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Friday, March 28, 2014 | Comments (37)

by John MacArthur

After providing three exegetical reasons for believing that the gift of prophecy continues beyond the apostolic era, John Piper set out to offer some critique of charismatic abuses.  The Ask Pastor John podcast addressed doctrinal and emotional abuses in episode 216, and discernment and financial abuses in episode 217. Piper’s constructive criticisms raised several issues that must be addressed.

Are Charismatic Errors/Abuses Linked to Charismatic Doctrine?

John begins by asserting, “Every charismatic abuse has its mirror image in non-charismatic abuses.  Nothing I am going to say is unique to charismatics.”[1] He encourages charismatic listeners not to feel picked on because, as he says, “I know that in some of these cases the non-charismatic church is more guilty than the charismatic.”[2]

Now, by framing the issue that way, John (at least formally) dismisses any connection between (a) the abuses he goes on to address and (b) the theology that leads to and enables those abuses. If it’s true that nothing he brings up is unique to charismatics, he is not really doing what the host asked him to do—to address charismatic abuses. It seems he doesn’t really believe that those abuses arise from the particular theology embraced by charismatics.

But I, along with the other speakers at the Strange Fire conference, contend that nothing could be further from the truth. There is a clear line from charismatic theology to a myriad of doctrinal errors and practical abuses. When a movement is built upon the conviction that feelings or emotions, rather than truth aimed at the mind, are the surest guide to the knowledge of God,[3] it is a movement ripened and ready for the abuses of aberrant theology.  Experientialism, emotionalism, and subjectivism have proved defenseless against heresy and error.

And that is precisely what we observe. Of the roughly 500 million people worldwide who self-identify as charismatics, 120 million are Roman Catholic, 24 million are anti-Trinitarian Oneness Pentecostals, and hundreds of millions would mistake the prosperity gospel, preached by many on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, for the true gospel.[4] What could possibly unite these groups who cannot agree on the most basic tenets of Christian conviction, such as the doctrine of justification and the Trinity? It is certainly not the objective truth of Scripture, but rather the shared mystical experiences of redefined spiritual gifts.

Further, the idea that God continues to speak through modern-day prophets encourages people to seek “fresh wind–fresh fire.”  After all, why depend on old revelation from God when you can get something new, something contemporary, something fresh? That temptation to prefer a new, immediate word from God and ignore the old and written Word is very strong. Sadly, charismatic churches encourage their people to yield to that temptation as a matter of normal Christian living. That throws the door wide open to every false teacher who wants to peddle aberrant theology in the name of God.  Conrad Mbewe gave a clear picture of how terrifying that can be in other parts of the world (see here and here).  He has watched the shaman-like charlatans claim to receive ongoing, subjective revelation by the Holy Spirit; exalt themselves; and lord it over others as “the man of God” in order to extract money from poor, needy, and desperate people.

The point is, there is an organic theological link between the doctrines of the charismatic movement and the abuses that arise within it. And while no one would deny that there are doctrinal errors and emotional abuses in non-charismatic churches, one would be hard pressed to trace those errors and abuses back to cessationist theology, which is built upon the sufficiency and finality of the Scriptures.

Is Cessationism a Pathway to Liberalism?

In addition to softening the criticisms from charismatics, John shifted the focus to emotionless churches, which, he believes, are on the pathway to liberalism.  He ended the episode saying, “lest I leave it unsaid, there are emotional abuses in the non-charismatic church, namely, the absence of emotion, which is probably more deadly than the excess.”[5]  That line of critique continued in episode 217:

I would say that non-charismatics taken as a whole—all the Christians who don’t practice the gifts—are far more guilty of [doctrinal and emotional abuses] than charismatics.  Think of all doctrinal errors in the history of the church. Those weren’t charismatics, by and large.  Think of all the dying mainline churches today, with all their moral and doctrinal aberrations. These aren’t charismatics.  And think of the emotional deadness in thousands of non-charismatic evangelical and mainline churches.  Those are deadly emotional abuses.  And, we just need to remember that if we target the charismatic church because of things that are happening there, doctrinally and emotionally, let’s remember the mirror image—which are equally deadly—are happening among non-charismatic churches as well.[6]

Now, first of all, it’s necessary to point out that the doctrinal errors we read about in church history cannot be laid at the feet of the charismatics because charismatic theology is not a part of church history. Protocharismatic movements, led by self-proclaimed prophets who advocated continuing revelation by the Spirit, cropped up at various points in church history.[7] However, their prophecies were summarily dismissed by the church as arrogant, presumptuous, and false; their theology was condemned as aberrant or heretical.

