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The Reformers and the Charismatic Movement

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 | Comments (10)

The highlight of the Strange Fire conference is going to be the opportunity to hear from several different godly preachers who come from a variety of settings, all united by their love of the Lord and their conviction to faithfully teach His truth.

Steve Lawson is the pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama. He’s also a prolific author, particularly on the topics of preaching and church history. We’re eager to hear him bring his considerable expertise to bear on topics like the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, and the nature of God’s revelation to us.

With that in mind, we asked Dr. Lawson what he planned to preach at Strange Fire. His answer will whet your appetite for all the Lord has in store this October.

And just a reminder: Today is the last day to register at the early-bird rate. Very few seats remain available—reserve yours before it’s too late!

GTY Staff


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#1  Posted by Brad Kennedy  |  Wednesday, May 01, 2013at 7:47 AM

Praise the LORD for lifting up faithful men and filling their hearts and minds with grace and heavenly reason for the instruction of the saints and glory of Christ our Savior, rescuing us from the error of satanic, dillusional counterfeit theatre spawned by creatures of instinct. O how the LORD will bless the conference!!

#2  Posted by Joyce Wilson  |  Wednesday, May 01, 2013at 10:44 AM

Question: Do you believe that the period of "visions and dreams" has already past? This would be the period spoken of in the passage of Acts 2:17-21, "In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Our sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams..."

#4  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Thursday, May 02, 2013at 8:02 AM

Joyce, #2 asks:

Do you believe that the period of "visions and dreams" has already past?

If by "visions and dreams" you mean to say God speaking and imparting divine revelation to individuals apart from Scripture with the use of vague "hunches" or vivid dreams, then yes, that period has past.

Of course, the way the typical charismatic understands "visions and dreams" as being hunches, or other vague, personal feelings that could be interpreted any way the person desires has never been what the Bible means about "visions and dreams." God doesn't give "visions and dreams" to individuals to confirm their choice as to what car to buy, or where to move for a job, or direct them to take some foolish blind leap of faith to spend money they don't have on some spiritualized capital venture.

"Visions and dreams" implies the giving of new, divine revelation directly from God and in that He used specifically chosen individuals to accomplish that task. Rather than getting hung up on the idea of what Joel means by "visions and dreams" and whether people in today's church still receive such things regularly, it is better to look at the individuals who will receive such things, which is men and women, old and young.

The point being is that the Spirit is going to be poured out on a much greater population of individuals than just the nation of Israel and it will encompass ALL kinds of people from all walks of life. So that the young maiden will receive the saving work of the Spirit in the same fashion as an older man.

#5  Posted by Vance Schwyhart  |  Thursday, May 02, 2013at 9:48 AM

The notion of divine revelation only given to select individuals to impart to a group of followers has been an abused practice for a long time. Look at how multitudes have been deceived by such charlatans. The Hagins, Copelands, and Benny Hinn are just a few. Then, you have the groups that want to move families into secluded places to rule over them with distorted doctrine like David Koresh or Jim Jones, and commit unconscionable acts.

The people that listen to these so called teachers either get assimilated into false doctrines and stay there, or fall away, thinking Christianity is false and live any way they want or to the dictates of their fallen flesh.

I'm thankful to good teachers like John MacArthur and others that call these people out and expose their practices.

#6  Posted by Brad Kennedy  |  Thursday, May 02, 2013at 5:16 PM

Joyce (2), I would also ask you to remind yourself of the 13th chapter of Mark. Jesus also quotes from the prophet Joel in Mark 13:25, just as Fred reminds us that Luke is quoting Joel in the Acts passage you cite and ask about.

In Mark 13:14 you will notice the addition of the (uninspired) words 'let the reader understand'. So what is it the Holy Spirit intends for us to understand? His intent is that we not miss the fact that Jesus is speaking (directly or indirectly) to the generation alive and living in Jerusalem at the time (verse 30), that is, those who will witness and those who will escape the events of 70 A.D, (no connection to John's Revelation which is a glorious future event in which we eagerly await). Jesus is warning His beloved elect, who by the way, can not possibly be led astray (verse 22).

So, Fred hits the target when he reminds us "yes, that period has past" in reference to Luke's quotation of the prophet Joel.

It has passed just as sure as the year 70 AD has passed. Jesus and Luke are quoting Joel for the sole purpose of communicating events to living saints that are about to take place in their generation, in real time. But most importantly Joyce, "were written for our instruction so that we might have hope." Romans 15:4. Amen?

#8  Posted by Brad Kennedy  |  Friday, May 03, 2013at 3:46 PM

After reading Mark 13 and Matthew 24 more intently since my previous post (6), I must confess that much of what I stated in the second paragraph is wrong with the exception of the last sentence. Forgive me.

