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An Eye-Witness Report on the North American Congress on the Holy Spirit & World Evangelization August 1990, Indianapolis, Indiana
By David W. Cloud
Because of its claims and its amazing growth, the Pentecostal-charismatic movement cannot be ignored. It claims to be THE Holy Spirit movement of this century. Thus, anyone who cares about having the fullness of God is compelled to examine it. Is the charismatic experience the door into God's richest blessing and power? It claims to be.
Consider, too, the growth. At the turn of this century there were no Pentecostals in the world. Zero. Even 50 years ago Pentecostalism was a very minor part of Christendom. But things are different now! The ten largest churches in the world are charismatic. The only church in the world which claims over 500,000 members is charismatic. The charismatic movement is probably the fastest growing movement which names the name of Christ. The charismatic movement dominates the Christian media in the West, permeates such influential organizations as the Christian Booksellers of America and the Christian Broadcasting Association, and controls much of the Christian television and radio transmission. Some of the largest mission groups are charismatic. Youth With a Mission, with its 21,000 workers (counting short-termers), is an example. The charismatic movement influences society at every strata, from the businessmen to the poorest of the poor in third world nations.
Statistician David Howard claims that 372 million Christians--one in every five--identifies with the Pentecostal-charismatic movement (Press Release, Indianapolis '90, August 16, 1990). He claims that charismatics are growing by 54,000 per day, and that 80% of all conversions are charismatic. These statistics are doubtful, but there can be no doubt that it is a massive movement. Because of this we have examined the charismatic movement carefully.
New Orleans '87
In 1987 I had the opportunity to attend New Orleans '87, probably the largest charismatic meeting in North America in the last decade. It had been 15 years since I had been saved and had first looked at the charismatic issue. I was aware that great things were being claimed, that the movement was experiencing fantastic growth, that it was more ecumenical than ever. In our missionary work in South Asia since 1979, we had learned firsthand of its great worldwide influence. I wanted to attend the New Orleans meeting in order to see for myself what was happening, and the Lord provided press credentials and opened the door.
In spite of the fact that I had followed the charismatic- ecumenical movement carefully over the years, the New Orleans meeting was still a real eye opener.
It was a real eye opener to see the roughly 20,000 Catholics in attendance in New Orleans, to see the Roman mass performed every morning. It was a real eye opener to see and hear hundreds of the most popular charismatic leaders. It was a real eye opener to see strange things such as "Spirit slaying," to hear thousands of people speaking in "tongues" at one time, to be blasted with "Christian" rock and other jazzy types of music. I had seen and heard all these things before, but not on such a grand scale.
New Orleans '87 was definitely an eye opener! I was deeply impressed with the urgency of warning God's people of the confusion and duplicity I had witnessed.
The major goal of the New Orleans meeting was ecumenical evangelism: all the church to evangelize all the world by the year 2000. "The ultimate goal of these Congresses is to be able to present to Jesus Christ an absolute majority of the world's population as Christians on his 2,000th birthday"(Evangelize the World Now!, Indianapolis 1990 Congress Program Book, p. 42). The Catholic Evangelization 2000 program was also launched in 1987, and it is significant that Evangelization 2000's leader, Priest Tom Forrest, delivered the closing address at New Orleans.
Because of this goal and the aggressive plans being set in motion to accomplish it, the charismatic movement with its many errors is going to be even more aggressive in the coming days. It is therefore even more imperative than ever that a warning be sounded.
When the latest in this series of congresses was announced for Indianapolis, August 1990, I determined to obtain press credentials and to give an up-to-date report. Churches must be provided with factual information about the changing face of Pentecostalism. The charismatic spirit is not passive, but is very active, and very few Christians are escaping the influence of its siren call. The Bible describes error as winds which blow and carry about those who are deceived thereby (Eph. 4:14). The charismatic winds are blowing with gale force strength.
The official title of the meeting was The Indianapolis Congress on the Holy Spirit and World Evangelization. It was sponsored by the same organization which sponsored New Orleans '87--the North American Renewal Service Committee. Total registrations numbered roughly 25,000. Forty-eight percent of those in attendance were Roman Catholic. Ten percent were non-denominational, nine percent Episcopal, and eight percent Pentecostal. Forty denominations and organizations were involved in the congress, and fifty nations were represented among the participants. Roughly 200 speakers were involved in the congress, and there were more than 150 exhibitors. Though smaller than New Orleans '87, the Indianapolis meeting was still very large and influential.
The conference theme was "Evangelize the World Now!" In his welcome to the Congress, Chairman Vinson Synan stated that the desire and aim of the meeting was to "inaugurate a decade of world evangelization during the 1990s." He said, "We believe that a mighty worldwide renewal and revival in the churches will make the 1990s the greatest decade of evangelization in the history of the church."
With these facts before us, the stage is set for our report. Following is what I saw at Indianapolis.
First, let me say that I was challenged by some things at this conference. The problem is that the things which could be good in the charismatic movement are spoiled by the doctrinal error and imbalance, ecumenical confusion, and widespread duplicity and sham.
I believe the charismatic movement is the devil's wildfire answer to the spiritual dearth found in so frightfully many churches. Many people are drawn to the charismatic movement by such things as their enthusiasm for worship and prayer, their boldness, their wholesomeness of life, their seeming love for Jesus and for the power and blessing of God. All of these were evident in Indianapolis. Too bad we can't stop there. Too bad the charismatic movement is not content with the true things of the Word of God. But it isn't. Instead, we have confusion. We have truth mixed with error.
CONFUSION ABOUT UNITY
One of the major themes of New Orleans '87 and Indianapolis '90 was "unity." Congress chairman Vinson Synan, in his message the opening night of the conference, sounded this keynote:
"And, finally, this is a congress on unity. For the first time we all came together from these streams [Catholic, Protestant, Non-denominational, Pentecostal] in 1977 in Kansas City, in Arrowhead stadium. Back there Kevin Ranahan [Roman Catholic] was chairman. ... Then five years ago the Lord spoke to us to begin the North American Renewal Service Committee. In 1986 and 1987 we held conferences in the Superdome in New Orleans. ... The Lord brought us together in unity. And we are trying to answer the prayer of Jesus in John 17:21 when he prayed that we would all be one as he and the Father are one so that the world would believe that you have sent me. ... I believe tonight the Lord is bringing all these flames from the Baptists, and the Methodists, and the Catholics, and the Presbyterians, and we at Indianapolis are going to merge those flames into one mighty flame for the Lord. ...
"No one of us can do this job all by ourselves. ... As Spirit-filled as the Pentecostals may be, they can't do the job alone. As organized as the Methodists may be, they can't do the job alone. As universal as the Catholics may be, they can't do the job alone. As evangelistic as the Baptists may be, they can't do the job alone, either. As educated as the Presbyterians may be, they can't do the job alone. As holy as the Nazarenes may be, they can't do the job alone. As free as the non-denominational people may be, they can't do the job alone. As historic as the United Church of Christ is, it can't do the job alone. As separated as the Mennonites may be, they can't do the job alone. As respectable as the Episcopalians may be, they can't do the job alone. As justified as the Lutherans may be, they can't do the job alone. As ancient as the Messianic Jews may be, they cannot do the job alone. We all must get together and do the job together in the mighty name of Jesus."
We can see that charismatic unity is not Bible unity, but is ecumenical confusion. The Bible calls for the unity of the faith, but the leaders of these meetings were calling for a unity which disregarded the one true faith of the Word of God.
True Bible unity would never allow God's people to countenance Romanism in their midst. Nothing is more unscriptural, more blasphemous, yet half of the participants of these charismatic congresses were Catholics. Many of the leaders and speakers were Romanists. All sorts of books promoting Romanism were sold at the conferences. There were books about the popes and the priesthood, about Mary and pilgrimages to Mary shrines, about celibacy, about the rosary, about the Roman sacraments. There were a great variety of rosaries, Mary statues, and crucifixes for sale in Indianapolis. A great many of the ministries promoted by the congress were Catholic. How can this be?
Such doctrinal confusion, my friends, has nothing to do with Christ's prayer in John 17. Seven times in that prayer the Christ referred to "the word" and "the truth." Consider these verses from Christ's high priestly prayer:
"For I have given unto them THE WORDS which thou gavest me, and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me."
"Sanctify them through THY TRUTH: thy word is TRUTH." (John 17:8,17)
In light of the way Christ exalted the truth of the Word of God, it would be strange indeed to think that He was praying for an ecumenical unity. Christ prayed for those who "have kept thy word" (Jn 17:6). How impossible, then, is an interpretation of this passage which has Christ praying for an ecumenical unity among those who have NOT kept the Word of God!
Roman mass each morning of the conference
Each morning at New Orleans '87 and Indianapolis '90 there was a Roman Catholic mass--right in the very heart of these charismatic meetings. Consider what happens at a Catholic mass. First, we have a man claiming to be ordained a priest after the order of Melchisedec. This is foolish because the Bible gives no authority for the formation of a special priesthood among the New Testament churches. The only priesthood spoken of for the churches is the priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:9). Beyond that, the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is our great high priest. He alone could be a priest after the order of Melchisedec spoken of in Hebrews 7. Christ alone is "without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life" (Heb. 7:3).
What blasphemy for a Catholic priest to claim to be after this order! Further, this bogus priest claims to have the power to turn bread and wine into the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ. The Catholic church claims that Christ actually becomes present on their altars. How foolish! How strange! How contrary to the Scriptures!
Yet a Roman mass was held every morning, and among the leaders of the conferences there were no protests against this blasphemy. I spoke with many of the congress leaders and participants, and none were outraged at the mass. In fact, on the last evening of New Orleans '87, Vinson Synan, congress chairman, said, "If you want to see something beautiful, come see a spirit-filled Catholic mass." He was referring to the mass which was to be held the next morning--Sunday morning--in the Superdome. This shows that Synan is not merely biting his tongue about Catholic heresies in order to promote unity; he truly appreciates and loves these apostate things! These Pentecostals and Catholics are indeed one in the spirit--but it is not the Holy Spirit!
I hope our readers see the significance of the Roman Catholic mass at the center of a massive charismatic meeting. There is nothing in the world of Christendom more blasphemous and false than the Catholic mass. And for 200 popular charismatic leaders and tens of thousands of charismatic Christians to allow it to be performed in their midst is incontrovertible evidence of the apostasy of the charismatic movement itself. It is time for Christians to awaken out of sleep and to see the charismatic movement for what it is--a way of error which is leading deeper and deeper into apostasy and closer and closer toward Rome, the very seat of apostasy.
Rosaries and madonnas for sale
In the book sales area there was a large assortment of rosaries, madonnas, crucifixes, and such things for sale. There were books on the popes, on Mary shrines such as Fatima and Medjugorje, on the mass, on the "saints," on celibacy. In fact, every Roman heresy was promoted at the Indianapolis charismatic conference through speakers and books.
The pope is "world's most moral man"
One of the saddest things I saw at these meetings was the spiritual blindness which has overcome James Robison. He was once a powerful evangelist and preached against sin and apostasy. He boldly rebuked the liberalism which is destroying the Southern Baptist convention of which he was a member. He had fruitful city wide evangelistic crusades. Those days are gone, though. He allowed a charismatic to lay hands on him; he accepted the false spirit of that movement, and he can no longer see error. The Apostle Paul feared that the Corinthians would bear with false spirits, and that is what Robison did (2 Cor. 11:1-6).
The following excerpt from Robison's message in New Orleans shows the spiritual blindness which has overcome him:
"I tell you what, one of the finest representatives of morality in this earth right now is the pope. People who know it really believe he is a born again man."
My, my, how blind and foolish can a man become! If the charismatic experience causes men to be so utterly spiritually blind as this, it obviously is not of the Holy Spirit of Truth. The pope bears such titles as "His Holiness," "The Vicar of Christ," "Holy Father," and other names which can only be claimed by the Almighty Triune God Himself. Pope John Paul II brought together leaders from most of the world's heathen religions in Assisi and had them pray with him for peace in the world--praying to the god of fire, to the god of the big thumb, to the god Allah, to the gods Shiva, Ram and the other pantheon of Hindu gods, to the gods of the rivers and sky and trees! John Paul II is so infatuated with the false Mary of Catholicism that he visits the Mary shrines in each country he visits, and embroidered on his garments are words in Latin which mean "Totally yours, Mary." John Paul II, in speaking to the World Council of Church leaders last year, said that "we have been incorporated into Christ through our baptism and thus we are already one in baptism."
My friends, there has never been a moral pope. The pope could get saved, but he would then abhor and denounce the blasphemies of the papacy. The fact that the charismatic spirit imparts sympathy toward Romanism is incontrovertible evidence that it is a spirit of error.
Mary exalted as the Queen of Heaven
The Catholics who spoke at Indianapolis were great lovers of Mary. In fact, the Catholic charismatic movement could almost be called a Mary movement. Typical of the spirit of the Catholic renewal movement was a testimony by John Boucher who taught on "evangelism" during the afternoon Catholic sessions. In giving "nine ways to evangelize Catholics" Boucher said, "Knowing Jesus transformed my extreme prejudice against Marian devotion into a love for the Blessed Mother. I explain how knowing him personally brought me to know her personally." O.K. That's traditional Romanism, and it is the spirit of the Catholic "renewal," but it is not Bible and it is not Christian.
During the Saturday afternoon Catholic session at Indianapolis, Nancy Kellar, a nun, spoke Thursday morning on "Meeting God in the Body of Christ." Again, Mary was exalted, literally, to the heavens. Kellar spoke in "tongues"--shananaleum manalea, shananaleum manalea, shananaleum manalea, shananaleum manalea--then gave the Litany of the Blessed Virgin by St. Louis de Montfort, which goes like this:
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us. ... Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us. Holy Mary, pray for us. Holy Mother of God, Holy Virgin of virgins, Mother of Christ, Mother of divine grace, Mother most pure, Mother most chaste, Mother inviolate, Mother undefiled, Mother most amiable, Mother most admirable, Mother of good counsel, Mother of our Creator, Mother of our Savior, Virgin most prudent, Virgin most venerable, Virgin most renowned, Virgin most powerful, Virgin most merciful, Virgin most faithful, Mirror of justice, Seat of wisdom, Cause of our joy, Spiritual vessel, Vessel of honor, Singular vessel of devotion, Mystical rose, Tower of David, Tower of ivory, House of gold, Ark of the covenant, Gate of heaven, Morning star, Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comforter of the afflicted, Help of Christians, Queen of patriarchs, Queen of prophets, Queen of Apostles, Queen of martyrs, Queen of confessors, Queen of virgins, Queen of all saints, Queen conceived without original sin, Queen assumed into heaven, Queen of the most holy Rosary, Queen of peace ... Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. (St. Louis de Montfort, True devotion to the Blessed Virgin, (Montfort Publications: Bay Shore, 1987), pp. 164-165.)
Isn't that blasphemous! Isn't that horrible! Sure it is, yet right in the midst of the charismatic conference this type of heresy was given a warm and enthusiastic home. This, my friends, is NOT true Christian unity.
Charismatic leader praises God for purgatory
Another illustration of the gross heresy countenanced in the charismatic-ecumenical movement is seen in a speech in Indianapolis by priest Tom Forrest. Forrest is a Catholic priest based in Rome and is in charge of the Roman Catholic program to "evangelize" the world by the year 2000. He works hand in hand with the pope and is a great lover of Roman heresies. One morning in Indianapolis, Forrest spoke to the Roman Catholic session, and said, "Our role in evangelization is not just to make Christians; our job is to make people as richly and as fully Christian as we can make them by bringing them into the Catholic church." Forrest continued by glorying in the Catholic distinctives. He praised God for the sacraments. He praised God for the mass. He praised God for the priesthood, "according to the order of Melchisidec." He praised God for Mary, the "Queen of Paradise, [who] is praying for us till she sees us in glory." He praised God for the papacy. He praised God for Catholic tradition, for the saints, for the liturgy. Finally, he praised God for purgatory. Yes, you read that right. Tom Forrest praised God for purgatory! He said:
"As Catholics--now I love this one--we have purgatory! Thank God! I'm one of those people that would never get to Paradise without it! It's the only way to go. You can't take any sin. You can't take any imperfection. You can't take any sin weakness of your character, not the littlest selfishness, not the littlest bit of disagreement with anyone else to Paradise. You have got to leave it all behind. And if you don't get it done here, that's where you leave it behind, in purgatory. Thank God we know that! [clapping]"
And the thousands of charismatic Catholics present that morning said "amen" and clapped and praised God right along with Forrest for all these foolish heresies. They all praised God for purgatory.
