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Final Thoughts on Strange Fire Book Review

My review of John MacArthur’s Strange Fire has been a long process.  For that I do apologize.  I actually read the book in January and started my review then.  However, because of my work schedule and family duties, etc., I have had to post here and there on the book.  I pray that you did learn something from the review as I tried to be fair with the book and the content.  You can find the first post on this series here.

The book has an appendix in which MacArthur quotes from various Church Fathers and leaders through the centuries about the nature of spiritual gifts.  His point is to prove that many church leaders including men like Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, and Charles Spurgeon all held to modern cessationists views.  Of course, modern charismatic theologians will often respond in two ways.  One is to say that even such views were held, this does make them right or wrong simply because they held those views.  The bottom line for authority is not Augustine or Gill but the Bible.  I know that MacArthur would agree.  Secondly, some charismatics would argue that the Pentecostal revival brought back an emphasis on the ministry of the Holy Spirit that had been buried by tradition and unbelief.  Others, like Dr. Jack Deere, would argue that it is just unbelief and a presupposition argument against miracles that leads to such views.  You can find Deere’s views in his book Surprised by the Power of the Spirit.  

In conclusion to my review, let me state that I do believe that charismatics would benefit from reading MacArthur’s book.  I said the same when he released Charismatic Chaos back in the early 1990’s.  I read Charismatic Chaos three times!  I agreed with much of what he wrote back then and still do today.  I think most charismatics (and I do not align myself with this camp) would agree with much of what MacArthur points to in his books.  The errors of the prosperity gospel, the errors of the healing movements, the sinfulness of some charismatic leaders, etc., are all things that we should all oppose.

Nonetheless, MacArthur painted with a big brush.  He grouped together men such as Dr. George Wood with men such as Todd Bentley.  He grouped together even Reformed charismatics like Wayne Grudem with the likes of a Rick Joyner.  He blasted all charismatics as blaspheming the Holy Spirit while ignoring the good that is done in the name of Jesus by groups such as the Assemblies of God, Church of God (Cleveland, TN), or the Foursquare Gospel Church.  What about ministries such as Teen Challenge that was started by a Pentecostal (David Wilkerson) and is still maintained by Pentecostals?  Teen Challenge remains the top ministry for those addicted to drugs and alcohol.  I personally have visited Teen Challenges and seen the good that they do.

Two prominent seminaries, the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS) and the Church of God Theological Seminary (now called the Pentecostal Theological Seminary) are both schools that seek to glorify Christ and exalt the Word of God.  AGTS teaches its students that expository preaching should be the norm for biblical preaching and teaching.  These are both seminaries with theologically trained teachers.  These are not fanatics are they?  Should we lump AGTS alongside Bill Johnson and Bethel Church?

However, the main issue is what does the Bible teach.  It is easy to lump people together in groups and say that they are all the same.  Both Arminians and Calvinists and have done this for years.  Yet people are still people.  Some charismatics are out there.  Most are not.  There are false teachers among Pentecostals.  There are also false teachers among the Presbyterians as well.  People have fallen into sin in the Pentecostal movement.  The same is true of people in all other circles as well.  None of us escape the temptations of the flesh.  But we must seek to be biblical.  The Bible must be our guide.  Not one teacher or group.  The Bible is where we must fall or stand.  I am grateful that I personally know godly Pentecostals who love the Bible and preach the Bible.  They would be appalled if someone said that they were basing their faith on their emotions and not the Word of God (2 Peter 1:19).

I pray that God would use MacArthur to call all of us back to the Bible.  The Bible and not MacArthur or a study Bible or a denomination must be our foundation (Matthew 7:24-27).  We must be people who love the Word of God and delight in His commandments (Psalm 119:131).  We must be like the Bereans and search the Word of God for truth (Acts 17:11).  We must not be foolish and fall prey to false teachings (1 John 4:1-2) but we must embrace and love the truth of God (Psalm 119:173).  This is my earnest prayer, that God would help us all to love the Word and follow Him with all our hearts.

