This in my second post, and it is time to get into some of the slightly deeper spiritual things. I want to address the issue of the charismatic movement in a general sense, because it is heavy on my mind in recent days. I spent my entire 40+ year life in this movement, up until about midway of 2012 when I officially pulled away from it. You could say that I “renounced” it, although that term seems a bit harsh. My eyes were finally opened to the truth about the charismatic movement which includes the modern “signs and wonders” movement. I do not condemn those followers who are still in the movement, which includes almost every Christian I personally know at this point. It is a hugely popular movement now, and it has many attractions and trappings. But let’s keep in mind, it is…a movement. A movement from God, or of the flesh, or worse? I can speak from experience that when a person is submersed in the charismatic movement, it is nearly impossible to see that anything else could possibly be right. After all, Baptists are all stuck on the “first level’, aren’t they? They haven’t been Spirit filled yet, right? They are powerless, nearly worthless Christians. Not so. But so is the thinking of most charismatics.
Let me state up front that most of my brothers and sisters in the Lord who are in this movement are just as sincere as any other Christian, charismatic or not. Many are admirably quite passionate about Jesus. The main problem, in my view, is the dangers that are inherent within the movement. That is a whole blog in itself though. I have been in the movement so long, I only have a few non-charismatic friends, most of whom are new friends from my new church. I do not claim that charismatics are not true believers, as many of them are extremely dedicated to the Lord, and love the Lord with all their heart, and are just as saved as a soul can be. My main issues would be the leaders of the movement, and the dangers that the movement itself creates for it’s followers. These leaders of charismania are men (and unscripturally, women too) who seem to have a very different understanding of the fullness of the Scriptures. Theologians would call it “bad hermeneutics”. Hermeneutics is simply a word for interpreting of Scriptures. Some of the charismatic leaders, especially many on TV, are just plain hucksters and that’s all there is to it. The Bible clearly warns us about them. Unfortunately, the charismatic movement does not “test the spirits”. The only thing they tend to “test” is anyone who dares to actually test the spirits! If one questions anything in the charismatic/pentecostal movement, then that person is questioned, and called “judgemental”! If you mention a modern day false prophet by name, they pull out the old “touch not my anointed” Scripture, which in reality was referring to physical harm of old testament chosen ones and prophets. Even more, it was referring to God’s truly “anointed”, and not to false prophets. For many of these modern day false prophets, they have literally pages worth of false prophecies on record against them. Yet, their followers do not even blink an eye at this, and continue to follow them willingly. If having a list of false prophetic utterances against a given prophet does not make them a false prophet, then I don’t know what else would cause their followers to take note, and turn away. Also take note that not every false prophet gives actual prophetic utterances. (Many of them regularly use the term “thus saith the Lord” when they prophesy) A false teacher qualifies as a false prophet.
The charismatic crowd tends to believe in just about anything that seems exciting or new, as long as it seems spiritual, and too often, even mystical. They tend to have a disdain toward most all head knowledge, claiming that we must bypass our minds in order to truly allow the Holy Spirit to work through us. This thinking is not Scriptural. It is mystical. I cannot think of anywhere in the Bible where somebody said anything to the effect of “I can just feel the presence of God surrounding me, and it puts me into a bliss. Let me bypass my brain and just FEEL God’s presence”. Or do they ever say in the Bible, “The apostle touched me, and I felt a warm sensation up and down my back”? No, this is not Biblical language. It is foreign to the Bible. Unfortunately, the charismatic movement is based on sensual, ecstatic experiences. Sensual not as in sexual, but being that which is apprehended by the senses and emotions. Sensual.
I must strongly question doctrines that began only recently, in 1906!