Protestants are saying the rosary
Another priest who has become popular in the charismatic movement is Michael Scanlan, the head of the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio. In Indianapolis, Scanlan spoke on the "The Power of Intercession," and gave a testimony of his experiences in jail for picketing an abortion clinic in 1989. He said the group of demonstrators--Catholics and Protestants--were placed in an armory and spent the two weeks together. They had mass every morning; they said the rosary two or more times a day; they had a seminar on Marian theology and papal teaching.
The main point that Scanlan made from this experience was the "blessing" of seeing "most of the Protestants say the rosary." In fact, he said some of them started wearing the rosary around their necks, and since then when a demonstration is held in the Pittsburgh area, "Protestants who were in jail there have led the rosary." Scanlan was enthused about this: "What can God do! What can God do in response to prayer! What power there is in simply coming before God and praying. The bonds of unity among us!"
Imagine allowing this kind of error to be spread without evena word of reproof or warning! Imagine. Speakers praising God for purgatory. Speakers praising God that Protestants are learning to pray to Mary. Yet it's a fact. No warning was given by any of the leaders involved in these conferences--not by John Wimber, nor by Floyd McClung, nor by Karl Strader, nor by Loren Cunningham, nor by Larry Lea, nor by Joy Dawson, nor by Bill and Gloria Gaither, nor by Bob Weiner, nor by Jane Hansen, nor by Charles Kraft, nor by Peter Wagner, nor by Carl Richardson, nor by Paul Cain.
No one gave a warning. No one reproved heresy. No one cared anything about Bible separation. No one said, "Hey, the Roman mass is blasphemous; avoid it!" No one said, "Listen, folks, Rome teaches a damnable gospel which has led multitudes to hell; beware!" No one said, "Look out, brethren, there are a lot of books over in the book sales area that will destroy your Christian life!"
Mr. Purgatory himself, Tom Forrest, gave the closing message of the congress on Saturday evening, and he was introduced and received as a true man of God.
Of course, Romanism was not the only error at New Orleans and Indianapolis; error abounded on every hand, but Romanism was the most glaring error and is therefore a clear example of what we are saying: that the walls of Bible separation are being broken down by the charismatic movement.
It is an understatement to say that there was great confusion about unity in Indianapolis, as there is in the charismatic movement it represented.
CONFUSION ABOUT PROPHECY
There was also confusion about prophecy in Indianapolis. Peter Wagner of Fuller Seminary spoke and claimed that the 1980s were the decade of prophecy, marking the beginning of a supposed restoration of prophecy to the churches. Of course, there has always been prophecy in the charismatic movement, but this is different. Wagner called it "serious prophecy." He said, "I'm talking about Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah kind of prophecy, where God speaks to the churches."
Prophecies were given during each general session of the conference in the evenings, and many of the speakers during the morning and afternoon sessions gave prophecies and spoke of revelations they have had from God.
One group of the so-called "serious prophets" have been established in Kansas City since 1982 under the umbrella of the Kansas City Fellowship (KCF) and Grace Ministries, with Mike Bickle as their leader. Some of these are Bob Jones [NOT the Bob Jones of Bob Jones University!], John Paul Jackson, David Parker, Jim Goll, Francis Frangipane, and Reuven Doron. Paul Cain from Dallas, Texas, is closely associated with the Kansas City Fellowship and is considered the greatest prophet in their midst.
The prophets with the KCF are not the only new charismatic prophets by any means. A great number of their leaders claim to receive prophecies from God. Larry Lea is a key example. He is considered the apostle of prayer for this century and frequently speaks of the revelations God supposedly gives to him. John Wimber, too, has swallowed the prophecy thing "hook, line, and sinker." He has been given personal prophecies by Paul Cain and others associated with the KCF, and as a result has actually brought the KCF into his own Vineyard Ministries.
The growing influence these men are having in the charismatic movement is seen in the fact that Wimber, Bickle, and Cain spoke in Indianapolis and were received enthusiastically. Their session was one of the most well attended of the conference.
We are including an article called "The New Prophets" in this issue of O TIMOTHY, and you are referred to that for more about the prophets. Here it is sufficient to say that the prophecy at Indianapolis is not biblical, but is confusion. The new prophets are frequently wrong in their predictions. They frequently misquote and misinterpret Scripture. They have even exaggerated about their predictions. This alone is enough to show that they are not of God. There was great confusion about prophecy in Indianapolis.
CONFUSION ABOUT TONGUES
The great common denominator of the Pentecostal-charismatic movement is "Holy Spirit baptism" and tongues. Yet the tongues of Pentecostalism is not the tongues of the Bible. That is a fact.
The tongues which I heard in Indianapolis were not languages, but were merely repetitious mumblings. Larry Lea supposedly spoke in tongues Thursday morning, and his were an example of what is being passed off for tongues in the charismatic movement. It went something like this: "Bubblyida bubblyida hallelujah bubblyida hallabubbly shallabubblyida kolabubblyida glooooory hallelujah bubblyida."
If you think I'm making fun of the man, you are wrong. That is taken directly from the audio tape of his message that morning, and that is exactly what he said when he was supposedly speaking in tongues. If that is a language, it certainly has a simple vocabulary! My children had a more complex language than that when they were two years old.
The tongues of the New Testament were real languages. It was a language which the speaker had never learned, and thus was a miraculous sign. That's what Acts 2 plainly says. Consider:
"And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?" Acts 2:4-8
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 14, tells us something more about tongues in the early church:
"Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe." 1 Corinthians 14:20-22
Paul was trying to make the Corinthian church understand God's purpose in giving tongues. He quotes a prophecy from Isaiah 28 and applies it to New Testament tongues. The prophecy was that God would speak in foreign tongues to the Jews as a sign, yet they would not believe it. THUS, TONGUES WERE A SIGN TO THE UNBELIEVING JEWS, TO THE NATION ISRAEL. Yet Israel rejected that sign as they did the sign of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and they continued stubbornly in their blindness and unbelief. God, therefore, turned to the Gentiles to take out of the Gentile nations a people for his name. That is what God has been doing these past 2,000 years since the ascension of Christ. That is what the "church age" is all about. One day God will again turn His attention to the nation Israel and all prophecies for Israel will be literally fulfilled during the Great Tribulation, the glorious return of Christ, and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.
The purpose for tongues soon ceased as the Gospel was carried to the Gentiles in the ends of the earth. This is why we see so little about tongues after Pentecost. There are a couple of other mentions in Acts, then the references in 1 Corinthians 12-14. That is all. That is all God says about tongues in the entire New Testament! And much of that which is said about tongues is corrective. The church at Corinth was abusing spiritual gifts and had to be corrected, much like the charismatic movement of our day.
Friends, the miraculous tongues of the first century were not "bubblyida bubblyida bubblyida bubblyida"! To say the least, there was great confusion about tongues in Indianapolis.
CONFUSION ABOUT THE GOSPEL
Paul's fear for the carnal Corinthians was that they would bear with false gospels and false Christs (2 Corinthians 11:1-6). That's exactly what is going on within the charismatic movement. There were many false gospels and Christs preached at Indianapolis.
The entire thrust of these meetings, supposedly, was world evangelism. There are aggressive programs to evangelize the world by the year 2000, and there are buzzwords such as "the whole church for the whole world." This will never work. The whole church, so called, is a hodgepodge of denominations, independent groups and assemblies, many of which preach blatantly false gospels. How can people who do not know the true gospel evangelize the world? They can't.
Rome's sacramental gospel was at Indianapolis
What about Rome's sacramental gospel? The confusion surrounding the gospel in the charismatic movement is seen in the acceptance of Rome with its false gospel. And Rome's gospel was preached at Indianapolis.
In the afternoons, the Catholics held what they called a "School of Evangelism." On Thursday priest Chris Aridas spoke on "Vision of Catholic Evangelization" and said, "Do not be satisfied with conversion to Jesus; seek to be converted to the church. ... A Catholic evangelist knows sin did not destroy what we are in God's plan. We have to remember that as Catholic evangelists we are good. And those who have not yet accepted the Lord are good. ... This is why the virgin Mary is so important in evangelism."
This illustrates the great confusion about the gospel in Indianapolis.
A workbook called "Bringing Christ to My Everyday World" was used for the Catholic School of Evangelism. Chapter six is entitled "Sharing the Gospel of Jesus." What gospel are these Catholics sharing? That particular lesson was given in Indianapolis by John Boucher, and he started by giving what he called simple summaries of the gospel. One of those was the Nicene Creed. And what "gospel" does the Nicene Creed offer? The last part of it says, "We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins." (John Boucher, Bringing Christ to My Everyday World, Chariscenter USA: Notre Dame, 1990, p. 13)
There you go. That IS the gospel of Rome, of course. Rome teaches that Christ died for man's sins and that He delivered salvation into the hands of the church to distribute. Salvation is achieved by coming to the church, being baptized, being faithful to the sacraments of the church, then going to purgatory (as priest Tom Forrest so eloquently explained), and finally--hopefully, possibly--being released to paradise.
Boucher called for a volunteer to help him teach the crowd how to lead someone to "receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." He asked this volunteer, "Would you like to open your heart more deeply to the gift of the Holy Spirit that you received in baptism?" When the volunteer had prayed, Boucher also prayed thusly: "I thank you for the gift of salvation. Lord, I pray you will give Perry a sign, and I ask you and Mary to pray for that."
Is that Bible evangelism? My, oh, my!
Boucher said the gospel can be summarized as "Jesus Christ is Lord." No it can't. That's not the gospel. Jesus Christ IS Lord, and those who are saved receive Him as Lord, but that's not the gospel. It's crucial that we not confuse the gospel. The gospel is summarized for us by God in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 --
"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures."
That's the Gospel of Jesus Christ, folks. That's the one. That's IT. That's the one that will get you to heaven, praise God! A man must know that he is a condemned sinner and that there has been a full salvation provided by Jesus Christ on the cross. This payment for the sin debt was received by God the Father, as has been testified by the resurrection of Christ from the dead. The Gospel message is that Christ died for our sins according the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. The Gospel is that full, free, eternal salvation is offered to any sinner who will receive it from the hands of the resurrected Christ.
Any gospel which differs from the one in 1 Corinthians 15 is a false gospel--even if it differs just a little bit. And the Apostle told us what to do about false gospels: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8). There you go. That's what God says about the Catholic leaders in the charismatic movement who are preaching the Roman gospel. Let them be accursed. That might not be nice etiquette, but it is Bible and it is the truth.
Evangelism is praying the rosary
Evangelism was a key word in Indianapolis, but most of it was certainly not Bible evangelism. Priest Tom Forrest, who was treated as a spiritual hero at New Orleans '87 and Indianapolis '90, gave several illustrations of how he "evangelizes." In a message at New Orleans he said that he evangelizes by walking through the streets of Rome saying the rosary and praying for those he passes. What a strange method of evangelism! Of course, you can expect anything from a man who praises God for purgatory. In a message at Indianapolis Forrest said, "Now when you are doing something with your music and your praise to improve the liturgy of your parish, you are evangelizing." Oh? Improving church ritual is evangelizing!
Forrest also said in Indianapolis, "So evangelization is never fully successful; it's only partial until the convert is made a member of Christ's body by being led into the [Catholic] church." Forrest is confused. Evangelization is preaching the gospel so people can be born again. To confuse that with discipleship whereby a person is brought into a church and trained in the Word of God is great confusion. Salvation is never to be confused with discipleship and Christian growth. To do so is to mix works with faith, law with grace, and to pervert the gospel.
Baptismal regeneration preached at Indianapolis
Lutheran pastor LeRoy Flagstad of Rapid City, South Dakota, spoke on Saturday afternoon at the Lutheran session, and his sermon, "Do Baptized Lutherans Need to be Born Again?" was available at the Lutheran sessions. What gospel does this charismatic pastor offer to a lost and dying world? Consider:
"How this new birth happens is even more miraculous than physical birth. But one thing is clear, we know it happens through baptism. ... Christian life begins in baptism. It is a powerful sacrament. It is an instrument used by God to bring new birth. A person who is baptized, regardless of age, is "born again." ... At the baptismal font he was given spiritual birth. ... A few "Holiness" groups have made this teaching [eternal security] one of their teachings. They believe that "once saved, always saved," that no matter what happens, a person never falls away from God. This is not Lutheran teaching. Relationships can be broken. Solemn covenants in marriage can end in divorce, with two people no longer married. This can also happen in a spiritual way."
This is a false gospel. It's not Bible; it's heresy. We don't point men to a baptismal pool for the new birth, but to the living, resurrected Jesus Christ who paid the full price for sin and who is waiting to enter into the lives of those who call upon Him and to place them into an eternal father-son relationship with God through His blood and the power of the Holy Spirit. Baptism doesn't do that!
Congress chairman said there was no time for explanations of the gospel
There was so much confusion about the gospel at New Orleans and Indianapolis that a great number of those attending had no confidence of salvation. This was painfully illustrated one night in New Orleans.
Rienhard Bonnke was the speaker, and he had ranted and raved about all sorts of strange experiences he has had in his evangelistic ministry in Africa and elsewhere. He told of going into a music store in Johannesburg, South Africa, and a man he had never seen before approached him in fear and trembling and said, "I see Jesus in your eyes." That was supposed to be a wonderful miracle which led to "revival" in that store. There were lots of stories like that, but there was no clear presentation of the Gospel.
Bonnke mentioned the gospel, but he did not explain plainly what the gospel is. In fact, he made fun of those who present the gospel in a simple fashion. The exact words were, "Gospel in a nutshell; you must be nuts! The universe is too small to contain the Gospel." Bonnke is partly right, but when dealing with Bible doctrine, a mixture of truth and error equals error just as a mixture of poison and pure water equals poison. It is true that the Gospel, in all of its great truths and implications, is greater than anyone can comprehend. But this does not mean the Gospel cannot be put in a nutshell, in a summarized form so that people can understand it and thereby be saved. We have seen that the Apostle Paul put the Gospel in a nutshell in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4! But since Bonnke does not believe the Gospel can be summarized this way, I suppose this is why, in the midst of all his ranting and raving and telling of strange stories, he didn't actually get around to preaching the Gospel message clearly and simply.
Yet Bonnke did give an invitation at the end of his message, and he urged those who wanted to be saved to stand and repeat a prayer with him. Guess what? Half of those 40,000 charismatic tongues-speakers stood. That's right. The same people who had been lifting up hands, and shouting, and singing, and dancing, and speaking tongues, and falling on the floor, and laying hands on one another stood to say the sinner's prayer. And not only did those standing say a prayer, but people sitting all around me near the press section said the prayer, as well. What confusion!
At a press conference the next day with the chairman (Pentecostal Vinson Synan) and the director (Catholic David Sklorenko) of the congress, Dennis Costella of Fundamental Evangelistic Association sked about the confusion which surrounded the matter of salvation at the conference. Following is that amazing dialogue:
COSTELLA: "In the plenary sessions during the first part of the week, the speakers and all of the officients, everybody has been referring to the congress and the participants continually as being believers, as Christians, the saints, and so forth, you know. Why did--it seemed to me at least--nearly half the congregation last night stand to receive Christ as their Savior and to be born again? Was this response surprising to the leadership of this conference? And not only those who were standing but many of those that were still seated were praying the sinners prayer. I don't understand this."
SYNAN: "It would be surprising to the Protestants here who understand the language of evangelicalism and the altar call tradition. I think the Catholics, and probably the majority who were standing were Catholics, who would see this as a kind of a renewal of their baptismal vows, or receiving Jesus tonight like [they] do every Sunday."
COSTELLA: "Can I follow up a little bit on that? Well then, wouldn't it seem that something as major as the definition of the gospel itself and what effects or what brings about the conversion of a lost soul to where they are saved, if there is that much difference and misunderstanding among Catholics and Protestants at this congress, wouldn't it be crucial to, not just in a workshop but in a plenary session to speak definitively as to what the gospel message is so that there isn't this confusion?"
SYNAN: "Well, you know, it took me 52 years to come to my understanding of what Pentecostal theology is. And it probably took Dave [Sklorenko, Roman Catholic Director of the Congress] 48 years to understand what his is. We can't in one night get a crystal clear understanding on the part of everyone, because we come from different traditions."
COSTELLA: "But the congress won't speak to this seeming contradiction or misunderstanding to try to clarify that?"
SYNAN: "WELL, WE DON'T HAVE TIME TO DO THAT."
Isn't that amazing! Synan confused the simple preaching of the gospel with coming to a full doctrinal understanding of Bible truth, then said that they didn't have time to speak to the misunderstanding and confusion which was obviously present in the minds of a great mass of those attending the conference. It was a conference on world evangelization, but they didn't have time to speak clearly to this confusion. Forty thousand people were being exhorted to go forth and evangelize the world, but at least half of them didn't have a clear understanding in their own minds about their own salvation. What confusion!