Strange Fire Review (Chapter 12)

This is the final chapter of John MacArthur’s book, Strange Fire.  To find the previous posts, you may begin here.

In this final chapter, MacArthur writes an open letter to his continuationist friends.  This would include mainly Reformed theologians and preachers who are charismatic such as John Piper, Wayne Grudem, CJ Mahaney and Sam Storms.  Both Piper and Mahaney have spoken at MacArthur’s church and at conferences with him and I believe that Grudem has taught some classes at the Master’s Seminary.  All of these men (and many other charismatic Calvinists) would disagree with MacArthur over some (not all) of what he has written in this book.

MacArthur gives eight reasons why he believes that the continuation of the revelatory gifts is dangerous.  I will only list them without comment:

1.  The continuationist position gives an illusion of legitimacy to the broader Charismatic Movement.

2.  The continuationist position degrades the miraculous nature of the true gifts that God bestowed upon the first-century church.

3.  The continuationist position severely limits the ability of its advocates to confront others who fall into charismatic confusion.

4.  By insisting that God is still giving new revelation to Christians today, the Continuationist Movement opens the gates to confusion and error.

5.  By insisting that God is still giving new revelation to Christians today, the Continuationist Movement tacitly denies the doctrine of sola Scriptura.

6.  By allowing for an irrational form of tongues-speaking (usually as a private prayer language), the Continuationist Movement opens the door to the mindless ecstasy of charismatic worship.

7.  By asserting that the gift of healing has continued to the present, the continuationist position affirms the same basic premise that undergirds the fraudulent ministries of charismatic faith healers.

8.  The continuationist position ultimately dishonors the Holy Spirit by distracting people from His true ministry while enticing them with counterfeits.

MacArthur ends by calling his continuationist friends back to the Reformation and what it means to be Protestant.

Interestingly, I read after the Strange Fire Conference that MacArthur stated that he wanted to draw a line in the sand at some point and ask all who agree with him to stand with him.  He stated that he would ask his friends who share his theology (Reformed) to cross over and denounce the charismatic movement once and for all.  I have not heard more about this as of this post.

In my estimation, Satan usually offers counterfeits to the truth.  Cults often take some truths of Scripture and build on them but they deny the gospel in essential ways.  Satan will take some truth and sprinkle it into many lies but he seeks to counterfeit the power of God.  This is the case with false healings.  Satan raises up fake healers to spread their heretical “health and wealth” gospel while using a truth about God, that He can do miracles but they ignore that God does them for His glory.  I think that we should not cast away our desire for God to do miracles, for His name to be glorified through His divine intervention simply out of fear of fakes.  This is what I see and hear when I read Strange Fire.  

MacArthur has made many valid points and Pentecostals can read this book and will no doubt amen much of what he has written.  I believe that all disciples of Jesus (whether you agree with MacArthur or not) would agree that the Bible must be our sure foundation.  The Bible alone is the inerrant and infallible Word of God (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12-13) and we must stand on the Word of God (Matthew 4:4).  This must be the case when examining healings or those who would claim to speak for God (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21).

Yet I also believe that MacArthur has labeled many people in the Pentecostal or charismatic with tags that they would not appreciate.  I know of godly Pentecostal missionaries who are gospel centered in their preaching and are in foreign nations now preaching the gospel to the lost.  These are not heretics who are wishing to dethrone Christ from His place of honor and worship.  These are godly men and women who have given up everything for the King.  I know of godly Pentecostal prayer warriors who spend hours in prayer for others and for the nations.  I know of godly Pentecostals who love the Bible and seek to exegete the Word of God using sound skills of interpretation.  To simply label the entire charismatic movement as a false manifestation of the Spirit is misleading and wrong.

That said, all of us need godly correction.  None of us (including MacArthur) are perfect in our understanding of God or His Word.  We see through a glass rather dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12).  While our hearts must be for sound doctrine (Titus 2:1), we humbly acknowledge that we are imperfect people seeking to know a perfect God.  I rejoice that God reveals Himself to us in His Word (John 20:31) and I rejoice that the Holy Spirit leads us into His truth (1 Corinthians 2:12-13).  I rejoice for the grace that He has given to me to know Him (Philippians 3:9-11).  None of us have arrived to perfect doctrine but we strive to know God, to understand His truth, to interpret His Word, and to preach His gospel.

