John MacArthur has just started his so called "Strange Fire" conference. Ignoring appeals from traditional Pentecostal leaders and those within the Charismatic movement, he has chosen to go along with his inflamatory rhetoric and diatribe. However this is nothing new. I am old enough to remember the last time MacArthur went on this rant back in the 90's with Charismatic Chaos. At the time I was just starting out in ministry and did not feel it was my place to get involved in the fray. This time is another story.
MacArthur continues to use the worldly tactic of using extremes to prove a point. He takes the opinions of a few on the fringes of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement and claims falsely that ALL fall into that category. Does he remember the 9th commandment?
However the question remains whether or not MacArthur is even credible about this subject. Apart from the fact that He takes the extremes and makes a point, his real intent and focus is to prove that the theory of cessationism is true. He has said more than once that there is no evidence of spiritual gifts being used in history after the last Apostle died.
Is this true?
If it is true, then MacArthur is credible. If not, then he is just as much of a false prophet as those he claims he is exposing.
I am going to share with you part of a chapter in my book "Come Holy Spirit" that deals with the historicity of spiritual gifts. Then you tell me, did MacArthur purposefully ignore the facts to promote his opinion?
The historical argument concerning spiritual gifts passing away.
Does history support the claim that spiritual gifts stopped operating after the death of the last apostle? This question is very important because if there is no record of spiritual gifts being operated after the death of the last apostle, then it gives much more credence to the interpretation that spiritual gifts were given by God to help the early church before the writing and formation of the New Testament. However, if there is historical evidence regarding the operation of the gifts of the Spirit after the death of the last apostle and the writing of the New Testament, then it totally invalidates the cessation-ist point of view. So let’s take a look at the historical record to see if we can find any evidence regarding the operation of the gifts of the Spirit.
JUSTIN MARTYR. A.D. 100 to 165.
“for many of our people, of us Christians, have healed and still continue to heal in every part of the world, and even in your city (Rome) numbers possessed by evil spirits (are healed) such as could not be healed by other exorcists, simply by adjuring them in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate. There are prophetic gifts among us even until now. You may see with us both women and men having gifts from the Spirit of God.”.
EUSEBIUS. The famous Church historian of Caesarea. A.D. 260 to 340.
“Of those that flourished in these times, Quadratus is said to have been distinguished for his prophetical gifts. There are many others, also, noted in these times, who held rank in the apostolic succession.... The Holy Spirit also wrought many wonders as yet through them, so that as soon as the gospel was heard, men in crowds voluntarily and eagerly embraced the true faith with their whole minds.”
IRENAEUS, The overseer of the Church at Lyons in France. A.D. 115? 125? to 202
“Wherefore, also, those who were truly His disciples, receiving grace from Him, in His name performed these things for the benefit of the rest of men, as everyone received the free gift from Him. Some, indeed, most certainly and truly cast out demons, so that frequently those persons themselves were cleansed from wicked spirits, believed and were received into the Church. Others have the knowledge of things to come, as also visions and prophetic communications; others heal the sick by the imposition of hands, and restore them to health. And, moreover, as we said above, even the dead have been raised, and continued with us for many years. And why should we say more? It is impossible to tell the number of gifts which the Church throughout the world received from God, and the deeds performed in the name of Jesus Christ that was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and this to every day for the benefit of the heathen, without deceiving any, or exacting their money. For as she has received freely from God, she also ministers. Nor does she perform anything by means of angelic invocations or by incantations, or by any other wicked, curious art; but directing her prayers to the Lord who made all things, in a pure, sincere and straightforward spirit, and calling upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, she has been accustomed to work miracles for the advantage of mankind, and not to lead them into error. ---- The name of our Lord Jesus Christ EVEN NOW confers benefits, and cures thoroughly and effectually ALL who ANYWHERE believe on Him.”
SOUER. The German Historian.
Souer writes on page 406 of the 3rd volume of his “History of the Christian Church,” that Martin Luther experienced the gifts of the Holy Spirit: “Dr. Martin Luther was a prophet, evangelist, speaker in tongues and interpreter, in one person, endowed with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit.”
CHARLES SPURGEON. His own autobiography
“While preaching in the hall, on one occasion, I deliberately pointed to a man in the midst of the crowd, and said, ‘There is a man sitting there, who is a shoemaker; he keeps his shop open on Sundays, it was open last Sabbath morning, he took ninepence, and there was fourpence profit out of it; his soul is sold to Satan for fourpence!’ A city missionary, when going his rounds, met with this man, and seeing that he was reading one of my sermons, he asked the question, ‘Do you know Mr. Spurgeon?’ ‘Yes,’ replied the man, ‘I have every reason to know him, I have been to hear him; and, under his preaching, by God’s grace I have become a new creature in Christ Jesus. Shall I tell you how it happened? I went to the Music Hall, and took my seat in the middle of the place; Mr. Spurgeon looked at me as if he knew me, and in his sermon he pointed to me, and told the congregation that I was a shoemaker, and that I kept my shop open on Sundays; and I did, sir. I should not have minded that; but he also said that I took ninepence the Sunday before, and that there was fourpence profit out of it. I did take ninepence that day, and fourpence was just the profit; but how he should know that, I could not tell. Then it struck me that it was God who had spoken to my soul though him, so I shut up my shop the next Sunday. At first, I was afraid to go again to hear him, lest he should tell the people more about me; but afterwards I went, and the Lord met with me, and saved my soul.’”
So there is the wet blanket to put out John MacArthurs strange fire conference. Why would anyone listen to someone who is obviously so ignorant about the historicity of spiritual gifts within the church? If he is not ignorant, then he is purposefully deceiving people.
I cannot speak for other Pentecostals and Charimatics but I for one am tired of being John MacArthur's whipping boy and I will continue to call him out on his erroneous claims and behavior from now on.