I think I have always had a fair amount of “child like faith”, yet at the same time, I believe I’ve also had a fairly discerning eye, thanks be to God. That being said, I guess I never really did fit into the charismatic movement. Let me say this emphatically first. I DO believe God can and does do miracles today, including physical healing. Yes, physical, organic healings surely can happen. I am not “limiting God” as some would say. I have never seen a healing. But I still believe they do sometimes happen, and that only in response to the prayer of faith, not by command from someone who claims the gift of healing. Healing is no longer done by the human agent, despite what the fake healers tell you. The days of Jesus and the apostles walking the earth doing miracles is past. ONLY Jesus and the apostles, and the 70 others (Luke 10:1) who were commissioned to work closely with the apostles had the miraculous “sign gifts”. (The miraculous sign gifts were given as a SIGN to the unbeliever, to authenticate the message they had was from God) I invite any charismatic Christian to please show me where a laymen believer ever healed anyone in the Bible? Actually, I will cite one example for you as a token of good faith! This is the one example I am aware of. In Acts chapter 9, Ananias, a devout man, received a vision from the Lord. He was instructed to go to Saul/Paul, who had just previously been converted on the road to Damascus. Ananias was told to go and lay hands on Saul and heal his temporary blindness. Other than Ananias, who else other than Jesus, the apostles and their close associates ever healed anyone? There can always be exceptions to a rule, as seen with Ananias.
If the miraculous gifts are for “every believer” as the charismatics misunderstand, then in the Bible there should be plenty of evidence of this happening. There is none. Truly, every Christian in the Bible should have been running around healing each other! We see no evidence of this in the Bible. The Bible never speaks of groups of new believers running out and healing all their friends and family, or people on the street. If it were so, it seems that it would have been recorded in the Bible. In Acts 2:43, after 3,000 souls were added as believers, it says “then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles“. So three thousand new believers were added, and notice there is not one mention of any of them running out, performing miracles. Again, it was only the apostles! Furthermore, if the gift of healing is to be for all who believe, then we are all a HUGE failure, because true organic healings are not happening on a regular basis today, as claimed by pentecostals/charismatics. If any charismatic were honest with themselves, they would have to admit that the miracles in the Bible are not happening in like manner today. The Bible miracles were instant, they were verifiable. They were non-disputable. Nobody questioned whether or not they actually happened. When they saw a miracle, they saw an obvious, bona fide, supernatural miracle. All the hype and misleading showmanship of today’s “faith healers” is just that–hype and deception. Most of the trickery of modern day “miracle workers” is especially in the realm of “healing”. But let me get back to what is in the Bible, and not so much what is not. Look at 2 Corinthians 12:12. Clearly the “signs of the apostle” are SIGNS, WONDERS, and MIGHTY DEEDS. If those gifts are for every believer, then how can they be the “signs of an apostle”? Paul was writing to the Corinthians, making his case, saying that he really is an apostle of Christ, and one who is to be heeded. Here’s the verse: 2 Cor. 12:12 “Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds”. He is saying to them that if he (Paul himself) were not an apostle, he could not have performed those miracles. He didn’t say the signs and wonders and mighty deeds were the sign of every believer. Much more than that, it was one of the main signs of his apostleship. Now to draw a quick conclusion, the charismatic movement asserts that these sign gifts are for every believer. This is due to their misunderstanding of Mark 16: 17-18. I will get to that in a future post. (I am not dodging it at all, but it is far too big a scripture to tackle here in this blog post). I do want to offer this one concession. I agree with my charismatic brothers that you cannot put God in a box. I have heard some convincing stories of real, organic miracle healings taking place. I believe God does sometimes grant a miracle healing here and there, though not by command. As a rule though? Clearly not. When He does respond to prayer with a miracle healing, I rejoice in it. I am not a hard-line cessationist. Further, it could actually be said that charismatics are “putting God in a box”, demanding that He work according to their ideas and interpretations of the Bible.
