know and understand all things that God has given us without the active work of prophecy by the Holy Spirit, "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come" (Jn 16:13 cf. 1 Jn 20, 27).

These text seem to conclude that God will continue an ongoing prophetic ministry through his people in order for people to even be able to come to faith in Christ or understand Scripture. To deny this is to walk a dangerous line of denying the Word of God and of denying the work of the Holy Spirit. I would suspect that you, yourself prophecy and may not even realize it... Maybe I missed something, but doesn't the Spirit testify in Romans 8:26, 27 and 1 Corinthians 12:3; 13:1; 14:13-19 that there is plenty of space in the great Biblical Doctrines for legitimate tongue speaking. It can be a prayer tongue, or a tongue of angels, which to us at times seems to be "gibberish" but has an interpretation and that we ought to pray that we can interpret or at least pray in a language we understand. Not to mention those missionaries who have testified of speaking in other tongues as they have been in the mission field preaching the gospel to people of other languages.

So far I haven't even gotten to the "τέλειος" argument of 1 Corinthians 13:10 or Jesus' words to Peter when he told him that the only way we can come to faith is by direct revelation from God, in other words through the gift of prophecy (Mat. 16:17). The prophetic gift is much more active than most people would like to say and to define it as narrowly as you have is pretty short sided and unbiblical. And I haven't even dealt with the prophetesses of the New Testament whose words are never recorded or the several references to the prophets in the Old Testament that are mentioned but none of their prophesies recorded... I consider myself a "recovering fundamentalist" in that I recognize I don't have the right to tell God what he should or shouldn't do; including the giving of spiritual gifts.

#6  Posted by Stephen Beck  |  Monday, March 10, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Matthew Robinson (#4), I am not as knowledgeable in Greek grammar as I am sure Dr. MacArthur or many other readers of this blog are, but it appears that since the word in question is an "o-contract" verb, the 2nd person indicative and imperative will be identical; note the accent obscuring the presence of an epsilon. Dr. Fee (a charismatic) is cited in the article as not rejecting the legitimacy of taking the verb as indicative in 12:31. The same verb form appears in James 4:2 and every translation I looked up uses indicative.

In 1 Cor 14 the context makes it more likely that the verbs are indicative, but the Strange Fire excerpts make an argument why that is not a normative command.

#7  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, March 10, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Christopher Heady (#5),

Keep in mind that this article is "part 1" and there is more to come. So I hope you'll come back for subsequent articles that look at key biblical texts.

It seems you're reflecting the kind of misappropriation common among continuationists in this post. For example, in your second paragraph you quote John 16 and attribute that work of the Spirit to prophecy. However neither Jesus nor any other biblical writer attributes those aspects of the Spirit's work to prophecy. So you are calling prophecy something which the Bible does not.

As to your first paragraph, the second-to-last paragraph (with its attending footnote) seem to be an answer to your concern. Furthermore, while it is true that prophetic utterances in Scripture were used to convict people of sin, it is not true that prophecy is the only avenue of conviction. To name one example, the Spirit can use a person's daily Bible reading to convict them of sin.

Again, your reference to the work of the Spirit in Romans 8 and 1 Corinthians 12 are unrelated to the gift of prophecy. I would submit to you that Romans 8:26 is speaking to intercession occurring in the spiritual, not physical or audible, realm. If you could provide an example where anyone--angel or human--speaks something other than a known human language in the Bible, you may have a point. Until then, non-human language tongue-speaking finds no biblical support.

Lastly, I hope your recovery is filled with increasing in the grace and knowledge of Christ and His Word! May it never be that anyone tells God what He should or shouldn't do. No one is putting God in a box or limiting Him in any way. What we are doing is seeking to be faithful to what God has said, and avoid deviations into dangerous paths.

#8  Posted by Eric Lehner  |  Monday, March 10, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Regarding the question addressing the form of ζηλόω, it might be helpful to observe a couple of items. First, present imperatives do employ connecting vowels; second, ζηλόω is a contract verb, and this accounts for absence of the connecting vowel. It is also interesting to note that James 4:2 employs ζηλοῦτε as a present active indicative, and Galatians 4:17 uses the same form as a present active subjective.

#9  Posted by Christopher Heady  |  Monday, March 10, 2014 at 2:40 PM

(#7 Gabriel Powell) The problem with that reference (Eph 2:20) is that it doesn't actually say anything about a temporary nature to the gift of tongues or prophecy or as to when they will be discontinued. What Mr. MacArthur, and many other cessationalists, is doing here is called eisegesis, which is a fallacy of reading into a text what in fact it doesn't even allude to say. Which is further more interesting because Paul wasn't the last living Apostle and so MacArthur and others would be claiming that the miraculous gifts after this letter was written was had ended (?) and so the other living Apostles are just out of luck. That doesn't seem very clear to me...

Paul does make this reference in 1 Corinthians 14:14 "For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful." This seems to indicate that it is possible to prophecy in a tongue that you don't know and therefore, could sound like gibberish. That is true to any language you have never studied before. That is why the imperative is to ask of the ability to understand, or interpret, the language or at the least to pray in a language you understand so that you can be edified (1 Cor. 14:15).

I believe it was MacArthur who is quoting some other author in saying that, "In Scripture, prophecy is always presented as the infallible, authoritative declaration of God’s inerrant revelation." This is both narrow, in that he is trying to use it to only mean that the Bible is the only true prophecy of God, but very wide in that every time the Holy Spirit utters any infallible, authoritative declaration of God's inerrant revelation, including coming to faith, understanding the Bible ( often called illumination), and even Peter's declaration in Matthew 16:16 are in fact prophecies. I am only defining it the way the MacArthur is himself...

#10  Posted by George Canady  |  Monday, March 10, 2014 at 2:42 PM

I am convinced more toward John MacArthur's position but I don't think all of us would describe John Piper as "confused" on this subject, perhaps not even Piper himself. As I have understood his and other biblical historians views on this issue is that some believe the evidence is inconclusive. I am thinking the discussions have gotten heated as much blame for charismatic abuses have been leveled at those Calvinist who do not hold a cessationist positions. As I have listened though, I am more convinced that John Piper has a more charitable tone.

#11  Posted by Sterling Brown  |  Monday, March 10, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Pastor MacArthur,

I am looking forward to your other post and God bless you very standing on the truth. Keep standing on the Word of God because of faithful preachers who proclaim the truth of God's Word people like yourself people are being and have been freed from the clutches of false doctrines and bondage that the wicked one uses to detract from the true God of the Holy Scriptures. Thanks again and God bless you.

#12  Posted by David Smith  |  Monday, March 10, 2014 at 3:08 PM

Christopher Heady #5

Allow me to chip in as well...

I'm going to accept that you can argue for continuationism from scripture.

But, if you do, you have to answer the question "where are the gifts today?" And there aren't any.

I spent decades in the charismatic and pentecostal worlds, and never saw any genuine gifts. There was a lot of smoke and mirrors, and a lot of snake oil being sold, but nothing real. It took me a long time to realise this, but now it's totally clear.

For example, you mention missionaries supposedly speaking foreign languages using the gift of tongues. I've heard such reports as well. But there's a big problem. These stories are always second-hand - they are just urban legends. There has never been a single case that has been investigated and found to be genuine. Rather, the opposite is true. Pentecostal missionaries have attempted it, but they failed miserably and returned in embarrassment.

Just because stories are told by Christians and circulate in the Christian community does not believe that they are true.

Every other claimed gift is the same - they just don't exist. Healing is fake and prophecy is false.

The people who introduced continuationist beliefs were at best deluded and at worst frauds. Sadly, their views have gained a foothold in the church.

I am now a convinced cessationist, as there is a Biblical case for it which is confirmed by what we see in the world. If you want to argue that the Bible teaches continuationism, fine, but please show us some credible evidence for your views.

