Lunacy in the Church Part 3

Testing the Spirits

By Jim Allen

Holy Fire is a new publication written by theologian R. T. Kendall, an established pastor, author, and popular Charismatic leader. Kendall wrote the book because of his belief that conservative evangelicals hugely misunderstand the gift of the Holy Spirit. Holy Fire methodically organizes and presents several arguments explaining how conservative evangelicals, who uphold the literal reading of the Bible, are getting it wrong.

In an attempt to correct our lack of discernment, Kendall paddles his doctrinal canoe of clarification upstream against the strong current of evangelical opposition. While Kendall tries to present a fair and balanced explanation for the strangeness we witness in the church, his arguments eventually give way under the weight of biblical truth. Even more, Kendall's best worded arguments come short of persuading conservative evangelicals to change their negative view of the Charismatic movement.

Regardless, it is important to recognize that the Holy Spirit continues to make His presence and power known to believers in diverse and wonderful ways, but not in the ways supposed by Kendall. Walking in love, joy, and peace is without question the most valued Holy Spirit experience shared among believers. While some of what Kendall writes is biblical and noteworthy, there is the ever-present matter of his Charismatic beliefs that ignore Bible verses warning against this colossal end time deception.

Of the several doctrinal arguments I highlighted in Kendall's book for further study, two stood out and prompted the need for response in this article.

Kendall — while defending the Charismatic Movement — wrote, "Here are two scriptures that come to mind: (1) God's ways are higher than our ways (Isa. 55:8–9), and (2) He chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise (1 Cor. 1:27–28)." [1] Okay, no problem here, but then he goes on to say, "It is easy to make fun of things like this. A loving caution: don't do it. You have no idea what you may be criticizing. Never forget that nobody dreamed at the time that Jesus dying on a cross on Good Friday was God's way of saving the world." [2]

Really? Kendall is using the foolishness of the cross (to those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18)) in an attempt to justify foolishness among the brethern. Kendall continues, "The crucifixion in some ways could have appeared as distasteful, disgusting, and ridiculous then, just as falling down and laughing does now. Like it or not, God seems to love showing up in a manner that takes the most learned and sophisticated off guard." [3]

To link the "foolishness of the cross" to the "foolishness in the church" (in principle and purpose) is unbiblical, inconceivable, and an incredible stretch of the imagination. I do not recall Kendall ever mentioning the warning from the apostle John who wrote: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world (1 John 4:1)."

The apostle John is telling the church to test the spirits to see if they are of God! Period!

If the Holy Spirit will guide genuine believers into all truth by prompting them to test the spirits (John 16:13), then why are Charismatics allowing themselves to be guided elsewhere, closing their eyes and ears to what the Bible really teaches? Jerimiah has the answer: "Hear this now, O foolish people - Without understanding, Who have eyes and see not, And who have ears and hear not… The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end? (Jerimiah 5:21; 31 NKJV).

Kendall goes on to say, "The power of the Holy Spirit cannot be successfully duplicated." [4] Really! The Bible says otherwise. Do you remember how Pharaoh's priests and court magicians performed miracles by duplicating the same miracles God performed through Moses (Exodus 7:10-11)?

Satan is able to duplicate the work of God by having his horde of evildoers appear as true ministers of light sent from God (2 Corinthians 11:14). This is how Satan deceives people into thinking it must be the Holy Spirit. He does it by making people "feel" euphoric and tingly and heavenly (Revelation 13:11-14). It's a great deception and people are falling for it.

The emotion of feeling good can never be a measure of truth and God's presence.

The outcome from this deception is obvious and proving to be true:
Satan and his entourage of demonic helpers stand unchallenged in many church pulpits around the world...His burning passion for deception and destruction is relentless. His tactics are deadly and carry the sting of eternal ruin. The church needs to learn and understand just how skillful he is at deceiving believers through false doctrines, half-truths, and counterfeit spiritual experiences. [5]
John MacArthur boldly said about the Charismatic movement:
But here is the point. The modern gifts of the Charismatic movement simply do not match up to their biblical counterparts. Modern prophecy is fallible and full of errors. Modern tongues consist of unintelligible speech that does not conform to any human language. Modern healings do not compare to the miracles performed by Jesus and the Apostles. [6]
Somewhere between MacArthur's outright abhorrence and Kendall's love for the Charismatic movement is the truth. But, the preponderance of evidence from this movement supports MacArthur's account since it would indeed appear true that most Charismatics are swapping "faith for experience" and "truth for the lie" (Romans 1:25).

In closing, passion for God begins with a holy thirst and holy hunger for the Word of God (John 6:35). Passion for God does not begin nor can it be sustained by unorthodox behavior that dishonors the name of Christ (Psalms 73:25; John 7:37). While it is true Holy Spirit allows us to learn truth from our mistakes, it is even more true that He will avail Himself to those who seek Him apart from experience (Jeremiah 29:11-13; John 15:7).

The good news is that the true and unwavering spiritual experience that counts for eternity is the one that allows Christ to live in us and through us (Galatians 5:22-26).

* The Charismatic movement is an interdenominational Christian renewal movement and is one of the most popular and fastest-growing forces within the Christian world today. The movement traces its roots to 1906, at the Azusa Street mission in Los Angeles, California, a Methodist-sponsored revival. It was there that people claimed to have been "baptized by the Holy Spirit" in the manner recorded in Acts chapter 2 during the celebration of Pentecost. People speaking in tongues and miracles of healing roused people to a spiritual frenzy. The people who attended those meetings spread their enthusiasm throughout the United States, and the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement began. Read more here.

1., 2., 3., 4. Kendall, R.T. (2014-01-07). Holy Fire: A Balanced, Biblical Look at the Holy Spirit's Work in Our Lives; Kindle Locations 2976-2981; Charisma House — Kindle Edition.
5. "When Wolves Lead the Flock."
6. Tim Challies; "John MacArthur Answers His Critics."

TagsBiblical-Truth  |  Controversial-Issues  |  False-Teaching

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Published 7-9-14