I pray that whatever areas of correction I needed while reading Strange Fire, I pray that the Lord does use MacArthur and the Word of God to correct me.  But I equally pray that for MacArthur.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/26/2014 at 9:02 PM

Strange Fire Review: Chapter 11

I am nearing the end of my review of Dr. John MacArthur’s book Strange Fire.  You can find the first post on this review here.  Now I will review chapter 11.

This chapter is on the issue of the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures.  In this chapter, MacArthur gives a biblical overview of the Holy Spirit and His work in giving us the Bible and also in helping us to understand, apply, and preach the Bible.  The Bible, for the disciple of Christ, is precious.  It is the believer’s weapon according to  Ephesians 6:17 and is the only inerrant and infallible book that God has given to His people.  The Bible is a remarkable book that God has faithfully preserved for us for 2000 years.

MacArthur begins by pointing to the sad story of liberal German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher.  Schleiermacher’s fall into liberalism in the late 18th century and he plunged many others with him with his liberal views.  As typical of liberals, he didn’t believe in the Bible anymore so he had to replace his faith with something else.  In this case he replaced it with Romanticism or subjective experience.  This has been the case for liberalism ever since.  Liberals are always replacing God with social causes and their seek to build their own heaven here (since there is no heaven over there).

MacArthur believes that charismatics have done the same by emphasizing dreams, visions, prophecy, etc. over the Bible.  MacArthur is clear that true disciples do not worship the Bible but love the Bible because God Himself has given us His Word.  We worship the God of the Bible and we love to read His Word because it faithfully reveals Him to us unlike subjective experiences.

I will add here again that I suppose there may Pentecostals out there who would reject the Bible but I have never met one who did.  Like any other movements, I fear that the Pentecostal movement is moving away from proclaiming the inerrancy of the Bible.  I would love to see Pentecostal fellowships such as the Assemblies of God or the Church of God (Cleveland, TN) or the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) come out and declare that the inerrancy of the Bible is something to be held and defended by all their ministers.  I fear that there are many now in the Pentecostal seminaries who do not hold to inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.  I worry that pragmatism is now dominating the Pentecostal church and the Bible no longer is being preached as absolute truth.

That said, historically the Pentecostal movement has always held to the authority of the Bible.  Even the heretical United Pentecostal Church (UPC) holds to the authority of the Bible (though twisting it in many ways to teach their false doctrines).  I have heard many Pentecostals preach over the years and have fellowshipped with many of them and have seen a deep love for the Word of God.  I even once heard a “prophecy” given in an Assemblies of God church and one godly man stood up and said, “We must reject this prophecy because this man has spoken against the Word of God” and he proceeded to state how this was so.  He was obeying 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 in this case.

The Bible must be our final authority and it alone speaks for God.  Everything else must submit to Scripture.  We don’t need a new revelation from God but a fresh understanding of God’s inerrant and infallible Word.  2 Peter 1:16-21 is clear that subjective experience will never be the solid foundation for the disciple.  Scripture must be.  Jesus said that God’s Word cannot be broken (John 10:35) and therefore we must submit to the final authority of God (John 17:17).

I pray that many godly Pentecostals and charismatics would rise up and preach the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.  This is not a side issue.  If we fail to stand on the Word of God, we will fail.  The Methodist are a case in point.  The rise of liberalism in the late 19th century doomed in the Methodist church.  Instead of remaining faithful to the Word of God, liberal Methodists rejected the Bible and today are left with a dying church.  Why?  Because they have no gospel.  When we reject the Word of God, we are left with nothing just as Schleiermacher was left with nothing.  The Bible faithfully reveals the gospel and if we reject the Bible, we are soon to reject the gospel.  We are then left with nothing to stand upon (Galatians 1:6-9) and we soon wander off into errors (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

May God give us an increase in those disciples who believe, preach, stand upon, and live the inerrancy and infallibility of the Word of God.