#13  Posted by Matthew Robinson  |  Monday, March 10, 2014 at 3:53 PM

My apologies, you are correct that the imperative does contain a connecting vowel. My second question is, though, how does the context suggest the indicative reading? The proceeding verses seem to set up a Pauline imperative, his common device. He tells them to recognize his words, and whoever doesn't recognize his words is not recognized. Verse 39, then, refers back to the proceeding points. To suggest that 39 is indicative would necessitate a reading of "do these things, it is such, therefore you are doing this." It would seem that the imperative "Do these things, it is such, therefore, do this" is the only logical reading. Besides this, JM's reading would require an antithetical parallelism since κωλύετε is in the imperative as it is preceded by μὴ which is never used with the indicative (only ou). Thus the reading would have to be "You are desiring to prophesy and (you, imperative) do not desire to speak in tongues." This wouldn't make sense. Moreover, Paul's use of καὶ implies a common nature in the two verbs. If "desire" is to read in the indicative and κωλύετε is imperative, we would expect a word like δέ (or others) that would imply antithesis. that is "You are doing this, but you should do this."

#14  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, March 10, 2014 at 4:01 PM

Matthew Robinson (#13),

I believe you're mixing up the two uses. The argument is that 12:31 is indicative, but 14:39 is imperative.

#15  Posted by Jean Selden  |  Monday, March 10, 2014 at 4:12 PM


Good words. My family, as well, was involved in the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement for over twenty years. I believe that is why we are such staunch believers in the cessationist doctrine. We saw more phony miracles than we ever wished to see. Personal prophecies never fulfilled and living on the dreams of leaders who distorted the Word to their benefit were daily occurrences.

It was not until the chaos became unexplainable and our desire to make sense of what was the real truth that we were led to John MacArthur's website. We had to remove ourselves completely from all that we had been trained by--our church, our church family, and our Pastors. It took us almost a year of cleansing by the Word of God and John's accurate teachings of scripture that we finally felt our freedom from the residue of false teachings.

We pray for our friends that remain in the continuationist culture. The hold is so strong. It isn't until they are challenged by the truth that they might see. We are now in the process of teaching our relatives the real truth. I am so grateful to God. We know that God does it all, but so glad that there are people out there fighting that the truth might be heard and that souls might be saved.

#16  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, March 10, 2014 at 4:41 PM

Christopher Heady (#9),

I heartily agree that Eph 2:20 says nothing regarding the "gifts" of tongues or prophecy. However it does say that the church is "built on the foundation of apostles and prophets..." meaning, the superstructure of the church is build on top of, and not embedded with, the foundation. In other words, once the concrete solidifies, the concrete workers leave the site and the woodworkers, plumbers, and electricians do their work.

So Paul is not saying those before him, or he himself, completed the foundation, but that those called apostles and prophets are the foundation and serve a purpose for a limited time (though the effect of their work continues). So those alive after Paul (e.g. John) are still working on the foundation, but once they are off the scene, the foundation is complete. Is there evidence of this? Yes. After the death of John, there is no widespread attempt by the early church to appoint new apostles and prophets who have unique authority over all churches, or any individual church. The thrust of church leadership rests on elders.

As the footnote says, if one concedes there are no Pauline-type apostles today, one must also concede the New Testament was a unique period requiring unique commands no long applicable today. Thankfully, those kinds of commands are extremely few and far between. Another example would be Paul's instructions to Philemon. Not every imperative in the New Testament is for us today.

Also, MacArthur does not claim the prophetic word is limited to what is recorded in the Scripture. The Apostle John declares that the world could not contain the books of Jesus' life and ministry if all were told; yet we know that every word from Jesus' lips were infallible, authoritative, and inerrant. Jesus was a true prophet, but not everything He said is recorded.

Your examples of a person coming to faith and illumination are not valid examples of prophecy. Again, the Scripture never attributes such works of the Spirit as prophecy. The verbalization or understanding of truth is not itself a prophetic utterance. I can say "The sky is blue" or "God is spirit, and we must worship Him in spirit and truth," but neither are prophetic statements. If quoting a Bible verse or making a true statement were prophetic, then there would be nothing miraculous about it. Salvation and illumination are miraculous (in that they require the Spirit's intervention), but that in and of itself does not render them prophetic moments.

Christopher, it is one thing to say that a particular definition is too narrow. But I'm concerned your definition is all-encompassing. As a helpful interaction with this article, how would you define prophecy (using clear biblical texts that speak to the issue)?

#17  Posted by David N  |  Monday, March 10, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Hey Guys!

Guess who else in history had a stellar, locked down, precise theology?


I have yet to see a good argument for cessasionism. It is the weakest bunch of proof texts I have ever seen. All of this discussion is predicated on the assumption of a solid cessationist case from scripture. There is none. And, if we are to contextualize all the urgings of Paul or any other writer of the NT, then you are giving all kinds of wiggle room for other commands/urgings/advice given.

First Corinthians 1:20 says that all the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ Jesus. And in 2 Corinthians 3:6 we are clearly told that the letter kills and the Spirit gives life. I will err on the side of the Spirit.

Just because you don't understand a phenomenon or are unable to measure it correctly does not mean it is non-existent or has potential to exist. Little more than a hundred years ago a simple bacterial infection was a mystical, inexplicable occurrence.

Lack of understanding of all the gifts of the Spirit is something that occurs on both sides of this debate though. It is the reason there is such widespread misuse and abuse in their application in many charismatic circles.

The church is stuck in a limited view of God. Most modern Believers when asked how to be more godly would list prayer time, Bible study, financial giving, etc. This is the best we can come up with in order to be more like an infinite and all powerful God who created all things and possesses an infinite supply of every one of His attributes? After all, we are made in His image, have the mind of Christ and are heirs, seated with Christ in the heavenly places. Because no one lives like that doesn't mean it was not God's intent for us to do so.

I suppose no one would argue the fact that of all humans who lived, Jesus knew God the best. At the end of the story of the prodigal son the father (who Jesus was representing as God) answered the older son's complaints with an amazing statement.

"The father said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.' " Luke 15:31

Jesus would not have been careless with His words implying that God wants us to have a relationship with Him whereby we enjoy everything that God possesses. This would probably include prophecy, since it is from God and its sole intent is to reveal Christ. As with every other intention of the Father.

#18  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Monday, March 10, 2014 at 4:46 PM

It is clear that John MacArthur HAS redefined 'prophecy'. He has said that he prophesies whenever he goes into the pulpit. If he truly holds to the Biblical definition of prophesying, that is a far bolder boast than any Charismatic prophet I've heard make. Old Testament prophets 'spake as moved by the Holy Ghost.' Hermas uses similar terminology to describe second century prophets. Prophesying is speaking words the Lord has given the speaker, and so we often read 'Thus saith the Lord' in the Old Testament. Agabus said, "Thus saith the Holy Ghost." That's not just preaching, or preaching really well. Paul lists prophecy, teaching, and exhortation as separate gifts. John Piper's comments on this seem in line with scripture.

Are many cessationists disobedient to the commands of scripture to earnestly desire to prophesy, to forbid not to speak in tongues. John MacArthur assumes in the article that they aren't because he implies that the overall teaching of scripture is that these gifts have ceased. If that were the case, why couldn't he offer one lick of real Biblical evidence that they had ceased during the conference. II Timothy 3 was often quoted as 'evidence.' If that verse meant the gifts ceased, II Timothy 4 and the book of Revelation would have been uninspired. Why would Paul have told Timothy to stir up the spiritual gift that was in him if the gift would have ceased in the 5 minutes it took him to read two chapters worth of the letter? In chapter 3, Paul reminds Timothy of two sources of truth, Old Testament scripture, and the oral message he'd heard. There is no argument for cessationism here. All scripture is given that the man of God may be fully equipped. The passage does not say that scripture is all the man of God is given to be fully equipped. Cessationists who use poorl logic eisegete soemthing into the passage that isn't there.

JM's typical approach is to quote a verse that doesn't teach cessationism and paraphrase it back in a way that does. He's done this in a sermon with 'earnestly contend for the faith' in Jude. If his paraphrase were true, the rest of the book and the book of Revelation would be uninspired. He recently reparaphrased a quote from I John at Master's seminary that was on YouTube. The original quote is not cessationist. He read it into the text.

Revelation shows that there will be two witnesses who will prophesy and do miracles. Trying to argue for cessationism in the church age makes no sense. If they've ceased, there is no reason to restart them in a later era.

Paul clearly did not envision a time where the church would lack the spiritual gifts before the return of the Lord. Paul must have known he would write about tongues and prophecy before he wrote the epistle. Yet in chapter 1, he writes that they came behind in no spiritual gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. How could he write that if he were expecting cessationism to take place? (see I Cor. 1:7.)