It was Rome's false gospel, of course, that presented a great deal of the confusion at these conferences. It is amazing that people who claim to be Christians could be so blind that they cannot see that the Roman Catholic Church has nothing to offer to world evangelism. And that is an understatement! Rome is no friend to the gospel nor to Bible believers.
It is so crucial that the gospel be explained clearly and simply to men. Talking about the gospel and referring to it is not the same as preaching it. At New Orleans, Rienhard Bonnke said, "I am an evangelist and I preach the ABC's of the gospel of Jesus Christ." Actually, though, he only referred to the gospel, and didn't explain what it is. He said Jesus is the Savior, but that is not a clear presentation of the Gospel. In the midst of the confusion of Christendom today, that statement can mean practically anything!
Men must have the Gospel explained to them. This is why God sent the evangelist Philip into the desert to meet the Ethiopian eunuch, who was reading Isaiah 53 while riding in his chariot. The eunuch admitted to Philip that without a teacher he could not understand what he was reading. It is crucial that the gospel be presented simply and clearly so men can understand and be saved.
Sadly, though, there was great confusion about the gospel at Indianapolis as there is throughout the charismatic movement.
CONFUSION ABOUT HEALING
There was also great confusion in Indianapolis about healing. Lots of professed healers were there, including Charles and Francis Hunter--"the Happy Hunters" as they're often called. The Hunters illustrate the confusion about healing that is rampant within the charismatic movement. They call their book How to Heal the Sick a "handbook for the everyday Christian who needs to know how to minister healing biblically." The Hunters teach that every Christian should heal and that it is always God's will to heal. If a healing does not occur, it supposedly is a problem with our faith. In What They're All About, Francis Hunter says, "You see, Jesus gave us the job of laying hands on the sick and believing for their recovery. Don't get hung up and say, ‘God does it all.' ... With my heart and soul I believe that this end-time revival will be won by or will be accomplished by the multitudes who are obediently going out and laying hands on the sick. ... We show you how to speak to a mountain, believe and get the miracle you need."
That's just plain foolishness. If healing is God's will and is part of His promise to the Christian in this present world, why aren't the Hunters perfectly healthy? He is bald. She has terrible eyesight and can't see without her glasses; she wears a wig and is overweight. I'm not trying to poke fun at them. I'm trying to show the hypocrisy involved with the teaching that healing is in the atonement. During a healing crusade in the Philippines, Francis Hunter developed pink eye and had to go to the doctor for treatment, in spite of their prayers for her and their proclamations against the disease. My friends, I don't want to be rude, but this is hypocrisy.
If Christians can lay hands on the sick and heal, why do the Hunters only see a few healed of those who come to them for healing? I have seen the wheelchair cases brought into their meetings, then wheeled away just as crippled as they were before they came. This never happened when people came to Jesus Christ for healing. My friends, if the healing gift is for every Christian today, why can't Christians heal?
The simple fact is that Christians cannot heal like Christ did, because it is not God's will that they do so. Christians cannot heal like the apostles, because the healings wrought by the apostles were "signs of an apostle" and were not done by other Christians.
We deal much more with the matter of healing in the accompanying article in this issue, "Is Healing in the Atonement?" Suffice it here to say that there was great confusion in Indianapolis about healing, as there is in the charismatic movement it represents.
CONFUSION ABOUT A WOMAN'S SPIRITUAL MINISTRY
Many of the speakers in Indianapolis were women. Speakers during the general evening sessions included Jane Hansen of Women's Aglow, Joy Dawson, Linda Loontz, and Ernestine Reems. Other women gave prophecies during the evening sessions. Dozens of other women spoke during the morning and afternoon sessions.
This is confusion. The Bible forbids women from preaching or usurping authority over men:
"Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." 1 Timothy 2:11-14
"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law." 1 Cor. 14:34
Why are these clear Scriptures ignored almost throughout the charismatic movement? God forbids women to teach men. They are to keep silence in the churches. They are not to preach. They are not to pastor. They are not to prophesy and speak in tongues over men. This is forbidden.
Some will say, foolishly, that Paul had a bad attitude toward women. Did he? No, the things he wrote in his epistles about women were not his own thoughts and feelings. Note:
"If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant." 1 Cor. 14:37
Paul had great problems with the carnal Christians at Corinth. They had difficulty accepting his authority, and he had to speak rather sharply. Those in the charismatic movement have a similar attitude toward the authority of the Apostle Paul. Few charismatics would admit that they do not believe and accept Paul's doctrine, but in practice most do not. Most simply ignore Paul's commandments about women. This, my friends, is confusion.
CONFUSION ABOUT ROCK MUSIC
At New Orleans and Indianapolis, separate meetings called Youth Explosions were held. The one at Indianapolis was held in an enclosed sports stadium several blocks from the Hoosier Dome where the main meetings were conducted. During concerts, the building was darkened except for the lighted stage, and the three thousand or so young people moved and jived in the dark to hour after hour of rock music. This was interspersed with sermons which amounted to ecumenical brainwashing.
One speaker had the young people shout their denominational names into the air all at the same time and said, "This is the kind of noise God loves." The goal, obviously, was to break down every kind of doctrinal and denominational barrier. That speaker said, "We are not denominationized Christians; we are world Christians," and, "Denominationalism is hardening of the categories."
That's clever, but it's also wicked. The Scriptures are given for doctrine (2 Tim. 3:16). Those who hold doctrines contrary to the Scriptures are to be rejected and avoided (Rom. 16:17). Remember that one of the denominations involved here is Roman Catholicism. The key spirit of the charismatic movement today is ecumenism and the downplaying of Bible doctrine and, sadly, the young people at Indianapolis were bombarded with a steady blast from that false wind.
CONFUSION ABOUT REVIVAL
A theme of charismatic prophecy is end-time revival. Peter Wagner of Fuller Seminary spoke on "Warfare and Intercession" on Thursday morning, August 16, 1990, and referred to the end-time revival the charismatics are expecting:
"What I am saying now here ... is that all these signs, all that the Spirit is saying to the churches, are pointing to the great revival, the capital "R" revival, you know? ... children are praying, children are prophesying, children are laying hands on the sick and they're getting healed. This is still kind of rare, but this usually will happen. There'll just be an outpouring of spiritual power over the next 10 or 15 years that I've been describing."
Note that Wagner referred to special miracles being done by children. This is being prophesied by Paul Cain and Bob Jones (NOT the Bob Jones of Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina) and other of the new prophets. The problem with the charismatic revival, so called, is that it is not a true Holy Spirit revival. There are three reasons I know this is true:
FIRST, WE REJECT THE CHARISMATIC "REVIVAL" BECAUSE OF ITS STRANGE, UNSCRIPTURAL ROOTS. Vinson Synan, chairman of the congress in Indianapolis, is a Pentecostal and a historian. In the introduction to Azusa Street: The Roots of Modern-day Pentecost, he said,
"Few events have affected modern church history as greatly as the famous Azusa Street revival of 1906-1909, which ushered into being the worldwide twentieth-century Pentecostal renewal. From this single revival has issued a movement which by 1980 numbers over 50,000,000 classical Pentecostals in uncounted churches and missions in practically every nation of the world. In addition to these Pentecostals, there are untold numbers of charismatics in every denomination who can trace at least part of their spiritual heritage to the Azusa Street meeting." (page ix)
The strange "revival" in Los Angeles is considered so important in the eyes of the leaders of today's charismatic movement that it was announced in the AD2000 periodical that "donations are being solicited to restore the house at 216 N. Bonnie Brae, Los Angeles, that played a significant role in the development of Pentecostalism in the United States. It was there, in 1906, that the famous revival began that soon moved to the Azusa Street facility because the Bonnie Brae house was too small to accommodate the crowds." (AD2000, Volume 1, Number 6, July 22-26, 1987)
The things which happened at the mission on Azusa street in the early 1900s are indeed happening today in the charismatic movement of the 1980s, and this backs up the claim by charismatic leaders such as Vinson Synan that the "spirit of Azusa Street" is the spirit that energizes them today. The problem is that the spirit of Azusa Street is not the Holy Spirit of God.
Consider some excerpts from the eyewitness report of the things which happened at Azusa street:
"Some one would finally get up anointed for the message. All seemed to recognize this and gave way. It might be a child, a woman, or a man. ... Some one might be speaking. Suddenly the Spirit would fall upon the congregation ... Men would fall all over the house, like the slain in battle ... The scene often resembled a forest of fallen trees ... Presumptuous men would sometimes come among us. Especially preachers ... The breath would be taken from them. Their minds would wander, their brains reel. Things would turn black before their eyes ... Brother Ansel Post, a Baptist preacher, was sitting on a chair in the middle of the floor one evening in the meeting. Suddenly the Spirit fell upon him. He sprang from his chair, began to praise God in a loud voice in ‘tongues,' and ran all over the place ... There is much ‘slaying power' manifest ... Strong men lie for hours under the mighty power of God, cut down like grass." (Frank Bartleman, Azusa Street: The Roots of Modern-day Pentecost, Logos, 1980, pp. 59-64)
These are strange things--things which did not happen in the New Testament churches which were under the leadership of the Lord's apostles. They are things caused by a spirit other than the Holy Spirit. But these very things happened in New Orleans and Indianapolis and are happening at other charismatic meetings and groups across the world.
At afterglow meetings following the evening sessions at New Orleans the leader urged the people to form lines in front of each of the 20 or so workers so they could be prayed for and hands could be laid on them. When hands were laid on them, many fell backward and lay on the floor, sometimes for only a few seconds, sometimes for five or more minutes. Some appeared to have totally lost consciousness; others merely appeared to have momentarily swooned or fainted, while still others appeared to have faked their "slaying." Some did not fall down at all, but many did. They call this being "slain in the spirit," and "falling under the power." What spirit? What power?
Only three times in the New Testament do we find people falling down because of a spiritual power. First, some were made to fall by demonic powers (Matthew 17:15). Second, some fell down when Jesus spoke to those who came to capture Him in the garden of Gethsemene: "As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground" (John 18:6). Third, Saul, the persecutor of Christians, fell down when the glorified Jesus Christ appeared to him on the road to Damascus. "And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" (Acts 9:4).
Note that all of these were unbelievers! They were lost people. Nowhere in the New Testament do we read of believers falling down unconscious because of the power of the Holy Spirit. Spirit slaying is a demonic or a hypnotic practice, yet it has been evident in the Pentecostal-charismatic movement since its beginning. This is not Bible revival.
Not only do the charismatics trace their origin to Azusa Street and the beginnings of Pentecostalism at the turn of the century, but also to the Catholic mystics and strange offbeat groups of past centuries. In the Latter Days is Synan's attempt to trace the roots for the "greatest revival in human history," and what strange roots he finds! Amazingly, Synan finds the Pentecostal spirit in the Montanists of the second century. Montanus and his followers spoke in tongues, had visions, and claimed to be the direct mouthpieces of the Holy Spirit; they demanded celibacy, asceticism, and all sorts of unscriptural things.
Synan then finds the Pentecostal spirit moving through the Roman Catholic Church during the "dark ages" in their weird mystics, but you won't find a more unscriptural, confused lot than these Catholic saints.
Next, Synan sees the Pentecostal spirit breaking out among the Irvingites of the mid-1800s. Edward Irving accepted a mentally imbalanced tongues-speaking woman, Mary Campbell, as a prophetess, and organized a cult called the Catholic Apostolic church after being expelled from the Presbyterian church for heresy. These are certainly strange roots for a Holy Spirit movement, and it proves to me that it is not a true Holy Spirit revival.
I know the charismatic "revival" is nothing of the sort because it's roots are unscriptural and cultish.
SECOND, WE REJECT THE CHARISMATIC "REVIVAL" BECAUSE IT IS DIVORCED FROM LOVE FOR SOUND DOCTRINE. This was so evident at Indianapolis, as we have seen. Doctrinal confusion reigns supreme in this supposed revival. Yet Christ said the Holy Spirit is the "Spirit of Truth" (Jn. 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). I know the charismatic "revival" is nothing of the sort because it does not respect Bible truth.
THIRD, WE REJECT THE CHARISMATIC "REVIVAL" BECAUSE OF THE UNSCRIPTURAL PHENOMENA IT PRODUCES. What are the phenomena of the charismatic movement? Slayings, unintelligible babblings and mutterings, shakings, trances. This is not a Bible revival. It is confusion.
CONFUSION ABOUT THE KINGDOM OF GOD
One thing that came across loud and clear at the conference in New Orleans and Indianapolis is that charismatics, for the most part, are not looking for the imminent (any moment) return of Christ, but are seeking to build the kingdom of God right now. The emphasis was on kingdom building, kingdom theology, kingdom evangelism, kingdom work.
To my knowledge none of the speakers preached and warned that Jesus could come at any moment and that we must be ready. Of course, this could have been mentioned in some of the workshops or meetings that I did not attend, since obviously it was not possible to listen to every message given at these large conferences. But there is no question that in the preaching in the general sessions in the evenings and in the workshops that I did attend, the overwhelming emphasis was kingdom theology.
All seemed to be taking for granted that there are going to be more years before Christ returns. The emphasis was on the decade of evangelism and revival between 1990 to the year 2000, and all eyes were turned toward this decade. Yet the Bible promises no decade of evangelism and revival prior to the return of Christ. The continual warning in the New Testament is to watch at all times, to be ready:
"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." Matt. 24:42
"Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." Matt. 24:44
"Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." Matt. 25:13
"But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief... Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober." 1 Thess. 5:1-4,6
"And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light." Rom. 13:11,12
Contrary to the teaching of these Scriptures, many of the speakers at the conference spoke as if this great decade of evangelism is going to result in Jesus' return. Many said that Jesus is not going to return until all of the "Christians" (meaning Catholic and every type) come together in unity for world evangelism.
In New Orleans, Bob Weiner preached kingdom theology in calling for a decade of evangelism. He said, "We're going out until America is saved and every nation filled with the Holy Ghost." The Bible does not say this kind of thing is going to happen before Christ's return. The Bible says the very opposite, and this "kingdom theology" proclaims a false hope and false goal for Christians.
Michael Scanlan, Roman Catholic priest who is president of the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, was a speaker at both conferences. In his book, Healing Principles, Scanlan testifies of his faith in the strange and false visions which are being seen by six young people in Medjugorje, Yugoslavia. These young people have been seeing supposed visions of Mary since 1981 and receiving messages from her. Several of the booths in the exhibition area of the congresses promoted pilgrimages to Medjugorje. Note what Scanlan says:
"During Holy Week the students had heard that last year those of us in the Servants of Christ the King, the community that is connected with University Chapel, had gone on a three-day bread and water fast in response to the message from Medjugorje to fast for the conversion of the world and for peace." (Michael Scanlan, Healing Principles: Ten Basic Keys to Successful Prayer, Servant Books, 1987, pp. 34,35)
Scanlan, believing the visions of Medjugorje, is calling Christians to fast and pray for the conversion of the world and for world peace. As we have seen from the Bible verses quoted already, God does not promise such a thing. Just the opposite! "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape" (1 Thess. 5:3). The message of Medjugorje is helping promote the false kingdom theology of Roman Catholicism and the charismatic movement, and a false hope for a world peace which cannot possibly be brought about through Christian prayer and labor. It is not Mary speaking at Medjugorje; it is a deceiving spirit.
On the opening night of the New Orleans Congress, Roman Catholic Kevin Ranaghan, who was the leader of the large charismatic conference in Kansas City in 1977, said, "We're praying this Superdome will be a new upper room so the day will come when the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as water covers the seas."
Ranaghan is referring to the prophecy of Isaiah 11:9. The problem is that this prophecy is speaking of conditions in the earth after the return of Christ to build His earthly kingdom. Consider the context of this verse:
" ... and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked... The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fattling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the suckling child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. ... And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth."
The passage obviously is speaking of conditions in the earth after the coming of Christ. I would not advise anyone today to allow their children to play with snakes or cockatrice! This illustrates how many charismatic leaders confuse passages of Scripture and fail to rightly divide the Word of God. Passages which apply to the rebuilding of Israel and the second coming of Christ are wrongly applied to the church age. This is how kingdom theology has been developed. It is a misapplication of Bible prophecy.
I will give one more example of kingdom theology and of the error it is causing in the minds of people. During the New Orleans congress, I interviewed Al Caperno who works with Century Marketing. We were standing at the Century Marketing booth at the exhibition area, and the thing which had particularly caught my attention was a sign on the booth wall containing this quote by Bob Mumford: "Century marketing is a corporation made up of men and women who desire to see the kingdom of God established in the earth. My relationship with these people has shown me that they are men and women of integrity."
Following are excerpts from a tape-recorded conversation with Mr. Caperno.
CLOUD: "Bob Mumford has said [here I read from the sign on the wall of the exhibition booth, as quoted above]. Do you believe then that what you're doing can establish the kingdom of God on the earth?"