Strange Fire Review: Chapter 10

I have been doing an ongoing review of Dr. John MacArthur’s book, Strange Fire.  The book focuses on the abuses that MacArthur sees in the modern charismatic movement.

Chapter 10 focuses on the work of the Holy Spirit and sanctification.  I am grateful that MacArthur does focus on the biblical truth of sanctification.  So many in our day want to ignore the work of the Spirit in sanctification.  They want to proclaim salvation through faith in Christ but they ignore the call of the Spirit to sanctification.  They fail to preach that true disciples of Christ must turn away from sin (1 John 3:4-10).  This is not negotiable.  True disciples despise, hate, and turn away from sin as part of repentance (Matthew 3:8).  I remember hearing MacArthur preach powerfully from Matthew 3:8 many years ago during the early 1990’s when the “Lordship” controversy was raging.  I was thankful to hear him preach hard against sin and preach that true believers must be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  Holiness is not an option for the disciple of Jesus (Hebrews 12:14).

2 Timothy 2:19 is clear on this:

But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

Holiness is to be preached and into’s modern church, it is hard to find teachings that cause people to hate their sin.  Few preach that God is holy and that He demands holiness from His people both in the Old Testament and in the New.  Few preach that God’s grace has been given to us not to help us live in our sins but to overcome sin (Titus 2:11-12).  How can we abound in sin when we have been set free by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross (Romans 6:1-4)?

But I am moving beyond the point of this post.  This post is on chapter 10 where MacArthur deals with the precious truth that the Holy Spirit  helps the true disciple be holy or sanctified.

However, MacArthur believes that the charismatic movement falsely teaches that there are emotional encounters with God that bring about holiness.  Rather than biblical teaching, the charismatics believe that their experiences bring them closer to God.  While MacArthur briefly points to the baptism in the Spirit, speaking in tongues, prophesy, etc., he takes aim the most at being “slain in the spirit.”  MacArthur rightly points out that there is no biblical warrant for such a practice.  He spends a couple of pages dealing with this issue but in my estimation, too much time.  I know some charismatics do practice this but I think that most level-headed Pentecostals would deplore such events.  Yet in the Pentecostal-Charismatic church I will admit that there is much freedom to worship God as you desire (as long as it is not out the flesh) and this has led to some “falling down” but is not encouraged nor discouraged.  It is just allowed.  I myself enjoy laying prostrate before the Lord.  In our church, a very conservative church, this would not be entirely welcomed sadly.  During my prayer times, I enjoy just laying before the Lord God and crying to Him.  I enjoy the freedom to do this and wish that I could do this when I am with other saints worshiping the Lord.

MacArthur dives into two main distinct teachings about sanctification and the Spirit and that is what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and what does it mean to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25)?  He begins with the infilling of the Spirit.  MacArthur, of course, rejects the charismatic understanding of the baptism in the Spirit as separate from salvation.  He believes that the baptism in the Spirit occurs at regeneration (1 Corinthians 12:13).  MacArthur goes to Ephesians 5:18 and deals with this lone command in the New Testament for believers to be filled with the Spirit.  What did Paul mean?

MacArthur teaches from Ephesians 5:18 that:

  • This command is in the present tense of the Greek so this is an ongoing event.  This is not a special event apart from what Christ has already done for us in salvation.
  • While the Apostles and their brethren were filled with the Spirit repeatedly in Acts, this was for the purpose of the gospel and not for sanctification nor for ecstatic experiences.
  • To be truly filled with the Spirit is to bear the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).  To be truly Spirit-filled is to be controlled by the Spirit (Romans 8:5-9).  To be Spirit-filled is to seek to please God by pursuing practical holiness (2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Peter 3:18).

