This morning we’re going to be continuing our series that we began last Lord’s Day discussing the current Charismatic movement. I’ve been interested in the response in the last couple of weeks to our discussion relative to the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians, and then to our message on the last Lord’s Day, and I am very encouraged. I realize that perhaps there would be some people who would not understand our motive and might take issue with us, but that’s been very, very minimal.
And on the other hand, there’s been much encouragement of folk who are saying that, “We did not understand this, and we’re so very grateful for a biblical look at some of these issues.” So I’m grateful to the Lord for the direction of the elders. And it was, in fact, the elders who unanimously agreed that this should be done. And so we’re responding to that, and you’re responding to this, and that’s good.
Now, we said last time that we felt it was important to discuss what’s wrong in the Charismatic movement. In any given period in church history, there are always those things that seem to be movements on the scene. Any person who is just even a superficial student of church history realizes that in the flow of the church, there are various and sundry tangents and aberrations and movements that occur, and these can be rather easily charted through the history of the church, but never has there been in the history of the church any one single movement that is a tangent, biblically, that has had the impact or the devastation that this one has had on the evangelical church.
This is a tremendously powerful thing. It carries tremendous weight because of the media of our world currently in the 20th century making the transportation of these ideas so easy and, in fact, so inescapable from the average person. So it’s a very, very dominating thing, and we all know that the Charismatic movement, as such, is sweeping the globe. If you think it’s only in America, you’re wrong. It’s all over the world. It’s in South America. It’s in the Orient. It’s everywhere where the church exists that this movement is running at a rapid pace.
From 1900, when it began, the Pentecostal movement, as it was defined in the early years, has grown since 1900 outside of the mainstream of evangelical Christianity. All of the Pentecostal movement, as it was then known, belonged within some denominational lines other than the main line evangelical denominations, but it was in 1960 that a new day was heralded and the Pentecostal movement broke into mainline denominationalism.
And with a beginning here in the Episcopal church in Van Nuys, the denominational line was cracked and as John Sherrill says in his book, They Speak With Other Tongues, “the walls came tumbling down.” And into mainline denominationalism, Episcopalian, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist, Lutheran, and so forth, came this movement. And now it no longer is really called the Pentecostal movement by the most modern of its proponents but, rather, is called the neo-Pentecostal movement or the Charismatic movement.
And you can tell the difference – a Charismatic, technically, is somebody after 1960, a Pentecostal is somebody before 1960. Or a Charismatic is somebody who has had this experience in a mainline denomination or a mainline evangelical church or a Catholic church, whereas a Pentecostal is somebody who is attached to the Assembly of God or the Foursquare or the United Pentecostal or some other Pentecostal denomination.
But now it’s gone right through the entire picture of Christianity. It’s no longer a separate denomination but an experience that transcends all lines. And there is, in this movement, a certain commonness that is based not upon theology because, as we pointed out last week, there isn’t any theology, basically, but there is a commonness based upon an experience.
For example, there are some churches that would be known as Charismatic churches where the only requirement, basically, to be a staff member is to have had the common experience. There are some colleges and seminaries where the only requirement to be a faculty member is to have had the common experience. Theology is not a criterion. And so this is happening all around us where there is a common experience creating a network of Charismatic people, and some are calling it the greatest revival in the history of the church.
And we would be like the ostrich with its head in the sand if we just went around the issue. We really have to talk about it, especially in the light of our study of 1 Corinthians when we come to chapters 12 to 14, and that’s what we’re doing.
Now, I want to be the first to say that wherever the gospel is preached, some people will be saved. And for the most part, people in the Charismatic movement love the Lord Jesus Christ and believe salvation by grace through faith, and they proclaim that, and people are saved, and I thank God for that. I know God can use people who are less than perfect because He uses me and He uses you, and so we’re all in the same boat.
I’m only trying to point out not that these people are hopelessly, uselessly foisted upon the body of Christ but simply that they are in error at one point. And all of us may find ourselves with equally problematic Achilles’ heels and should deal with them as such. We’re only trying to point out where the error lies, and that’s why we’ve entitled it “What’s Wrong in the Charismatic Movement?” Not that everything in it is wrong, for it’s not wrong to lift up Jesus Christ. It’s not wrong to believe in the Bible, as they say they do, although how they work that out sometimes is a little less than we would hope.
And so we are thankful to God that by His grace and the true preaching of salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ, people are being saved. And I think maybe there are some Christians who are coming to the place of recognizing a certain new reality in Christ and making some commitments that maybe they had never made before.
But in spite of the good that is done, in spite of the thing that seems to be so positive, there is some glaring error in the movement, and the error is running at an unchecked rate. And it is resulting in some very confused Christians and some very intimidated saints and some churches that are being fractured.
Now, the problems as we have begun to look at them are serious enough that we feel we have to deal with them in some detail. I think I mentioned to you last time that we’ll be looking at about 20 of these problems, but this first problem is so basic that we’re spending a couple of weeks just laying it out because it’s this one that I feel is the crux of the issue. And as far as I can tell in all the books that I’ve read, it’s never been dealt with, and that is the issue of revelation.