CAPERNO: "Definitely. I believe the kingdom of God is like the government of God. God wants His people to take dominion over the earth. What we are doing in our jobs is trying to take dominion."
CLOUD: "So do you believe there is going to come a literal return of Christ to establish a literal kingdom on the earth?"
CAPERNO: "My eschatology in that is pretty loose. I pretty much believe God wants me to live for today and take dominion today. I pretty much leave the future up to him ... Bob [Mumford] has come to our plant a couple of times and spoke to our employees. We have 145 employees."
Here is an example of another key charismatic leader, Bob Mumford, promoting this strange kingdom theology and recommending a "Christian" business which believes that it is building the kingdom of God in the world today through its marketing activities. Mumford recommends a company whose workers are totally confused about Bible prophecy and the kingdom of God.
Beware of kingdom theology. Christians are not building the kingdom of God in the world today, and nothing has to be done prior to the return of Christ. He could come at any moment. We are warned to watch every moment, for when least expected, Christ will return. There will not be peace in the world when Christ comes, but confusion. There will not be worldwide revival when he returns, but worldwide apostasy. We are to be busy carrying out the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20. We are to work, and to watch for Christ's coming as we work. We are not to presume that we have another decade in which to work. We are not to try to create a false unity among every sort of Christian, but we are to hold fast to sound doctrine and separate from error until the end. America is not going to be saved; the nations are not going to be filled with the Holy Spirit; the world is not going to be covered with the knowledge of God--not until Christ returns following the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24; Isaiah 11-13).
So this was Indianapolis '90. Some might ask, "Do you reject the entire charismatic movement because of what you saw in Indianapolis and New Orleans?" Yep, I do. I have traveled and studied enough to know that what I saw at these conferences is indicative of the entire movement. I do reject the charismatic movement.
That doesn't mean I believe all charismatics are lost. I don't believe that. Christians can be deceived. That's why Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11 that he feared for the church at Corinth that they would be deceived by the devil. That is a very real danger for Christians if they are not watchful. There are born again people throughout the ecumenical movement. The church of Sardis had a name that it lived but was dead. It was already apostate at the writing of Revelation. But Christ said, "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments ..." (Rev. 3:4).
How many in the ecumenical movement are truly saved. Only the Lord knows. That's not our business, anyway. Our business is to mark and avoid error.
"Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (2 Tim. 2:19).
All I know is that when I see heresies and errors, I'm going to stay away from it. I'm going to do what God says and avoid it. How about you?
THE NEW PROPHETS
By David W. Cloud
Since its beginning at the turn of the century, the Pentecostal-charismatic movement has been the breeding ground for strange things--things such as unintelligible babblings, spirit slaying, and women preachers. Prophecy, too, has been a part of Pentecostalism. Words of prophecy, visions, and voices have played a key role in many of the most popular Pentecostal-charismatic ministries. Youth with a Mission was started, supposedly, because of a vision. The Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International was built, supposedly, upon a prophecy. Oral Roberts has built many of his ministries, such as the City of Faith, upon supposed visions. Prophecy is nothing new in Pentecostalism.
Yet the 1980s witnessed the rise of men and women who claim a prophetic ministry akin to that of the apostles and prophets of the Bible. This is new, at least in the breadth of their popularity and acceptance. These “prophets” aren't satisfied only with giving a “word of prophecy” now and then; their detailed predictions, sweeping prophecies, and strange but dogmatic interpretations of Scriptures are given with an authority which only Bible prophets claimed. They speak with a plain “thus saith the Lord.” They use such phrases as “God told me,” “God spoke to me,” “God's message for you is ...”
They speak as oracles of God and claim that God is restoring the ministry of the apostles and prophets for a last-days revival, a revival into which we supposedly are entering, a revival which will purify the “church,” evangelize the world, and usher in the coming of Christ.
Peter Wagner of Fuller Seminary spoke of this phenomena during a message at Indianapolis '90:
“In 1980, God began speaking to the churches about the resurgence of biblical prophecy. Now this is new; it's only 10 years old, so a lot of us are not tuned into this yet. ... many of your churches also are now becoming involved in prophetic movement. And I'm talking about serious prophecy; I'm talking about Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah kind of prophecy, where God speaks to the churches. [italics added]...
“But what I am saying now here ... is that all these signs, all that the Spirit is saying to the churches, are pointing to the great revival, the capital “R” revival, you know? ... children [will] start praying on the level of adults, and I've heard reports of several places around this country, and around Argentina, where children are praying, children are prophesying, children are laying hands on the sick and they're getting healed. This is still kind of rare, but this usually will happen. There'll just be an outpouring of spiritual power over the next 10 or 15 years that I've been describing.”
Note that Wagner points to Isaiah and Ezekiel kind of prophecy being restored in the churches. This is the new prophetic movement which is beginning to have an influence across the charismatic movement.
One group of these prophets are a part of the Kansas City Fellowship (KCF), which since its beginning in 1982 has grown to over 3,000 members in six congregations. This year the Kansas City Fellowship formally became a part of John Wimber's Vineyard Ministries. Mike Bickle is the leader of the KCF and its associated Grace Ministries, and some of their prophets are Bob Jones (not the Bob Jones of Bob Jones University), John Paul Jackson, David Parker, Jim Goll, and Francis Frangipane.
Another key twentieth-century “prophet” is Paul Cain. Cain lives in Dallas, Texas, and was a co-worker with the late William Branham(O TIMOTHY, Volume 7, Issue 4, “William Branham: Prophet or Profiteer?” by A.H. Pohl.>, but he has worked hand in hand with the KCF since 1987, when he was received by them as a “father.” Kansas City prophet Bob Jones has stated that Cain is “the most anointed prophet that's in the world today.” (Bob Jones, tape, Visions and Revelations, interview with Mike Bickle, Kansas City, MO: Grace Ministries, 1988).
A great many charismatic leaders have accepted the new prophets and have close fellowship with them. The influential Charisma magazine has endorsed “the prophets” with favorable articles. In September 1989, Charisma ran an article entitled “How is God Speaking Today?” and featured Paul Cain, Bob Jones, Rick Joyner, and Bill Hamon--all supposed prophets of God through whom God is speaking today. In January 1990, Charisma featured “Prophecy 1990: What is the Spirit Saying to the Churches?” This included statements by Paul Cain, Bob Jones, John Sanford, John Paul Jackson, Bill Hamon, and six others who have what Charisma called “recognized prophetic ministries.”
As mentioned earlier, John Wimber has put his arms around “the prophets” and has endorsed the new prophetic ministry. He has unreservedly endorsed Paul Cain, has merged the Kansas City Fellowship into his Vineyard Ministries, and has supplied much of the funding for the Shiloh project, a prophetic outreach of the Kansas City Fellowship's Grace Ministries.
Illustrative of the increasingly visible role the prophets are playing in the mainstream charismatic movement, Paul Cain and Mike Bickle appeared at the large ecumenical-charismatic meeting, Indianapolis '90, which also featured leaders as diverse as Larry Lea, Loren Cunningham of Youth with a Mission, Vinson Synan, Jane Hanson of Women's Aglow, the Happy Hunters, John Wimber, Melody Green, Bob Mendelsohn, Carl Richardson, Ithiel Clemmons, Floyd McClung, Jack Hayford, Peter Wagner, the Gaithers, Bob Weiner, Charles Kraft, and Karl Strader.
It is clear that the new prophets have gained wide popularity and acceptance. What are we to think of this? In a nutshell, after close examination, we reject the new prophets on the same basis that we reject other claims of the charismatic movement: the claims are a deception. Consider that--
Their healers can't heal.
Their tongues aren't tongues.
Their doctrine isn't scriptural.
Their binding of the devil doesn't bind the devil.
Their slayings don't slay.
Their Christian rock isn't Christian.
Their prophets can't prophecy accurately.
This is the sad truth about the charismatic movement.
WE OFFER SEVEN REASONS WHY WE MUST REJECT THE NEW PROPHETS:
Charismatic prophecies are not accurate
The Bible gives many tests of a prophet. One is in Deuteronomy chapter 18. Consider:
“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” Deuteronomy 18:19-22
God instructs His people that if a prophet's predictions do not come to pass, that prophet is not to be feared because his ministry is not of the Lord. God confirms the ministry of His prophets with fulfilled predictions.
The new charismatic prophets fail this Bible test terribly. In fact, they only claim to be 10% to 65% accurate! It's true. This was mentioned in a message by Bob Jones, a “prophet” with the Kansas City Fellowship (and NOT the Bob Jones of Bob Jones University).
Bob was told that the general level of prophetic revelation in the church was about 65% accurate at this time. Some are only 10% accurate, a very few of the most mature prophets are approaching 85 to 95% accuracy. Prophecy is increasing in purity, but there is still a long way to go for those who walk in this ministry. (Rick Joyner, “The Unfolding of a Prophet,” Fulness Magazine (Fort Worth: Fulness House, Inc., Jan-Feb. 1990), p. 13, quoted in Latter-day Prophets, Albert J. Dager, p. 11)
These new prophets have many ways of explaining away the fact that they can't prophecy accurately. Mike Bickle, in his message at Indianapolis '90, separated revelation from interpretation and claimed that the errors in their prophetic ministries arose in the area of interpretation. Consider his strange, twisted reasoning:
[Those who think that the prophet who has a revelation must] clearly have the same anointing to get the interpretation--that was a dead wrong premise. The person that gets the revelation not necessarily at all gets the interpretation. And then the application of what to do with it, where to speak it, is a third entirely different issue under the topic of administration.
Bob Jones has made a powerful statement. He talks about being 60% wrong. He says there's a lot of prophetic [sic]--talking about himself--that are 60% wrong. He's talking about 60% wrong on his interpretation and his application. He's not talking about 60% wrong on revelation. There's been a lot going around, “Can prophets be 60% wrong?” Absolutely not. “Can prophets not fully interpret what they see?” Absolutely yes. That's what team ministry is about; that's what government is about; and that's what divine order is all about, needing one another in the members of the body of Christ.
So we've been on a journey. The enemy has come to us and has said, “You've erred.” He wants us defensive. God the Father has said, “If you stay teachable, I'll keep bringing you decade by decade into the unfolding purpose of God.” (Mike Bickle, “The Prophetic Ministry,” Indianapolis 1990, August 17, 1990)
Note that Bickle quotes Bob Jones approvingly about the great amount of error that is in the new prophetic ministries. But he excuses this error by claiming that the new prophets don't have to be able to rightly interpret the revelations they receive from God. He claims it is the devil who accuses them of erring. Bickle is wrong. It is God in the Holy Scripture who accuses them of erring, and therefore of not being prophets of God. The holy prophets of old did not err in “revelation” or in “interpretation.” They simply did not err! The holy prophets of God of old were not fumbling and stumbling along as these new “prophets” are, supposedly learning and growing in the prophetic ministry. The holy prophets of old had the God-given ability to predict the future inerringly, unfailingly, perfectly. This mumbo-jumbo about there being a distinction between revelation and interpretation in the prophetic ministry is foolishness. Those who accept it are flying in the face of Deuteronomy 18.
In spite of their excuses and explanations, we know that the new prophets are not of God because their prophecies are often wrong.
Charismatic prophecies are contrary to Scripture
Not only are the new prophets unable to predict the future accurately, but their prophecies are contrary to Scripture. This is proof that they are not prophets of God. No prophet of God will contradict the Bible.
Yet these new prophets, for example, are all predicting a worldwide revival for the endtime. Where does Scripture predict this? Contrariwise, the Bible predicts worldwide apostasy. The Lord and His apostles foretold perilous times for the last hours. They foretold of horrible error. In Matthew 24 the Lord Jesus Christ was asked about conditions just prior to His return. This is what He prophesied about the latter days:
“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many. ... And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. ... And there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Matthew 24:3-5,11,24
Notice that the first thing Christ mentions about the last days is the great religious deception of the hour. He warns that there will be MANY false prophets and MANY will be deceived. Christ paints the picture of great worldwide deception, with multitudes of deceived people following miracle-working false prophets. This is a picture of the charismatic-ecumenical movement. The only signs and wonders mentioned by Bible prophecy for the last hours are deceiving signs and wonders! In light of this, it is amazing that John Wimber actually calls his healing campaigns “Signs and Wonders Conferences”!
Consider also 1 Timothy 4; 2 Timothy 3; 2 Peter 3; Jude; Revelation 13 and 17.
What do we see today? We see exactly what the Bible prophesies. We see apostasy throughout Christendom. The Roman Catholic Church claims to be Christian, but it is a system of gross error. The World Council of Churches represents roughly 500 million people in more than 300 denominations who profess to be Christians, yet great numbers of their leaders are modernists, denying the deity and virgin birth of Christ and the miracles of the Bible. Further, they fellowship with heathen religions and speak of Hindu and Buddhist “spirituality.” Sadly, the truth is that most Christian denominations today DO NOT follow the Word of God. And this is exactly what the Bible prophesies.
The new prophets are wrong. Their prophecies of a worldwide last days revival are wrong. They misapply Scriptures which foretell conditions which will follow Christ's glorious return and falsely apply them to this hour.
Many other examples could be given of the way the new prophets speak contrary to the Bible. Paul Cain and others are prophesying that a “new breed” of Christians will rise up in these last days and will experience signs and wonders such as the world has never before witnessed. Supposedly, some of these new breed Christians will actually become immortalized while on earth! They will walk through walls and rays of healing light will come out of their hands. They will do every sort of miracle the world has ever seen. Bob Jones of the Kansas City Fellowship prophesies of this:
I went and I seen the Lord, and it was like He was looking at little yellow things--little round, yellow things like a spirit of God itself. And there were billions of them. And it was like Him and all the angels were looking through these and every once in awhile they's say, “Hey, here's an end-time one; get it down here on the end. Here's another good one.”
I said, “What are you doing?”
He said, “Oh, we're collecting those who are foreknown and predestinated for the end-times, for you see, they'll be the best of all the seed that's ever been. And we're looking through the seeds and this'll be your grandkids. This will be the end generation that is foreknown and predestinated to inherit all things. And these will be like grandchildren to you--even those that you minister to won't be this generation; their children will be.
“You are to write into their minds, as they write into the children's minds. You're to bring them to a place to allow My Spirit to rule in their life where they can begin to set the Church on the proper foundations, as they will. They'll birth the Church, but their children will attain levels of the Holy Spirit that they will not.
“Although their parents will reign over them and be the leaders of the last-day church, their children will possess the Spirit without measure. For they are the best of all the generations that have ever been upon the face of the earth. And the best of all generations are those elected seeds that will glorify Christ in the last days.
“That's the purpose so that Jesus in the last days has the seeds that will glorify Him above any generation that has ever been upon the face of the earth. They will move into things of the supernatural that no one has ever moved in before. Every miracle, sign and wonder that has ever been in the Bible, they'll move in it consistently. They'll move in the power that Christ did. Every sign and wonder that's ever been will be many times in the last days. They themselves will be that generation that's raised up to put death itself underneath their feet and to glorify Christ in every way.
“And the Church that is raising up in the government will be the head and the covering for them. So that that glorious Church might be revealed in the last days because the Lord Jesus is worthy to be lifted up by a Church that has reached the full maturity of the God-man!” (Bob Jones, tape, Visions and Revelations, 1988)
All of this is so obviously contrary to the Bible, yet this is the type of error which is coming out of the new prophetic movement.
Dozens of prophecies were given in New Orleans and Indianapolis, and a great many of them were openly contrary to Scripture. Consider one given during mass at New Orleans: “You have my real body; you have my real blood.” Now that's a real zinger of a prophecy for you! Did this charismatic prophet have his ear tuned properly to heaven for that one? Did God tell him that the elements of the mass were the actual body and blood of Christ? Of course not.
The charismatic prophets often prophesy things contrary to the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.
Charismatic prophets interpret Scripture inaccurately
Not only are these new prophets unable to predict accurately, and not only do they give prophecies contrary to the Scripture, they cannot interpret the Bible properly. Their messages are not Bible studies in the sense of normal exegetical studies, but when they do refer to Scripture they invariably do injustice to it. They misapply Scripture and yank things out of context.
An example of this is in Paul Cain's message at Indianapolis '90. Cain is called a great prophet by Wimber and many other charismatic leaders. But he is a terrible Bible interpreter. Cain quoted Ephesians 5:27 and Revelation 19:7-8, and applied it to the church today, saying the church will become purified in this present time BEFORE the coming of Christ. Consider an excerpt from Cain's message:
Eph. 5:27--“That he might present to himself a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Rev. 19:7-8--“Let us be glad, rejoice, and give honor to him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints.”
... I believe that God is raising up a victorious church. We're about to see the emergence of a victorious church that will be unequaled in power and unequaled in purity. So I want to submit to you today that these two passages do not refer to the church in heaven, they refer to the state of the church when the Lord Jesus Christ comes for her. And I want to be ready.
