The Word is Alive!

Text: Hebrews 4:12,13

Contrary the claims of the charismatic movement that the Bible is just a dead book in desperate need of the Holy Spirit’s life, it is very much alive, powerful, energetic, dynamic and sharper than any human instrument ever made. It is always at work in human hearts whenever it is encountered.

Also discussed is a biblical understanding of “logos” and “rhema.”

The Slain in the Spirit Phenomenon

Sola Scriptura – the Bible alone is the word of God and therefore the sole (only) infallible rule of faith for the people of God. May I ask, do you believe that? I do.

The Bible (the 66 book canon of Old and New Testament books) is the ‘God breathed’ (inspired) record of the Holy Spirit, informing us of what is, and what is not of God – what is true worship acceptable to God, and what is in contrast, ‘strange fire’ – false worship, which God has not authorized or sanctioned in any way at all.

When God the Holy Spirit is the source of an ‘experience’ what is observed will be in full agreement and alignment with the Bible. That should not be a controversial statement at all, but in today’s ‘Christian’ world, to insist on biblical parameters for our worship is often seen as ‘legalistic’ and ‘putting God in a box.’

Having been involved in charismatic excess for decades as a pastor in the movement, I have had to own and repent of the false doctrine I have taught. That is not always an easy thing to do but it is a necessary thing. That’s why I am always grateful when someone addresses some of these excesses from the word of God.

This article “Mythbusters: Slain in the Spirit? What does the Bible say?” is written by Costi Hinn (Benny Hinn’s nephew) who is now, like me, a Reformed pastor and preacher committed to verse by verse exposition of the Bible. Though I have known him only a short time, he is a man I consider to be my friend. I very much encourage you to read through it and check out what is said – not with your experience, but with the Bible:

Here is the link. You can also follow him on Twitter @costiwhinn.

The Charismatic Deception

Text: Ephesians 5:18 – “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit…”

What does it (really) mean to be filled with the Spirit? In a day when charismatic error, excess and extremes permeate much of the professing Church, the cure, as always, is a proper understanding of the Bible.

Why I am no longer a Charismatic

john-apologia8Dan Phillips wrote this today on his facebook page: “Delighted to hear that brother John Samson no longer IDs himself as a charismatic. It’s a path we both walked, with at least some similarity: I was a charismatic Calvinist, and eventually rethought and renounced my charismatic beliefs.

So I’m wondering: if you have the time, John, what particularly moved you to rethink?

For me it was chiefly a combination of my own realization of what Sam Waldron now calls the “cascade” argument (http://tinyurl.com/z2a3vtq), plus seeing that modern putative revelatory/attesting gifts simply did not measure up to the Biblical data.”

Here’s my brief reply:

Dan, though I would not have used the term at the time, I was thoroughly Arminian (a synergist), and not only charismatic, but a pastor in the word of faith movement. I was a local host for TBN, regularly hosting a live 2 hour program and… actually asked people to call the number on the screen. Yes, it doesn’t get much lower than that. 🙂 The Lord rescued me, breaking through with His truth concerning His Sovereignty back around 2000-2001, and like a huge rock being thrown into my theological lake, the ripple effects continued to shape and change my thinking in a whole lot of areas, especially ecclesiology. It greatly bothered me that although I had been around charismatic Churches and Christians for 3 decades, I had never witnessed someone speaking in an unknown tongue (unknown to the speaker) something that was known to the listener – which is what we see in Acts 2. I heard stories of this kind of thing happening elsewhere, but it was always just that, stories. It was never something I had personally observed. This led me to question whether what I was seeing in our time was what we read about in the New Testament. Dr. Sam Waldron’s cascade argument did have an impact on me also, but I think the final nail in the coffin to my charismatic tendencies was the “Strange Fire” Conference John MacArthur had, with Phil Johnson’s sessions being especially helpful – “Is there a baby in the Charismatic bathwater?” “Providence is Remarkable” and another teaching he did, “Is That Voice in my Head Really the Holy Spirit?”

A quote I read by John Owen also was like a punch to the stomach (theologically speaking) as its truth hit home to me, “If private revelations agree with Scripture, they are needless, and if they disagree they are false.” I have experienced so much mercy from the Lord in all this, especially when I realize that, very sadly, I don’t personally know of any fellow pastors in the circles I was in, making this kind of transition. Deceived people, deceive people, and my prayer is that God will continue to root out of my thinking, anything that is not in full accord with His word. And may He do this for many of those still entrapped in deception, as I was.

Dan responded: “Praise the Lord. That’s wonderful to hear. Thanks. It is disheartening: one sees so many either deepening in error, or drifting in the wrong direction. A testimony like yours is heartening. It must mean a lot to Phil as well.”

My reply: Yes, it is indeed disheartening when so many will not even stop for a moment to examine their traditions. The fact that I did is a testimony to the Sovereign mercy of the Lord towards me. I wrote a book outlining Sovereign mercy in election, especially seeking to answer objections (called “Twelve What Abouts: Answering Common Objections Concerning God’s Sovereignty in Election”) and am now working on my second book which has a working title of “Run for Your Life” aimed at helping those in the word of faith come to sound theology. I would value your prayers very much.

P.S. Dan Phillips wrote this article about Benny Hinn yesterday that is well worth reading.

Quotes on Scripture

preaching-e1464051966448“Let the man who would hear God speak read Holy Scripture.” – Martin Luther

“If private revelations agree with Scripture, and if they disagree they are false.” – John Owen

“The Bible is the sceptre by which the heavenly King rules his church.” – John Calvin

“It has always been the great minds exercising their powers apart from the Word of God who have produced the great heresies. Some think they can discover God by listening to a so-called ‘inner voice.’ But the voice is often nothing more than an expression of their own inner desires. Quite a few think that spiritual truths can be verified by supernatural events or miracles. But the Bible everywhere teaches that even miracles will not lead men and women to understand and receive God’s truth unless they themselves are illuminated by the Bible (see Luke 16:31).” – James Montgomery Boice

“God speaks through the Scriptures. He speaks with the Word, through the Word, and never against the Word.” – R. C. Sproul

“All Scripture must be received as if God, appearing in person, visibly and full of majesty, were himself speaking.” – John Calvin

“In too many churches, Bible exposition has been replaced with entertainment, theology with theatrics, and the drama of redemption with just drama.” – Steve Lawson

Confessions Of A Former Charismatic

visionoriginal source walked to classes, prayed, and roomed together. I cannot begin to count the hours of spiritual conversation we had. Spiritual hunger marked my life.

There was a mix of Christians on campus. CRU was there. Some pretty wild Pentecostals were there. God brought dispensational Calvinists into my life. I got hooked on prophetic charts, Spurgeon, and later on John Piper. I also drank often from the more Reformed well. The authors that drew me had a sense of a great God, the evil of sin, the complete work of Christ, and the call to holiness. I could not get enough of their theology.

Outside of my reading, my Christian life was not remarkable. After the first wave of conversion change, I settled into the routine of battling the flesh. My particular sins were those of a young adult – self-indulgence, laziness, being opinionated, not honoring my parents, and sexual sin. My sins grieved me. I looked for help for this inner war. I wanted to be free from sin. Once again, it was the Reformed tradition that gave me hope and sanity. Continue reading