The first problem that we noted for you last time in the Charismatic movement is the question of: Do they accept the absolute authority of the biblical revelation, this completed Word of God, once for all delivered to the saints? But beyond that, all of the other things also must be brought to the light of the Word of God, and that’s why we have to establish the authority of this Book in the beginning. The Charismatic hysteria, as it seems to be running rampantly across the world, needs to stop and examine the Word of God and not just run on in an unchecked fashion because the Scripture is the test of everything.
Now, if the Scripture is the test of everything, then that assumes something basic, and that is that the Word of God is believed to be the standard, and that’s what we’re trying to lay out clearly and carefully. We’re convinced, as we saw last week, that God has given us the completed canon. From the Greek word kanōn which means rule or standard. It originally came from a root word that had to do with a reed, and this reed was used to measure things, and it became common to call anything that was a measuring rod a canon. The standard, then, of the Word of God is right here. This is the canon, the measuring rod.
Now, we believe that it has been established, that God has completed it, that the Bible is finished, that Scripture is done, that that’s His revelation, and there isn’t any more. It is complete. It is efficient. It is sufficient. It is inerrant. It is infallible. It is authoritative, and it is binding, and it is determinative in evaluating any other thing. When we have the Bible, we have the Old Testament written by the prophets. We have the New Testament written by the apostles, and those closely associated with them, and the Bible makes claims for itself that that is its completeness.
Now, I hasten to add that all throughout the history even of the writing of the Bible, there have been spurious books offered as if they were Scripture. In fact, if you have been in the Catholic Church, you know that in the middle of the Catholic Bible is a section of books called the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha claims to be Scripture. It is very clear that it was not Scripture.
It has errors in it, historic errors, geographical errors, theological errors. It does not claim nor does it support nor is it at all apostolic in its authorship. It doesn’t belong to the New Testament era. It doesn’t belong to the Old Testament era, because it is not written by the prophets and those recognized as the messengers of God.
Only the Roman Catholic Church has accepted the Apocrypha as that which is belonging to the Scripture. The church itself had not done that, never did that in its history until such an adaptation by the Roman Church because it is so very clear of the difference. The distinction is so obvious. During the writing of the New Testament, there were many books that were supposedly foisted upon the church – all different kinds, the gospel according to Peter and on and on, the Coptic legends and many, many false books. But the church never had any stumbling block, never had any problem, never had any decision to make. It was so very apparent what was inspired of God and what was not.
Now, the Old Testament canon closed about 400 B.C., about 400 years before Christ. The people knew clearly which books were inspired by God. That was easy because, in the first place, they claimed to be inspired by God, and so those were the ones they looked at. And as they looked at the ones that claimed to be inspired by God, they found there were no errors in them. They found that they fit history, and they fit theology, and they fit geography, and they fit everything that they knew to be that which was determinative, and so it was known to everybody what the Old Testament canon was.
The other books were rejected, and Jewish tradition says that the great synagogue, the school of the scribes that was founded by Ezra, finally put the canon together. And incidentally, history since has verified it. There are no books that can stand up to the quality of Scripture. None. They were right, and even when we find other books of ancient character, we know that they can’t stand equal to Scripture. The New Testament was the same. Very clearly they knew what were the books that were to be accepted as the New Testament.
Now, let me give you the tests that the New Testament church used to determine that. Number one, they would evaluate a book on the basis of its apostolic authorship. The New Testament books had to be written by an apostle or a close associate of the apostles. For example, in the case of Mark, who was not an apostle, his source was Peter, closely working with him. Luke, who was not an apostle, was very close not only to the Lord but was very close to the great Apostle Paul, who was an apostle. The New Testament books were written by apostles or associates of the apostles.
Now, Jesus Himself makes this clear in a couple of passages that I would point to you, John 14:26 being the first, says this. And here the Lord is in the upper room the night before His betrayal and the night of His betrayal and before His crucifixion. It says this, “But the Comforter” — the paraklētos — the one called alongside to help, the divine advocate, the Holy Spirit – “who is the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said unto you.”
Now, primarily, people, and you have to understand that that verse is not written to all Christians. That is a statement of Jesus given to the people who will be the writers of the New Testament. And He is saying to them – watch it again – “He will teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said unto you.” How do you think those men who wrote the gospels could recall all those incidents and all those conversations that Jesus had and give us an authoritative, infallible, inerrant set of four gospels? Only one way, and that is because the work of the Holy Spirit fulfilled the promise of Jesus in John 14:26.
They had the divine agency of the Spirit of God giving them remembrance, and the same is true of the Apostle Paul who again and again is quoting Jesus as he writes his epistles. We saw it even in the 7th chapter of 1 Corinthians, and because of the Spirit’s ministry, he had absolute and total accurate recall. Look at the 16th of John and the 13th verse. And again it is the same thing said to the same special group of men. “Nevertheless, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.”
Now, there again is the indication of the Lord that they who were writing the New Testament would write it without error. “He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak of Himself. Whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak, and He will show you things to come. He’ll glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and show it to you.” In other words, God will give the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit will give the writer, and what is written will be the divine Word of God.