MacArthur then contrasts this with the “Spirit-filled” movement and he points out that the movement is full of people who have not been controlled by the Spirit at all.  He points out the many sexual sins that have arisen in the charismatic movement

MacArthur continues to teach from Ephesians 5:18 by moving on to verses 5:19 to 6:9.  MacArthur shows the true Spirit-filled believers show the influence of the Spirit in their daily lives by making us not just right before God but to others as well.  The key mark of the true Spirit-filled believer is not experiences but love toward others (1 Peter 1:22-23).  MacArthur’s point: spiritual gifts are not the sign of the Spirit filling.  Sanctification is.  Spiritual gifts are given to saints to help saints.  God only gives gifts to those who have been sanctified (1 Peter 4:10-11).  Spiritual gifts are given to help others (1 Corinthians 12:7) and not to build up ourselves (1 Corinthians 13).

MacArthur spends the duration of the chapter speaking of what does it mean to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).  MacArthur concludes this is what happens as we abide in Christ by faith and trust in Him alone.  We look to Him to save us, to empower us, to fill us with His righteousness, to strengthen us to overcome the flesh, to help us during times of temptation, to glorify His name through us.  This is the key.  It is not striving in our own flesh but trusting in the Spirit to help us to be holy (Romans 8:1-4).  To walk in the Spirit is to live under His control by submission to His Word (Ephesians 3:16; 6:17-18; 1 Peter 2:1-3).  We are not saved by our own efforts (Galatians 3:3; Philippians 2:12-13) but by faith in Christ Jesus alone who sanctifies us by His grace (Ephesians 2:8-10).

The Holy Spirit helps the believer be conformed to the image of Christ.  MacArthur points out that the Spirit was very much active in the ministry of the Lord Jesus.  While Jesus was God (John 1:1, 14), He depended on the Holy Spirit His entire life to glorify the Father and pay the price for our sins.  Even His resurrection was by the power of the Spirit (Romans 8:11; cf. Acts 2:24; Romans 1:4).  Jesus, the perfect Son of God, depended on the Spirit so how much more should we?  After dealing with the work of the Spirit in Romans 8:1-27, Paul declares in Romans 8:29 that the work of the Spirit is to conform us to the image of Christ.  This truly glorifies God (Romans 8:30).

Conclusion

Pentecostals and charismatics who love the Word of God no doubt appreciate MacArthur’s focus on the Bible.  I appreciate this much about his ministry through the years.  His sermons, his books, his blogs, etc. are full of the Word of God.  His focus on expository preaching is excellent.  We all should copy this.  We should love the Word of God.

However, exceptions will be made with MacArthur spending too much time attaching “slain in the Spirit” and emotional experiences as basis for Pentecostal sanctification.  This is misleading and simply not true.  I grew up in a Pentecostal home and church and while I saw much flesh (as I believe you would see in any normal evangelical church), I often heard, “God does not care how high you jump but how you walk.”  While some will view this with legalism, I saw many godly people who lived this truth.   Yes there would people who would be in the flesh and people confused this with being “Spirit-filled” but I saw many saints who loved Jesus and loved to obey the Word of God.

My question is why would the devil give a person a spiritual experience that leads them to love Jesus more?  I am not advocating all charismatic experiences.  I would not.  I am simply wondering out loud why the devil would let people claim to be filled with the Spirit only to watch them become stronger disciples?  And I have seen this.  I have seen people who went to Pentecostal churches and claimed to be filled with the Spirit and this experience took them deeper in holiness, in worship of God, in their evangelism.  How does MacArthur explain this?  One could attack the language of the experience but why attack the experience itself?

Furthermore, what about countless Christians down through the years who claimed to have an experience with the Spirit?  I am not talking about charismatics either.  What about Spurgeon?  What about Wesley?  What about Whitefield?  What about Moody?  While these men did not agree 100% on theological issues, they all had deep experiences with God.  I recommend the book, Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians.  I also recommend Richard Taylor’s book, What Does It Mean To Be Filled with the Spirit?

I long for the Lord.  I want to know Him more and more.  This is why I study His Word.  This is why I pray to Him.  This is why I worship and adore Him.  I want to love Him and obey Him with all that is in me (Matthew 22:37-40).  I also long to have Him near.  I don’t want to just know Him abstractly.  I want to know Him deep within my soul.

