There’s been great quantities of discussion at one of my favorite blogs concerning Pentismaticstm and I want to chime in here at LAH. Team Pyro had an article that basically covered a Churchianity Today interview with an author who wrote on history of the pentecostal/charismatic movement.
Not claiming any great wisdom for me here, but I want to see if I can put the analysis-cause-effect-solution in my own words. Dan Phillips has done more than enough on the subject anyway that I don’t think I could add a stitch of value.
Anyhow, on with my try at capturing the point.
One issue that keeps coming up is always “show me in Scripture where it’s un-Biblical for the Sign Gifts to operate today”. It’s one of those things, I guess, that misses the whole point. It’s MORE than that and, I think, simpler.
We have to ask the real question behind why the Pentismaticstm gifts are pointless (at best) and misleading. WHAT does the Spirit accomplish TODAY through individual PEOPLE who have been endowed with the gifts of “Tongues,” “Prophecy,” and “Healing”?
My answer is NOTHING. Because it’s not of the Spirit. Here’s the explanation, in verses:
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. – John 14:26
The Spirit teaches and reminds of Christ’s words. He does not add prophetic visions, free tickets to sightseeing in Heaven or other stuff. In every case I’ve read or heard about, the vision or prophecy always points back to the one who is telling the story. It always involves self-promotion either for popularity, respect or to be the One with the Real Info on God’s message. Does any of that sound like the verse above? No. On to the next sketch:
But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. – John 15:5-11
In this passage, the H.S. does not have us running around telling happy stories about how we healed some poor schmo, babbled on in some unintelligible noise or took a quick day-trip to the green fields of Heaven. That doesn’t convict! The Holy Spirit convicts. How does this work, since the Holy Spirit is not in the un-believer? Obviously, He works through believers to proclaim the Gospel. We are to present the Word to the world; to our families, friends, neighbors, co-workers and anybody else who crosses our path. He works in us to point to Christ. When have we ever seen anyone realize their sinfulness and need for a Savior after witnessing a healing or hearing somebody speak in tongues? We have not. On to the next sketch:
I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on his own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you. – John 16:5-14
Here’s where we get into trouble. That is, if we don’t have a clear perspective on Scripture we will have a great tendency toward error. When Christ is saying this, is He telling us that the Holy Spirit will continue to reveal messages from God beyond what the Word contains? Who was Christ speaking to, here? In what context? Where, in the Bible, was this statement repeated after Pentecost for the benefit of Church-age Christians? Was this message for us, telling us that we would still be contributing to the Canon two thousand years later? No. On to the next sketch.
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. – Hebrews 2:1-4
Look, at this point the previous passages should have shot down misuse of this one. But the misuse persists. What message was declared by angels? What was declared by the Lord, attested to by witnesses and then what did God Himself witness to? The message we’re talking about is the plan of Redemption! Our need for a savior, the promise of a Savior, the arrival of the Savior, the deeds and words of the Savior, the sacrifice of the Savior (Crucifixion), the resurrection of the Savior, and the results thereof. What more is there? Come on! The Whole Bible points to this central message.
What do these gifts do when they’re mentioned in the Bible? They Point. To. The. Gospel. By validating that the message being proclaimed is accurate and true by the Holy Spirit’s particular endowment of the Sign Gifts upon those who were the messengers. It was an official seal of confirmation from the Lord to be able to display these miracles DURING THE PERIOD when the Church was in its infancy, beset by false teachers and without a completed Canon of Scripture.
How can we miss the obvious fact that the miracles of God, through the Apostles, were what’s being discussed here? How can it be extrapolated that the gifts continued past closing the Canon? The validation is in the Canon itself, not explicitly in the existence of the gifts but in when and where the gifts were in place. Scripture interprets Scripture; Scripture validates Scripture. The sign gifts validated the authority of the guys through whom Scripture was delivered! If it’s now valid, why do we need the gifts?
Okay, now, going back a short bit… If we can say that the gifts stopped with the completion of the Scriptures, what can we say about the operation of the gifts today? I noted at the beginning of the study that the gifts point to Christ, as the Spirit points to Christ, that they point to the message, validate the message and Him who sent the Spirit. What do the adherents to continuation of the gifts do today? Do they, in their visions, prophecy, funky babble, always faithfully reveal Scripture? Do their displays emphasize and validate the Gospel?
Here’s the part that hurts. There are Gospel-centered heroes of the faith out there, proclaiming the Truth of Christ’s death and resurrection, our need for forgiveness and calling for us to repent of our sin. And some of them still believe in the sign gifts of prophecy, tongues and healing. On the surface, that belief seems pretty insignificant, maybe even not worth mentioning in light of the power and efficacy of these men’s ministries. But if we look at their teaching and the signal it sends out, that those gifts are still valid, does it not also validate the heretics’ claims?
Sure, we can rationalize that the heretics like Benny Hinn and the other goof-balls out there are so far off the “Reformed Charismatic” (for example) playing-field that there’s no connection. But really? A little leaven leavens… Where do you think the error starts? A true Christian who also believes in the Charismatic type gifts is preaching the sufficiency and efficacy of Scripture out one side of his mouth and disassembling that truth out the other. He is implying that today God steps into the life of an individual and gifts him with revelatory miracles that are outside, above the very Scriptures that were supposed to be sufficient. FAIL!
Heaven and earth shall pass away but My words shall not pass away. – Matthew 24:35
Listen, if I swear up and down to uphold only the true, Biblical Gospel and I get it exactly right from Depravity to Perseverance but allow for this one little false teaching about miraculous activities that were put in place to VALIDATE the GOSPEL that was finally validated around the 1st Century A.D. am I not unraveling the trustworthiness of the message in its entirety? I’m allowing the possibility that God can actively edit His Word today, in this millennium, altering the message He said was complete 2,000 years ago.
Revelation 22:18-19 contains an explicit warning that that letter was in no way to be tampered with. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states, clearly, that All Scripture is profitable so the man of God can be competent, equipped for every good work. Scripture claims to be self-sufficient and complete over and over again. On the road to Emmaus, in Luke 24, Christ explained, through Scripture, to His disciples the whole thing!
I am so glad the elders and pastor at my church preach from the Bible. And that’s all they do. They don’t quibble over and don’t have a sideline show about the Gifts. The bottom line is that prophecy, tongues and healing don’t do any justice to the Gospel. They haven’t for almost 2,000 years. They detract from it by lifting a man up from his humble state as God’s preacher to some celebrity who has been “empowered” especially by God. That’s not the Holy Spirit’s mission and therefore should not be our assumption.
The Holy Spirit convicts us and enables us to teach the Word for the conviction of others. We don’t heal or tell the future or have visions or babble to get that job done. Why can’t we attack this heretical movement of Pentismaticstm at the root? Why can’t Biblical Christians finally release their death-grip on what was for Apostolic times only? Why can’t Biblical Christians stick to Biblical Christianity? Aren’t there other doctrines that need more work, need more time devoted to them?
It’s silly anyway, isn’t it? A good grasp of the concept of Sola Scriptura should render “da gifts” pretty hopeless. Preaching Christ and Him crucified for our sins would be a better use of our time.