So it is, then, that the apostles are the Bible writers. Jesus said that when He commissioned them in these two Scriptures. That is reaffirmed, incidentally, in 2 Peter chapter 3 and verse 2. And this is what Peter says, beginning in verse 1, “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you, in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance.” Then he says this, 2 Peter 3:2, “That you may be mindful” – now watch – “of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets.” Now, I take that as an indication of the Old Testament. “Spoken before by the holy prophets,” the writers of the Old Testament.
“And of the commandments of us, the apostles of the Lord Jesus, for the Lord and Savior.” Now notice, here Peter categorizes two sets of Bible writers: the holy prophets, Old Testament; the apostles of the Lord and Savior, New Testament. So you can see that what Jesus said in John is confirmed by Peter, that New Testament authorship was related to the apostles, either by the direct writing of the apostle or by one who was closely associated with and working alongside an apostle.
And so we see that there was very clear indication as to the fact that when the apostles ceased, so did the writing of Scripture. And that’s what it means in Ephesians 2:20 when it says, “The church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets.” They were foundational. And they don’t keep on going. We’ve said this before, when you build a building, you just put a foundation down once. You don’t keep putting the foundation all the way up to the 20th story. You put it once and you build from there. Once there were apostles and prophets, once they wrote, once it was delivered to the saints, and the Scripture was then complete.
Now, there are many examples of New Testament writers referring to each other as having the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in writing God’s Word. Let me show you what I mean. Look at 1 Timothy 5:18. There was a camaraderie among these writers of the New Testament. There was a unity. There was a oneness. There was a sensitiveness to the fact that they were doing something that had never been done and would never be repeated. There was a uniqueness, but I think it most interesting where you read in 1 Timothy 5:18 these words – now watch: “For the Scripture saith” – the Scripture saith – now watch – “thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treads out the grain.”
Now, that Scripture is from Deuteronomy 25:4. Now watch – 25:4, don’t look it up. Says the same thing. It means pay the preacher. Sometime I’ll preach on that. For the Scripture says thou shalt not muzzle the ox while he treads out the grain. And notice here’s another Scripture: “The laborer is worthy of his reward.” You know what that’s a quote from? Listen to this one – Luke 10:7. You say, “What’s so significant about that?” What’s significant is that Paul is claiming equal right to Scripture for Luke as he is for Moses, who wrote Deuteronomy, see.
That’s one New Testament writer authenticating the other New Testament writer at the point of calling it Scripture. It is just as much Scripture when Luke writes as it is when Moses writes, and so the New Testament is authenticating itself. Here is Paul authenticating Luke, and if Luke is authentic, then Luke is authentic and Acts are authentic, right? Because he wrote them both. Paul calls Luke Scripture.
Look with me at 2 Peter again, chapter 3, verse 15. Second Peter 3:15. And Peter is closing out his second epistle. He says, “Account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.” Almost the same as the 9th verse there, the reason the Lord tarries is because of salvation, not impotence. “Even now” – watch this – “even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you” – now watch – “as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable steal away, as they do also the other” – what? - “scriptures.”
Now, do you notice something there? Peter is talking about Paul and all his epistles as Scripture, just like the other Scripture. So you have Paul accrediting Luke, you have Peter accrediting Paul. Now we’ve already solved the problem. The Bible consists, we know, of Luke and Acts and actually, you can throw all of the gospel records in there because Luke is one of the gospels. And if Luke is authenticated, so are the others because they’re commenting on the same material. So we have the gospels and Acts, now we have the 13 epistles of Paul that are called Scripture right there in verse 16.
And the Apostle Paul testifies to that in Galatians 1 when he says, “That which I wrote, that which I’ve learned, and that which God has given me did not come from man, but from Him directly.”
Look at Jude verse 17. This is interesting. You’ve got Paul corroborating the gospels in Acts, you’ve got Peter corroborating Paul, and now you’ve got Jude corroborating Peter. Jude 17, “But, beloved, remember ye the words spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, how they told you there should be mockers in the last time who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.” That, friends, comes from 2 Peter. Jude authenticates Peter.
You can see, then, that there is an apostolic camaraderie. Now, the only other James, we didn’t take time to develop that, but the only other major New Testament writer would be John, wouldn’t it? The Gospel of John, 1, 2, 3 John. book of Revelation. You say, “Is that authenticated?” Yes. In the book of Revelation, chapter 2 and 3, you have seven letters to the churches. Now, don’t bother to look them up, but at the end of each of those letters, it says this: “These things saith He,” and it’s referring to Jesus Christ. “These things saith He,” and then it also says, “Let Him hear what the Spirit says.”
So John says, “I am recording what Christ says, transmitted to me by the Spirit.” So John is claiming to have received the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Later on in the book of Revelation – 21:5, is it? “He sat on the throne, said, ‘I make all things new.’ And He said unto me, ‘Write’” – listen – “‘for these words are true and believable.’” Revelation 19, you also have it. “He said to me, ‘Write, “Blessed are they who are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And He says unto me, ‘These are the true sayings of God.’”
