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Strange Fire: What Now?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 | Comments (27)

Good news! The audio and video from the Strange Fire conference is coming soon here (with more on the way). You can help Grace to You share this powerful teaching with as many people as possible by directing them to gty.org. And whether you saw it as a conference attendee or you’re planning to catch up online, we know you’ll be encouraged, exhorted, and enriched by these resources.

If you attended the conference or watched the live stream, the obvious question is, “What now?” How do we take what we learned over three intense days and live it out in our daily lives?

The first step is to be humble. No one has ever been forced into God’s kingdom. Rather than hammering friends and family with theological arguments, we need to keep in mind the focus of the conference—the sufficiency of Scripture and the true work of the Holy Spirit. Lovingly proclaim those truths.

We also need to commit ourselves to the local church. Whether or not your congregation is charismatic or has coninuationist leanings or not, you’ll never be able to make a difference from the fringes. Find a way to use your giftedness for the service of your church. Get involved, serve, and support the godly men the Lord put in place to shepherd and lead you.

On the other side of the debate, there are undoubtedly charismatics and continuationists who were unswayed—and possibly even angered—by Strange Fire. If you are one of those people, we would still plead with you to consider and apply three important points raised during the conference that will benefit you and your church.

First, please don’t judge the conference based on sound bites. The temptation is to pull out the punchiest, spiciest few seconds of teaching, regardless of context. That’s neither a productive way nor an honest way to deal with the content of the conference. This isn’t a trivial debate—it’s an important discussion about the sufficiency of Scripture and the way God’s Spirit works in His people.

Second, please carefully evaluate your view of Scripture. Is the Bible the ultimate arbiter in interpreting the experiential aspect of your Christian life? How tolerant are you of extrabiblical revelation, and are you careful to submit it to the Word of God? The same goes for your church—your congregation probably affirms the Bible’s inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency, but does its practice line up with that affirmation?

Third, please consider how you can benefit the charismatic movement from the inside. No one can honestly deny there are rank heretics and charlatans roaming the charismatic landscape. Ask yourself if you or your church has a doctrinal dividing line that, when crossed, demands denunciation and separation. And if that line exists, where and how is it drawn? If you are in a charismatic church that faithfully preaches the gospel but simply ignores false teachers who are charismatic, your silence legitimizes their ministries and expands their influence. For months, John MacArthur has been encouraging faithful charismatics to be the loudest voices of critique regarding charismatic excesses and abuses. We echo that encouragement and want to support your stand for the truth.

There is one other group we’d like to address in the wake of Strange Fire—the folks on either side of the debate who are simply sad, tired, and wish the whole matter would just go away. That group is made up of cessationists, continuationists, and charismatics who had set aside their differences in the name of unity and love, and now feel as though a bomb has gone off in the midst of their beloved middle ground.

If you’re one of those people, please understand that the decision to hold the Strange Fire conference was not made capriciously. Strange Fire was a response to a tidal wave of dangerous, damning lies that are leading hundreds of millions of people to hell. Unity through silence has not held back that tidal wave—it’s sweeping across the global church. Truth does matter, and it’s worth fighting for.

We look forward to seeing and hearing about the fruit the Lord brings forth from the proclamation of His Word.

GTY Staff


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#1  Posted by Aurora Louvet  |  Wednesday, October 23, 2013at 4:43 PM

My heartfelt thanks to all GTY staff, Dr John MacArthur, Dr Steve Lawson, Conrad Mbewe and all the other speakers who led us during this extraordinary conference. I was so blessed and privileged to attend this historical event and receive the deep truths which were made clear to us, my faith was enriched and my love for the Word lifted even higher. May the Lord use all that has been imparted mightily for His kingdom, as His Word never returns void.

#2  Posted by Simone Goyeneche  |  Wednesday, October 23, 2013at 5:17 PM

I saw the Strange Fire conference on live stream. I set aside the week for it and was not disappointed. What a blessing to have the technology to be able to participate in this great work of teaching when I am unable to be there personally. So sorry I was not able to see the other breakout speakers since they weren't streamed. I was wondering if they will be included on your website? Bless you all for a wonderful, informative opportunity. Listening to John Mac Arthur on You Tube on the recommendation of my daughter turned on a light for me and finally led me to what true Christianity is. Finally, I have the truth after so many years of searching.