Secondly, no one has argued that errors and abuses exist only within charismatic churches.  That is not the issue at all.  What we’re talking about here are charismatic errors and abuses, the aberrations of doctrine and practice that are taught, promoted, developed, and/or tolerated within charismatic circles.  The Ask Pastor John podcast titles acknowledge the existence of such errors and abuses, even if the critique in those programs falls short of addressing the theology that produces the problems.

Thirdly, John refers to the emotional deadness of the mainline churches as evidence that emotional abuses exist in the cessationist camp as well, namely, the lack of emotion. However, mainline liberals are emotionally dead not because they are cessationists but because they deny fundamental doctrines of Scripture. By cutting themselves off from the gospel and the Savior, they forfeit the theology that gives life and brings joy. When mainline churches deny the inerrancy of Scripture, penal substitutionary atonement, and the deity of Christ, it’s no wonder they don’t have renewed spiritual affections—they are unregenerate. Their emotional deadness has nothing to do with their cessationism. And though there are doctrinal, emotional, discernment, and financial abuses in all kinds of churches—charismatic and cessationist, liberal and conservative—you cannot draw a straight line from those problems to a theology that insists on the sole authority and absolute sufficiency of the Scripture (i.e., cessationism). 

How Should We Deal with Charismatic Error and Abuse?

So, this debate isn’t a matter of “my church does it better than your church;” nor is it about those who are more emotional or less emotional.[8]  This is a matter of truth and error.  My pastoral duty is to call Christians to abandon all other forms of revelation, and to bind their consciences to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture alone.  That not only keeps them away from error and within the safe boundaries of Scripture—it connects them with the transforming power of God’s Word, which the Holy Spirit uses to conform Christians to the image of Christ.  It’s a ministry of love—passion for God and compassion for people.

John Piper prefers to take a more indirect approach to confronting charismatics.  In his words:

I don’t go on a warpath against charismatics.  I go on a crusade to spread truth.  I am spreading gospel-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated, Calvinistic truth everywhere, and I’m going to push it into the face of every charismatic I can find.  Because what I believe is, if they embrace the biblical system of doctrine that’s really there, it will bring all of their experiences into the right orbit around the sun of this truth.[9]

That sounds great, and I wholeheartedly affirm the need for the positive preaching of the truth.  Paul commands pastors to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.”  But there’s a negative, corrective side to pastoral ministry as well: We are also to “reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2).

You can preach a “truth crusade” to T.D. Jakes and Benny Hinn until you’re blue in the face.  They’ll smile and call you “brother,” all the way to the bank.  Their theology and practice, which are consistent with one another, need to be confronted head on, and Christians need to be warned to stay away from them.

Conclusion

The abuses that have arisen in the charismatic movement are not merely incidental to their theology; they are organically linked to it. If charismatic and continuationist leaders ignore that direct link, any call to correct errors and abuses will prove to be ineffective—you can’t deal with the fruit if you don’t deal with the root.

The final chapter of Strange Fire is called “An Open Letter to My Continuationist Friends.”  John is one of those friends. The Lord has used him mightily over decades to strengthen and encourage the church and reach the world with the message of salvation. It would be very impactful if he were to speak definitively in condemning the errors and abuses that arise in the charismatic movement.  As I wrote in Strange Fire:

I am convinced that the dangers inherent in the continuationist position are such that a clear warning needs to be issued.  There is too much at stake for my Reformed charismatic and evangelical continuationist friends to ignore the implications of their view.  As leaders in the evangelical world, they wield a great deal of influence; the trajectory they set will determine the course for the next generation of young ministers and the future of evangelicalism.  That is why a line in the sand needs to be drawn, and those who are willing to stand up and defend the Spirit’s true work must do so.[10]

John’s willingness to confront aberrant theology and practices was encouraging to hear, but my hope is that he will excel still more.  I know he will, as I will, as we pursue Christ together to our dying days.  It’s my greatest joy and pleasure to serve alongside him in all aspects of gospel ministry.



[1] Ask Pastor John, episode 216, 0:27–0:40.

[2] Ask Pastor John, episode 216, 0:21–0:55.