So John is reinforced as an inspired writer. Peter is reinforced as an inspired writer. So is Luke. So is Paul. And as you see, there is this whole self-authenticating of the New Testament writers. There was an apostolic band and associates of that band who are responsible, the fraternity of New Testament writers, and, beloved, those are the limits. Those are the limits of the Scripture. When they were done, it was done, and that’s it. The key, then, is apostolic authority, apostolic authorship.
Secondly, the second test that the early church applied to this was content. They not only wanted to know if an apostle or an associate that they knew to be an associate of an apostle wrote it, but they wanted to know its content. For example, in Acts 2:42, the first time the church ever met – the first time the church ever met – it says, “They gave themselves to prayer and to fellowship and to the breaking of bread and to the” – what? - “apostles’ doctrine.”
Their second test was content. Did the writing square with apostolic doctrine? Because maybe there could be something come along and could be written and it could seem to be from Paul and claim to be from Paul, but some heretic was trying to worm in and it was really a phony thing.
And so they would check its doctrine, and if it didn’t square with apostolic doctrine, it didn’t pass the test. And how marvelous to note that as we study the early canons, there is no occasion in those early canons of ever finding a book that was accepted at all other than a legitimate New Testament book. It took them a while to get all of them in, but they never got wrong ones in. It was too clear what the doctrinal aberrations were because you can believe that when Satan wants to get one in, it isn’t going to be like it ought to be.
Third, the third test that the early church applied to canonical books of the New Testament was: Was it read in the churches. Was it read in the churches? This was emphasized repeatedly in the early church fathers, the first generation after the church.
In other words, did the people of God accept it, read it in their worship, make it a part of their life, indicate that Spirit of God had blessed it in their church, and that the people were being taught by it and being blessed by its teaching? If it had that stamp on it, then it was all right. So you’ve got apostolic authority. You’ve got absolutely consistent apostolic doctrine, and you’ve got to have something that’s been read in the church and proven by the church in testing to be the Word of God that goes forth with power and penetrates the heart.
And the fourth test was recognition and use by the next generation after the early church, the church fathers. When they saw it, and they evaluated it, and they had judged it, that settled it. And, of course, by the time you get to 383 and the Latin Vulgate is printed, and that was – vulgar meant the language of the people, common language. The Bible was codified, as it were, and put in the hands of the people, and every book was there, and only the right ones were there. It was obvious. That settled it. The canon was closed.
You say, “Yes, but maybe we can add to it.” Well, Revelation 22 says, “I testify unto every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add to him the plagues written in the book.” People say, “Yeah, but that means add to the book of Revelation.” Well, of course. The book of Revelation is the last book in the Bible. If you add to the book of Revelation, you’ve added to the Bible, haven’t you? The book of Revelation was the last one ever written. Can’t add to this. If anybody adds to it, shall be added to him the plagues that are written in it.
You say, “Well, why are you going on and on about this, John?” Because I believe it is precisely at this vital point that the Charismatics err. What is the revelation of God? This is a major flaw in the movement. These dear people, and I love these people, they claim to love the Bible, to defend the Bible, to study the Bible. But they also claim that they go beyond the Bible, and therein lies a cardinal error. “It’s fine,” they say, “as far as it goes.” One pastor said, “You know,” I heard this on a tape. He said, “All we did was just teach the Bible, and God never did anything supernatural in our church until one day the Spirit of God broke through.”
And I thought, “Well, what does that mean?” Does that mean that just the Bible isn’t good enough? You got to have whatever the Spirit of God broke through means? Who’s to guarantee it was the Spirit of God?
What about further revelations? Is the Bible enough or do we need more? Well, as I pointed out to you last week, Charismatics claim that God is continuing to reveal Himself. You know, this isn’t anything new, incidentally. The Roman Catholic Church has claimed this for centuries, centuries. Want to read an interesting book? They have it in the bookstore. Get Benjamin Warfield’s book on Counterfeit Miracles. It’s a knockout punch. Fantastic book. Get ready for some heavy stuff. He just catalogues for the entire history of the church the visions and revelations and so forth and so on that built Roman Catholicism.
And today, the Charismatic movement is much a parallel, claiming visions and so forth. One of our elders was telling me this morning that the tennis player, Margaret Court, who is an avid Catholic, very devout, recently had an appearance of the Virgin to her in a miraculous fashion.
So you see, that isn’t anything that’s common just to the Charismatics. The Roman Church has been claiming that for centuries, and that further revelation that they’ve been getting is the thing that has built up and built up and built up this stack of tradition that goes alongside the authority of the Word of God and confuses the issue. And, of course, we saw that even from Rodman Williams, who’s the president of Melodyland Seminary, that he says, “The Bible is only a witness to the kind of revelation God is doing today. It is only a model for what God is doing,” and so I asked the question last week, “Where does the Bible end?”
And David Wilkerson comes along and writes a thing called The Vision. I heard him give that – my own ears. I’ve seen it in print. He claims that this is authoritatively the Word of God. It’s interesting to me to note that another gentleman at that same Lutheran conference in Minneapolis got a vision, and they disagreed. To me, the price for such mysticism and subjectivism is too high. Everybody is doing what he thinks God is saying to him, and the uniqueness and the centrality of the Word is being lost, and I’ll tell you something, people, we are headed for a mystical Christianity.