It is impossible to understand how a “prophet” could abuse Scripture like this. Both passages are clearly and plainly prophecies of what the church will be AFTER the coming of Christ, not BEFORE. This kind of mishandling of Scripture is par for the course, though, for these new prophets. When they do use Scripture, which isn't often really, they misuse it. This tells us that they are not following the Spirit of God.
Charismatic prophets are not zealous for truth
The Bible gives us another standard by which to judge prophets in Jeremiah 23:
“But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.” Jeremiah 23:22
This is an enlightening verse. God says true prophets will be zealous for truth and zealous against sin and error. Yet the new prophets have no concern for the error of ecumenism. Paul Cain, Mike Bickle, John Wimber, Peter Wagner and others involved in the new prophetic ministry participated in Indianapolis '90. Yet not one of them had a word of rebuke for the horrible apostasy present in the form of Romanism. They had no word of warning to turn the Romanists from the abominable mass, or from the Catholic priesthood, or from the worship of Mary. They did not rebuke the mixed multitude at Indianapolis for the false gospels which were in their midst. They did not correct the error of women preachers.
Jeremiah 23:22 tells us that these new prophets have not stood in the counsel of God because they don't turn the people from their evil ecumenical ways.
Charismatic prophets are deceptive in their claims
Several times it has become evident that the new prophets are willing to exaggerate and lie about their prophecies in order to appear accurate.
In fact, Mike Bickle of the Kansas City Fellowship has admitted publicly that they have made exaggerations about prophecies which had been used to establish the legitimacy of the KCF. One such exaggeration was their claims for a prophecy by Bob Jones:
“In one of the prophecies, KCF's Bob Jones had predicted a drought in the Kansas City area that would end on a particular day. The drought was reported as starting in June and ending in August of 1983, on the day Jones predicted. When public records were checked, it was discovered that the drought started later than reported. It did rain on the day Jones predicted that it would, then the drought continued.” (Charisma, September 1990), p. 42)
Another prophecy which was handled deceitfully was made by Paul Cain in regard to his visit to the Vineyard Ministries in California in 1989. He predicted an earthquake would occur the day after he left Anaheim. It did not happen that way, though. Wimber and others claimed that this prophecy came true. They claimed that the earthquake in Armenia occurred the day after Cain left, but it did not. It occurred while Cain was still in California. Albert Dager makes this important observation: “One wonders why lies are necessary to establish oneself as a purveryor of Truth.” (Albert Dager, Latter-day Prophets, Redmond: Media Spotlight, 1990, p. 7)
This kind of duplicity was not seen among the holy prophets of old. They did not have to lie about their prophecies because they never erred in the first place.
Charismatic prophets are involved with occultic practices
We are convinced the new prophets are actually involved in occultic practices. Some will find this a harsh charge, but we believe it is true.
Consider that their prophesying involves revealing personal things about individuals present in their meetings and in telling the future of these individuals. This is not Bible prophecy. It is soothsaying, fortune telling, divining. There is the rare example in Scripture whereby God showed a prophet the future of an individual, but this is rare and is not what the Bible emphasizes. Yet this IS emphasized in occultic soothsaying. Beware of this type of thing, brethren.
The new prophets are involved with many other phenomena which are occultic in nature. They speak of their flesh turning colors, supposedly indicating that God is doing something special. Bob Jones claims his hands turn blue and purple when God is answering prayer and is healing. This kind of thing is not a Bible phenomena, but is occultic. John Wimber prophesies that rays of light will emanate from the hands of prophets and healers in coming days. This is occultic. Paul Cain's ministry has often been accompanied by claims of electrical power surges which blow out equipment. This is occultic.
Many of the very things the new prophets glory in are actually to their shame. They point to these manifestations as evidence that God is with them. In reality, it is proof that God is NOT with them. Beware.
There is frightful danger in replacing counsel from the Bible with directive prophecy
Those involved with the new prophets acknowledge that they lean upon prophecies for direction, for decisions about life and ministry. The Kansas City Fellowship is an example. It was established because of prophecies which supposedly gave them their purpose and plan. Christians have quit jobs, moved to other locations, changed ministries, built buildings, refused medical treatment, gotten married, gotten divorced, and done many such things because of prophecies they believed were from God. But great harm has come from this.
One danger arises from the fact that many of the prophecies are false, and people become discouraged and their faith is weakened because they realize that they trusted something which has proven to be a deception. But beyond this, there are other dangers which are equally great: People lose their confidence in the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures to guide their lives. They develop the idea, whether consciously or not, that God doesn't guide them as clearly and personally as He guides a prophet. They gain an unhealthy dependency upon the prophetic ministry. Trusting the prophets to be God's oracles, they tend to make decisions without consulting God and the Bible. They therefore make decisions contrary to the Bible.
Albert Dager, in Latter-day Prophets, makes this observation on the dangers of the new prophetic ministries:
A major problem with listening to alleged prophetic voices is that while listening to them we shut outselves off from hearing the true word of the Lord spoken into our consciousness by the Holy Spirit; we allow the prophet to usurp our own standing before God by believing that the prophet has an entrance to the Throne of Grace that we do not have. Yet God's Word promises us that we can all enter boldly (though humbly) before the Throne of Grace. If we allow anyone--’prophet,' ‘apostle,' or pastor to place himself between the Father and us, we undo God's grace in our lives. We will have recognized a priesthood that was never ordained by God. This isn't to say that we cannot or should not seek counsel from others; but counsel is not the same as directive prophecy.
Perhaps the greatest danger which is coming from the ministry of the new prophets is the tendency of many to build doctrine on their witness. I know that many will deny that they build doctrine on prophecies or upon anything except the Bible, but the fact remains that doctrine is being established upon prophecies, upon visions, even upon supposed discussions with demons.
An example of this extra-scriptural doctrine is in the area of spiritual warfare, which the charismatics are going into whole hog. This has been popularized by Frank Peretti's novel, This Present Darkness.
Without question, spiritual warfare is an important part of the Christian life and ministry. Every Christian must war against sin, the world, and the devil, if he is to be victorious and fruitful for Christ. Yet the area of spiritual warfare into which the charismatic movement is being drawn goes far beyond that which Christians have been involved with through the centuries. For example, charismatics are holding spiritual warfare conferences and are claiming to be “taking authority” over entire cities and nations. Where does the Bible speak of this kind of thing? It is dispensational confusion. God has not told Christians to take authority over this lost, hellbound world. That's not our job today. Jesus Christ will do that when He returns in power and glory to establish His kingdom on earth.
We can't go into this in depth, but the point we want to make is that those who are leading the way in these new things are teaching for doctrine things the Bible says nothing about. And remember that this is only one example of the new doctrines which are sprouting up in the wilderness of confusion surrounding “the prophets.”
Peter Wager, in a message at Indianapolis '90, referred to the new spiritual warfare and in so doing, spoke dogmatically of a great number of things which the Bible says nothing about. Consider the following quotes carefully:
But 1990, the year we're in, is the beginning of the great era of spiritual warfare. I believe that all we've seen about spiritual warfare has been just kindergarten, and God now in the '90s is going to take us up through the higher grades. We're gonna see spiritual warfare on many different levels that we haven't seen before. of spiritual warfare that need to be done. And we don't have the entire terminology yet, but one is sort of the ground level spiritual warfare. You know, casting out your average everyday sort of demon from people. [laughter] You know, like Jesus did. We've been doing that for quite awhile, and more of us are catching on how to do it, you know. But that's called the ground level.
Then there's the middle level of spiritual warfare, where I believe that there are spirits that are especially equipped and skilled in operating through individuals--satanists, occult practitioners, shamans, witches, mediums, channelers--that whole New Age channel. I think there's a level of spirits there.
And then there's a higher level of spirits. (I'm not saying there's only 3; there are probably 30 between each one.) But then there is a higher level of spirits that are territorial spirits. And they are assigned by the hierarchy of evil to dominate sometimes a geographical area like a country, or a state, or a city; sometimes a cultural group; sometimes a vocational group. One of my friends said that she has discerned a spirit over the wheat industry in the United States. You know, growing wheat?
How in the world does Wagner know these things? How can he speak so dogmatically? Some of it does come from the Bible. God does tell us in Scripture that there is demonic possession. The Scriptures also indicate that the powers of darkness are arranged in some sort of a hierarchy. Not a lot is said in Scripture about this, but there is a hint in passages such as Ephesians 6:18. But wait. Though the Bible has something to say about spiritual warfare, it does not go into such things as territorial spirits, spirits over the wheat industry, levels of spiritual warfare, and such. Yet note that Wagner speaks as dogmatically about things which cannot be proven from Scripture as that which can.
His source for such extra-biblical doctrine are prophecies and other strange charismatic experiences. Wagner has bought into the new prophet thing almost 100%, according to his own testimony at Indianapolis, and has a close relationship with some of the prophets. He testified of his close relationship with John Wimber, a man who has been caught hook, line, and sinker by the prophetic movement. Surely it is Wagner's relationship with Wimber that has taught him much of the extra-biblical doctrine he now holds as dogma.
Wimber not only gets doctrine from the new prophets, but also from conversations with demons! It's a fact. For example, Wimber believes some demons have bodies and some don't, and those who don't have bodies are second class demons, and because of their desire to be first class, they possess people. Where does he get that? Amazingly, he admits that he gets this from conversations with demons! That's about as extra-biblical as you can get!
Brethren, this is a great, great danger. Don't establish your Christian beliefs upon anything but the Bible. Cleave to the Scriptures! In this evil and confused hour, nothing can keep us on the straight and narrow path of truth except a thorough knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. If something can't be demonstrated clearly from Scripture, God's people are not bound to believe or follow it!
We don't need new prophets; we need a greater love for the old Prophets! The Bible is absolutely sufficient. Cleave to it, and you'll not be led astray, nor will you be adrift on the restless sea of charismatic confusion.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Tim. 3:16-17
“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Pet. 1:19-21
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER CHARISMATIC PASTOR ABOUT PROPHECY
What did I feel as I heard the prophecies during these conferences? My own feelings are described by a man named Neil Babcox, a man who served as pastor of a Pentecostal church until leaving the movement. Consider the testimony of this man who once gave prophecies himself and who believed in these things:
Prophetic messages were quite common at our church. In fact, whenever we assembled to worship, spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy, were foremost in our minds. Even though we followed no prescribed liturgy, there was an unwritten order of worship that always included the opportunity for one to prophesy according to the proportion of his faith.
Our prophecies seldom if ever predicted the future. Instead they took the form of fervent exhortations or simple words of comfort. Generally they consisted of various biblical phrases and fragments pieced together like a patchwork quilt. Often they focused upon such themes as the imminent return of Christ or God's forgiving love. Most of the time the prophecies were spoken in the first person as if God Himself were addressing us, but occasionally the phrase “thus saith the Lord” was used even as it was by the prophets of the Bible.
There was something distinctly romantic about the notion of prophesying. There you are standing in succession to the prophets of the Bible. Samuel and Elijah saw your day coming and were glad. True, your lips are unclean, but they have been touched by a live coal from off the altar. Like Isaiah, you have heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And you responded, “Here am I. Send me!”
Yes, it was all very romantic. But gradually, what had started as a romantic venture, an idealistic quest for spiritual gifts, was slowly, imperceptibly changing. Into what, I wasn't sure. All I knew was that the excitement and romance of prophesying was turning into an uneasy sense that the prophecies I heard, including my own, were hardly worthy of the name. The idea that they were the words of the Living God was beginning to seem painfully ludicrous. Would the romance now become a comedy of errors, or a tragedy, perhaps? At any rate, one thing was certain: this burden of the prophets was becoming a crushing, onerous weight. And I couldn't help wondering if the weight which I was carrying was not the burden of the Lord at all, but some foreign yoke of bondage.
In my case there were four simple words that played a decisive role in changing my heart: Thus saith the Lord. To me, these were most unsettling words. And the more I comprehended their meaning, the more I understood what the prophets meant when they spoke them and what the Holy Spirit meant when He inspired them, the more unsettling they became.
“Thus saith the Lord.” What abuses I had seen of those words! what bitter fruit I had seen born by men and women speaking these words! I have seen people married on the basis of guidance received from personal prophecies only to be divorced a week later because of a terrible scandal. Many lives have been harmed by such prophetic guidance. What actions, what conduct, have been countenanced by a “thus saith the Lord.”
The moment of truth came when I heard a prophecy spoken at a charismatic church I was visiting. I was sitting in the church trying to worship God while dreading the approach of that obligatory moment of silence which signaled that a prophecy was about to be spoken. The silence came, and soon it was broken by a bold and commanding “Thus saith the Lord!”
Those words triggered an immediate reaction. Conviction, like water rising against a dam, began to fill my soul. “Listen my people.” ...[the prophesy commenced] Until finally, the dam burst: “This is not my God,” I cried within my heart. “this is not my Lord!” (Neil Babcox, A Search for Charismatic Reality - One Man's Pilgrimage, pp. 46-59)
IS HEALING IN THE ATONEMENT?
By David W. Cloud
“And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, bumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them: Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the bumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see; and they glorified the God of Israel.” Matthew 15:30-31
“And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. ... Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.” Acts 5:12, 15-16
One teaching which seems to attract many to the charismatic movement is the idea that physical healing is promised in Christ's atonement. It is commonly taught by charismatic preachers that if a person is saved and right with God he never has to be sick. Healing is guaranteed, so to speak, for those who exercise faith.
Oral Roberts, one of the pioneers of the “faith healing” ministry, gave a classic statement of charismatic doctrine in the September 1976 issue of Abundant Life magazine:
“For the knowledge of the truth look toward Jesus of Nazareth who himself took our infirmities and bear our sicknesses. If Jesus took our sicknesses we need not bear them any longer. Sickness is part of the curse and Jesus came to destroy the curse. He suffered in our stead because he did not want us to suffer disease. He took our specific diseases and infirmities upon his own sinless, perfect body in complete payment for the penalty of sin.”
“I know it is God's highest wish for you to be in health.”
“Sickness is not part of God's plan and not devised by God's will.”
“One of the things I have always appreciated about physicians is that they are all against disease and they work to bring healing. You see, doctors are not hung up on theology. Yet some ministers and many Christians are not quite sure where sickness comes from. I mean they are still asking the question, Is it God's will to heal? Some ministers are still praying, Father, if it be thy will, heal. I wonder if they could be sued for theological malpractice? Well, it's a thought.”(Oral Roberts, “Why I know that God wants to heal you,” Abundant Life (September 1976).>
Kenneth Copeland, popular charismatic evangelist, states this in his paper:
“Sickness is of the devil ... God has never used sickness to discipline His children ... I don't care how old we are, it's His will to take us home healed, well, whole, and delivered.” (Calvary Contender, September 15, 1989)
This philosophy is also held by Charles and Francis Hunter. In an article in Charisma magazine entitled “It's the Hour of the Believer,” Francis Hunter is quoted as follows:
“The Bible does not leave any doubt. It does not say some of you, or just a few of you who believe; it simply says that all those who believe are going to be able to lay hands on the sick, and the sick are going to recover.” (E.S. Caldwell, “It's the Hour of the Believer,” Charisma, October 1987, pp. 19-24)
Not all charismatic preachers believe exactly as Copeland or the Hunters do, and there are many variations on the healing theme. Some believe medicine should not be used; others recognize the value of medicine. The fact, though, is that most charismatic healers claim that healing is in the atonement and is therefore promised by God.
What saith the Scripture?
Let me say up front that I do believe in divine healing. I believe in James 5:14-15:
“Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”
This passage gives clear instruction for the sick in this church age. We believe in this, and we practice this, and we have seen God heal in answer to prayer. I have experienced healing in this way.
But note that these Bible instructions do not lend any support for a faith healing movement. The sick Christian is not instructed to attend a special healing meeting or to seek the services of a faith healer, but is to call for the leaders of his own church. Note, too, it is the sick person that is to take the initiative to seek the prayer of his church leaders. The emphasis is not on the gift of a faith healer, but on the prayers of humble church leaders.
I repeat, I believe in healing, but I do not believe in the charismatic healing movement. It is not based on Scripture. The Bible does not promise healing and perfect wholeness. The Bible does not speak of healing meetings.
Further, the Bible does not allow women to preach and usurp authority over men, but that is exactly what has been happening in the charismatic movement for more than a century. Women such as Phoebe Palmer, Carrie Judd Montgomery, Maria Woodworth-Etter, Aimee Semple McPherson, Maria Wing Robinson, and Kathryn Kuhlman and have played a major role in the movement. The Scriptures forbid this.