[3] “The common element in all these varieties of mysticism is that they all seek all (or most, or the normative, or at least a substantial part) of the knowledge of God in human feelings, which they look upon as the sole (or at least the most trustworthy, or the most direct) source of the knowledge of God” (Benjamin B. Warfield, “Mysticism and Christianity,” in The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield [Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2003], 9:653–54, lightly formatted).

[4] MacArthur, Strange Fire, 14.

[5] Ask Pastor John, episode 216, 7:34–7:47.

[6] Ask Pastor John, episode 217, 0:44–1:33.

[7] E.g., the Montanists, the Zwickau Prophets, the Quakers, and the Irvingites, to name a few.

[8] This is the subject of episode 239. While I would join John Piper in decrying the excesses of emotionalism as well as the anemia of so-called “dead orthodoxy,” it is imprudent to say that we prefer the excess of emotion to the absence of emotion. Scripture demands that we prefer neither and combat both.

[9] Ask Pastor John, episode 216, 4:09–4:40.

[10] MacArthur, Strange Fire, p. 247.


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#1  Posted by Steven Moroz  |  Friday, March 28, 2014at 11:46 AM

Dear Pastor MacArthur,

I just wanted to thank you for all your effort to purify the church from error. As nothing more than a layman, it grieves me to see all the false teaching out there, and not having the influence that you do, to make an impact for the truth. And the charismatic church, in particular seems to have no interest in correcting anyone in their ranks, unlike Paul, who publicly rebuked Peter for hypocrisy. It Is BIBLICAL. Thank You, and God Bless.

#3  Posted by Jean Selden  |  Friday, March 28, 2014at 1:50 PM

John, the most excellent of blogs that you have done.

While I am nowhere near as knowledgable as you, I am confused as to John Piper's views. Are they or are they not consistent with false teaching? At what point does his continuationist teachings become false teaching? Doesn't a little yeast spoil the whole batch?

Sincerely,

Jean

#42  Posted by Cameron Buettel  |  Monday, March 31, 2014at 10:46 AM

Jean, John MacArthur is trying to have a mature ongoing theological discussion in response to a friend with a good track record of sound preaching and teaching. The issue with John Piper has never really been about false doctrine but rather that his openness to the continuation of prophetic gifts has caused three major problems. Firstly, it has compromised his ability to be a voice of correction regarding many of the abuses and errors that have come out of the charismatic movement. Secondly, his silence has sometimes lent credibility and cover for egregious false teaching. Thirdly, though many continuationists verbally subscribe to biblical sufficiency, their openness to modern prophecy places a permanent question mark over the doctrine of sufficiency.

It is for those reasons that I believe this is a necessary discussion to have. I think MacArthur is genuinely hopeful that his friend John Piper will reconsider his position in the light of the dangers presented.

#4  Posted by George Canady  |  Friday, March 28, 2014at 2:28 PM

Do we consider D.M Lloyd-Jones' views on these things to be a part of "Church history"?

#7  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Friday, March 28, 2014at 4:34 PM

Hello George,

In the context of both John's statements, they are clearly referring to Church history prior to the 20th century. Nevertheless, I think you might find this article helpful to show that Lloyd-Jones should not be considered a charismatic in the typical sense.

#40  Posted by George Canady  |  Monday, March 31, 2014at 6:41 AM

His views, not the man.

#5  Posted by Vic Nicholls  |  Friday, March 28, 2014at 4:08 PM

Thank you Pastor MacArthur, for leading the fight for truth.

#6  Posted by Tumi Makhalane  |  Friday, March 28, 2014at 4:24 PM

Great article. May God help us all to purge sin from ourselves. Fellowship is so important to the church; and that means all of us need correction and encouragement. This world is fading away; the inner man is being renewed daily. May our lives focus on what matters most: Christlikeness. May God breed more committed disciples. Its been a joy and rebuke to me to observe the profound blessing of Piper and MacArthur. What a rich blessings they are to me. Admirable weak clay pots; made beautiful by Christ.

#8  Posted by Aaron Darlington  |  Friday, March 28, 2014at 4:36 PM

This is necessary, beneficial, edifying, and Christ-exalting. Thank you, Dr. MacArthur. After you finished preaching the entire New Testament, you mentioned that your work was now complete, but it wasn't. Taking this stand at this hour when no one else was is just another reminder why you are still here. Thank you for the loving heart toward Dr. Piper, as he is another very cherished gift to the church.