We are headed for a kind of thing that Amos endured when he said in Amos 8:11, “There is a famine of the hearing of the Word of the Lord in the land.” They want to go beyond Scripture. We’ve had a revival of Scripture and, you know, everybody’s gotten hot about Scripture, but we’re moving. We’re going so fast, we’re going to go right on by Scripture. And now, when you go to the average Christian bookstore and you look for books about Christianity, you’ll find about 65 percent of them are about somebody’s experience rather than theology or doctrine or whatever.
The Charismatic view, though maybe not admittedly so, basically so, is not the historical orthodox view of Scripture. It is neo-orthodox subjectivism. It is mysticism. We can’t abandon the Reformation’s Sola Scriptura without defying the Bible’s own claim for itself and reaping some terrible results.
I mean I told you last week I was going to do this, and I’m going to do it. All the false systems there are have come by way of a revelation beyond the Bible. Did you know that? All of them. God, the only way He could protect Himself against that was to have it once for all delivered to the saints, and say, “That’s it. I don’t need to do it again.”
Whatever the Lord has done, it doesn’t need to be added to, and you can’t take away from it, right? It is complete. Then when people come along, and they say, “Well, it’s wonderful that you have Jesus, but you need something more,” and I say, “Well, what more could I need? Ephesians 1:3 says I’ve been blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. What else is there besides all the spiritual blessings in the heavenlies? You got someone other spiritual blessings? They aren’t in the heavenlies.”
But what happens, you’ve got all of these things – now, let me look just for a minute with you at this. Let’s look at Roman Catholicism. Where did it come from? Thomas Aquinas. Thomas Aquinas would be the systematizer of Roman doctrine. He lived from 1225 to 1274, the most famous theologian of Roman Catholic scholasticism. States in the first section of his Summa Theologica that, “Sacred Scripture consists of biblical text and the teaching of the fathers and the doctors.” See a problem with that? The biblical text and the teaching of the fathers and the doctors.
“Tradition,” says the French Roman Catholic George Tavard, quote, “was the overflow” – this was tradition – “tradition was the overflow of the Word outside sacred Scripture. Its contents were the other Scriptures through which the Word made Himself known.” End quote. So Tavard says you’ve got the Scriptures and the other Scriptures, and the other Scriptures are the overflow outside the Word.
Albert Pighi, 1490 to 1542, said this – quote: “The apostolic message of the primitive church, handed down through the succession of the fathers and bishops, whether that message has been written or not, is the Holy Scriptures.” End quote. The Holy Scriptures, he says, is the apostolic message of the church given to the fathers and the bishops, whether they wrote it or didn’t write it. Where does the Bible end? It never ends.
Caspar Schatzgeyer, 1463 to 1527, I want to show you this is nothing new, this is where Romanism came from – said this: “An intimate revelation from the Holy Spirit is an everyday possibility. Once known beyond doubt, it is as binding as the teaching that came from Christ’s own mouth.” End quote. See, that’s the Roman Church. When they get an everyday revelation, it’s as binding as the words of Jesus in the Bible.
Now, you see, where does the Bible end? That’s why they have such things like we see in Roman Catholicism, Mariolatry, canonizing of people, all of the false doctrine that has grown up around the truth.
On December 8th, 1854, the papal bull, Ineffabilis Deus, proclaimed the dogma of the immaculate conception, Pius IX. That was his time. This is what it said, quote, “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most blessed Virgin Mary in the first instant of her conception by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God in view of the merits of Jesus Christ the Savior of the human race was preserved free from all stain of original sin.” Mary was born with no original sin. “This is a doctrine revealed by God and, therefore, to be firmly believed and constantly by all the faithful.” End quote.
Revealed by God where? In the Bible? No, not in the Bible. Where? Outside the Bible. It’s part of the other Scripture. You see, when you start having other Scripture, you see what happens?
On November 2nd, 1950, the constitution, Munificentissimus Deus, said this, quote – another papal bull, absolute authority – “We pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma that the immaculate mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory. Hence, if anyone which God forbid should dare willfully deny or call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic faith.” End quote.
If you deny that Mary was assumed into heaven bodily and never died, you are thrown out of the Catholic faith. 1950 papal bull, see? No wonder the Roman Church has so much error. Because it goes beyond Scripture, and then it says it’s as binding as if it were Scripture. Where does it all end? Leads to error upon error upon error. And, you see, this is the thing that breaks my heart about the Charismatics because now we aren’t even fighting it on the outside, we’re fighting it on the inside. They’re building up the same kind of thing.
For example, here’s a classic illustration. One of the greatest and most renown leaders of the Charismatic movement is a man by the name of David du Plessis. David du Plessis is a 71-year-old former Assembly of God minister who was put out of the Assembly of God Church for his involvement in ecumenical things in the World Council of Churches. But he still retains a powerful position in this movement, and from time to time, you see his name connected with these conferences all over the world.