I pray I have been faithful toward God in this review.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/30/2014 at 7:05 PM

Strange Fire Book Review: Chapter 9

You can find the original post to this book review here.  I have been reviewing Dr. John MacArthur’s book, Strange Fire.  This post will focus on chapter nine of the book.

In this chapter Dr. MacArthur deals with the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation.  This chapter marks the beginning of section three of the book in which MacArthur is going to teach the reader on the true ministry of the Holy Spirit in comparison to the false teachings he sees in the charismatic movement.

There is really nothing new here in this chapter.  The viewpoint MacArthur gives is basic and Pentecostals would agree with what he wrote here though they would differ with him over his view of the sealing of the Spirit at the end of the chapter.  Pentecostals would agree with MacArthur that the Holy Spirit is essential to salvation.  It is the work of the Spirit to draw the sinner to the Savior (John 6:44) by the conviction of sins (John 16:8-11).  It is the work of the Spirit to regenerate us (Titus 3:5-7) and to cause us to be born again (John 3:3-7; 1 Peter 1:3).  It is the work of the Spirit to produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23) and to give us the assurance of our salvation (Romans 8:16).  The Spirit seals us as children of God (Ephesians 1:13-14).  The Spirit keeps us by His grace (Romans 8:38-39).

There is little to disagree with here.  I agreed with MacArthur in nearly every part he wrote of regarding the Spirit’s work.  I am thankful to God for the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  I would take an exception with MacArthur only in regard to his view of the sealing of the Spirit.  Here MacArthur takes the position that we are “eternally secure” in the Spirit.  Of course, he fails to mention that he believes that if a person lives in sin, they were never saved to begin with (1 John 2:19).  He believes on the one hand that the Spirit gives us the assurance of our salvation but then he would deny, in essence, this assurance by teaching that a sinning person is probably never saved to begin with (1 John 3:4-10).  I agree that a disciple of Jesus must forsake sin (2 Timothy 2:19) and I agree that the Spirit helps us sanctify us (2 Thessalonians 2:13).  I agree that a person can know that they are saved but I believe this is through faith in Christ Jesus and faithfulness to Him as Lord (Matthew 7:21-27; 1 John 2:3-6).  I agree that the Spirit seals us but the sealing here is a pledge, a guarantee that we are in Christ Jesus.  This comes by faith (John 1:12-13; 6:29; Ephesians 2:8-9) and we are kept by faith (2 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Peter 1:5).  MacArthur would say that our faith comes from the Spirit but the faith is not God believing for us but us believing because of the work of the Spirit.  Arminians would agree in that the prevenient grace of God enables the sinner to believe.  We need the aid of the Spirit to believe and to keep believing but living in sin shows our rebellious hearts and leads only to death (Romans 6:23; James 1:12-15; 5:19-20).  We are called to keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17) and not live in sin.  The Spirit helps us to do just that, to be holy and to remain holy as He is holy.

That withstanding, this chapter was a basic premier on the work of the Holy Spirit toward the world and in the life of the disciple of Christ.

Strange Fire Review (Chapter Eight)

In chapter eight of Dr. John MacArthur’s book, Strange Firehe writes about faith healers and false hopes.  He opens the chapter by examining two leading faith healers: Oral Roberts and Benny Hinn.  MacArthur shows that both men have made bizarre claims (such as Roberts’ claim to see a 900 foot Jesus who warned him that unless he received millions of dollars, he would be killed or Hinn who claimed to have received his healing anointing after visiting the grave of faith healer Katherine Kuhlman).  MacArthur does this to show that faith healers are not even close to the biblical healings nor to the men of God that God used to do these healings.