#12  Posted by Walter Schroedter  |  Saturday, March 29, 2014at 7:00 AM

Dear John,

Thank-you for showing clearly that the cessationist position is not a spawning ground for error and abuses in the same way that the continuationist position is. There is really no correlation. I couldn't agree more!

#13  Posted by Randy And Phyllis Stackhouse  |  Saturday, March 29, 2014at 7:38 AM

Thank you Pastor John for your clear Biblical teaching on this matter. I praise God that He used your ministry to snatch me from the Charismatic Movement. I too would like to know the answer to Jean #3. I have to say that it is easy to be swayed too far to the other extreme of thinking everyone is a "false teacher" after experiencing the abuses and unbiblical teaching of the Charismatic Movement. I, too, wonder when continuists views become false.

#15  Posted by Vic Nicholls  |  Saturday, March 29, 2014at 9:27 AM

Same here - I came from a charismatic church that once they started changing over to one, I left.

#16  Posted by Tom Horn  |  Saturday, March 29, 2014at 9:57 AM

Dear John,

It is interesting to see that no-one has mentioned the clearest and most consistent teaching of this passage. The language itself will not allow "the perfect" to be the Lord Jesus Christ. "the Perfect" or "complete" is the whole cannon of God's Word. There is no need for these sign gifts that were given to the Lord's first churches anymore. We now have the complete Word of God. We know what things and institutions are of God, not by accompanying gifts and signs, but by their conformity to Gods Word. The precious Word of God IS ENOUGH.

#19  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Saturday, March 29, 2014at 10:27 AM

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.” (John 17:6-8)

The word is the divine gift from the Father to Christ, and from Him to the Apostles to faithful teachers, and to me.

Do you already have the word of Salvation? Or do you listen to some modern false prophet?

That’s my two cents.

#21  Posted by Michael Keuler  |  Saturday, March 29, 2014at 12:07 PM

I too am very interested in this subject. I have received most of my sermons, (of Pastor MacArthur), from my Father. I view and listen to a lot of them on the web site. I have purchased a few of Pastor John's books, including Strange fire, I just haven't read it yet. I am a slow reader. I must say the cessationist view will not become false unless they go against God's Word. I believe if God wanted us to continue along with the Holy Spirit, of performing miracles and the likes, there would be instruction on this matter. Also, tolerance, must be used very cautiously in our spreading the "Good News". Just look at the Presbyterian Church. This is a perfect example of spinning the doctrines. I thank God my Father had a say in keeping our little country Presbyterian Church siding with the Calvinistic reformed doctrine. We must pray for our good Pastor/Teachers like John MacArthur, R. C. Sproul, that God will keep us supplied with these inspired, very dedicated men that we have been able to learn and enjoy for all these years.

#17  Posted by Diane Miller  |  Saturday, March 29, 2014at 10:03 AM

I want to thank you Dr.MacArthur, for these posts and for all the others who who are willing to be used by God to stand with the Strange Fire Conference and the book.

I was one of those who was deceived in this movement and with much anguish was able to get out because of listening to Hank Hanegraff in the past and now reaffirming what I've learned with you.

It was hard for me to accept that a true believer could be deceived and forgiven.

I pray that all of you will be strong and courageous as you remain in this battle for truth with so many being deceived.

#18  Posted by Mae Ella Jones  |  Saturday, March 29, 2014at 10:22 AM

Thank you Pastor for the clear teaching from the word of God on this issue.

My husband and I where not aware of this controversy in the church until the Strange fire conference. We thought that the gifts of tongues and prophecy had ceased but had not talked to anyone about it. It is reassuring to understand this issue scriptuarlly. It has opened up more of our understanding and discussions about the bible.

Those who teacher this movement of continuation of prophecy, are stating that the Bible is not complete and that we need more revelation. This is dangerous, Rev.22:18-19.

I consider them false teachers.

#20  Posted by Daniel Beck  |  Saturday, March 29, 2014at 11:42 AM

As a Christian who is not familiar with John Piper, and who just started reading Strange Fire and watching the conference online, I am confused as to how a pastor can embrace both the Charismatic Continuationist doctrine and the Cessationist pure and truthful evangelical doctrine at the same time which seems to be the case with Pastor Piper? I am definitely not doubting Pastor MacArthur, an ordained minister who is disciplined in the Bible with 50 years of preaching and teaching under his belt. I'm just not clear about how Pastor Piper's position/doctrine differs from the typical Charismatic's doctrine. If anyone can explain this to me I would be most grateful.