This is what is recorded in the October 1976 Moody Monthly, indicating a news note that came from U.P.I. or one of the presses. It said this: “David du Plessis, one of the leading Charismatic Protestants, has agreed with the Roman Catholic Church that when the pope speaks ex cathedra, he is speaking the infallible Word of God.” He says, and I quote du Plessis, “God still honors the pope as the head of the church.” End quote. Since when did God ever honor the pope as the head of the church? Who’s the head of the church? Somebody better read to him Colossians 1:18.
This is what else he says, quote: “Papal infallibility is exactly what God used to bring about renewal in the Catholic Church, and that renewal is now shaking the Christian world.” End quote. Du Plessis says the pope is still the head of the church, he is infallible, and God is now using his infallibility to bring renewal in the church. That’s scary. But you see, the reason that an avowed Charismatic can stand in that same ground with a Catholic is because they have both the same view of Scripture. See? They got the overflow concept of Scripture, just going on and on and on and on and on.
Now, you beware because the Charismatic view of Scripture, while not admitting it, is not the historic, divinely revealed view. It is essentially the one held by heretical groups such as the Roman Church. And now you know why they have all the strange things they have – penance, purgatory, and so forth – that have no place in Scripture but were added later. And, believe me, the Charismatics were building just that kind of tradition. I think I mentioned to you they use the phrase “slain in the spirit.”
I was talking to someone this week who was very involved in that situation, and he says, “Oh, yes,” he says, “it’s vital to be slain in the spirit. In fact, you should never go more than two or three weeks without being slain in the spirit.” And when you’re slain in the spirit, you’re knocked over. You ever seen these healers? They touch people and flat they go, see? And, in fact, one fellow was telling me that they get into this kind of a situation, and there are no limits to it and you – it gets to be a contest to see who can get slain the most often.
So I said to somebody, “Well, why do you do this?” “Because this is the way the Spirit of God’s power comes upon you.” According to what Scripture? Well, there isn’t any Scripture. There’s no Scripture at all. But, you see, this is just part of the tradition that’s building up.
In addition to that, let me go from that to the modernist neo-orthodox kind of Christianity. It also is based on revelations beyond the Bible. The modernist and the neo-orthodox, he says, “The Bible is not all there is. The Bible’s a nice model, a nice witness. The Bible contains some of the Word of God. When you read it and something zaps you, you get spiritual goose bumps, then it becomes the Word of God to you. And that’s fine and so forth, but God is still inspiring things and” – and they go on and on.
They’ve got all kinds of inspiration going on, and so what happens? There’s no biblical authority. The modernists, the neo-orthodox, they don’t believe the miracles. They don’t believe – one well-known German liberal decided after intense study of the Bible that only 26 verses were actually really inspired in the whole Bible. Just 26.
But whatever happens to zap you and so forth – and you can get just as much revelation today, and what’s being written today is equal to the Bible. And the Bible isn’t anything so hot. It’s not so special. It’s got a lot of mistakes. So they want to have more revelations and more, and so what you get out of it is just plain old liberalism. You say, “Well, certainly, the Charismatics wouldn’t say that.”
Let me read you an interesting statement. Christian Life magazine, which has become very much of a promoter of the Charismatics, September 1976, article by Charles Farah, Jr., of Oral Roberts University. This is what he says, quote – now listen carefully to this, he’s a Charismatic: “As Christians move more and more into the New Testament world, they will rely less and less on reason and experience as ultimate ways of knowing, and more and more on pneumatic knowing.” Now I’ll interject, pneumatic knowing is super-spiritual knowing.
He further says, quote: “A knowing beyond all knowing, a perceiving beyond all perceiving, a certainty beyond all certainty, an understanding beyond all understanding.” End quote. You know what that is? That is pure Gnosticism, mysticism.
Since when are we to go beyond reason? Since when are we to go beyond the experience of the Word of God to a knowing beyond knowing, a super-spiritual – this is pure mysticism. This is going beyond the Word of God because the Word of God has certainty. We don’t want to go beyond certainty. The Word of God has understanding. We don’t want to go beyond understanding. We’ll all be way out on a limb somewhere twiddling our thumbs with the Hare Krishnas.
The Word is enough. The Spirit is enough. Jesus is enough. I just don’t – I get tired of all these people saying we’ve got to have more. More what? More confusion? Extra-biblical revelations always, always – mark it, people – always, always lead to error. You want to be perfect? Study the Word of God. It’s able to make you perfect, isn’t it? Second Timothy 3:16? You want to know what you ought to do? Then learn 2 Timothy 2:15, “Rightly divide the word of truth.” You want to conquer temptation? Do what Jesus did.
He didn’t ask for some knowing beyond knowing, certainty beyond certainty. He called upon the Scripture and quoted it three times to Satan, didn’t He? Stick with what you know is God’s authoritative Word.
The Mormons, another illustration, claimed their whole system based on a special revelation given to Joseph Smith. The Seventh Article of Faith says, “We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, and revelations.” That’s Mormonism. Sure, they have to. Where else would they get their stuff? Certainly not out of the Bible. In Alma 5:45 and 46 in the Book of Mormon, it says, “Do you not suppose that I know these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I know that these things are true. They are made known to me by the Holy Spirit of God.”