#9  Posted by Timothy Black  |  Wednesday, May 08, 2013at 11:44 PM

I absolutely agree that we should look directly at God's Word, and that it is a slippery slope indeed when we add to it! I am concerned, however, that that is a lot of what I see in the anti-charismatic movement: adding to God's Word. For instance, how is it not adding to God's Word by saying the spiritual gifts have ended when we all know the Bible doesn't say that? How is it not adding to God's Word by saying that evidence that the gifts ended is because they are not mentioned in the later epistles, when we all know that the epistles were primarily discussing issues? Not to mention the fact that the word "gifts" is used in 2 Timothy, the same word used for "spiritual gifts." How is it not adding to God's Word when anti-Pentecostals say if someone had the gift of healing, then they would heal everyone every time, when we know that isn't biblical (Jesus didn't heal everyone, and Paul obviously didn't because he told Timothy to take a little wine for his illnesses)? And how is it not adding to God's Word by saying that speaking in tongues is pagan, when no such issue is addressed in the Bible? And on the subject of tongues, one noted scholar's commentary on 1 Corinthians 14 says that Paul is talking about languages when he mentions "tongues," but when he mentions "tongue," he's talking about paganism except in certain verses which appear to be at the sole discretion of the scholar's taste. And it is the same exact Greek word. Also, this scholar says that in verse 2 that Paul doesn't really mean "God" but "a god." This scholar is a leader in the anti-charismatic movement. And how is that not adding to God's Word?

Once again, the gifts have been evident in my own life through healing, words of knowledge that led to salvation of someone and that kept one of my children out of potential harm.

And I am afraid that many of the solid Pentecostals that I know who appear to love God with all their heart and have a burning desire to see the lost saved are going to be lumped in with everyone who is a phony and a fake at this conference. And I am saddened by that, and frankly do not understand the motivation.

In addition to the questions I posed, could you perhaps consider powerful testimonies of Pentecostal movements where hundreds of thousands have been saved? Consider the 1904 revival of Wales. Please research it. Consider Bernhard Johnson who led 1.8 million people to God, and he was Pentecostal. Consider the Buntains who fed millions in India.

Thank you.

#10  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Friday, May 10, 2013at 7:18 AM

Timothy #9 asks,

how is it not adding to God's Word by saying the spiritual gifts have ended when we all know the Bible doesn't say that? How is it not adding to God's Word by saying that evidence that the gifts ended is because they are not mentioned in the later epistles, when we all know that the epistles were primarily discussing issues?

I don’t think the primary talking point for our cessationist convictions is limited to no mention of spiritual gifts in the later epistles. There is much more evidence for the ending of gifts than that.

For example, there is yet to be any serious instance of a spiritually gifted individual laying hands on a person and healing him or her of say cancer, or paralysis, or even missing limbs. These types of healings happened with frequency during Christ’s ministry and the early stages of the apostles ministry.

Continuing, you write,

How is it not adding to God's Word when anti-Pentecostals say if someone had the gift of healing, then they would heal everyone every time, when we know that isn't biblical (Jesus didn't heal everyone, and Paul obviously didn't because he told Timothy to take a little wine for his illnesses)?

First off, the uniqueness of Christ’s ministry is that he did heal practically everyone during his ministry. He banished disease from the land of Israel for those 3 years he ministered. But more to the point, when Jesus healed, the healing was undeniable and fantastic. IOW, Jesus wasn’t doing the kind of stage show follies you typically see in our day. Especially those terrible antics where people with genuine illness and crippling disease are pushed aside in an inaccessible area and are passed over by the “healer” whereas all these people with back pain, and so forth are given access to the stage.

If the gift of healing is certainly existing today and there are gifted people with the gift of healing, then they need to demonstrate that giftedness. It wouldn’t be some hidden or unknown thing. Jesus healed publicly for everyone to see. There was no doubt as to what He did. I know of no Pentecostal historically or living now, that could honestly testify of such workings of God.

In addition to the questions I posed, could you perhaps consider powerful testimonies of Pentecostal movements where hundreds of thousands have been saved?

Timothy, men being saved in the thousands is different than men being healed in the thousands. I don’t doubt there were faithful people who were in the Pentecostal movement who led thousands to Christ. But there are no men who healed thousands and did undeniable works of power and extraordinary miracles.

One passed over problem with the early Pentecostal movement is the failed efforts on a number of missionaries who left for various foreign lands with the belief God would give them the gift of tongues to speak with the nationals, but had to abandon their plans when the gift failed to materialize.

#11  Posted by Joyce Wilson  |  Friday, May 10, 2013at 7:57 AM

Fred, what do you think of Smith Wigglesworth? Do you think he was of God? I never really hear much about him and wondered what you thought of him.

#12  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Friday, May 10, 2013at 10:34 AM

Joyce, #11, I know who Smith Wigglesworth was, and I have heard the fantastic stories often attributed to him and his ministry. Folks can do a simple websearch and find out what I mean.

Again, those stories of him raising people from the dead, which is probably the primary claims made by his supporters, are still in the realm of heresay and not verified.

When you evaluate the gospels, the works Jesus did were very public. The people knew about him. Even the secular folks, Roman centurions for instance, knew about him. Like all modern era faith healers, Wigglesworth's miracles are confined within controlled situations, with just a few people witnessing it.

Was he of God? Honestly, from what I read of him, he comes across as a typical TV evangelist showman before TV existed.