#43  Posted by Cameron Buettel  |  Monday, March 31, 2014at 10:54 AM

Daniel, John Piper is a widely respected preacher who has been a long time staunch proclaimer and defender of reformed theology as it pertains to the gospel. He has made great contributions in the areas of God's sovereignty and the primacy of God's glory. In those areas both he and MacArthur are very much on the same page. Furthermore John Piper is not a charismatic, per se, but someone with a theology that is open to the possibility of certain charismatic gifts continuing to operate in the modern church. Put simply, while Piper would not be classed as a charismatic, he is a theologian who has been continually open and accommodating to their claims.

#44  Posted by Daniel Beck  |  Monday, March 31, 2014at 3:43 PM

Hi Cameron, I thank you for clarifying that for myself and also Jean who I think, basically had the same question as me. I am very glad that Pastor MacArthur is taking his Biblical duty as a pastor to the max by Publicly calling out, and questioning those who preach false doctrine. From what I now know about Pastor Piper, I pray that he gets on board with John and the others, with the Strange Fire teaching for the sake of God's Glory, and for the sake of the millions of believers and non-believers who have yet to come to Christ. Praise be to God in Heaven The Most High, in Jesus name, Amen!

#22  Posted by Michael Wheelhouse Jr.  |  Saturday, March 29, 2014at 4:28 PM

Amen. This is one of the best pieces written on this subject that I have encountered. Thank you pastor John, and may the Lord bless this understanding to strengthen others with the resolve of it's message.

#23  Posted by Cody Theman  |  Saturday, March 29, 2014at 9:25 PM

Dear John,

I am deeply concerned about these blog posts. You have not provided scriptures to clearly and Biblically rebuke or correct Dr Piper. You are arguing yes and you are drawing lines. But are you really giving grace? No. You are causing division and disunity and you bring division in the body of Christ amongst dear brothers. You argue your position well and convincingly, that is, unless one checks the scriptures and sees that your arguments are not based on sound hermeneutics. When you could and perhaps should teach the truth with conviction, you instead spend your time fighting brothers. I respect your point of view, even if I disagree with it. I count you as a brother in Christ. However, I believe you are being arrogant and proud to assume that you alone interpret scriptures rightly. We continuationists believe we are also interpreting scriptures rightly. Is this really a matter of "first importance" though? Can we not disagree when it is not clearly heresy any more than you claiming the Holy Spirit has ceased to be active in seemingly more spectacular ways is heresy?

I am deeply disappointed in you and your focus has shifted from the gospel to straining out the perceived errors in the eyes of your brothers.

How shameful that you have departed focusing on the truth to instead pick at and cause division amongst brothers.

Where is your grace? Where is your charity? Where is your kindness?

You act as if our orthodox brothers are the enemy when so many heretics and false teachers of Mormonism, the LDS and Muslims teach outright doctrines of demons.

Perhaps you should focus on these real threats against the gospel instead?

Please continue to preach against heretics but stop preaching against orthodox brothers.

Respectfully,

Cody

#24  Posted by Jean Selden  |  Sunday, March 30, 2014at 12:20 AM

Cody,

I see nowhere that John did not accurately biblically support his viewpoint. It might be wise for you to be just as concise when making accusations.

I believe that John has extended grace where grace is due and never have I felt any sort of divisiveness in his teachings.

As I came out of a continuationist belief system, I understand that our most dangerous enemies are within the churches claiming devotion to Christ but following false doctrines. I once felt as you did until finally getting correct doctrinal teaching of scriptures from John and studying the scriptures myself.

The damage that I have personally seen by these continuationist teachings within the church are devastating. My family is now in the midst of ministering to several that are still in these churches. Progress is slow, but with the help from God and the Strange Fire seminar resources, people are starting to see that their beliefs have been based on works and not faith.

I have yet to see the damage received from cessationist teachings.

I pray the best for you.

Jean

#26  Posted by Vic Nicholls  |  Sunday, March 30, 2014at 2:42 AM

Why should grace, charity and kindness be shown to incorrect interpretation any more than any other incorrect interpretation of the Bible? In the Bible we are commanded to correct "brothers". If you don't accept the correct interpretation that's one thing, but when its exposed, as commanded in the Bible, then a correct attitude towards that is what a child of Christ is to have.