#19  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Monday, March 10, 2014 at 4:47 PM

This version of 'absolute sufficiency of Scripture' that MacArthur believes in is unbiblical. It teaches we don't need the stuff the scriptures teach we need because we have the scriptures. It isn't taught in scripture. It contradicts scripture.

#21  Posted by G Hudd  |  Monday, March 10, 2014 at 7:50 PM

"the thoughtless are rarely wordless" Harold W. Newton

Your verbose post should take into account the fact that the N.T. Christians had no N.T. Canon completed later and we hold the answer in our hands. What's the purpose of a sign gift when we hold THE SIGN in our hands in the form of Scripture. The perspicuity of Scripture is a wonderful thing.

Piper in his wishy washy manner has found himself in Tennessee without a church, while those as MacArthur appear to have his feet solidly planted. He took a sabbatical to find himself. I guess Tennessee is where he finally did. The Lord is not playing hide and go seek with His word. It's obvious that he is not.

#22  Posted by John Cox  |  Monday, March 10, 2014 at 9:04 PM

Let's not get caught up too much in the Continuation vs Cessation argument. My view is that it's kinda a red herring that distracts from the larger issue at hand..

John's burden appears to be one of Discerning and REJECTING false teachers and those working false miracles. His burden is NOT rejecting those who teach the actual, bona-fide Gospel of Jesus and witness an actual miracle...

There is a coming world leader who brings MASSIVE and spectacular miracles with him to "Authorize" his call to worship himself/his empire... and he brings MASSIVE deception - orders of magnitude more subtle, crafty, and enchanting deception than we have seen yet...

The world at large is *Really* hungry after years of secular humanism, atheism, and apostate religion acting to keep people under control so the Rulers can rule... and are ready and willing to receive a false Messiah with open arms.

The Church is *Also* dangerously ill prepared for this.... You have on the one hand a growing Movement that calls for *No* discernment/testing of the spirits and *No* accountability or rejection of false teachers... and on the other hand - hungry people who have *Never* witnessed anything miraculous in the name of their Christ... That's a pretty dangerous combination...

What happens when the false Messiah (Anti-christ) shows up on the scene and raises a man from the dead, calls down fire from heaven on his enemies, heals sick people, etc ON NATIONAL TV... and all the world's news is talking about how miraculous this fellow is.. Interviewing the people raised from the dead, etc..... Wall to Wall on CNN... Think Morning shows and Network News pundits talking "Messiah?".. People will flock to him... Including the "Church"...

and we just aren't prepared... As individual believes within the Body of Christ - we aren't prepared to withstand that sort of deception.... and we need to be!

So... Keep it up John.

#23  Posted by David Smith  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 1:25 AM

David N #17

I certainly don't have a "stellar, locked down, precise theology"

But as I (comment #12) and Jean Seldon (comment #15) said, all that exists in charismatic circles is fake.

Theology is irrelevant to this. When people speak in unlearnt foreign languages, are healed in ways that are visible or confirmed by the medical profession, or give predictive prophecies that consistently come true, then we can worry about theology.

The problem is that there are millions of people all over the world who believe in continuationism. The sheer weight of numbers gives their views a degree of credibility (perhaps this is why John Piper is a continuationist). But, with regret and respect, I believe they are all wrong. Whenever the "gifts" they claim to possess have been examined, no evidence of the supernatural has been found. That's why I reject their theology, not least because there is an alternative theology (cessationism) that has Biblical support and is consistent with what we see in the world.

We've just had another example of how empty the continuationist claims are. On Sunday, Steve Hill, the evangelist from the Brownsville revival, died after a long struggle with skin cancer. He was just 60 years old. This pattern has been seen before - David Watson in the 1980s (aged 51), John Wimber in the 1990s (aged 63) - big proponents of divine healing who died young. All the charismatics who claim gifts of healing couldn't help them.

Imagine you put your life savings into Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme. You thought he would invest your money wisely. When the scam was exposed, what would your first reaction be? Disbelief - this can't be true - everyone trusts him - he's too big to be a crook - think of the consequences. But he pleaded guilty and he's now in jail.

Continuationism is the same. It's a massive fraud that seems very plausible and has deceived a lot of people. They've all bought the lie, and have so much invested in it that they're not going to start asking the awkward questions.

Finally, cessationism absolutely does not mean rejecting the Holy Spirit. Since I realised that continuationism is false, I have experienced far more of the Holy Spirit - love, joy, peace - in my life than ever before.

#25  Posted by Stephen John  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 4:42 AM

# 12,

David, I'm glad that you saw the light. I have dear friends who simply refuse to acknowledge, even though they KNOW. What to do?

#26  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 7:55 AM

# 17 - David N,

The Pharisees had a "precise" theology?

hmmm... that must be why Jesus Himself said "you have heard it .... but I say...", right?

#27  Posted by Lois Begly  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 8:35 AM

As a young saved Baptist I joined the Charismatic Movement, was there for 20+ years, and have subsequently left after much study and God's gracious leading me out of the Movement, for which I am eternally grateful. I originally judged the so-called 'gifts of the Spirit' to be authentic, because at the time it seemed wrong to conclude that such a miracle-working God, as we see in the Bible, could no longer be doing the things He did when the Bible was written. To say that God no longer performs miracles is to deny that He is God. It would un-God Him to believe that, and it was unconscionable to me to follow that. I could see things 'happening' that made me think God was working in our midst. People in the churches that were Charismatic or Pentacostal were so fervent in their worship, so passionate in their love for Jesus, whereas the people in my Baptist congregation were living a mundane life and were not enthused at all about God, or worship, or witnessing, etc.

I think what has taken place in the Church (the visible Body of Christ) is that people like I was, can't tolerate the view that these Divine occurrences have ceased, and so they believe we must rekindle that fire so that God will continue what He started back in Bible days. The notion is that we, Bible-believing Christians, have dropped the ball, and we must not lose our faith in a miracle-working God, so we unconsciously manufacture phenomena, or unwittingly fall for Satan's counterfeit, so that we won't be guilty of quashing the Spirit's desire to manifest Himself in our midst. To say that these things have ceased is to deny God's ability to perform them in our midst today, thereby reducing Him to a sub-powerful being. That seems blasphemous, and heretical to Charismatic/Pentacostal Christians. Since no one can deny that the Bible tells us of these extraordinary events, how can we throw them away and say that God no longer acts this way. Why would He stop acting in such powerful demonstrations?

My experience in the Movement is much like others who have commented. The 'happenings' upon close inspection were hollow inventions from well intentioned people who wanted to fit in, and maintained what was really a facade for appearance sake. To admit that takes a lot of guts and often eventually means leaving churches or close relationships because there is too much at stake to stay in a false environment. But I can assure you it is worth it, more than worth it, to come away from so much confusion and disillusionment.

It's such a shame the Devil has succeeded in sowing these seeds of deceit and false doctrine in the church, but then, we should know that this happens by God's design to identify the true from the false so we can know who the true God is and who are His true followers. Deut 13:3. We need to ask the Lord for discernment and inspect the fruit so we can know the truth. May God be gracious to us to help us do that and help as many as we can to be rescued from false doctrine.

Lois Begly

#28  Posted by Jeremiah Johnson (GTY Admin)  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 9:20 AM

G Hudd (#21),

Let's try not to get too carried away. John MacArthur still considers John Piper a good friend and a valuable ally in ministry--he made that abundantly clear during Strange Fire and again in the post above. He's lovingly addressing what he believes is the anomaly in Piper's ministry; not the norm.

We would all do well to follow his example and not be too quick to condemn.

#29  Posted by David Smith  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 9:20 AM

Stephen John #12

Another analogy I use is Roman Catholicism. If you were brought up a catholic, taught repeatedly that the catholic church is the guardian of the truth and everyone else is apostate, and your only experience of faith is catholicism, it will be incredibly difficult for you to consider an alternative. And, of course, you will have been told that your soul will be in mortal danger if you leave. It all produces an incredibly strong control system.

Charismatics and pentecostals aren't quite the same, but they still have a lot invested in their continuationist beliefs. And (I think I said this in another post) they have their own unique lock-in. If you have had a powerful experience that you were told was the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" and started speaking in tongues, God has given you personal proof that the supernatural gifts are available today. How can you deny it? Furthermore, every week at church you probably have what you believe is an encounter with God through the Holy Spirit, why should you leave that behind?