#3  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Wednesday, October 23, 2013at 6:00 PM

Hello Aurora:

Good to see you made it home safely to Europe after the conference. Our family enjoyed the time with you, and we hope to see you out our way again.

Our prayers are with you as you fight to stay strong in the Word of God, alone.

Yours in Christ,

Travis

#4  Posted by Francisco Ramirez  |  Wednesday, October 23, 2013at 8:40 PM

My thanks to John MacArthur and gty.for this great conference , I attended with my wife, we both had a great experience ,and overwhelm by the hospitality of the staff, of gty..great people..even though I was not able to shake hands with pastor John MacArthur ,my son was disappointed because I dint take a picture with him...but told him there were a lot a people,,,,maybe next time..any way my thanks to Gty,for this great conference ,,we love you all.. God bless

#6  Posted by Andrew Pegman  |  Wednesday, October 23, 2013at 9:04 PM

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#7  Posted by Manuel Jr. Reyes  |  Thursday, October 24, 2013at 2:13 AM

Praise the Lord for the Strange Fire Conference! Every believer needs to get a good grasp about the heart of this conference. Thank God and thank you for your brave ministry. We hope for more kinds of this. God bless us!

#8  Posted by Jn Bolt  |  Thursday, October 24, 2013at 4:22 AM

The true church has a few defining characteristics. 1) The word of God must be faithfully preached. 2) The sacraments must be faithfully administered. 3) Discipline must be faithfully executed. If your church is lacking one or more of these characteristics, then your church is not actually a church. The best course of action is to flee, even if there is not another church to join. No sheep should have to wander alone, but that is better than staying in the house of the enemy. On the other hand, if your church contains these three characteristics, you must stay and pray that God will grant maturity and wisdom to your leaders.

#9  Posted by David Fendt  |  Thursday, October 24, 2013at 4:43 AM

Hello, Andrew,

After just reading your post, my wife and I can sympathize with your situation. My suggestion would be an in-depth study of Jeremiah, and also a great book that's helped us in understanding the Doctrines of Grace, and how God is sovereign over everything, including our time and place on this earth, is by Dr. Steven Lawson titled Foundations of Grace. We pray for your situation and hope this can be helpful. Continue to be salt and light.

God bless.

#10  Posted by Jeremy Chambers  |  Thursday, October 24, 2013at 6:53 AM

I would love to see more dialogue and textual discussion between your speakers and theologians like Piper, Grudem, Carson, and Storms. Maybe at a Gospel Coalition Conference or something?

While I whole-heartedly agree with you about the errors of the Faith and Prosperity movement, I would like to see you engage others with your arguments concerning the discontinuation of the gifts in general.

Proverbs 18:17 (ESV)

"The one who states his case first seems right,

until the other comes and examines him."

#11  Posted by Andrea Ferro  |  Thursday, October 24, 2013at 7:23 AM

Thank you for the conference and caring enough to tell the truth. I have been seeing so much bitterness toward John MacArthur on the web and I really don't understand it. I've always loved hearing God's word taught with authority and conviction. I have a great desire to be obedient to Christ and to know absolute truth. I crave it and I know John MacArthur's teachings have helped bring me to that place. Thanks again, to all the speakers, for the Strange Fire conference.

#12  Posted by Steve Carlton  |  Thursday, October 24, 2013at 8:27 AM

I understand the danger of sound bites. So, Mr. MacArthur, I will instead ask you plainly and directly . I am a charismatic believer. I believe that the gifts of the Spirit are for today, and that Jesus still heals today. I engage in worship that is distinctly charismatic in style. I have had real-time experiential encounters with Christ, and I believe that God speaks to me, not all the time, but regularly. I believe that the Holy Spirit lives and works in me, and that His primary goal and process is to mature me into a man who thinks, feels and acts like Jesus. Are you, John MacArthur, saying that, given my beliefs, I am (a) not really a follower of Christ, (b) not really saved, and/or (c) blaspheming the Holy Spirit?

#13  Posted by Robert Davis  |  Thursday, October 24, 2013at 8:52 AM

A friend and I attended the Strange Fire conference last week. What a blessing it was. Each speaker gave eye opening talks on the true work of the Holy Spirit in the Church. It is my prayer that many in the charismatic movement will come to a true knowledge of the work of the Holy Spirit. My heartfelt thanks to Dr. MacArthur, the speakers, the staff, and the many volunteers that made the conference such a great experience.