Because any interpretation that's incorrect is as much a threat as any other one.

#27  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Sunday, March 30, 2014at 3:50 AM

#23 Cody Theman

And that is really, really, really a deep problem.

2 Peter 2 and Jude, and the rest of the Bible, never calls false prophets a brother.

#28  Posted by Bryan Shaw  |  Sunday, March 30, 2014at 8:13 AM

Cody,

You might be mistaking John MacArthur's confidence in God's word, and his eagerness and joy in preaching it, with personal arrogance and pride. But lets say you're right for the moment, and that John is "shameful", "arrogant", and "proud." Where's the grace brother?

To be sure, God blesses his church with so many gifts that we should never complain or fret that we don't get them all (although I am very thankful for the ones He gave me). For example, I know that apostolic-style healing has ceased and is not a gift that is currently administered by God.

A few years ago when my first-born, four month old son Noah was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma (cancer in both eyes), we had a non-cessationist person visit our house during the period of chemotherapy. She was an old family friend and told us that it was not God's will for our son to have cancer and that our faith could heal him. There was just one small problem with her hypothesis. I was a post-doctoral fellow in chemical biology at Harvard and understood what was happening after the doctor's partially sequenced my son's 13th chromosome and told me the results. My son was missing one copy of the Rb1 tumor suppressor gene (we are meant to have two, by nature). This genetic void was in-borne and the cause of his eye cancer. Noah was genetically programmed--he was knit together--to get eye cancer. The tumors had been growing even in his mother's womb. I thank God that He let us understand what was happening to us, and that He was behind everything and in control (I didn't need DNA sequencing to tell me that, but it certainly helped considering the circumstances!). My wife and I are blessed, because children are a blessing (even if they come to you with tumors). I prayed for Noah's survival. For some reason, I prayed that he would live at least long enough to read God's word and delight in his savior. And he survived and only lost one eye (because of God's gift of proton beam radiation, carboplatin, vincristine, awesome lasers, and the best doctors in Boston). Noah started reading at 2 and is now 6. If Jesus was physically present in my home (or even Paul), I know He would regenerate my son's right eye, which is an empty orbit, and that He would repair the retina in the left that is riddled with dead tumors and makes it difficult for Noah to see clearly. Cody, do you really think anyone else on earth can do that? If so, do you have their address or cell? John Piper suggests that such people exist. What a mean joke. Keep up the good work John MacArthur!!!

Bryan F. Shaw

P.S. Our story is being told by NPR this month; google the name for a preview.

#25  Posted by Manuel Jr. Reyes  |  Sunday, March 30, 2014at 2:03 AM

Pastor MacArthur has been dropping the a-bombs here. I could here the reverberations from places. Teachers ought to teach and preach the Truth. I agree with Pastor MacArthur when he emphasizes that correction and rebuke is tantamount to the previous.

Emotionalism, humanism, fresh revelations, fresh fires, etc. are such easy spirits to get along with; they are very very catchy, seeker friendly, and easily sets any person in the groove and mood - no sweat.

Notwithstanding, "blessed" are those who build their house not on sand but (with all efforts of establishing firm foundations) over a very hard rock. So that when the inevitable and imminent storm (judgment) comes, their house will stand still.

Thank God and thank you Pastor for this ministry!

I think Pastor Piper is lifting up his church over Grace Community Church and other evangelical church as I read over the lines. But Pastor MacArthur was humble not to depart from the basis of his argument and not compare his hood to others. Such a wonderful example from a leader who lovingly rebukes and defends the power and rigidity of "Sola Scriptura".

Thanks for reminding us that Charismata was never a part of the long legacy of Church History. They are just pushing their way in. May God forbid.