Regarding your friends, three hard words for anyone to say are "I was wrong". Another three even harder words are "I was duped", because you're effectively saying "I am dumb", even if the scam is sophisticated, like Bernie Madoff as I said before. The continuationist scam is very sophisticated and plausible - most people in the movement, leaders included, are sincere and genuine believers who have been deceived.

I strongly endorse comment #27 from Lois Begly - my views are very similar. To borrow a phrase from Lois, it takes a lot of guts to even contemplate that your experiences were just mind tricks.

All I can say is that confrontation rarely works. Losing an argument isn't going to change someone. Try to maintain the friendship, pray for them, and keep looking out for opportunities to help them see the truth. If they are open, give the the Strange Fire book - it probably is the best resource on this subject (and GTY isn't paying me to say that!).

#30  Posted by John Goodell  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 9:30 AM

As for the Pharisees having precise theology: Read Matthew chapter 5. They were perverting God's Law and Jesus is correcting some of their perversions.

#31  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 9:45 AM

1 Corinthians 13:8-10 + verse 13

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

There are several gifts that will pass away. The question is when? What is the perfect? Is it the return of Jesus? Is it The Holy Spirit, that Jesus promised to give those He calls? Is it until the last book of The New Testament was written?

I see in verse 13, something that now abide.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

#32  Posted by Michael Kennedy  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Mr. John Cox;

I agree with you's about the FALSE teachers. The ones that DON'T MAKE SENSE with their supposed teachings(?) and A-L-W-A-Y-S asking for MONEY! And they're ALWAYS LOOUUUDDD! AND NEVER SHUT UP! Cause they don't want anybody questioning them. I'm just sayin.

And a lot of them stutter!

Back when I was in "IT" and watching TBN, Jan Crouch called Benny Hinn out when he said we could " fly like birds since we have dominion over all the animals " (Hank Hannagraph tapes). Then, even Jan kept saying..."Benny...Benny..uh, I don't knowwww"... and he started stuttering, "Oh, sure, sure. He, He, He...He, (speaking of God), He was saying that we can fly like the birds...." yeah, ri-ght!! I mean any unlearned, unbeliever could say, "I don'tthinkso... to that!! Uhh...He could probably figure THAT one out! Yea, Mr. Hinn was caught in his lie right there. Unbelievable.

But because of Dr. MacArthur's studying and diligent learning practices and the Holy Spirit's quickening in us....his words will and do MAKE SENSE to a humble, ready to hear the "right truth" person.

So, yeah, I agree that we sometimes get focused on wrong things, but...there are many things that need that focus.

Thank God for John MacArthur and all the others who ARE bringing so many out of that movement. Keep up what you're doin!

#34  Posted by Christopher Heady  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 11:10 AM

We are all forgetting that Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8). Sometimes the delusion isn't from those who believe 100% in the word of God sometimes it's from those who don't 100% believe in the word of God.

Cessationists don't believe in the Bible like they say they do. The reason I say this is they deny the work of the Holy Spirit (which is almost blasphemy of the Spirit because it's almost the same as denying or denying Jesus Christ or claiming his works were done by an evil spirit: Luke 12:8-12 cf Mark 3:28-30). This denial of the Spirit is LETHAL!!! That is why I tread so lightly on the Scriptures and consider myself a "recovering fundamentalist".

There are only three "proof texts" used to show that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit have ended (these gifts being prophecy, speaking tongues, interpreting tongues, healing, the working of miracles, word of wisdom, word of knowledge: NOTICE: that this list of "ceased" gifts is nearly all the gifts listed in 1 Cor. 12:4-11).

The texts that are often used are 1 Corinthians 13:10, "But when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away." Apparently, Ephesians 2:20, "Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone." Finally, and if there are more let me know, is 1 Timothy 5:23, "No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments."

However, when you explore the nature of healings and miracles you know that God doesn't heal everyone and isn't always working miracles all the time. Instead we see these events happening sporadically throughout the the Old Testament and the New Testament/Church age. I would imagine the same is true for tongues, interpreting tongues, wisdom, prophecy, knowledge. Sporadic doesn't mean ended.

Next it all comes down to how one interprets the above passages. And there is much "flexibility" apparently to the Greek texts and to interpreting the intention of the author. So when the term in 1 Corinthians 13:10 says "when the perfect comes" can only refer to the Bible because the terms are neuter in the passage, even though this ignores the rest of the text that clearly points to the "face to face" of believers with Jesus Christ, indicating that the "perfect" is most likely referring to the return of Christ or the glorification of Christians after the return of Christ. The word "τέλειος" is rarely ever translated as "perfect" but more often, along with its relative word "τέλος", mature/maturity. The idea of "τέλειος" then isn't at all to do with the Bible, or the completion of the canon of Scripture, but the fullness or completeness of time, i.e. the return of Christ.

If it's possible to have mistranslated this passage and misinterpret this passage in such a way does't it make sense that the others could be also? Couldn't it be possible our teachers have deluded us all these years by teaching wrongly the Bible?

#35  Posted by David N  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 11:19 AM

To all the cessationists here, please lay down your Biblical case that you are standing so firmly on to defend your position.

Once again, just because you don't see evidence or something God promised is not manifest, does not translate into a case against the issue in question.

I urge you all to visit the website for the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Laboratory ( and read about the use of avatars to modify human behavior. Also, read the research of Dr. Richard Wiseman on the topic of luck. Also, read this study ( about the use of self-talk to improve measurable physical parameters. Also, read the research of Dr. Daniel Kahneman in regards to our amygdalae and how they allow or preclude us from recognizing truth. Also, read the research of Dr. John Mayer about "imagining our future selves." All of these secular scientific pursuits simply point to the fact that we are creatures designed to live by faith, just as God has instructed us and without which we cannot please Him. What we say and believe impacts our physiology in real, tangible and reproducible ways. Additionally, educate yourselves on the topic of epigenetics, which has dealt a deathblow to genetic determinism. The notion of genetic determinsim has negatively impacted the health of countless millions who cede control of their health to a notion that a predetermined destiny rules them. With God, all things are possible, right? And faith is substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, right? So why would our call to exist in faith exclude areas such as health, healing or anything else relegated to the miraculous? Perhaps what is miraculous is simply what we haven't defined yet (Col. 2:3). And why would God promise to graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32) and not do what He promised. There has to be something missing in the equation when God promises and there is no manifestation of that promise. What is it?

It is likely that everyone here who does not believe in divine healing would agree that the ability to heal someone divinely would be awesome. I have cared for countless thousands of patients. Many times I have wished that I could instantaneously touch and heal the person. Because I can't does not mean it is not God's will for us to enjoy that type of power in the church.

As time marches on science illumines the world in which we live and reveals the God we serve as an amazing designer. The cessasionist argument is simply a red herring, as one suggested, that is distracting us from the deeper issues. If the church were the spotless Bride for which Christ would gladly return, we would not be having discussions like this. But it is not. The American church is a hot mess. In most every parameter it mirrors the world - divorce, adultery, porn, etc.

Why? I think I know. Whatever the answer, Satan is enjoying his time roaring like a lion.

#37  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 12:23 PM

#34 Christopher Heady

I'm not a Greek student, so I had to look up the Greek word used:

Strong's "perfect, (a) complete in all its parts, (b) full grown, of full age, (c) specially of the completeness of Christian character"

So for me, it would make sense that those gifts are not necessary any more, when the work of the Holy Spirit is complete in the heart. Christ in us.

#38  Posted by Jean Selden  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Just reading these comments shows how divisive this issue is. I was a 2o+ year charismatic, highly involved in ministry and not once did I see anyone miraculously healed. I attended countless revivals where people were so worked up by the preacher that they would have done about anything that was suggested. I heard tongues (gibberish) and interpretations of tongues regularly. I saw people being 'slain in the spirit.' I saw the most emotional worship ever. I saw uncontrollable weeping. I heard of gold dust falling. But I never saw people change. Women were the most damaged, being the emotional creatures that they were. Feminism can thrive in these churches which ultimately leaves weak men in charge. This sort of belief system produced the most insecure believers. Competition was fierce. Hierarchy was of utmost importance to the men, although most led compromising lives of some sort. I have seen the leftovers of these teachings. The spiritual grip on these people is palpable. The confusion is disheartening. After so many years of always trying to make God work, they look worn out. My family runs into these people all of the time. We share what we know and encourage them that there is a true hope out there, but that they will have to bury their past. It is extremely difficult for them to do that, because it is ingrained in them to believe that way.