I do believe in divine healing. But I don't believe God always heals, and I don't believe that healing is in the atonement. I also believe that the charismatic healing movement has caused untold harm. Consider:
THE HEALING OF CALVARY IS, FIRST AND FOREMOST, SPIRITUAL HEALING
Isaiah 53:5 is often quoted as a proof text for the idea that physical healing is in Christ's atonement. “... with his stripes we are healed.” The primary meaning of this passage, though, is that we are healed from sin through Christ's death.
This is what 1 Peter 2:24 says: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye are healed.”
The Apostle Peter applies Isaiah 53:5 to salvation from sin. The healing spoken of in Isaiah 53:5 is spiritual healing of the soul from sin.
THE PHYSICAL PART OF SALVATION IS A FUTURE HOPE NOT A PRESENT REALITY
There is a physical part to salvation. There is a physical wholeness; there is a glorious kingdom; there is a wonderful, trouble-free life promised to the child of God--but it is something we look forward to by faith, not something we presently possess. This is clearly what Rom. 8:22-25 teaches:
“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”
The Apostle Paul was a spiritual giant, yet his condition was that of groaning within himself, waiting for the redemption of the body. He said the redemption of the body is a hope, not a present possession. In verse 10 of Romans 8, Paul says the body is dead because of sin. The Christian has eternal life; his sins are forgiven; his name is written in Heaven; he is a child of God. But the Christian lives in a body that is under the curse of death, and the Christian lives in a world which is still under the curse of God for sin, a world which “groans and travails together until now.”
Thus, while the Christian can live a life of victory and fruitfulness through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, he is still under the influence of the troubles and pains of this wicked world. This includes sickness, depression, sorrow, trials, difficulties, sweat, tears, hurt, old age, weakness, death. These things are the lot of the Christian just as they are for the non-Christian. The release from the troubles of the flesh will come at the “redemption of the body”--the resurrection and second coming of Christ.
Thus, it is at death or at the rapture that the Christian will gain liberty from this body of death and will have that perfect physical healing and wholeness that is so intensely desired.
THE HEALING MINISTRY OF CHRIST WAS UNIQUE--TO PROVE HE WAS THE MESSIAH
It is popularly taught in charismatic circles that Jesus healed as an example for Christians to follow. Jesus' healing ministry is held forth as an example of what healers today are doing. John Wimber, Charles and Francis Hunter, and many others are saying every Christian can heal, that Jesus' healing ministry is an example for all Christians.
This idea ignores the fact that Jesus healed as a sign that He was the Messiah, the promised Savior, the Son of God. Jesus' healing ministry was not an example for us to follow, but was part of His unique credentials as the Christ. This is plainly what the Bible teaches. Consider the following Scriptures:
“And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” Jn. 20:30-31
“But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.” Jn. 5:36
“If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.” Jn. 10:37-38
“Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.” Jn. 10:25
“Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.”Jn. 14:11
“If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.” Jn. 15:24
These verses leave no doubt as to the purpose of Christ's miracles. They were not done as examples of what every Christian can and should do, but were done to demonstrate that He was the promised Holy Son of God. This explains the fact that no one before or since Christ has ever been able to perform the healings He performed. He healed every type of disease, cast out every type of devil, raised the dead, and He did these miracles repeatedly, at will. He healed perfectly. He never failed to heal those who were brought to Him. Not once did he fail. Who can say that today?
It is true that the apostles did some wonderful miracles, as recorded in the book of Acts, but their miracles were also performed for a special, unique purpose as we shall see in the next heading.
Some point to Christ's statement in the following verse as “proof” that Christians are to do the same miracles as Christ did.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” John 14:12
What does this verse mean? Some today are saying it means the greater works will be fulfilled prior to Christ's return--through the signs and wonders movement.
The fact is that since the time of the apostles, Christians have not been able to do great sign miracles. It is a fact of history that the sign gifts ceased with the passing of the apostles. That is fact! The only “sign miracles” witnessed in church history since those days are those of spurious individuals and groups involved in strange and unscriptural doctrines. Among the faithful people of God through the centuries since the apostles, sign gifts ceased. Instead, God's people have enjoyed the power of God to live holy lives in the face of a godless generation, to withstand persecution, and to preach the Gospel. That is fact. God's people have continued to experience miracles, but not sign gifts.
Along comes the charismatic, claiming that God is giving sign gifts today. But it isn't true. There are no true sign gifts among the charismatics. Those who claim to be healers cannot heal--at least they cannot heal any more consistently than can any faithful pastor who prays at the bedsides of his people. Those who claim to be prophets cannot prophecy inerrantly. They make all sorts of embarrassing mistakes and thereby identify themselves as false prophets. Those who claim to be apostles cannot perform the signs of an apostle of which Paul witnessed in 2 Cor. 12:12--“Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.”
What then? What about John 14:12? I believe the promise of Jesus Christ in John 14:12 was fulfilled in the ministry of the apostles as is recorded in the book of Acts. Since those miracle-filled days there have been no more periods in church history of true, honest-to-God sign miracles. That, dear friends, is fact. Those who deny it are flying in the face of Scripture, of history, and of present reality.
The Happy Hunters can't heal like Christ and the apostles could. John Wimber can't heal like Christ and the apostles. Reinhold Bonnke can't heal like Christ and the apostles. Oral Roberts cannot heal like Christ and the apostles. No one today can heal like Christ and the apostles did! Those who claim they can are self-deceived or worse.
In understanding divine healing, it is crucial that we know that Christ's miracles were for the purpose of verifying his Messianic claims. This is no longer necessary and that type of miracle has ceased.
THE HEALING MINISTRY OF THE APOSTLES WAS UNIQUE--TO AUTHENTICATE THEIR WORK
We've already referred to this, but to be sure that we cover all bases, let's see what Scripture says about the miracles of the apostles.
“Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.” 2 Cor. 12:12
“And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils.” Mk. 3:14-15
“And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” Acts 2:43
“And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” Acts 4:33
“And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people ... Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.” Acts 5:12,15
“And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.” Acts 19:12
Note that the miracles of the apostles were special and were for the purpose of marking them as the apostles of Christ. They had miracle-working power to authenticate their unique ministries. That is what Scripture says. All Christians could not do the sign miracles of the apostles. The only exceptions were a few men upon whom the apostles had laid hands. There was no general miracle-working experience among the first churches. If there had been, Paul could not have pointed to his miracle-working ability as a special sign. His would have been just another miracle-working Christian ministry if all could have performed such things. But all could not. If all could have performed miracles as a matter of course, the Christians would not have called for Peter to come and raise Dorcas from the dead (Acts 9:36-42). Peter's miracle that day was the “sign of an apostle.”
It has never been God's will for all Christians to be running around performing sign miracles and healing everyone. That has never been the case, and will never be the case in this age. Don't be deceived. Don't seek that which God has NOT promised and thereby leave yourself open to the deception of the devil.
Jesus warned that an evil generation seeks a sign. Let's not be identified with evil. Let us seek those humble things which God HAS promised and which He wants to do in and for and through us to the glory of Christ. Seek to live holy, gentle lives. Seek to preach the Gospel and see souls saved and lives changed for the glory of God. Seek to be looking and longing for Christ's return. Seek to be obedient, fruitful Christians.
GOD DID NOT ALWAYS HEAL
If physical healing is to be expected as the heritage of the saints in this life, we would see this in the New Testament account of the early churches. The problem, though, is that the New Testament shows cases in which God did not heal Christians of their sicknesses.
1) The case of Timothy.
“Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.” 1 Tim. 5:23
1 Timothy 5:23 tells us that Timothy was sick frequently, and the Apostle Paul told him to use a little wine for his stomach's sake and his often infirmities. God did not heal Timothy supernaturally or permanently from his sickness.
2) The case of Trophimus.
“Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.” 2 Tim. 4:20
In 2 Timothy 4:20 we learn that another of Paul's coworkers, Trophimus, was left behind in Miletum sick. He was not supernaturally healed even though an apostle, Paul, was with him when he had to be left behind because of illness.
3) The case of Paul.
“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Cor. 12:7-10
In 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 we read of a situation in which the Apostle Paul was afflicted with some sort of infirmity. Three times he asked God to take away this problem, but the Bible says God refused to do so. He was told that this infirmity was something God wanted him to have for his spiritual wellbeing. Upon learning this, Paul bowed to God's will and wisely said:
“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).
This is a perfect example for Christians today. We should pray for healing, but when God does not heal, we must bow to His will and accept that sickness or trial as something from the hand of God. This is not lack of faith; it is obedience to the sovereignty of God.
CHARISMATIC HEALERS CANNOT HEAL THEMSELVES
The hypocrisy of the faith healing movement is amazing. It's leaders teach that healing is promised in the atonement and that it is always God's will for the Christian to enjoy wholeness. Yet these very leaders do not enjoy such wholeness!
We will use Charles and Frances Hunter as an example. They teach that healing and wholeness is a guaranteed part of the Christian life. Yet consider that they both wear glasses. That is not perfect health. Both of them are bald. (She wears a wig.) That is not wholeness. While conducting a healing crusade in the Philippines, Frances Hunter ended up in the doctor's office after contracting conjunctivitis, or “pink eye.” She testified, “I could not get rid of it in spite of all the healing teams over there.” So she went to a medical clinic for help. “I nearly fainted when I walked in because the first thing I saw was a copy of the book How to Heal the Sick, and I thought, ‘What am I doing in a doctor's office when Charles and I wrote that book.' With embarrassment, Frances told the nurse about her sickness.” (Charisma, May 1988)
Let me remind you of what Frances Hunter says about healing: “The Bible does not leave any doubt. It does not say some of you, or just a few of you who believe; it simply says that all those who believe are going to be able to lay hands on the sick, and the sick are going to recover.”(E.S. Caldwell, “It's the Hour of the Believer,” Charisma, Oct. 1987, pp. 19-24)
What amazing hypocrisy! The faith healer is conducting a healing crusade and seminar, and is teaching that every Christian can lay hands on the sick and expect them to be healed. Yet the faith healer gets sick and no one can heal her. She goes to a doctor!
Mrs. Hunter excuses this problem by claiming that she performed two healings while in the doctor's office--a neck pain and tonsillitis. We don't know whether any healings were performed, but we do know that Frances Hunter does not enjoy the health she claims is a part of the atonement, and she and her husband and followers cannot heal the sick as they claim.
We have witnessed the Hunter's healing meetings and have seen the wheelchair patients leave disappointed, just as sick and crippled as they were when they arrived.
CHARISMATIC HEALERS CANNOT HEAL OTHERS
The fact is that modern faith healers cannot heal anyone, not themselves, and not others. They cannot heal as did Christ and the Apostles. They simply cannot do what they claim to be able to do.
The following statement is made by J.H. Montgomery, former editor of Oral Roberts' Abundant Life devotional. In his book The Enemies of the Cross he says this:
“I make the following statement after serious thought and consideration. I first attended a healing campaign in 1949, and in the intervening years between then and now I have attended a great many of these great meetings. ... But I have yet to meet one man or woman who had the power of God to perform miracles as Jesus performed them.”
Paul Locke comments on this as follows: “Now this man was there. They are not miracle workers; they are master salesmen. The power of these master salesmen has not been the power to heal the sick and cast out devils. It has been the knack of getting great crowds together. Any little evangelist who has prayed for the sick has had as much success, percentage wise, as the greatest evangelist in this movement. And if a pastor prayed for 5,000 people in his church and only 100 of them or less were healed, he would become so discouraged that he would be ready to throw up his hands and quit. And this is the great problem.”
The faith healers simply cannot heal any more effectively than any godly non-Pentecostal pastor can heal. This is not only true of Oral Roberts, but of all the others, as well. Consider some of the heavy weights:
William Branham conducted great healing crusades throughout the world and was one of the father's of the modern healing movement. The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements says this about Branham: “The person universally acknowledged as the revival's ‘father' and ‘pacesetter' was William Branham. The sudden appearance of his miraculous healing campaigns in 1946 set off a spiritual explosion in the Pentecostal movement which was to move to Main Street.”
Yet Branham did not have great success in healing. Alfred Pohl was a worker in one of Branham's crusades in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Pohl was right by Branham's side during the meetings and attended Branham when he prayed over the bedridden cases after the evening healing services.
Alfred Pohl makes the following statements about this crusade in an interview with the editor of O Timothy magazine, February 21, 1990:
O Timothy: Now, did many claim to be healed, or did it seem that many were healed in the meeting?
Pohl: In the meetings? Ah, yes, there were those that claimed to be healed, and there were those people that thought they saw healings, or thought they saw miracles. But, when you were on the inside, you saw that some of those things that were supposed to be miracles, were not miracles at all. From the outside, you would think that something had really happened; but having been right close to Branham, and working right with him, I discovered that a lot of those supposed healings or miracles were really not miracles after all. ...
O Timothy: Right. So there were many that he proclaimed healed?
Pohl: Yes, yes. Practically every one as I recall, standing beside these various bedsides--practically everyone was pronounced healed. But the tragedy is that so many of those died after Branham was gone. So there was something wrong. ...
O Timothy: There was a newspaper that tried to investigate the healings. Can you tell me something about that? What were they able to confirm as far as healings?
Pohl: Yes, in Winnipeg. Branham came to Canada at that time and he preached at a number of Apostolic churches in Canada. The first church was the church of our moderator in Winnipeg, who brought him into Canada. And Mr. Branham had his campaign there. Then he came later on to Saskatoon.
When the campaign was in progress in Winnipeg, the newspaper (one of the large city newspapers) was giving considerable coverage to the meetings, and they indicated that there were a lot of people healed. They were favorable to this church, and advertised it and gave news reports that quite a few people were healed. But later on that same editor sent out some reporters to check on some of these people that they had written up in the paper weeks before. [The reporters were] to check up and see whether these people who were supposedly healed at that time, were still healed, were still alive, or whatever.
And when these reporters went back, they discovered that these people had died, or were in the same state or in a worse state than they were before. So, the editor then put it in the paper that these cases had turned out to be phonies, and that these people weren't healed after all, and there was something wrong with these so-called miracles and healings.
When the pastor of the church saw these reports in the paper, he went to the editor rather disturbed and not very happy about the situation, and he confronted the editor: “Why do you do this to our church? You're hurting the reputation of our church, and you shouldn't do that to us.”
And the editor said words something to this effect, “Well, pastor, if the healings are genuine, you don't have to worry, do you?”
I thought to myself later on when I heard this, well, that editor certainly had a lot of common sense, because if they're genuine, why worry? If they're not, well then they should be exposed--which is what the paper did.
And the editor said, “Pastor, we gave you good coverage when Mr. Branham was here.” The pastor had to admit they did. “Now,” he said, “we owe it to our people to give them the rest of the story.” And he said, “That's what we found.” He said to the pastor, “I'll tell you what I'll do, if you can bring me one genuine case of a genuine healing, I'll give you the front page.”
And I was told right in that pastor's home that they couldn't find one.
O Timothy: Not one?
Pohl: Not one. ... I stood beside bed after bed, person after person who was pronounced healed and yet, where were they? They passed away. So there was something very wrong with this type of healing.
Another famous healer was Kathryn Kuhlman. She popularized the “miracle services” concept, during which she would call out supposed disorders that were being cured in a certain area of the auditorium, and it would be received by the appropriate individual. Yet Kuhlman could not heal.
Consider the following testimony of Dr. William Nolan, a physician and surgeon who took two years to study the matter of divine healing, then wrote a book titled Healing: A Doctor in Search of a Miracle. Dr. Nolan spent months investigating Kathryn Kuhlman's healing meetings and following up the results in people who were healed or were told they were healed. He was appointed an usher of the wheelchair division of Kuhlman healing services in Minneapolis with the approval of Kuhlman. Dr. Nolan, who at first was sympathetic toward the work of Kuhlman tried to find evidence of people who were actually healed but found none. He writes in his book:
Occasionally Miss Kuhlman would turn and say, ‘Someone with a brace... a brace on your leg ... you don't need that brace any more. Take it off, come to the stage, and claim your cure.'
The first time she called for a brace there was a delay in the proceedings. No one came forth. The audience began to grow restive; you could sense that they all felt this was most embarrassing for Miss Kuhlman. Finally, after what was probably a minute but seemed an hour, a very pretty young girl limped up the stage. She waved her leg brace in the air and stood, with her pelvis tilted badly, on one good leg and one short, withered leg. Kathryn Kuhlman questioned her.
‘How old are you?'
‘How long have you worn the brace?'
‘Thirteen years. Since I had polio at seven.'
‘And now you've taken it off.'
‘And,' she said, ‘I believe so much in the Lord, I've prayed and He's curing me.'
Everyone applauded. The girl cried.