#14  Posted by Brian Poad  |  Thursday, October 24, 2013at 9:58 AM

Enjoyed the conference, opened up a much needed discussion on this issue. My own journey began in a charismatic church. I would consider myself currently to be charismatic/reformed. If we embrace the bibles teaching we all have to believe in cessationism to a certain degree. I'm not comfortable going as far as some of the speakers went in their stand on cessationism, but every practice and claim that God has spoken must be tested by scripture. Thank you for a much needed discussion. Would like to play this conference at our church, though I would consider myself a very moderate cessationist and remain open to the Spirits gifts, thank you for your faithfulness!

#15  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Thursday, October 24, 2013at 11:19 AM

Dear Steve Carlton (#12):

Please listen to John's opening message of the conference. He answers your specific question around minute 26, but you should really listen to the whole message for the sake of clarity and understanding.

In fact, I'd encourage you to listen to all the messages of the conference before making judgments. Even better, get a copy of the book; it's very well documented, irenic in its tone, and clear in its argumentation.

I've been watching the online misrepresentation of the conference--people have been reacting emotionally without actually listening to what the speakers said. What's worse is when some charismatic leaders are encouraging an uninformed reaction among their constituencies. That's really unhelpful, but it does illustrate some of our concerns.

Thanks for your question, Steve. I hope you find the content helpful.

Travis Allen

#16  Posted by H B  |  Thursday, October 24, 2013at 12:47 PM

I have mixed feelings about how all of this has played out and think the article writer is exactly right about "a bomb going off in the midst of the beloved middle ground".

With the benefit of hindsight I wonder how we can do things differently moving forward so that a better and less contentious dialogue can "continue" on following all of this.

#17  Posted by Steve Carlton  |  Thursday, October 24, 2013at 3:04 PM

Thank you, Travis, for your thoughts. I did listen to Mr. MacArthur's message in full. Having done so, I would still prefer succinct and direct answers to my three questions from Mr. MacArthur himself.

Actually, having listened to the tape, I now have two more questions. Is Mr. MacArthur saying that, because I believe as I have stated above and worship as I do, I am (a) attributing the works of Satan to the Holy Spirit and (b) committing a crime of the most serious nature against God?

#18  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Thursday, October 24, 2013at 4:43 PM

Dear Steve (#17):

Having listened to John's message, you should be able to answer those questions for yourself. And to insist John MacArthur personally respond to questions you've posted on a blog, well, that's a tad unreasonable. Two reasons...

Firstly, and most fundamentally, based on what you posted, there's no way of evaluating whether or not you are (a) really a follower of Christ, (b) really saved, and/or (c) blaspheming the Holy Spirit. You'll have to evaluate (a) and (b) in light of the gospel, and (c) in light of the Bible's teaching about the gifts.

Secondly, and most practically, John MacArthur is way too busy to comment on blogs and respond to your appeal to him for answers. So, you'll have to make do with an underling. Me. ;-)

Steve, you may indeed be guilty of attributing works of the flesh to the Holy Spirit. You may even be guilty of attributing the works of Satan to the Holy Spirit, but let's not go there just yet, unless you are of the Bethel Church, NAR, or TBN variety of charismatic.

But perhaps you are committing some form of the "strange fire" sin (i.e., false worship) against God. That's no trifling matter, which is why, in love, we're appealing to you to listen to ALL the messages from the conference and read the book.

We can't know you as an anonymous commenter on our blog, but even if we did, our judgment of your life and ministry is insignificant in light of the scrutiny we will all face before Christ (1 Cor. 4:1-5). All we're trying to do is be faithful to God and loving to people by telling the truth.

For more information to evaluate your own understanding of the gifts in light of Scripture, please listen to Tom Pennington's case for cessationism and Nathan Busenitz's seminars on the gifts of the Spirit.

Yours in Christ,

Travis

#19  Posted by Betty Power  |  Thursday, October 24, 2013at 4:47 PM

Thank you so much for the Strange Fire conference, I have been listening to Pastor MacArthur now for just over a year and I have learnt more in that year than in the last 30years. I completely agree and believe there is massive deception within the churches today and it is the biggest danger,I have lots of questions but a little one is ....is it wrong to lift up hands when worshipping? Is this charismatic ? I do not want to open a doorway to the enemy. Thank you again and I am praying for all at gty.org . God bless love Betty

#21  Posted by Ronnette Adams  |  Thursday, October 24, 2013at 6:53 PM

I'm so glad I was able to attend this once in a lifetime opportunity. As a former member of a charismatic church, I owe a debt of gratitude to John MacArthur for straightening out my theology. This came about over time through listening to GTY, devouring John's free resources online, and a thorough reading of Charismatic Chaos. This process culminated about six years ago and I've never looked back. I now hold to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, it speaks clearly. Thank you John MacArthur.