As some have written, I would have voraciously fought for my beliefs, even when I couldn't prove them because I was following the masses. It wasn't until God graciously allowed me to be seriously injured that my husband and I had to start having church at home as I was bedridden for months. We fell onto John's site and slowly began to heal. I would never recommend somebody stop going to a completely God-honoring church, but if we had not had to stay home, we wouldn't have been able to see what we were involved in. John's teachings immediately started healing us. It is nearly impossible to be objective unless you take a break, get alone with God and His Word and seek the truth.

You do not realize the bondage that you are under when you deny the sovereignty of God and His Word. I am surprised why so many would want to try and add to such perfect and complete teachings. The Bible is all that is needed. It was such a release to our family to finally know the truth. Then and only then, did we find truly the peace and love of God in the real way. No works involved. Just faith in His sovereignty and in His sovereign Word. There is nothing like it.

God bless you John for your lovingkindness for the Body of Christ.

#39  Posted by David Madden  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 12:53 PM

I agree completely; much of this argument is a red herring. What is very, very clear, however, is that we learn in Matthew 7:15-16 "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" This is where Macarthur and the others calling the charismatic movement to account demand our attention.

How much bad fruit has come from the charismatic movement? The list of their abuses and excesses is enormous: in their personal lives, in their teachings, in their use of the finances of their churches, etc. Is there any good fruit there? If there is, I do not see it.

What new or good teaching do they bring us? I meet almost no charismatics who seek to understand and teach the gospel. Their sermons are filled with wild exhortations, emotional appeals, vain repetitions of the same phrases over and over again. When they do teach something from the Bible, they pull the passages from context and use the passages for whatever purpose suits the moment. And without the desire to understand, what morale instruction they do provide is superficial and their religion is mostly one of legalism.

#40  Posted by David Smith  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Christopher Heady #34 and David N #35

Let me turn your questions around and say to you, and the continuationists, show us one shred of evidence that the miraculous gifts are operating today.

As both Jean Selden (#38) and I have said, there isn't any evidence once you check things out in detail, rather than just accepting them at face value.

We can argue theology and Biblical interpretation until the Lord returns, and we won't reach agreement. But this debate isn't an abstract matter - it has practical implications. You can convince yourselves that the Bible teaches that the gifts are around today, but until you can show this is the case in the real world, all you are doing is speculating.

On the other hand, the cessationist case has been validated by 1900 years of history, and nothing in the charismatic and pentecostal movements gives grounds to question that. And I write as someone who's seen a lot over the years.

As David Madden (#39) said, the fruit of these movements has not been good. Any discerning christian should avoid them.

#41  Posted by David N  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 3:08 PM

#40 David Smith:

Wow! You have evidence to discredit any claim of healing or a miracle over the last 1900 years!

Once again, lack of evidence, or perception for that matter, does not substantiate a claim like cessasionism. Biblical proofs do and no one has put forth a cogent Biblical cessasionist argument.

#42  Posted by Christopher Heady  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 3:20 PM

I used to think that there was 1900 years of "proof" of cessation of the Miraculous. However, the issue is that it all depends on which version of history you read. The RCC has stories of different ages of miraculous, healing gifts being present in different ministries from as early as the 2nd century. There have been ecstatic utterances recorded through out the history of the RCC in different monasteries. To shut out history altogether because it challenges your view point is myopic and dangerous. While at the same time we have to be careful to judge history through the lens of proper theology. I believe that the real reason people are "afraid" of an open but cautious continuationist view is because it challenges the very foundation of a current atmosphere of Christianity predicated on a materialistic worldview. In other words, today's Christianity is the result of the Enlightenment and the murdering of the miraculous and the attempted murder of God himself. We should have an open view because our faith should reflect that of the Scriptures and how God has only limited his gifts when he saw fit. We cannot will the miraculous gifts nor can we deny that they may still be active among even our most conservative churches, every time we pray for the sick and they recover and pray for the sinner that they may be saved.

#43  Posted by David N  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Additionally, does the fact that there are diseases today negate the truth of Psalm 103:3?

3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;

If you filter the truth of the word through the lens of your ability to measure of perceive then, as Christopher Heady alluded in #42, God is dead.

Much, if not all, of the argument against the miraculous here is based on fallible human behavior, which is a serious error.

#44  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 3:47 PM

David N (#41) and Christopher Heady (#42),

It seems like there is some confusion over what cessationism rejects. While there are clear differences between the two theological positions, the reality of miracles and healing is not one of them.

Cessationism affirms that God maintains the power to heal and perform miracles. What we deny is that the "gifts" to perform signs and wonders which were so prevalent and normative in the 1st century church are still prevalent and normative today.

God's character remains the same (which is the point of "Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever"), but He deals with His people in unique ways at unique times (Hebrews 1:1).

If you've taken the time, you've read in this comment thread repeated testimonies of what actually is prevalent in the charismatic movement, namely, hype and emotionalism with very little actual Spirit-driven miracles.

The gifts of the Spirit are His to give and dispense to whomever He wishes. They are not the right and property of only those who claim them. While there is evidence of occasional charismatic-type activity throughout the last 1900 years, it is very rare and almost always outside the orthodox stream of Christian history. As John MacArthur has often said, if the gifts were legitimate, why wouldn't the Holy Spirit pour them out on those who otherwise are the stalwarts of the truth? Why is it that they are mostly given to those who place little value on the Spirit's other gift, the Scripture? Why is it that those who are void of the true gospel are the dominant force among Charismatics (Word of Faith/Prosperity preachers, Catholics, etc.)?

It is true that the Adversary will always create false imitations of the truth, but when you study charismatic history, it rose out of spurious origins, has almost always been accompanied by unsound theology in other significant areas, and has a dismal legacy of producing solid Bible-teaching churches who promote spiritual maturity.

Again, we're not denying God's power to heal and perform unusual miracles. We're just denying that's His modus operandi in the church today. First Corinthians 12-14 was given to correct abuses, but the letters to Timothy and Titus were given to establish the normal functioning of churches and they include zero (0!) information about the miraculous spiritual gifts. That, I'm convinced, is significant.

#45  Posted by Jeremiah Johnson (GTY Admin)  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 3:57 PM

Christopher Heady and David N,

Thank you both for dismissing out of hand John MacArthur's biblical argument for cessation before he's even finished making it. There are still several posts coming in this series, and many of the texts you've mentioned will be dealt with in detail. I hope you'll both read each of them and take the time interact with John's actual arguments. Your straw men could use some rest.

#46  Posted by Christopher Heady  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 4:09 PM

To clarify: a straw man fallacy is a common type of argument and is an informal fallacy based on the misrepresentation of the original topic of argument. To be successful, a straw man argument requires that the audience be ignorant or uninformed of the original argument. So you're saying that I have presented a misrepresentation of the original argument? I started by quoting scripture and MacArthur's own comments. Show me the fallacy...

#47  Posted by Ben Enders  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 6:58 PM

Gabriel #44

You made an excellent point about Timothy and Titus. I agree that is significant.

Mr. Heady, It feels like your getting angry and you sound too intelligent for that. Post #42 looks like you’re losing it. Mr. Johnson is correct in saying you need to let Dr. MacArthur make his case before you challenge it.

#48  Posted by Charles Williamson  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 8:32 PM

How does the following contribute to the discussion?

Isa: 44:1 Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen: Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses. One shall say, I am the LORD'S; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel.

Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them show unto them. Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? You are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

#49  Posted by David Madden  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 8:55 PM

To Jean Selden (38)

What great testimony Jean. I am working to start a church in the Cordoba Province of Argentina, and this is a center a charismatic activity. Many, if not all, of the churches in the province are more or less charismatic. The damage that they have done to people already disillusioned by Catholicism is painful to witness: for many of the reasons that you mention. These may sound like dry theological debates (and oftentimes these disagreements can devolve into fruitless debates such as cessationism vs. continuationism), but the vast number of false teachers, many of them proclaiming some form of the charismatic faith, has very real-world consequences for real people.