This scene was, to my mind, utterly revolting. This young girl had a withered leg, the result of polio. It was just as withered now as it had been ten minutes earlier, before Kathryn Kuhlman called for someone to remove her brace. Now she stood in front of ten thousand people giving praise to the Lord--and indirectly to Kathryn Kuhlman--for a cure that hadn't occurred and wasn't going to occur. I could imagine how she'd feel the next morning, or even an hour later, when the hysteria of the moment had left her and she'd have to again put on the brace that had been her constant companion for thirteen years and would be with her the rest of her life. She was emotionally high right now; soon she'd be emotionally low, possibly despondent.
This case shook severely what little hope I had left that Kathryn Kuhlman was, truly, a ‘miracle worker.'
I had accepted as a misunderstanding the deception that went with ‘Not yours, surely?'--referring to the wheelchair--even though I knew the man hadn't been in a wheelchair until that afternoon; I had chalked it up to innocent error when the ability to take a deep breath was passed off as evidence of a lung-cancer cure (even though I knew most patients with lung cancer can breathe deeply); I had assumed that it was simple over-enthusiasm that enabled Kathryn Kuhlman to call a multiple-sclerosis patient ‘cured,' even though she obviously still walked with the multiple-sclerosis gait; but this episode involving the girl with the brace was pure, unadulterated, flagrant nonsense. For Kathryn Kuhlman to really believe that the Holy Spirit had worked a miracle with this girl, it seemed to me that Kathryn Kuhlman would have had to be either blind or incredibly stupid, and she was obviously neither. Was she, then, a hypocrite or a hysteric? I didn't know, but I had begun to seriously question her credibility and that of her organization.
Not once, in the hour and a half that Kathryn Kuhlman spent healing, did I see a patient with an obvious organic disease healed (i.e., a disease in which there is a structural alteration). At one point the young man with liver cancer staggered down the aisle in a vain attempt to claim a ‘cure.' He was turned away, gently, by Maggie. When he collapsed into a chair I could see his bulging abdomen--as tumor-laden as it had been earlier.
One desperate mother managed to work her child's wheelchair down to the front of the auditorium. The little girl in the chair, about five years old, glassy-eyed, hydrocephalic, could barely sit upright. The mother, weeping, lifted her daughter out of the chair and attempted to get her to walk to the stage. The child, with the mother holding her, made two pitiful attempts to walk, both times nearly collapsing on the floor before the mother could catch her. Finally, weeping, the mother put her imbecilic child back in the wheelchair and pushed her away down the aisle....
Before going back to talk to Miss Kuhlman I spent a few minutes watching the wheelchair patients leave. All the desperately ill patients who had been in wheelchairs were still in wheelchairs. In fact, the man with the kidney cancer in his spine and hip, the man whom I had helped to the auditorium and who had his borrowed wheelchair brought to the stage and shown to the audience when he had claimed a cure, was now back in the wheelchair. His ‘cure,' even if only a hysterical one, had been extremely short-lived.
As I stood in the corridor watching the hopeless cases leave, seeing the tears of the parents as they pushed their crippled children to the elevators, I wished Miss Kuhlman had been with me. She had complained a couple of times during the service of ‘the responsibility, the enormous responsibility,' and of how her ‘heart aches for those that weren't cured,' but I wondered how often she had really looked at them. I wondered whether she sincerely felt that the joy of those ‘cured' of bursitis and arthritis compensated for the anguish for those left with their withered legs, their imbecilic children, their cancers of the liver.
I wondered if she really knew what damage she was doing. I couldn't believe she did. (The Christian News, Aug. 2, 1976)
Oral Roberts is one of the pioneers of the “faith healing” movement, but his ministry has been examined by men of God and has been proven bogus. We offer the testimony of Pastor Carroll Stegall, Jr., pastor of the Pryor Street Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. This is told by David Edwin Harrell, Jr., in his biography of Roberts:
Probably the most damaging religious attack on Oral ever published appeared in the Presbyterian Outlook in 1955. The article, written by Carroll R. Stegall, Jr., pastor of the Pryor Street Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia, was later republished in a widely circulated tract. It was Stegall's tract which preceded Oral to Australia and fanned opposition to him.
Stegall's curiosity was piqued by the March 1952 issue of Healing Waters, which featured a cover picture of “three great medical doctors congratulating Oral Roberts.” Stegall and Donald Grey Barnhouse, noted conservative Presbyterian pastor in Philadelphia, addressed an inquiry to the American Medical Association that “brought the answer from their bureau of investigation that not one of the men mentioned ... could be identified as doctors of medicine ... One of the three men was found operating in Phoenix as a ‘naturopathic physician' [meaning he was not a licensed medical doctor]. No organization headed by ‘Dr. J.H. Miller, outstanding medical doctor and president of a medical society of over 20,000 physicians,' was discovered.”
Stegall later attended a number of campaigns, interviewed Oral, and did some follow-up interviews with those who had passed through the healing line. He concluded that Oral was not “as bad as some others in the miracle business,” but found no basis to support his claims. “I have never seen a vestige of change. I challenge any honest investigator to follow my technique and see whether his findings do not agree with mine.” Stegall concluded: “So far from glorifying God with this they (the healing evangelists) cause His name to be blasphemed by the world by their excesses. So far from curing, they often kill. Far from blessing, their arrival in a city is rather a curse, a misery, a racket, a destruction of faith in simple people.” (David Edwin Harrell, Jr., Oral Roberts: An American Life (Indiana University Press, 1985), pp. 163,164)
Stegall's assessment was followed by other reports which demonstrated the duplicity of Roberts' ministry:
Writer John Kobler interviewed two individuals recommended to him by Roberts as “the most striking instances of cures” and reported that while both believed themselves healed, one had never visited a physician, and the other had subsequently undergone surgery to remove a cancer. W.E. Mann reported that a Toronto, Canada physician had examined thirty persons who passed through Oral's healing line and found no case of healing “that could not be explained, in terms of psychological shock or straight hysteria.” At least one had died. Oral's critics repeatedly charged that he “covered up his failures,” particularly because the television tapes were edited to show only the most favorable cases. (Oral Roberts: An American Life, p. 164)
Many of the stories of charismatic healings come to us from foreign lands, particularly from Africa. Popular healers report of amazing healings and miracles during their overseas crusades. We do not believe these reports. Consider the following testimony of a British medical doctor:
More recently my friend Duncan Leighton, an evangelist, obtained a Kodak traveling scholarship to go to Africa and America. He wrote an article entitled, ‘Signs? One Wonders,' in which he tells of his own investigations of miraculous healings:
“In Africa in 1984, I followed the Derek Prince team through Zambia where they claimed thousands of miracle healings. We found none. Dr. Eric Rea examined one miracle leg-lengthening and pronounced it a hoax. My letter asking Mr. Prince for detailed information was passed down the line until it reached Brian Bentley who knew someone whose sinus was cured.”
Duncan Leighton then went to California where he looked at some of the healing groups there. Roger Ziegler, a Californian chiropractor who is a Christian man, said after one healing meeting, ‘Almost half the bad backs I deal with have already been healed in this place.'...
So many of the success stories which we hear amount to reporting from a distance, but the physicians on the spot see a different picture. Those who have read Canon Michael Green's book, I Believe in the Holy Spirit, will know that he quotes instances of healing in Africa, in places where there had been great healing meetings. You may be interested to know the views of a missionary doctor who had been working in that area for many years. He wrote:
“During my career in this country from 1944, there have been many reported healings, particularly in the area on both sides of Lake Nyasa, now called Lake Malawi. The 1973 outbreak in the Dares Salaam area was the only one which I have heard of outside the Lake Nyasa area. All the outbreaks I have come across have followed the same pattern, that is, tremendous popularity initially with thousands of people being attracted to the meetings, followed by gradual thinning out of the attendances. When the popularity has waned the outbreak ends and the organisers move to another area. My own impression is that there is nothing to these healings, and that the initial popularity of the meetings decreases as the actual results become known. I have not come across a single case of undoubted cure proved by medical examination of the clinical condition before and after the alleged healing.” (Verna Wright, MD FRCP, “A Medical View of Miraculous Healing,” quoted by Dr. Peter Masters, he Healing Epidemic, pp. 215-224; Professor Wright is chief of rheumatology at Leeds University, England)
John Wimber is a popular healer of our day and holds signs and wonders seminars throughout the world. He claims healing is in the atonement and that God wants His people to be well and whole. He teaches that every Christian should learn to lay hands on the sick and expect to see them healed. In a message at the North American Congress on the Holy Spirit & World Evangelization, held August 16, 1990, in Indianapolis, Wimber said this:
And after he has given you his Son, why would he withhold healing from you? He's given you the most precious thing he had, the Father. ... he's torn his very Son out of his heart and sent him to earth, that he might die for you. Why would he withhold healing from you? A simple thing like physical healing?
Up in heaven the angels rejoice when they see the servants of God on earth doing the deeds of the Son and ministering in the power of the kingdom. ... I believe right now that the Lord is releasing healing angels among us and that they are here to minister on his behalf, and that these ministering angels are here for the purposes of God to unfold and be completed, and that the task of God might be accomplished.
Yet when Wimber's healing movement is examined, it quickly becomes clear that his success rate is pathetically small. He even admits this.
Five medical doctors attended a Wimber healing crusade in Leeds, England, and made the following assessment:
All the five doctors, one of whom is a leading psychiatrist in England came to one diagnosis: “[It was] a very expert performance containing all the textbook characteristics of the induction of hypnosis. are very likely in the short term to respond to this treatment. Relief of pain as in dental extraction or childbirth is relatively commonplace with hypnosis. In the Wimber team's meeting we saw no change that suggested any healing of organic, physical disease. ... To encourage techniques which produce hypnosis and hysteria, and to teach that one is learning how to exercise Kingdom rule over demons, disease and nature is false; it is a misrepresentation.
This conclusion was concurred with by Dr. Verna Wright, chief of rheumatology at Leeds University, England.
Recently John Wimber was in Leeds where he conducted in St. George's church one of his evening meetings. Five of my colleagues who go to that church were present. They were so incensed by what they saw that they afterwards wrote an account of their reactions [quoted above].
I cannot emphasize my agreement with this conclusion too strongly. All the detailed analyses which have been made of healing claims over the years have failed to produce evidence of cure being achieved, except for the kind of disorders which in medicine we call functional states.(Dr. S.H. Tow, Read-Pray-Grow, Holy Spirit III (Banner Publications: Singapore, May 1988).>
During a question and answer session in Australia in March 1990, Wimber was asked about the success rate of his healing ministry. His answer was interesting. He admitted that not all diseases are equally responsive to his healing ministry. He claimed a high success rate for headaches and back aches, but admitted that he cannot heal mongolism. Of the 200 Down syndrome children Wimber has prayed over, none have been healed. Though he claimed one of these has reached the lower end of the normal range in educational achievement, doctors say this is not remarkable. (Phillip D. Jensen, “John Wimber Changes His Mind!” The Protestant Review, July 1990).
In other words, Wimber can “heal” sicknesses which are unobservable--and therefore untestable--but he cannot heal observable disease. Friends, this is bogus. The Lord Jesus Christ healed every form of disease; no one was turned away; all were healed. Christ never failed to heal. Today's “faith healers” simply cannot heal like this. They do not have special gifts. None of them do.
If healing is in the atonement, as the healers say, and if God is giving the sign gifts of healing today, why can't the great faith healers heal! The fact that they can't negates their claims.
FALSE MIRACLES IN THE LAST DAYS
According to many charismatic teachers, the modern sign gift movement is a fulfillment of prophecy. They teach that a revival of sign gifts is prophesied before the coming of Christ.
Not only is this not true; it is exactly contrary to what the Bible actually teaches about the last hours of this age. Scripture doesn't foretell a revival of miracle sign gifts in the churches. Just the opposite. The Scripture prophesies of a leavening apostasy which will grow within the lump of Christendom until the whole is leavened (Matt. 13:33). The mystery of iniquity will increase over the course of the church age until the final revelation of the great Harlot of the seventeenth chapter of Revelation. 2 Tim. 3:13 warns that “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” This is a prophecy of increasing apostasy, not of revival.
The signs and wonders spoken of for the last hours are deceiving signs. Consider some Scriptures:
“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Matt. 24:24
“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming. Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” 2 Thess. 2:7-9
“And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast...” Rev. 13:13-14
In light of these warnings it is crucial that the Christian be wary of any signs or wonders movement in these last hours. The signs and wonders movement prophesied in Scripture for the hours prior to Christ's return is one of demonic deception.
TWO KINDS OF FAITH
“And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: AND OTHERS had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented.” Heb. 11:32-37
There are two kinds of faith mentioned in this passage in Hebrews--overcoming and enduring. Some heroes of the Bible overcame sickness and troubles by faith, but others whose faith was just as real were not delivered from their troubles. Yet all find their place equally in the record of God's heroes of faith.
We all want overcoming faith, but it simply is not always God's will to give deliverance. Many times we are given faith rather to endure the sickness or problem for God's glory.
God's Word, then, does not guarantee physical healing for Christians. Sometimes He heals; sometimes He does not. This is the clear example of the New Testament and is the honest experience of godly Christians of every century. God sometimes has purposes in our sicknesses, and as long as we are in this body we will be subject to infirmities, weaknesses, disease, old age, death.
The teaching which says God always heals if we pray in true faith has resulted in much confusion, for it is a cruel error. Many have believed this false idea and have become discouraged and confused when God did not heal. It is crucial to understand exactly what God promises and does not promise about faith and healing. We must rightly divide the Word of God.
I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES
Some might be protesting all of this, saying, “You just don't believe in the miracle-working power of God.” That accusation is not true. I believe in a miracle-working God.
You see, I DO believe in miracles. My God can do anything. He created the world in six days. He destroyed the ancient world by a great flood. He parted the Red Sea so the millions of the children of Israel marched through on dry ground. He brought Jesus into this world through the womb of a virgin. He died on the cross for my sins, and He rose from the dead the third day! He has saved multitudes of all nationalities from eternal hell and brought them into the kingdom of His dear Son.
My God can do ANYTHING. But my God also does what He wants when He wants! And He isn't flooding the world today, nor is He parting the Red Sea today, nor is He dying on a cross today. And He is not giving a new Pentecost today. That part of His glorious plan has been accomplished, and He is marching on toward the End.
My friends, I want to march in step with God. We must be satisfied with that which He IS doing, not carnally seeking after that which He has done in the past and that which we WISH He would do!
I can still hear the protests, though, saying, “Yea, you just believe in miracles for the past, not for today.” That's not true, either. I have personally experienced some wonderful physical healings in answer to prayer. I have experienced all sorts of miracles, in fact, since I was converted in 1973. I couldn't count the miraculous answers to prayer I've witnessed from the hand of God.
And we fellowship with Christians who believe in the power of God. An example is Paul Timmerman, a deacon in our church. This brother knows about the power and blessing of God today. Recently he told me of a miraculous healing he experienced when he was flying seaplanes in the Coast Guard, and I asked him to share that for our readers:
Hello, I'm Paul Timmerman. I give the following as testimony of the great power that our God has to heal a person. I personally have had several instances of divine healing in my life that were just plain miracles, that could be explained no other way. These were attested to by federal medical personnel and flight surgeons, and the healings that I have had are a matter of my own military record.
The one that I would like to share for this moment happened in 1971, when I was serving with the United States Coast Guard. I was stationed at Port Angeles, Washington, [at the] Coast Guard Air Station there, flying sea planes and single engine helicopters at that time. While stationed there, I developed a very sore wrist condition, whereby the use of my hands was badly impaired, and I had growths on the insides of my wrists that started growing up and came about a half an inch high or so on each wrist. It would keep my wrist from moving, became very painful, and the doctors checked it out, and, after X-raying and all, said that it was a tissue growth called a ganglian. They tried several different medical ways to remove them, and to stop the growth of them, and to give me back the use of my wrists, and these methods failed. So they sent me to a specialist at the Army hospital, Madigan General Hospital, Fort Lewis, Washington. There the medical staff again X-rayed and examined my wrists and set up the date for surgery because there was no other alternative that they had at that point to remove the growths that were quite visible, and very sore, and hindering the use of my hands. They set up the surgery date, and the day before my surgery I had to report in to the hospital for prepping, for pre-surgery examination. And the surgeons examined again the X-rays and my wrists, and saw the extent of the damage, and prepared me for surgery for the following day.
However, that evening, after the doctors left, I was in my hospital bed there waiting, studying my Bible, and just relying on the promises of the Lord, and I turned sincerely to the Lord and asked Him--knowing full well He had the power to heal through surgeons or through divine healing--and I just asked Him to work a miracle, and take these away, that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ would be magnified and glorified throughout that hospital, due to the miracle that had been worked.
