I am not likely to forget the conversation for a long time. We had been traveling out west and visiting some friends we hadn't seen since our east-coast days. She was spilling over with enthusiasm after visiting a religious service north of the border. For me, it was the final nail in a coffin I had been assembling for some time. It took all of my will-power to not look sideways at my husband while she told us that the Holy Spirit had filled the place, and people were barking like dogs and clucking like chickens. Strange fire, anyone?
Here are the other nails:
Leg-lengthening: I won't even dignify this one with an explanation. Where in the Bible???
Shiver-quivers: Charismatics will tell you this is the Holy Spirit. I think the air conditioning is set too low. Where in the Bible???
Prophecy: The problem with prophecy today is that it so often is a 'new' word that can't be verified by Scripture. If we're willing to allow prophecy, we must be equally willing to test the message and discipline the messenger. To misspeak on God's behalf is not an experiment; it is blasphemy.
Slain in the Spirit: Let's be honest. The only Biblical account of being slain in the Spirit is Ananias and Sapphira. When people fell down in the presence of the Lord in the Bible, it was out of fear. God was not 'ministering' to them. And they certainly weren't hoping “to get me some more of that next week.” Where in the Bible???
“I just want to go where the Spirit is.” For years, I thought I had the Holy Spirit, and the rest of the Body only had access to two persons of the Trinity. I am so ashamed of my arrogance.
I am not a cessationist. I believe the gifts are for today. And I believe there is something very natural about them. I believe in prophecy IF it can be verified by the Word. I believe in miracles and healing. I believe in tongues, words of wisdom and knowledge, and discerning of spirits.
The problem is not the gifts. I think the Word is clear on that point. The problem is the packaging: the mystical, hyper-emotional, often hysterical and chaotic atmosphere that many charismatic churches allow. Do these things in any way reflect our Redeemer?
As believers, we must be willing to reform and conform to the Bible. I threw the baby out with the bathwater for years. But I'm finding the baby again. Thanks to men like CJ Mahaney and ministries like Sovereign Grace, I know there's a baby there.
Let's drain the tub--before the baby drowns.