#29  Posted by Jeanne Smith  |  Sunday, March 30, 2014at 8:35 AM

I was in both the Charismatic movement and the occult. What I witnessed in the occult, I witnessed in the Charismatic movement. Dreams and visions, speaking in tongues, feeling fire and tingling sensations, and on and on. In the occult, we sought wisdom from the spirit word through various means such as circle casting and by emptying ourselves of thought so these spirits would come into us and give us power. When I was in the Charismatic movement, even though the techniques of experiencing the spiritual world changed, seeking communion with the divine was deeply sought through Christian techniques such as prayer and fasting. Dreams and visions, speaking in tongues, and all the other "evidences" of the indwelling "baptism" of the Holy Spirit were sought after and highly prized in the church I was in. It was spiritually abusive because those of us who "had it" were elevated above those who "didn't have it." In summary I have to be blunt by saying stay away from the Charismatic movement because it is not of G-d. If you experienced what I have in both the occult and Charismatic movement you would run away from even considering it. What grieves me now is that the occult and false teaching of the Charismatic movement has infiltrated the church at large. It is scary but is an opportunity for bold witness. I ran from this movement to escape the spiritual deception to the biblical church. If Christians don't expose the false teaching and false teachers and their non-Charismatic accomplices and this heresy takes over, where will people like me run? Think about it.

#30  Posted by Diane Miller  |  Sunday, March 30, 2014at 10:11 AM

After I left the Charismatic/Pentacostal movement I thought I was safe in a Non-Pentacostal Church, but I was wrong. I found that many churches including the one I joined after leaving the Pentacostal Movement are not charismatic per say, but when I looked deeper I found there are many who have been influenced one way or the other by it. I found that the reason that the leadership will not speak out against the Charismatic/Prosperity Movement is that they do not want to offend their congregants with this backround or influence.

The danger I saw of this is that it allowed the seeds of the Charismatic/Prosperity Movement to be scattered amoungst the congregation and to grow and spread like weeds. That is why I believe this stand against truth is well overdue and why I believe it is the leaderships responsibility to seek the truth and speak on these matters.

I hope and pray that many more leaders of churches will boldly take issue with this matter.

#34  Posted by John Deckert  |  Sunday, March 30, 2014at 1:36 PM

FORMER MYSTIC and "CHARISMATIC TONGUES SPEAKER"

I have learned a lot from these recent blogs. It's very helpful to hear MacArthur defend and confront false doctrines on tongues and prophesy. The past 11 years I have been convinced that cessationism is what the bible teaches. I may not be able to articulate it well but regardless I can not be swayed to believe otherwise. MacArthur has done a fantastic job defending truth and I was tickled to hear nearly a year ago that a man with such influence would take on such a task. How do you unravel a ball of bad of doctrine wound up for 100 years? One verse at a time.

Prior to the age of 24 I had been a charismatic and was a part of desiring and practicing"charismatic" gifts such as tongues, being a prophet, desiring angelic visitations, and special revelations. It has been very troubling to me as I have wondered why this happened to me. Looking back I have questioned if I ever knew the Lord during my "charismatic" involvement. It was in 2003 that I was introduced to the "doctrines of grace" through the preaching of Paul Washer. I have never been the same since. My desire for mystical experience and knowledge was exchanged for a desire for the word of God.

As for the confusion and questioning that I once had regarding why God would allow me to get mixed up in the charismatic movement. I can say my questions are being answered more all the time. I have been able to see things more clearly and it has been very encouraging for my heart. I have run into many charismatics some which are very dear to me in which I have been able to biblically warn them of the dangers of the charismatic movement. Like clockwork whenever I warn the charismatic he immediately appeals to mystical experiences and feelings as the anchor of truth and I can respond and say I have chased and experienced all those things and have experienced even more fantastical than all that you claim but my advice to you is to RUN. Run as fast as you can. These mystical experiences and desires are no different than illegal drugs. They are against God's commands, they are addictive, progressive, and eventually lead you to destruction. You won't find truth in it, you will only find error. Lot's of error. Who is the author of LIES? Not my God.

#35  Posted by K. T.  |  Sunday, March 30, 2014at 1:47 PM

I would expect to find the answer to what "the perfect" is referring to, WITHIN the Bible itself, since it is its own commentary. I believe this is what "the perfect" is referring to:

"For THE LAW MADE NOTHING PERFECT, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God." (Hebrews 7:19)

"For IF THAT FIRST COVENANT HAD BEEN FAULTLESS, then should no place have been sought for the second." (Hebrews 8:7)

Here we have direct references to the Old Testament and the old covenant. The book of Hebrews directly states that it was imperfect and faulty, and indirectly states the new covenant is perfect and faultless.

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Now, I understand that most people would interpret that verse to refer to the second coming of Christ, but I'm arriving at a different interpretation based on the following verses:

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:18)

"For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

But whoso looketh into THE PERFECT LAW OF LIBERTY, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." (James 1:23-25)

These verses obviously refer to the ongoing process of sanctification of the believer.