Those of us who have tried or are trying to pick up the pieces of spiritual lives shattered by false teachers know first-hand the disastrous consequences of these ravenous wolves, who literally do destroy lives with phony miracles, fake signs, false teachings, vain exhortations. In many ways, these false teachers are more dangerous than drugs. Every drug user knows they are sinning.

Enter the true horror of what these charismatics teach. Most do not seek to understand the teachings of the bible, because they do not believe the word is sufficient. Therefore, they do not seek to understand the word. Instead, they find false assurance in dubious signs and wonders that they live in accord with God´s will, rather than finding that assurance by searching their hearts and testing the content of their hearts against the meaning of the scripture. They believe they are saved because they use a religion of legalism and dubious signs as proof of their salvation. This is also why they suffer such profound disillusionment when things go horribly wrong. They reason that Christianity is false, and there is no God. I would argue that it is ofttimes more difficult to bring a charismatic, or former charismatic, to God than a drug addict.

#50  Posted by Luis Perez  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 9:16 PM

Hi, I have 2 Questions for anyone to answer: MacArthur wrote, "The rest of scriptural teaching instructs us that we are not to expect the continuation of the miraculous gifts after a particular point." 1) Where in the Scriptures does it address this particular point and describe it as a point when miraculous gifts cease? 2) Are there any GTY sermons that anyone would recommend to me in which this "particular point" is addressed? Would be much appreciated.

#51  Posted by Christopher Heady  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 9:18 PM

I wasn't angry, not at all. Just looking at historical theology and how sometimes the historical context shapes and molds our theology. It's tough. Like Dispensationalism wasn't a thing until the 1800s and wasn't a popular tradition in American theology until after the Civil War. A war that saw half a million (500K) Americans die horrific and tragic deaths. It makes sense in that milieu that we would see a theology crop up that seeks to redefine terms concerning the return of Christ, one that spares Christians from any more terror of any future age to come... (As you may know the "secret rapture" idea originated with John Nelson Darby in the 1830s) Sometimes history is important to understand the origins of some of our theology... Sometimes we find that we don't quite question our leaders enough...

#52  Posted by Tumi Makhalane  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 10:04 PM

Great response. Its encouraging to see how Dr Piper and MacArthur can handle a dispute in a godly way. I think we should follow their example and that doesn't mean we refuse to correct each other in love. It is also very important to be willing to change our views if they are inconsistent with scripture; I decided long ago to understand something properly before believing or denying it. If I am wrong, I want to know and I can't know that I'm wrong then I can't change my views until you show me by the Scriptures. We shouldn't be afraid of ideas but should examine them biblically. May God grant us help. Grace and Peace be multiplied unto you brothers :-)

#53  Posted by Moses M  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 10:52 PM



Excellent! He has it right on! On what will happen to the church leading up to the end times. Massive deception and falling away from the church.

Not many want to believe this but the way the charismatic are moving this is how it will be. :( And so with other churches heavily into catholism and the prophetic.

At the end of the day its not how many people got healed like so many critics are proclaiming and standing firm. Not that Jesus is moving in visions and dreams like never before and people are coming to him. Does not mean they see a vision of Jesus that it must be him, they don't emphasis this. Its all about they saw jesus and saw it must be the real Jesus.

They have failed to realize that they are unknowingly defending a movement that will cripple them and drift them away from the Real Christ in the future. This is the bigger picture that they need to realize and how Solid Pastors like Dr Macarthur are constantly warning them to turn away. But critics are continuing to turn a deaf ear and think it just all very harsh and that we all need to see the improvement and testimonies of the healings.

The fact is again that generations are being taught its all good and beneficial, we need these spiritual manifestations. And this is where they have open a big huge spiritual door for them to be deceived. The enemy will make good work of this wide relax invitation. Make a vision and healing so genuine and many will flock to these leaders and be under these spiritual control.

Its already happening today many in the prophetic defending leaders who are clearly wolves but convincing others they are shepherds!

If they do not understand who are the false prophets today and can only name just 1 or 2 and start having doubts on these people. Then its just going to get worse in the future. Cause they too will neither know if they got deceived! Thinking its Biblical!

Even NDE can't verify who are the real ones to the false its all a matter of plucking bible verse to match their visions. Its all just a sense of feeling and emotional mysteries.

They make it Gospel and this is indeed very alarming. The catholics have visions to you know? Just as powerful so there is one dilemma. A catholic NDE said Jesus appeared to him said all things dividing the church is man made!!! (So call for unity!)

So the point is that it does not matter what benefits the prophetic brings. Its a catalyst that has open a huge wide spiritual door for many to be deceived and that is the point. So no matter how careful you are you can still be deceived! Since it was never meant to verify the Word of God or even come close to it. Its evolving and changing and adapting to be more deceptive!

So heed the warnings of pastors like Dr Macarthur. Be safe rather then sorry spiritually. This spiritual movement is not our friend so don't go looking for a miracle leader or you be asking for spiritual trouble. We still believe in Miracles.

#54  Posted by Russell Aubrey  |  Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 11:25 PM

I would like to provide an illustration of how dangerous the continuationist position can be to young Christians. I recently attended a baptism at a church that isn't my home church - just visiting a friend's church. Just as the Pentecostal pastor was about to dunk a 10-year-old girl, he announced to her that when he recently baptized another girl her age, "She came out of the water speaking in tongues."

"Really?" I thought to myself. And further, "Did you happen to interpret what she said, Pastor?" There was no comment from him concerning that. Wow. Nothing like putting a little pressure on the girl.

So what did she think about it later? I don't know, but I'm afraid that she may have felt somehow unworthy and not "good" enough. There was no reason to put her in such a spot. So did he perhaps damage her in any way? I don't know that either, but since she didn't come out of the water speaking in tongues, he obviously didn't do her any good.

So 1900 years of history, or not, or one way or the other, it didn't appear to be a good thing for this young girl. And if the pastor proved that it's not a good thing for one, what good can it be for all?

#55  Posted by David Smith  |  Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 12:38 AM

David N #41 and Christopher Heady #42

I would second Gabriel Powell's comment (#44).

You have misrepresented what I said and misunderstood (maybe even misrepresented) what cessationists believe.

I never said miracles have ceased. God is sovereign and can do whatever He wants. If He chooses to supernaturally intervene, that is His right, and it is not for man to tell Him what He can and can't do. But I would suggest that miracles are rare events (you can make a case from Scripture for this).

Cessationism is the view that the miraculous _gifts_ have ceased. It is attested to by 1900 years of history. Yes, there have been strange happenings throughout this time, but the evidence is so vague it does not amount to proof that the gifts continued. And if you studied (for example) islam, paganism, spiritualism, and other non-christian beliefs, you'd also find historical claims of miracles. What does this mean? Absolutely nothing, I would suggest. We can't draw any conclusions from them, because it's impossible to say exactly what happened at the time.

By way of comparison, at the Lakeland "revival", Todd Bentley claimed thousands of healings and dozens of resurrections. This was all lies. But what if you were living 100 years in the future, and came across a copy of charisma magazine from 2008 which made this claims. What would you conclude? You may not have any evidence to the contrary, and you'd wonder if there were miracles happening in Florida back then. You might even (wrongly) conclude that Todd Bentley had the gift of healing. The same principle is true for historic claims of miracles - they are likely to be false, so treat them with suspicion.

Mainstream christianity, throughout history, always took the cessationist position. Continuationism began just 100 years ago - it was invented by people who were demonstrably heretics and conmen. It originally was regarded as a seriously false teaching, and it is very strange that it somehow managed to gain a degree of acceptance in the church.

#56  Posted by Michael Kennedy  |  Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 6:57 AM

To Rudi....

John Mac. has a great sermon about the "perfect".....and it'll make sense. It's "heaven".

I would also like to mention 2 Chron. 7-14... where it says... to stay humble....(wholeheartedly willing to learn) seek my face (lean not to our own understanding).

I know that God, being all sovereign, does want us to listen to what He has written down totally, and not lean to our own thoughts about anything. He does always test us. Why? Not because He wants to bug us, but to make sure we are still and always on His tracks and not the false teachers derailed tracks. (Duet 13-3-5)

I believe because with all the interruptions of life that Satan deals out....Yeah, God knows what is going on and what will ultimately happen...but if we aren't totally fixated on God and what He says through the Good teachers (John Mac., R.C. Sproul, etc.) we will definitely drift away with those false ones???? Anyway, God bless.