#22  Posted by Jodi Denning  |  Thursday, October 24, 2013at 7:17 PM

My husband and I had the privilege of attending Strange Fire, and it was incredible. All of the presenters did an amazing job. Our heartfelt thanks to GTY and all the kind volunteers that made the event possible.

We are thankful for so many faithful men (and Joni!) willing to speak out on the truth contained in God's Word clearly and compassionately.

One thing I've been thinking about since the conference... and this was never specifically stated in the conference... is this: One view is that the God's Word should be defined/interpreted by man's personal experiences. The other is that man's personal experiences should be defined/interpreted by God's Word. Only the latter can be Biblical.

God willing, if there is ever another Truth Matters conference, we will be there! The hospitality is exceptional, and the speakers are faithful men of God, rightly dividing the Word of God. It just doesn't get any better than that!

May God bless and guide all the wonderful folks at GTY and Grace Community Church. We are blessed by your faithfulness, and thankful for your ministry.

#25  Posted by Vikki Souza  |  Thursday, October 24, 2013at 11:43 PM

Thank you to all teachers at the conference, I learnt so much about the

doctrine of certain false teachers. I agree in love that we are not to remain silent with our friends whom are involved in this deception.

My heart is sore for all the unbiblical critique on the internet even

by pastors I have had great respect for in the past. Its our duty as christians to share the truth written in gods word .

God bless all at GTY

#26  Posted by William Arnold  |  Friday, October 25, 2013at 5:13 AM

Dearest beloved Pastor MacArthur,

We had the great privilege of attending the conference, including another great tour of GTY on the Tuesday before and then Sunday morning early service after the conference. What a blessed six days!

We appreciate the incredible effort made on our behalf by all the great volunteers (700 of them!), the GCC pastoral staff, the GTY staff and the TMS students...if we missed anyone, we thank you, too!

We wanted for nothing the entire time and the love and fellowship we received was simply remarkable. We met wonderful truth-seeking Christians from all over the country and the world, enjoying sweet fellowship. Over and over, we heard stories of humble gratitude for the radio teaching of GTY, some even saying it was their only lifeline in the absence of a church with sound doctrine.

Great thanks to Phil, Steve, Nate, Tom, Justin, R.C., Joni, Conrad and Todd. To you, John, thanks beyond measure, not just for this conference, but for the many years of faithful preaching, teaching, prayer, sacrifice and obedience to God, which has greatly benefitted so many. We are humbled to be counted among them.

Resources abounded at the conference, and we took full advantage that we might be equipped to respond with wisdom, intelligence and love to those who will, and have already, responded (sometimes with a vengeance) to the the difficult subject matter discussed at the conference.

Our sincere prayer is that those caught up in the deplorable, heretical Charismatic Movement, will have the courage to really listen to what was said, to take it to the Lord in prayer, and be released from the bonds that have tied them to this movement. We pray also that the leadership of the movement, will take seriously the warnings voiced at the conference, that they might mitigate what is certain to be a harsh judgement from the Lord for abusing their responsibility to their flocks, and worse, leading them with lies down a slippery slope to hell. Thank God in heaven for this warning; we implore you to heed it without delay.

It is unnecessary to go into details about what was presented at the conference, as everything from the conference is, or will be, available right here. We urge everyone to access each link to the conference speakers. You will be blessed.

Once again, John and everyone involved, we want to express our heartfelt gratitude to you, and we pray that the Lord will continue to bless and expand your ministry for many years to come!

#29  Posted by Jose Vargas  |  Friday, October 25, 2013at 1:09 PM

Hello. First of all I thank you, John, guests preachers, and GTY Staff for this outstanding exposition of the Truth and for exposing the outrageous mistakes of charismatics. I watched Strange Fire on the Live Stream links since I'm overseas. Here in Colombia, there's a big concern about this debate since over 80% of "christianity" is either catholic or charismatic, and very few congregations are faithful to the correct interpretation of the Scripture.