This is the writer of the book of Alma saying this. “This is the spirit of revelation that is in me.” You see, there is the book of Mormon claiming to be revelation from God, and you know what it is? It’s chaotic, isn’t it?
Take Christian Science, which is like Grape Nuts. Grape Nuts aren’t grapes or nuts, and Christian Science isn’t Christian or scientific. But, anyway, Christian Science – Christian Science Journal, July 1975, Volume 93, No. 7, page 361. I want you to know I got this. Says – this is Christian Science – “Because it is not a human philosophy but a divine revelation, the divinity-based reason and logic of Christian Science necessarily separates it from all other systems.” Christian Science is a divine revelation that separates it from all other systems.
Page 362 says of Mary Baker Eddy Patterson Glover Fry – couldn’t make up her mind – says this, quote: “She is the revelator of truth for this age.” See? Got more revelations, and you wind up with that. She says, “I would blush to think of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures as I have were it of human origin and were I apart from God, its author. I was only a scribe.” That’s what she says. “God wrote Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” Not my God, not the God of the Bible.
Take the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They say this, quote: “The Watchtower is a magazine without equal on earth because God is the author,” Watchtower, April 5th, 1943, page 127. God writes The Watchtower. You believe that? I don’t believe that. They claim the Bible can’t be understood unless you understand the Watchtower Society as God’s channel of revelation.
You’ve heard of Herbert W. Armstrong, Garner Ted Armstrong, The World Tomorrow, The Plain Truth magazine, Ambassador College in Pasadena and all that stuff? Well, you know where all that came from? And it’s heresy of the worst error there is because it’s salvation by works. It’s the worst, the most despicable. It came because Mrs. Herbert W. Armstrong got a vision from an angel, and the angel defined the entire system to her. She told it to her husband, and that started the whole thing.
You’ve heard of Moonies? Sun Myung Moon claims to be the divine messenger of God with ultimate truth. He is final truth, and he says, “I am final truth not recorded in Scripture.” Of course. He calls it new truth, not from Scripture – quote – not from literature and not from man’s brain, and he says where it contradicts the Bible, the Bible is wrong.
Take the Children of God. Remember the Children of God? Moses David Berg called himself that because he was the latter-day prophet Moses, and he called himself the king of Israel, David. He wrote five hundred letters in five years, and it says in this week’s issue of Christianity Today, February 18, 1977, quote: “Berg, who is said to have several concubines, insists that his letters are God’s Word for today and have supplanted the biblical Scripture, God’s Word for yesterday. Yet, the letters endorse some totally un-biblical practices.” End quote.
Everybody from Edgar Cayce to L. Ron Hubbard and all the quacks in between claim to have revelation from God. The Koran, you never heard of the – you ever heard of the Koran? The Mohammedan source book? The Koran was received by a series of revelations, supposedly from God. One night in Ramadan, about 610 A.D., Mohammed was asleep, an angel came. You know what angel it was? It was Gabriel. He came and spoke to Mohammed and gave him the beginning of the Koran, and by 650 A.D., it was all completed. It was all from God through an angel.
In Japan, there are two major new religions sweeping Japan. Soka Gakkai was the major one a few years back, a tremendously powerful religion, claiming to have originated in a special revelation to its founder. But recently, two new ones called Tenrikyo and Konkokyo – and both of these claim to come from God through mystical revelations, and I have in my office some photograph copies of the actual writing that supposedly defines those revelations.
The same is true with Indian gurus and mystics and on and on. October 20th, 1976, the L.A. Times reported a man was hanged in the Bahamas for murdering two people. He said, “God told me to do it.” Just the kind of revelation we need. February 19, 1974, L.A. Times, quote: “An unemployed construction worker allegedly slaughtered seven members of his family on his 20th birthday, Monday, because a voice told him to ‘gather up his flock and deliver them to me.’ Sheriff J.P. Wallace said, ‘Frank Rios stalked through his house trailer and another one nearby with a .22 caliber rifle in the early morning, killing his wife, infant daughter, mother-in-law, and four other relatives.’ Wallace said Rios told him he had been conversing with God since he was 12 years old, and he regularly attended services at the Rose Hill Baptist Church.” End quote.
Now, I don’t think that should reflect on the church, but I’ll tell you, here’s a guy who thought he was getting messages from God so he murdered seven people. You start playing around with revelations, and pretty soon Satan’s going to get you right where he wants you, to deliver the wrong stuff. It’s a dangerous ground.
Listen, our dear Lord Jesus established the sufficiency of this Book. Listen, in Luke 16 – and, boy, we ought to know this and know it well. You remember that guy said, “Oh, you know, come, I – send me back to tell my brothers,” right? Remember? And Jesus said, “They have Moses and the prophets. Let them hear them. If they hear not Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded though somebody rise from the dead.” You let them hear the Scripture. In Mark 12:24, “‘Is it not for this cause you err,’ said Jesus, ‘that you know not the Scripture?’” Your problem isn’t you don’t have special revelation, your problem is you don’t know the Bible.