MacArthur then dives into the New Testament to show what types of healings God did and the men of God that He used.  He makes several key points:

  • New Testament healings were not performed for money or fame.  In fact, many of the healings were performed on obviously poor people who never could have paid for these healings (Matthew 9:27-31; 20:29-34; 21:14; Mark 8:22-26; Luke 17:11-21; John 5:1-9; Acts 3:1-10; 14:8-18).  Jesus, unlike modern faith healers, told the healed to tell no one what happened (Matthew 8:4; 9:30; Mark 5:43).  In contrast, Benny Hinn told TBN viewers that if they gave to TBN, God would perform a miracle for them.  Hinn brings in $100 million a year to his ministry all in the name of healings.
  • New Testament healings were completely successful (Matthew 14:36).  There were no failures.  Every attempt to heal was successful.  This is not the case with modern faith healers.  MacArthur points out that Hinn promises all to be healed based on the promises of God’s Word yet when the sick are not healed, Hinn will often say that a person didn’t have enough faith to be healed.  Rather than question his own teachings, Hinn will point the blame at those whom he is trying to teach.  MacArthur also points out that Hinn has often questioned why God doesn’t heal everyone including an article in the LA Times where Hinn ponders this question.  MacArthur points out that Hinn (nor any faith healers) can document complete healings like those done in the New Testament.  Not even one.
  • New Testament healings were undeniable (John 11:47-48; Acts 4:16-17).  While NT healings left unbelievers having to dip so low as to say that Jesus was healing by the power of Satan (Matthew 12:24), modern faith healers have convinced no one.  MacArthur points out that HBO followed Hinn around in a documentary called, A Question of Miraclesbut the director concluded the series by saying that no one was healed at Hinn’s crusades.  None.  The director even wrote in the NY Times, “If I had seen miracles, I would have been happy to trumpet it but in retrospect, I think they do more damage to Christianity than the most committed atheist.”
  • New Testament healings were immediate and spontaneous.  Leapers are cleansed (Mark 1:42), blind men were immediately given sight (Mark 10:52), the paralyzed are able to walk immediately (Acts 3:8).  Nearly all NT healings were immediate and spontaneous except a select few (Mark 8:22-26; Luke 17:11-19; John 9:1-7).  Jesus was able to heal on the spot (Matthew 8:14-15; 9:20).  Yet not so with faith healers.  MacArthur points out that faith healers often claim that the atmosphere must be prepared for healings.  Where is this in the NT?  Why must faith healers rent a stadium to do miracles instead of doing their healings out in public for the lost to see if in fact healings point to God (Hebrews 2:1-4)?
  • New Testament healings authenticated a true message.  NT healings were used to open doors for the gospel (John 20:30-31).  NT healings also pointed to the deity of Christ (John 10:38; Acts 2:22) and authenticated the Apostles (Romans 15:18-19; 2 Corinthians 12:12).  In contrast, MacArthur points out that even Satan can do false miracles (2 Corinthians 11:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:9) and if the gospel message is not accurate, it is from Satan (Galatians 1:8-9).  Yet faith healers are not known for preaching the gospel but instead they are known for loving money.  Further, faith healers are often caught in sinful acts and rarely repent until caught.

In conclusion, MacArthur acknowledges that the Lord does heal in answer to prayer.  James 5:14-15 calls us to pray for the sick but we are to leave the results up to God.  Further, James 5:14-15 is not the same as the New Testament gift of healing.  Faith healers cannot do apostolic quality miracles and have given no proof that God is using them to do miracles.  To this day, faith healers have produced not one verifiable healing that points to the glory of God.  Instead, faith healers are shams, use parlor tricks, showmanship, are frauds, and scam artists who feed off the desires of the sick.

I agreed with much of what MacArthur wrote in this chapter.  While I will continue to pray for the sick to be healed, I make no claims that I have seen miracles or that true faith healers exist.  I believe in the supernatural power of God and I believe He is more than able to heal whomever He desires.  Ultimately, true healing only occurs in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:1-8; Revelation 21:4).  My earthly father is blind.  Yet I am confident that he will see in heaven.  Sickness is part of the fall of man in Genesis 3 and thankfully the second Adam has reversed the curse so that in eternity, sickness must flee from the presence of God and His holy ones.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/11/2014 at 12:14 PM

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