To Jean #38;

I was there too... '79-to about '99 was after I met my 2nd wife (first one passed). I took her to my church and she got all freaked out when everybody was marching to "We walk, by faith" the rows of people. She didn't wanna march, but I did, but stayed with her instead and just stood there while everybody marched to and from us. She told me that her Bible didn't say what they were preaching and it wasn't for her and I didn't want to lose her, so I had a hard decision to make; was I in the right church or not??? And all the time since 1979, salvation ,God had me listening to John Mac Arthur? Yes, something was definitely wrong with my thinking and so called renewed mind! "But I didn't know what.

I made the decision to check it out to see who had the right stuff and I thank God that He used her to get me out of there. I say used her, because after 10 yrs...she divorced me because of my anger...HMMMMM? Why hadn't my anger changing after 20 yrs.?

What you said about everything you experienced was exactly what I experienced; I noticed that when people were talking sciptures, it seemed like they had to get the last word in using a you said...a lot of competition. Plus Holy Spirit laughter, name it, it was in mine too.

But I now see it as God showing me that difference of the false teachers; he used her, I believe, for just the short time we were together, to get me out of there. Knowing He hates divorce, He knew she would leave me anyway and I had no way of knowing or stopping it. I praise God because He is sovereign and He WILL do what he will do. God bless you and your new life now.

#57  Posted by Guymon Hall  |  Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 7:13 AM

In reading these comments, I'm amazed at the lack of ability to properly address issues with both a Christian attitude and a discerning mind. There is a deeper issue going on here, and I think this is the issue that underlies everything that John MacArthur has talked about: how to read, study, and understand the Bible; that issue lies at the heart of everything, and you can see it by how often phrases such as "sufficiency of Scripture" pop up.

Let's dwell on that for a moment. When Paul commands Timothy in 2 Tim. 2:15 to "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth," we must first understand that Paul's exhortation also applies to us. I think that goes without saying.

Next, let's look at Paul's directive to "be diligent", and the means he prescribes to do so, by "rightly dividing the word of truth". Paul's use of the word translated as "be diligent" specifically indicates that we are to labor in study. This means that understanding the Bible requires effort, stamina, perseverance, and diligence. If we haven't engaged ourselves in that manner, then we can't be said to have done our due diligence.

This is the same idea for which Jesus chided the two disciples on the Emmaus road. When he said to them, "foolish of heart and slow to believe," what he was saying was that they had not done their due diligence and the research required in examining the Scriptures for what they said about him, and the bit that they did know they had refused to embrace the true meaning.

So, one of the appeals against cessationism is shown to fail on this point, because I often hear the criticism, "show me a single verse that says the gifts have ceased." That's simply a cop-out used as an excuse to divert attention from the failure to do our due diligence; when MacArthur says the preponderance of Scripture points to the cessation of the miraculous gifts, of course he knows there's not an explicit verse. Rather, he has done his due diligence and reasoned it out with thorough scholarship.

Next, Paul says to "rightly divide the word of truth." A couple points on that: first, it clearly means that there is a right way and a wrong way to understand the Bible. That alone should cause us more serious contemplation of our various points of view by causing to examine ourselves and ask if we might perhaps have it wrong. I don't see that attitude reflected here in many of these comments.

Second, the word used for "rightly divide" carries with it the idea of surgical precision ("to cut sharply"). So not only are we to work hard and put forth the required effort to understand the Bible, not only is there a right answer when we seek the Scriptures, but we must be extremely precise. I think John MacArthur has more than demonstrated that to us in this matter.

So, from looking at the comments, I think we can show improvement in this area. The truth is at stake!

#58  Posted by Neal Doster  |  Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 8:27 AM

I especially appreciate those who have taking the time to post, those who were formerly charismatic. Your testimony speaks volumes to this issue. If people would take the time to realize that hype does not equate to Holy Spirit, then their evidence falls away. I am open to proof, if Christopher Heady and David N can video those individuals who have miraculous ability as first century Christians did, it’s game over. If their best argument is represented by misinforming statements like, “Wow! You have evidence to discredit any claim of healing or a miracle over the last 1900 years!”

Then it shows that they don’t even understand the argument.

Leaning cessationist but open to objective evidence.

#59  Posted by David N  |  Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 9:06 AM

Gabriel #44

Well said and I agree with a lot of what you wrote. And I think you proved my point by saying, "the gifts of the Spirit are His to give and dispense to whomever He wishes." The verses of proof for cessasionism are weak at best. Abuse and charlatan behavior do not negate the reality of what may be God's will not realized in the church. The question of why should be directed at the alarming lack of power, authority and influence of the church in both the supernatural and natural. In short, the church is not a radiant bride.

And, lumping all who believe the "gifts" are meant for the current church age with the likes of Paul Crouch or Benny Hinn is not fair or correct. There are many who believe that the "gifts" were meant to continue yet exercise in the reality that they are not normative.

I urge you all to read the references I linked to in post #35. Until we understand more fully God's rich and infinite designs of our physiology we will not fully understand how He intended for us to live. Most arguments here center round an "I'll believe it when I see it" mentality. The call and reality for Believers is quite the opposite. We see once we have believed, a reality being proved in secular science (see #35). The questions informed by current scientific pursuits should be different. Such as, do the theological constructs (definitely impacted by the science of the day) of the last several centuries accurately and appropriately foster the kind of life God intended for us to live?

For instance, there has been such an emphasis on our broken, destitute, wretched nature in the reformed and protestant movements. Who we are according to God’s word, as Believers, is stated quite differently. Perhaps the emphasis should be there. Then, as neurobehavioral scientists are finding, the church will gravitate toward and fulfill the declarative reality of what God says about us. Our “avatar” (if you will) is described throughout the word, cover to cover. And it is quite different than the current construct of most Believers. Perhaps when we begin to receive the reality of what God's word says about us then will see His "gifts" manifest again in the real and orderly way they were intended. The writer of Hebrews essentially boiled down our battle with sin to one thing - unbelief. It is "the" sin that so easily besets us. It is hard to believe the audacious statements God makes about us. Our disbelief never makes any of what God says untrue. Herein lies our battle.

1 John 4:17 In this world we are like Him (Jesus)!

*Please read the links if you want to comment with a more informed perspective.

#60  Posted by David N  |  Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 9:46 AM

Neal #58

Evidence from the last 1900 years should not discredit God's word. That is essentially what you are saying. I was simply providing hyperbole to point out the speciousness of that as proof for cessasionism.

#61  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Friends, there's been a lot of comments going various directions. Despite strong differences the interaction has been mostly cordial and productive.

Charles Williamson (#48): That text seems to be irrelevant to the discussion. The pouring of the Holy Spirit relates to the New Covenant (detailed in Ezekiel 36), and really has no bearing on the continuation of the spiritual gifts.

Luis Perez (#50): I think you'll find what you're looking for in the sermon series The Charismatic Movement. I recommend that series to all.

Guymon Hall (#57) makes a critical point when he says, "I often hear the criticism, "show me a single verse that says the gifts have ceased." That's simply a cop-out used as an excuse to divert attention from the failure to do our due diligence..." The Trinity cannot be proven by a single verse, but by various portions of Scripture and allowing Scripture to interpret itself. There is no verse in the Bible that says, "Old Testament prophets will cease at X point in time." But everyone agrees they did cease and there were 400 years of silence from God.

David N (#59): When you say, "There are many who believe that the "gifts" were meant to continue yet exercise in the reality that they are not normative," that is an astonishing admission. Because in the NT, if the gifts were anything, they were normative. To agree that they are no longer normative is to sit on the edge of cessationism properly defined.

I was thinking about this last night and realized that the more theologically conservative a charismatic church is, the less the gifts are manifested. But the more theologically aberrant a church is, the more the gifts are manifested. Tim Challies wrote an eye-opening assessment of a Worship God conference, hosted by Sovereign Grace Ministries. It points to this reality.

Regarding your post #35, it appears you're advocating for a kind of "power of positive thinking," providing scientific support for the general idea of being able to create or change reality simply by our patterns of thinking. Is that accurate?