I believe through all accounts of Biblical evidence that the gifts of healing and miracles have ceased with the apostles. I said the gifts of healing, not the occasional occurrences of them, in response to the prayer of faith, or simply by God’s providence. Healings happen now in response to prayer….not by command. We cannot command anyone to be healed. If you know someone who claims they can, just invite them to the nearest children’s cancer ward, and see what happens. No music, no hype, just the “healer” and the sick person. They will not take you up on the offer. They cannot control the environment at the hospital, thus they cannot control people’s perceptions. Even in the last segments of the book of Acts, the healing gift was waning. It was obviously fading away. Paul could not even heal his “spiritual son” Timothy. The sign gifts were for a SIGN. They were to validate the new message of the Gospel. All through the Bible, God gave miracle signs when He brought new revelation. Now, we have the completed Bible, which is clearly and unmistakably divine. It is THE Word of God, not to be added to. I am not a total cessationist either, but I lean that direction. There is no scripture that just plainly states that “the sign gifts will cease when the apostles die off”. There is of course, the well known scripture that says that prophecy and tongues will fail, and cease, respectively. (1 Cor. 13:8). It is not clear though just when they were to cease. It says in vs 10 “when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away”. There are a few differing theories about just when that “perfect” was, or will be. I won’t get into that today, and I do not claim to know the answer. This is why I am not a staunch cessationist.I never use 1 Cor 13 to try to prove cessation of the sign gifts.
I have to say, I currently do believe God speaks to us in part, and by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, possibly a few words of knowledge here and there, and sometimes through a “leading”, or a nudging within. Impressions? Maybe. I do not however, believe in modern-day prophets. I am referring to the foretelling prophets, such as the old testament prophets. To prophesy today means that you are “proclaiming” the Word of the Lord. This is all good. The “Word of the Lord” being the Bible and all it’s truths, especially the Gospel. Today, in the supposed “prophetic renewal”, so many in the charismatic movement seem to think they are a prophet. Even the most well known modern day “prophets” have on average about a 30% accuracy rate. They even admit it, and usually claim they are still “immature” in their gift. They teach that a prophet must “grow” in his gift. They actually have “prophecy schools”, where one can learn and practice speaking the “fresh Word from God”. They certainly seem to misunderstand the gravity of what they are doing. They go to and fro, speaking “thus saith the Lord”, followed by a whole bunch of really spiritual sounding stuff that they claim came directly from God. Again, even the supposed “best” of them have about a 30% accuracy rate in their prophecies. Upon examining their prophetic record, they are wrong the majority of the time. Many of them simply keep up with current world news, and then “prophesy” according to their own calculations of future events, or just out of their imaginations. This is serious business! When it comes to the foretelling type of prophecy, you either speak for God, or you don’t . Either God gives you the words, or you are a false prophet. See Deut 18:22 “If a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD but the thing does not take place or prove true, it is a word that the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; do not be frightened by it.” Back in that time, if a prophet spoke one thing that did not come to pass, he was put to death. Just one wrong thing! God does not speak through a man, only to be later proven wrong! If it was from God, it will be 100% true and accurate.
Charismatics need to understand that what they are involved in has NEVER been part of orthodox Christianity. The whole pentecostal/charismatic movement, and all it’s trappings, doctrines, and emotionalism is all relatively NEW to Christianity. It started in 1906, or to a smaller degree, in 1901. Throughout church history, tongues, healings, ecstatic manifestations, and prophecy have never been the norm. ( I am speaking of church history beginning after the apostles) Most everything that defines modern day charismania was not part of the early church. Even at the end of apostle Paul’s life, it seems the miracles had ceased. The earlier epistles he wrote made mention of some of the “sign gifts”. The latter epistles contain no mention of such miracle gifts. They seem to have faded away. There is much scriptural evidence to correlate this belief.
My next blog will likely cover a more coherent, single topic. I look forward to writing it, and even more forward to the study that will go into it, as I will soon begin getting into much more scripture and detail. I pray the Lord show me the path He has for me each day. His mercies are new EVERY morning! I need them desperately. I need mercy, grace, and guidance. Lord, show us all the Way. Amen