In the morning, much to the surprise of the doctors when they came in, the growths were completely gone from my wrists. I had full use of my hands, my wrists. And to this day, almost 20 years later, I have never had a reoccurance of this phenomena on my wrists. The doctors then were totally baffled by what happened, thinking perhaps they had the wrong patient or whatever. I simply witnessed for the Lord Jesus Christ and told them that I had asked the Lord to work a miracle a night before if it be His will, knowing full well that He could, and that He had decided that it was for the glory and honor of Jesus Christ that He did. And He healed me that night, and like I say, it has never reoccurred. I went about the hospital just praising the Lord Jesus Christ and glorifying His name, telling others about Him, witnessing to the great miracle that took place there. And the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ went throughout that hospital to many military men, and the doctors, of course, had nothing to say but that they certainly had done nothing to change that, but that condition was totally healed.
Isn't that a blessing! You don't have to follow charismatic error to believe in the power and blessing of God.
I believe in miracles for today. But friends, I also believe the Bible, and I refuse to force the Bible to say what I want it to say. The Bible tells me that the miracles of Christ and the Apostles were unique and were not something that will be duplicated by Christians in general. The Bible tells me that God does not always heal. The Bible tells me that sickness and trouble can be a blessing from Him. The Bible says that faith is more important than miracles. The Bible says that kingdom power and glory is yet future, and will flow through the world when Christ returns--not before. The Bible warns that the end times will be characterized by deceiving signs and wonders.
We close with the words of Fanny Crosby about the matter of health. This godly woman was blind all her life, yet she did not demand that God heal her; she did not believe that the devil had afflicted her with the blindness; she did not rebuke the devil for her trouble; she did not doubt God because He chose not to heal her. She had a different testimony:
O what a happy soul am I!
Although I cannot see
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy,
That other people don't.
To weep and sigh because I'm blind,
I cannot, and I won't.
WHY IS THE CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT SO POPULAR?
By David W. Cloud
What in the world is causing so many to be drawn to the charismatic movement? Even cursory study of the Scriptures shows that the movement is in error about such things as healing, tongues, Spirit baptism, union with apostasy, and women preachers, yet multitudes continue to be drawn into the Pentecostal orb. I believe there are seven basic reasons for the popularity of this movement:
One reason for Pentecostalism's popularity is its entertainment orientation. Jazzed up music and wild antics have been part and parcel with Pentecostalism since the Azusa Street “revival” at the turn of the century. Not content with this, the modern charismatic movement has gone “whole hog” into every sort of entertainment: rock music, drama, the dance, clowns, rap music, you name it. Charismatic television broadcasters pioneered the slick Hollywood-type Christian performances so common now in large charismatic churches. Charisma magazine is a showcase for this type of thing. The ads just ooze with worldly types of entertainment. And entertainment is always at the very heart of charismatic meetings such as New Orleans '87 and Indianapolis '90.
People like to be entertained! So it is not difficult to understand why an entertainment-oriented movement draws good crowds.
I believe another reason the charismatic movement has grown so phenomenally is the dynamic personalities who have been attracted to it and who have led it. The charismatic movement exalts men. Sports stars are exalted. Movie stars are exalted. Notice that most of the female charismatic leaders are unusually attractive, and the men unusually handsome.
A movement with powerful, attractive personalities will always pull in big crowds. That's simply a fact.
But contrast all of this with first century Christianity. The greatest leader in the early churches, the Apostle Paul, was weak in bodily presence and his speech contemptible (2 Cor. 10:10). In the early churches, God chose the weak and foolish things to confound the wise and mighty of this world (1 Cor. 1:25-29). The first century church did not contend with the world on the world's ground and by the world's standards. In other words, God did not choose the most highly educated, the most lovely, the most athletic, the most dynamic.
God hasn't changed his methods, but the charismatic movement is enamored with worldly excellence. That is one of its serious errors and downfalls.
Another reason for the popularity of the charismatic movement is the emotional experience it promises. People like strong emotion. That is a major reason why people take drugs and drink liquor. They want an emotional high. They want to feel good.
Pentecostalism has always promised powerful emotional experiences. This is one of its glories. Charismatic testimonies abound in tales about strong emotional experiences.
“I felt the power come up my arm, and move down my spine...”
“I was overcome with joy and began to speak in an unknown tongue and was filled with a tingling sensation for hours.”
You've heard these testimonies, I'm sure. The Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International's magazine, Voice, is a showcase for this type of thing. It contains testimony after testimony of glorious experiences and powerful feelings.
Any movement which can promise such things will grow, regardless of whether or not it is grounded in the Scripture.
Signs and wonders
If you took away the promise of signs and wonders from Pentecostalism, you would be left with a very small movement! Yet what does the Bible say about signs and wonders for this hour?
First, the Lord Jesus Christ warned that an evil generation seeks a sign. The Pharisees sought a sign from him, and Christ answered, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:39-40).
In spite of this warning, the charismatic movement seeks to offer signs and wonders to our generation.
Second, miracles do not produce faith. Charismatics such as John Wimber and Peter Wagner speak of “power evangelism.” Wimber says the world will believe when they see a sign. This is hogwash. Miracles have never produced faith. Christ performed miracles such as this world had never witnessed, yet most of those who saw those miracles with their own eyes turned from Him and did not believe (John 6:66). In Christ's story about the rich man who died and went to hell, we are taught that it's not miracles which produce faith; it's the Bible. The rich man pleaded with Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to speak to his brothers about salvation. Abraham reply is instructive: “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Lk. 16:27-31). If men do not believe the witness of the Bible, they will not believe the most fantastic miracles.
This is a fact the charismatic movement has yet to learn. It claims to be a signs and wonders movement. John Wimber calls his healing meetings “Signs and Wonders Conferences.” And any movement which claims the power to do miracles will have a large following.
Another reason the charismatic movement enjoys great numerical success is its promise of healing. An old television commercial said, “If you've got your health, you've got just about everything.” That pretty well sums up the philosophy of this world. Man is naturally oriented to the physical. He'll do just about anything for health and earthly comfort and prosperity. The devil recognizes this, as we see from his statement in Job 2:4: “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.” The devil contended that Job cared more about his health than about the death of all his children and the loss of all his property. In Job's case the devil was wrong, but in general it is all too true that man's greatest concern is health and comfort.
Thus any movement which promises healing will do very well indeed. It has always been so. The medical field today with all its healing promise is terrifically wealthy. People will pay outrageous fees for health. Doctors are reverenced almost as gods. Any cult which promises healing has prospered, no matter how unbelievable its doctrine. Christian Science is an example. Its main following has always been from those who sought healing from their many infirmities. Every New Age cult which promises healing prospers. Witch doctors who promise healing prosper. Selling health tonics and supposed remedies for things such as baldness has always been prosperous.
I've seen the crowds who attend a Happy Hunter healing crusade or a Wimber signs and wonders meeting. A great many are seeking healing. They come because of the promise of healing. The problem is that the VAST majority go away unhelped. They leave confused and discouraged, filled with questions about why they or their loved ones were not healed.
If they were wise, they would seek a return of their money! The charismatic healers would soon go broke if they offered a money back guarantee! Of course, they would never do that. They continue to offer health and prosperity to their followers, and they continue to have lots of success among gullible, needy humanity.
Another sad reason for the growth of the charismatic movement is widespread Bible ignorance. The average person in the West today is as ignorant of the Bible as a pagan tribal in darkest Africa or a Hindu in India.
Hosea 4:6 contains this sad commentary on Israel of that day: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge ...” How appropriate that judgment is for our day. The widespread Bible ignorance of our times has become fertile ground for Pentecostalism.
The Spiritual Deadness of Christianity
Another reason for the rapid growth of the charismatic movement is the spiritual deadness of Christianity. Most of those who have jumped into the wildfire of Pentecostalism have leaped from the coldness of ritualism and bland orthodoxy.
Consider that the greatest number of registrants at New Orleans '87 and Indianapolis '90 were Roman Catholics. Episcopalians and Lutherans formed another large group. It is not difficult to understand why members of these denominations would be drawn to charismatic extremes. They are fed up with the dry bones of dead ritualism.
We can see something similar in the evangelical Third Wave. Though not as dead as high churchism, a great number of evangelical churches and institutions are very, very dull spiritually. It is becoming difficult to distinguish theologically modernistic schools from many evangelical ones. Fuller Seminary is an example. There are a great many professors at Fuller who do not believe the Bible is perfect. There are Fuller professors who contend that homosexual and adulterous relationships are not necessarily sinful. There are Fuller professors who support the wretchedly apostate World Council of Churches.
It is not surprising that some within this spiritually barren atmosphere would be attracted to Pentecostalism. At least Pentecostalism has a form of life and of power! In recent years, the most popular courses at Fuller have been those taught by John Wimber on signs and wonders.
The testimony of Charles Kraft is instructive here. Kraft is a Fuller professor who has become involved with the charismatic movement, and he spoke both at New Orleans and at Indianapolis. Consider part of his message at Indianapolis, Friday morning, August 17, 1990:
Good morning. ... I am an evangelical and have been for nearly 50 years, and am real happy to report that things like started happening in the 60s or so in the charismatic movement are starting to happen among evangelicals--among evangelicals who don't call ourselves anything else. I don't call myself charismatic; some other people do. But I just like to call myself an evangelical who is a little more biblical than I have been before. ...
I teach at Fuller Seminary, so a lot of things I will be talking about are things you wouldn't expect from a professor at Fuller Seminary. But having come back from mission work in Nigeria, and spending my time teaching missionaries and internationals--international church leaders--it began to break into my consciousness that the kinds of workings of God that I was most acquainted with were not everything that was out there. I had been asked in Nigeria if I believed in evil spirits. This was back in about 1958. And I didn't know any good answer, so I said, “Do you have experience with them?” And they said, “Yes.” And I said, “O.K. I trust you, so I believe in evil spirits.” I still don't know if I was telling the truth. But I spent a total of about five years in Nigeria and never saw a demon, and that isn't because they weren't there. It is because something was wrong with my eyes.
So in the process of interacting with people--I've been teaching in the school of mission at Fuller now for 21 years--about 13 years ago, through just becoming alert to the fact that there's a lot going on out there that we see in the Bible but as evangelicals we didn't know how to deal with, the opportunity came for us to invite someone to come and teach us about healing. Some of you know the story. We invited John Wimber to come and conduct a course in healing, power evangelism, whatever we like to call it, and my wife decided to attend that course. The course was basically for students, but as faculty members, we could attend. And we began to see healings to happen in class. This isn't ordinarily what you'd expect in a seminary classroom, and eventually we got in difficulty with other seminary faculty because we were actually doing something in class, not just talking about [things].
Consider what Kraft reveals here about the spiritual condition of much of evangelicalism. Here is a veteran missionary, a professor of an influential evangelical seminary, who was not even sure he believed in demons! Kraft might not have been liberal in theology, but he was in practice. Several times in his message, Kraft referred to the pride of intellect which characterized his life as an evangelical leader. The fact is that Kraft represents a large crowd of evangelicals, and like Kraft, they are in danger of falling prey to the charismatic movement.
It is crucial that churches do not lose their first love, that they be fervent in their relationship with Christ and the Bible. If Bible-believing churches would seek Christ daily with great fervency of soul, with prayer and fasting and tears; if they would truly praise God unashamedly and unabashedly; if they would seek to win the lost with great zeal; if they would believe God and pray for healing and for daily blessings--very few members would be lost to charismatic wildfire.
Another reason for the rapid charismatic growth in this hour of apostasy is divinely-imparted blindness. God warns that if reject His Word, he will blind our eyes that we will believe a lie. Consider 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12:
“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
This verse applies directly to the conditions during the Great Tribulation when God will send strong delusion and cause the world to follow the antichrist. This will be a judgment upon the world for refusing to believe the truth. But the application of this principle is true enough today. If men do not believe the truth God gives them, they will be turned over to delusions and errors. This explains why multitudes believe something as strange and unreasonable as Mormonism, or Evolution. It also explains why multitudes are following something as strange and unscriptural as Pentecostalism.
We believe the charismatic movement is a judgment of God upon those who refuse to believe His Word. Someone might say, “Wherein do charismatics not believe the Word of God?” We reply that they do not believe the Word of God about healing, nor about spiritual gifts, nor about prophecy, nor about the Holy Spirit, nor about sound doctrine, nor about the woman's place in the church, nor about Bible separation.
WOE UNTO THOSE BAPTIZED BY FIRE!
By David W. Cloud
One of the distinctive teachings of the charismatic movement is the baptism by fire. Some Pentecostal groups have even named themselves such things as “Fire Baptized Holy Ghost” people. We read of this in Carl Brumback's history of the Assemblies of God: “Many shades of Protestantism lurked in the background of these men and women, but now they formed a sort of ‘United Denominations,' fused by a baptism of fire into a single Pentecostal body” (Like a River:The Early Years of the Assemblies of God, p. 13).
This idea of being baptized by the Holy Spirit and fire is also seen in the titles of books about the Pentecostal movement, such as that of Catholic Ralph Martin entitled Fire on the Earth published in 1976.
The concept of being baptized by the Holy Spirit and fire comes from the prophecy of John in Matthew 3:11--"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." Thus the Pentecostals have taken this prophecy and applied it to themselves, saying that Christians were baptized with fire in the first century and that those of the 20th century need the same baptism of fire.
What is wrong with this teaching? It is a teaching which, like many charismatic doctrines, ignores the context of the Scriptures and thus results in error. John the Baptist was speaking to the Jews when he quoted this prophecy. And those Jews which believed were indeed baptized with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. But the baptism of fire is not a promise of blessing for the believer, but a warning of judgment for the unbeliever. John explains this in the following verse--
“Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matt. 3:12)
This could not be clearer. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a promise for the believer, while the baptism with fire is a warning for the unbeliever and refers to the day when Christ will return and will punish unbelievers with everlasting punishment in the lake of fire. See also Isa. 66:15,16; Mal. 3:2-4:1; 1 Thess. 1:9-11 and Rev. 19-20.
The Scriptures warn that the baptism of fire is eternal torment. Praise God that because of the blood of Christ no true Christian will ever be baptized by fire. Beware, my friend, of those who twist the Scriptures and misapply the Word of God.
SHOULD WE REBUKE THE DEVIL?
By David W. Cloud
A favored practice of charismatics is that of rebuking and taking authority over the devil in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is common to hear things such as these:
“We rebuke you, Satan, in Christ's name.”
“We rebuke thee, foul spirit of sickness.”
“We take dominion over this city in Christ's name.”
“We bind you, devil, in Christ's name, and command that you loose this person.”
We believe this is a dangerous and unscriptural practice, and we want to sound a warning against it. In regard to spiritual warfare against demonic powers there is no example in Scripture of rebuking Satan or taking dominion over demons or places in the way that charismatics do.
On the contrary, consider the following passages:
“Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” Jude 8-9
This is a powerful example of whether or not we should rebuke the devil. We see that even Michael the archangel did not rail against him; who are we that we should do so?
2 Corinthians 12:7-9
“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Cor. 12:7-9
Note that Paul didn't rail against or take authority over the devil and demand that the thorn be removed. How different things would have been had Paul been a modern charismatic! He would have said something like this,
“Thou foul thorn in the flesh, I rebuke thee in the name of Christ. Thou foul devil, I command thee to depart from me immediately. You have no power over me; you have no right to afflict me. There is healing in the atonement, and I claim it now! In the name of Christ, I take dominion over this evil circumstance which is hindering and distracting me.”
If you think this is an exaggeration, you haven't been in charismatic circles lately. At the large meetings in New Orleans (1987) and Indianapolis (1990) I heard this type of thing repeatedly. This type of “spiritual warfare” was also being recommended by evangelicals such as Peter Wagner and Charles Kraft of Fuller Seminary. But those who are involved in such things are flying in the face of the Word of God.
“And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple. And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a sotne. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Got thee behind hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him." Matt. 4:1-11
Notice that the Lord Jesus Christ used the Word of God in dealing with the devil. He did not rail against him or rebuke him or even reason with him.
The Bible is the only infallible guide for spiritual warfare, and if we follow it and it alone, we will not follow charismatic practices of rebuking the devil. The Bible speaks of rebuking a lot, but only in the context of rebuking men and error and sin, not devils. Consider the following passages as examples:
“Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” 1 Tim. 5:20
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” 2 Tim. 4:2
“This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.” Titus 1:13
“These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” Titus 2:15
Strangely, this ministry of rebuking error and those involved with it is something commonly lacking in the charismatic movement. At Indianapolis, many said, “Satan, we rebuke thee,” but no one said, “Roman Catholic priest, we rebuke you for teaching error, and for claiming to be something you are not, and for claiming to have powers you do not have.” No one obeyed God's command to rebuke error. Frightful doctrinal error was allowed to be at home at Indianapolis '90 and no one said a word against it. What a confused situation.
One of the devil's main weapons for hindering the work of God is doctrinal error. How foolish, therefore, for men to claim to be fighting the devil while ignoring error.
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