We started to be difference in my local church this year about all this Truth, so I was wondering... When can we have access to these sermons in spanish? We will really appreciate any resourses in spanish, since most of our members does not speak english. With all the resourses you may provide, we can use it in my local church for spreading this conference's concerns.

Once again, thank you. May God bless you. And may the Grace, Mercy and Peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ be among us.

Kindly,

Jose Vargas.

#30  Posted by Michael Karpf  |  Friday, October 25, 2013at 9:07 PM

In 1978 I got involved with a charismatic church. They're teaching was so different than what I had been taught at my Bible church. They told me to stay away from Denton Bible Church or Dallas Theological Seminary as Satan would use it to keep me from what God has for me. I felt like I was getting further and further from God as I knew Him in the Bible. After 3 months I made a decision to leave that church and go back to Denton Bible Church. It was so refreshing to hear God's word expounded! And my Christian bookstore supplied me with many books on the errors of the charismatic movement. It was so liberating to know the truth instead of the enslavement I had to put up with in the charismatic church. I devoured about 20 books. Satan was trying to keep me from what God has for me? One of the books I bought in 1979 was John MacArthur's The Charismatics. A few months later there were excerpts printed in Moody Monthly Magazine. You should have seen all the names MacArthur was called! Someone said they didn't see those names and responses a the fruit of the Spirit. A friend told me that all these people did was attack MacArthur. Nobody tried to refute him scripturally. The only thing I can say after watching Strange Fire is, I wish you had a conference like this in 1979! I live in Bangkok, and because of time difference, I didn't get to watch all the sessions. But thank you for making them available, and I will look forward to getting the book as well. A conference like Strange Fire was long overdue.

#31  Posted by Nena Jones  |  Saturday, October 26, 2013at 8:29 AM

This conference was not one bit less than what we had expected! John MacArthur and all his guest speakers were tremendous. We live streamed every minute of it and have the book on the way to our home. The question I just read is 'what should be next?" Well...this might be a far cry, but honestly, I believe that TBN and all the others like it, should be given some competition. If there is any way possible, I think there would be nothing better than for a network television program featuring John MacArthur and all his staff daily. After all, this is how this movement got such a foothold on people. Brainwashing at it's highest. I am not suggesting brainwashing, I am suggesting Truth! This has hit so many families, including mine...it is devastating. I pray you will take this into consideration. God bless you John MacArthur and all your staff for spreading the true gospel and please don't ever stop. My husband and I love and respect your gift.

#32  Posted by Micah Easterling  |  Tuesday, October 29, 2013at 6:33 PM

I want to thank all of the People involved in the conference. I was saved in a independent Pentecostal church with Word of Faith influence and later involved in New Apostolic Reformation NAR teaching. I was Involved 9 years and was a youth pastor in it for 8 years. God in his mercy opened my eyes to the deception I had fallen into. I was a zealous as one could be but wrong in many areas. I came out 3 years ago and am now in a church that clearly and faithfully proclaims the Gospel week after week. I confronted my pastor of the false Word of faith teachers and prophets that he endorsed and pleaded that shepherds are to protect the sheep from wolves not lead them to them. He thought I lost my mind and all the leaders would not listen and I pleaded that the hyper charismatic movement is leading many to a false gospel, a false jesus, and a false spirit. When I first realized this I could not sleep and wept over all the lost people within the movement. I ask for forgiveness to the body of Christ for my false teaching and belief system and any harm that I did to the Church. I grieve over my idolatry, and any I led the wrong way. I plead with my charismatic friends to flee from these heretical movements. Repent from these false movements and turn to Jesus and his shed blood on the cross and trust in Him for the forgiveness of your sins. He will pardon you and forgive you of your idolatry and false belief in God. I always wondered why won't charismatics speak against these damnable heretical teachings in the movement? God raises up men outside the movement to critique it, but you can't even handle your own denominations? Stand up speak out, separate from them and make a distinction. Its the job of the pastor to shapely rebuke those who contradict sound doctrine. I know the damage this movement causes and I wish someone would have loved me enough to warn me. There are other brothers who are coming out that I know, and many more. Pastors and leaders reach out to these people with the Gospel. It is the Gospel that opened my eyes and broke me and saved me. Its going to take Gospel preaching to reach those who are in it. Thank you for your boldness to proclaim the truth. you are not dividing the church you are warning the church and uniting in the truth of God's Word.

#33  Posted by Brenton Loubser  |  Thursday, October 31, 2013at 1:56 AM

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