Paul gave it to us. He said, “Let the Word of Christ” – do what? - “dwell in you richly.” Joseph Dillow, in his book, records this testimony. “When I was a new Christian, I met a man I’ll call Bill. Bill was given to seeing visions and regularly claimed he received direct revelation from God. He saw the Lord working in every conceivable circumstance of life. Every inner impression was examined as to the Lord’s leading. One night, he called me at midnight because he had a message from the Lord he had to share with me.
“Bill was in his 40s. He lived alone with an hour’s drive from my house, but he still wanted to come and deliver the message in person. I was touched by his concern, told him it would be all right if he waited until tomorrow. He insisted, so I invited him over. When he arrived, he was visibly shaken. At the time, I had just decided to go to seminary. Bill was very upset about this. ‘The letter kills,’ he said, ‘but the Spirit gives life,’ and now he had a message from the Lord, warning me not to go to seminary.
“He had been reading in Isaiah, and the Lord gave him a special revelation that said, quote: ‘If you go to seminary, your wife will be eaten by lions, and you will lose your eternal salvation.’ End quote. It was rather frightening, but I didn’t buy it.” He says, “He lived in a world of superstition, which his theology of tongues had fostered. The centrality of the Word had been lost in his life. The last I heard of Bill, he was in jail because the Lord had told him that he was to disobey constituted authority and not comply with a zoning ordinance.”
Kind of sad. Had a conversation this week with Hal Lindsey, and I was sharing with Hal the things that were on my heart, and he says, “Let me give you a classic illustration you can share with your people,” and I’m going to share it with you and close.
There’s a Charismatic woman in Australia by the name of Miss Viola. Some of you have heard of her, no doubt. She is becoming very famous around the world as a healer, she’s Charismatic. She claims that Kathryn Kuhlman’s mantle has fallen on her. In her church, she is able to cast out demons. She says she can cast out demons that no one else can handle. In front of each person in her church is a bucket and a towel because with all of the exorcisms going on, there’s a lot of vomiting.
She says that the reason she can cast out demons that no one else can cast out is because of Galatians 6:17, which says, “Henceforth, let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of Jesus” – and, of course, she grossly misinterprets that. She was a nominal Christian, going nowhere, and her husband died. She became lonely. She started to seek for supernatural revelations from God, and eventually she began developing the stigmata.
The stigmata is the signs of the crucifixion. In other words, she began to develop scars in the palms of her hand and in her side. Now, this is something that was supposedly claimed by St. Francis of Assisi, but cannot be verified. In fact, it is said in all of history, only one person ever claimed to have seen it. But she claims that some marks that she has were the stigmata, and because she bears in her body the marks of Jesus Christ, no one can trouble her. She can handle any demons.
Well, her church is growing, and they needed money for a bigger building, and so she heard about a fellow in San Francisco who’s a good friend of Hal’s, and he had some money. So one day she arrived in San Francisco with a woman who’s always with her and a man who’s a former Anglican priest who’s always with her. The woman that goes with her is a prophetess. Viola speaks directly to God, but God speaks back to her through this woman who speaks with some kind of divine voice. So they always go together, and this ex-Anglican bishop goes along.
Well, they came to Hal’s friend, and they said that God had given them a vision that they should come to see him, but they didn’t know why. He said, “Well, what do you want?” “Well, we don’t know, but that will be revealed.” Well, of course, they knew. And so he couldn’t figure out what was going on, so he called up Hal and he said, “What am I going to do about this? Can I bring them down, and we’ll sit down, and you get a couple of the guys, and let’s find out if it’s legitimate?” So they flew to Los Angeles, Hal picked them up, and they went over. He and a couple of the fellows that work with him sat down, and they found a very interesting thing occurred.
As they asked questions, she told them about her powers of revelation. She told them about all the things she could do, about her Charismatic powers and gifts, and Hal told me whenever they asked her a question and she needed an answer, sitting beside her the entire time of the conversation was a stack of paper about this high, all catalogued. And what it was was all of the revelations she has received from God, and she flipped through them to find the answers to the questions, see. And Hal said, “But that” – frequently, he said, “but that disagrees with Scripture.” She said, “No, that’s only your misinterpretation.”
Now, you see, there’s the ultimate, friends. When you don’t go to the Bible for your authority, you’ve got your own stack of stuff sitting beside you. This is the ultimate end of the Charismatic revelatory process. It’s a disaster. It’s a tragedy. I don’t buy it. And I say this, I stand with ancient old Job who had it right at the very beginning, and he said, “I have treasured the Words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” That’s all I need. Let’s pray.
Father, thank you this morning again for reinforcing in our hearts this tremendous need to make a commitment to your Word, an unwavering, unhesitating commitment. Pray for our dear friends and brothers and sisters who just are letting slip away biblical authority and piling up a stack of revelations that they can look in, supposedly get answers. It isn’t right, Father, and we know that you went to so much to give us the Word, and then so many great and godly people through the ages have died to preserve it. How tragic if the church itself lets it slip through her fingers. What a terrifying thought. Help us to cherish it, to love it, to study it, to feed on it, to teach it. We’ll praise you in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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