"I always thank my God for you because of God’s grace given to you in Christ Jesus, that by Him you were enriched in everything—in all speech and all knowledge. In this way, the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you, so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly WAIT for the REVELATION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; you were called by Him into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:4-9 [HCSB])

"The REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST that God gave Him to show His slaves what must quickly take place. He sent it and signified it through His angel to His slave John, who testified to God’s word and to the testimony about Jesus Christ, in all he saw. The one who reads this is blessed, and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep what is written in it are blessed, because the time is near!" (Revelation 1:1-3 [HCSB])

"the perfect" refers to "the perfect law of liberty" referring to "Jesus Christ" referring to "the Word of God" referring to the "second covenant".

#36  Posted by Rachel Mclish  |  Sunday, March 30, 2014at 2:17 PM

I thank our Lord in Heaven for Pastor John MacArthur, who reminds us, by example to worship God in spirit and in truth. Continued blessings to this man of God.

#39  Posted by George Canady  |  Monday, March 31, 2014at 6:25 AM

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#41  Posted by Horace Ward  |  Monday, March 31, 2014at 8:09 AM

I'm not understanding this "hands off approach" in the rebuke, & reproach that John Piper is taking. He, for the most part over the years has been pretty solid in expository teaching.

There are more than a few pastors out there that support this continuationist belief that are "spot on" in just about every other area in scripture except in this belief.

To say that there continues to be revelation is totally contrary to what the Bible commands; "If anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book - If anyone shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life and out of the Holy City and from the things which are written in this book.

#45  Posted by John Cox  |  Tuesday, April 01, 2014at 6:12 PM

The thing that worries me most about "Going easy" on those who Declare the Name of the Lord on that which it isn't....

Read through the Bible....

Nearly every time you find a "True prophet" - you ALSO find plenty of False prophets.... Read the accounts of the Abuse the "True prophets" suffered at the hands of the False prophets.... For every 1 REAL prophet - there could easily have been Hundreds of false prophets!

If you aren't willing to purge out those working False Miracles and speaking false Prophecies - you will quickly find yourself overwhelmed .. Literally - swamped with Deception and Lies.... and the "True" word of God gets pushed out....

Guess what... Just like it was a major factor in the downfall of Israel - it has caused the downfall of numerous Cristian churches and denominations.. and will continue to do so....

So... You see a "Prophet"... Observe their "Works" ... Does what they "Declare" come true in a testable way? This is 100% important!

Are they willing to be subjected to Scrutiny? To give you "Names" of those they have prophesied over so you can go back and verify.... Guess what - a REAL prophet has NOTHING to hide! If not - that's a REAL clue right there.... If they are always going from place to place - declaring "The Word" and then leaving before Scrutiny catches up.... That's a CLUE....

This is where "Testing the Spirits" is SO important.....

Does this person "In the Spirit" fully confess that Jesus the Messiah is the Son of God made Flesh - incarnated bodily onto Earth... Died on the cross and rose again on the 3rd day and still lives in the flesh.

Guess what... this is where most of them fall apart... You start hearing "Weasley" stuff that should make you pay attention... They ramble around stuff like... Jesus was a great teacher... that He died on the cross (but being weasley about anything else - unwilling to confess he Rose again)... A great prophet.. that he was A way to heaven... They only pray to the Father (Lord) or to some other "Saint" and aren't willing to pray specifically to and in the name of Jesus himself....

And yes.... Many, many churches are more than willing to happily swallow False Prophesy.....

Once again - great insight John.

#46  Posted by Janie Hildebrand  |  Wednesday, April 02, 2014at 8:43 AM

It appears that with the introduction of this new definition of fallible prophecy, the church has come full circle whereby she now asks, "Did God really say?" Little does she know that fruit will leave her naked and ashamed.

Wait! Am I prophesying now? I guess they'll have to be the judge.

#47  Posted by Janie Hildebrand  |  Wednesday, April 02, 2014at 11:50 AM

I also just wanted to say that I am so very grateful that when Jesus told us to keep watch, He did not leave us without watchmen.

Thank you, Pastor MacArthur for loving the sheep, protecting them and keeping them safe. Because of your faithfulness, we will not be caught off guard, nor will our lamps be without oil upon our Savior's return.

May God bless you with every blessing in Christ!