Your reference to Hebrews is far from what the author intends. The author is not talking about unbelief regarding "the audacious statements God makes about us," but rather unbelief regarding the character and promises of God, which could be boiled down to the Gospel. Unfortunately, you're not helping your case by repeatedly misreading and misusing Scripture.

#62  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 10:35 AM

#56 Michael

... and the Apostles say, let no one deceive you with empty words... :-)

Thanks for sharing Michael. My Greek is no better than my Arabic... so it made me curious to listen to the sermon to search this out.

#63  Posted by David Smith  |  Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 10:40 AM

David N #60

You said, "Evidence from the last 1900 years should not discredit God's word..."

You just made an assumption that the Bible teaches continuationism. I don't buy that.

I take a different approach.

I say the Bible is unclear on the cessationism / continuationism question.

I'm not a theologian and I can't read a word of Greek. Forgive me if my ignorance is showing. But it is a fact that people far more educated than me disagree on this subject.

So I say where is the evidence to back up the theology.

Cessationism has 1900 years of evidence to support it.

Continuationism has nothing to support it.

The only reason people like yourself treat continuationism as a possible option is because of the pentecostal and charismatic movements. But their claims are fake, period. Find me one person who claims to have the gift of healing who has had their "healings" medically verified. Find me one person with the ability to speak in a foreign language they've never learnt. Find me one "prophet" whose predictions have come true. You won't be able to, because there aren't any. It's all a con. So why do we even consider it as an option?

Like Neal Doster (#58), I am open to objective evidence in favor of continuationism. So let's have some. I'm not holding my breath...

#66  Posted by Jennifer Phillips  |  Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 2:29 PM

Perhaps a brief explanation of some terminology may help some of the confusion.

1. Revelation

2. Prophesy

3. Illumination

4. Being led by the Spirit

It appears that sometimes people misinterpret that when they believe they are being led by the Spirit, or Scripture illuminates a truth to them, that they have received revelation or are prophesying.

#67  Posted by Todd Farr  |  Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 3:03 PM


"In short, the church is not a radiant bride."

Maybe not but I'm curious as to why you would think so. Is it pertaining to a lack of miraculous signs and wonders or a lack of holiness? Which is God's standard?

#69  Posted by Ben Enders  |  Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 6:11 PM

David N

I read the first link you posted and quite frankly I’d rather be hit by a bus than read the other ones if they are anything like the first. It brought to mind Limbaugh’s phrase “skulls full of mush”. No need to respond…I’m sure I’m just not smart enough to understand it. I do have one question. Where is the line drawn or at what point does someone cross from spirit filled believer to a Benny Hinn type fraud?

I see the fruit of Dr. MacArthur and all the people working with him to expose this “wide path”. In a country that promotes (false) tolerance and produces an overabundance of mamby-pambys; it is encouraging to see men of God stand up and tell it like it is.

#70  Posted by David N  |  Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 7:00 PM

#61 Gabriel

"Regarding your post #35, it appears you're advocating for a kind of "power of positive thinking," providing scientific support for the general idea of being able to create or change reality simply by our patterns of thinking. Is that accurate?"

I am not advocating anything. I am pointing to science to inform. And yes, what we believe can and does change our realities and destinies. It is not conjecture. It is verifiable, replicatible science. And it is evidence to help prove how and why faith works. It helps explain the beautiful creation of God.

"Your reference to Hebrews is far from what the author intends. The author is not talking about unbelief regarding "the audacious statements God makes about us," but rather unbelief regarding the character and promises of God, which could be boiled down to the Gospel. Unfortunately, you're not helping your case by repeatedly misreading and misusing Scripture."

It is exactly what the author intended. Beware against any creep of unbelief because it is the sin that so easily besets us. What I believe to be audacious are God's promises, such as, we are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, etc, etc. And that God is able to do anything for us that we ask and even imagine. The gospel is of course in its entirety audacious.

Here is the definition of audacious from google:

1. showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks.

God took an amazingly bold risk in sending His Son for you and me.

The author is talking about UNBELIEF in anything that God says. It impacts our reality, to wit the science. It impact our physiology. It impacts our children ( And it impacts how we see His word.

#71  Posted by David N  |  Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 7:08 PM

#67 Todd Farr

Great question!

Let's look at more practical issues then. Holiness might be too nebulous as well.

How about general contentedness in life, rates of divorce, addictions, lying, adultery, pornography use, cheating, slandering, gossiping and so on.

#72  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 8:45 PM

David N (#70),

There surely is no question that how we think has certain effects. That is why Scripture admonishes us repeatedly with regard to our thinking. However that is a far cry from the heretical Word of Faith theology you're getting close to describing (when you talk about changing our reality and destiny). Nevertheless, that is far off the topic of the post at hand, so I don't want to pursue it further. I just wanted to see where you're coming from, which helps me understand your overall position.

Regarding Hebrews, that too is far off topic, but I've been studying Hebrews lately, reading it repeatedly and there is no question your understanding is without warrant. You're combining subjects in and outside the book that don't come together. Being a royal priesthood is 1 Peter 2:9 and not a promise, but a present reality for believers. That God is able to do anything, etc. is from Ephesians 3:20.

To say nothing of the fact that God took no risks and never does because He is working out His eternal plan made before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:3-12).

Steve, in light of everything you're written, it is clear that you have a worldview that is vastly different than mine. It's one thing to disagree and discuss a chapter in a book, but I can't help but think that we're in different books entirely (metaphorically speaking, not referring to the Bible).

Perhaps further discussion would be far more profitable if you engaged with the actual content of this article and demonstrate where you believe the interpretation provided falls short.

#73  Posted by David N  |  Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 10:15 PM

#72 Gabriel

All of the present realities of who we are as Believers are based on promises. In fact, the entire New Covenant is based on a promise. We are who we are as Believers and children of God based on His promise and promises. When we believe those promises it has an effect in our lives.

It is interesting that some belittle the "word of faith" movement (whatever that is) when the Apostle Paul chose that exact phrase to demonstrate how we are saved, Romans 10:8. Then Paul goes on to explain the details further in vv. 9 and 10. Paul was explaining to us the process secular science only now is able to demonstrate experimentally. That is, everything we say and believe matters. And interestingly, it matters way more than we could have ever imagined and in ways we thought previously thought impossible.

I don't think this is off topic because it really boils down to whether or not we chose to believe God's word despite a paucity of evidence in the tangible world.

#74  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 1:58 AM

#56 Michael Kennedy

John MacArthur begins in the sermon with - I think.... and spend an hour or two, reaching a point. The logic following this starting point is all good and sound, but it is based on the word ”telion”.

So what is the Apostle Paul actually saying? As John MacArthur admits, the word can mean many things.

What is the perfect? ”Heaven” is the answer. If this is the conclusion, then when will these gifts then stop?

#75  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 12:56 PM

To answer my own question, I agree with John MacArthur, who answers this in a most excellent way in the sermon: 90-405.

The short answer “heaven” is a straw man, because John MacArthur deals with these gifts endings separately.

Besides that, I really love the sermon. It's a masterpiece.

#76  Posted by Mark Mathias  |  Friday, March 21, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Hi Christopher -- I would like to briefly add a commentary I recently read from the Cripplegate, regarding the 'kinds of tongues" spoken during the early church, with which I agreed:

Personally, I believe in the Bible as completed and sufficient as canonized, throughout its inexhaustible comprehensive layers. Spiros Zodhiates also does a marvelous bit of commentary of the issue of tongues. Cheers brother.

#77  Posted by Greg Lauer  |  Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Lest we forget... In all the fancy Greek grammatical analysis and whatnot, it seems to me that some are missing an excruciatingly obvious point. If one believes that the miraculous first-century gifts of the Holy Spirit continue to this day (which they clearly do not in my humble biblical opinion--nor do they need to), then will someone please, *please* explain to me the current condition of the Charismatic movement?

Seriously. I mean, what else do we need to know? Open your eyes and take a good, long, hard, honest, biblical look at what is going on in the Charismatic movement today, and then sit there and look me in the eyes and tell me it is of God. Tell me babbling in gibberish makes you an elite Christian. Tell me that rolling around on the floor and howling like a drunken baboon is in some way connected with the Third Person of the Trinity. Tell me seeking after a mystical experience is in line with God's will. Do it. I dare you.