REASON # 9 – 17



At this moment of writing I have before me a clipping from the church page of the Calgary Herald [Calgary, Alberta, Canada]. It is a Charismatic church advertisement for services—with great emphasis on miracles. One meeting is called “Nite of Miracles.” The word miracles appears four times in this one ad. And there are others like it. Why this emphasis on miracles, on the spectacular and on the sensational?

I am reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 12:38-40: “Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from Thee. But He answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah: For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Jesus said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign !” This sign seeking certainly does not have God’s approval! Why? Notice how the Lord continues here in verses 39 and 40. Yes, there was one sign that they should be occupied with—that was the sign of Jonah which pointed directly to the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. That is the great sign that God gave to the world that many generations have and are overlooking.

In 1 Cor. 1:21-24 Paul deals with the very same issue, and is in total agreement with Christ. Notice how he expresses it: “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”

In verse 22 he says: “The Jews require a sign.” So what does Paul do about it? Does he produce signs and wonders to meet their craving for them? No!

Though Paul could and did do so as an apostle in God’s timing, not simply to satisfy curiosity and cater to the demand for the spectacular (see 2 Cor. 12:12), but to authenticate his apostleship and his message when required. But here to these sign-seekers he has but one sign, verse 23:

“But we preach Christ crucified!” And in chapter two verse two he says: “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

The Christian is not to be preoccupied with signs, wonders, and miracles, but with Christ’s work for him on the cross and with His Gospel. That alone is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (1 Cor. 1:24; Rom. 1:16). The Corinthian error, which is being perpetuated today, was that they majored in the spectacular to the exclusion of the simple, yet wonderful and powerful Gospel of Christ that centers in the cross work.

Charismatics talk about “power” in their meetings—manifested in the miraculous and unusual. But is that the “power” that saves men’s souls? Only the Gospel of Christ can do that!

Furthermore, the Christian is to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). But the miracle-seeker wants always to see! Remember the lesson that the Lord taught Thomas, who, too, had said: “Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails … I will not believe.” Jesus replied:

“Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed ” (Jn. 20:24-29). Genuine faith rests in God’s Word, not on sight.

The ultimate danger of sign and miracle-seeking lies in the fact that in the last days Satan will employ the miraculous to deceive the multitudes, culminating in the deceptions of the Antichrist and the False Prophet.


1) Christ’s warning in Matt. 24:24: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Evidently, “signs and wonders” can and will be performed by false Christs and prophets. How many are and will be deceived by them?

2) The warning of 2 Thess. 2:8-12: “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

It appears that the basic tool of deception employed by the Antichrist will be his miracle-performing powers. How effective this will be is seen today by the unscriptural appetite of so many for signs, wonders, and miracles.

Could it be that they are being prepared for the great deception that we read of here and also in Revelation chapter 13?

We might well ask ourselves why the Lord will permit this powerful deception. The answer, I believe, is right in this passage in 2 Thess. 2. In verses 10 & 12 we find these phrases: “Because they received not the love of the truth” and “who believed not the truth.” Twice the word truth appears here. God permits this powerful deception, this “strong delusion,” to sweep over a people who have neglected and rejected TRUTH—God’s Word, the Scriptures, and Christ Himself, Who is the TRUTH (Jn. 14:6). Because they have not put the Scriptures where they belong—in FIRST PLACE, but have run after the spectacular, the miraculous, the sensational, to satisfy their unscriptural craving for these things, God sends them “strong delusion, that they should believe a (the) lie.”

Dear reader, our recognition of the supreme authority of God’s Word (Truth) is all-important! Doctrine is important! Stay close to the Book, the Bible!

All experiences, signs, wonders, miracles must be subject to the Scriptures. Our faith must be based on the unchanging eternal Word of God.

In connection with this thought I suggest that you also read Revelation 13:11-18.

In conclusion, turn to John 4:46-54 where we find the beautiful record of the healing of the nobleman’s son. When the father approached the Lord for his son’s healing, the Lord said to him (verse 48): “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” Why did he reply like this? I believe it was to test the father—was he like most of the Jews were, sign-seekers, or did he have real faith that could stand on the bare Word of the Lord?

Then, when the Lord simply said (verse 50) “Go thy way; thy Son liveth,” he just took the Lord at His word. The verse goes on to say: “And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.” How beautiful this simplicity of faith! He did not ask for a sign that his son was healed. He simply believed the statement of the Lord Jesus, without any signs. How this must have pleased the Lord Who was constantly harassed by sign-seekers! May we, too, be found in the ranks of this nobleman! Remember Hebrews 11:6.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”



Writing to the Corinthian church, Paul the apostle said: “For God is not the author of confusion,” and “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:33,40). Having grown up in the Tongues Movement, I didn’t see the import of these words as I do now. For at that time the activities in our churches were quite normal to me; they were part of that which I had been taught from childhood and up to be right and proper. But as I look back now, and in the light of these and other Scriptures, I feel ashamed of some of the proceedings, methods, and happenings that I witnessed. Even at that time I was shaken at times by what I saw.

One of the very common happenings was what we used to call “falling under the power,” or to use the more refined phrase used today, “slain in the Spirit.” When it involved ladies who lay prostrate and sometimes struggling on the floor, they were quickly covered with coats or blankets to prevent them from uncovering themselves. This practice is still followed today.

It is very difficult to reconcile this type of thing with the Scripture, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” If these people are really “slain by the Holy Spirit,” it is indeed strange that the same Holy Spirit that gave us the Scripture should go contrary to the Scriptures that He gave! This cannot be.


But we must ask ourselves, is this practice and experience scriptural ?

Here are three questions to consider:

1) Is there any clear statement in the Epistles to support it? To my knowledge there is no doctrinal teaching there that does.

2) Is there any clear record of this happening in the biblical history of the early Church—in the Book of Acts?

Where do we see this “laying on of hands” upon believers resulting in large numbers falling to the ground or to the floor? Some refer to Saul’s experience on the Damascus Road (Acts 9). But Saul, or Paul, was not a believer at that time, but, rather, a persecutor of Christians. He was being “arrested” by the Lord! Besides, no one had laid hands on him before he fell to the earth. Some others refer to John 18:6 where those who came to take the Lord Jesus captive “went backward, and fell to the ground.” But these were definitely not coming to the Lord to be blessed or healed, they were, in fact, “enemies” coming to arrest Him. They were not believers, nor did they have hands laid on them. Compare this event with Psalm 27:2: “When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.”

3) Is there any scriptural evidence that an evil spirit can do such a thing ?

Yes. In Luke 4:35 we read: “And when the devil [or demon] had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.” So also in Luke 9:42:

“And as he was yet a coming, the devil [or demon] threw him down, and tore him”. There is ample evidence that devotees of evil spirits, such as witchdoctors, undergo similar experiences and certainly not by the Holy Spirit.

Also consider this: Often in healing prayer lines, people who come for healing just “fall under the power” or are “slain in the Spirit.” Instead of being healed (that’s what they came for), it appears that they are simply “side-tracked.” Where is the scriptural basis for this practice?

This is not what happened when the sick came to the Lord or to His apostles!

Remember this, experiences should not automatically be accepted as from God the Holy Spirit simply because they take place in a church or in a religious environment! Any spirit manifestations that are not related to a deep conviction of sin and genuine repentance should be questioned in the clear light of Scripture.

It is true, however, that in the history of church revivals, there were those who were under such deep conviction for their sins, and in a genuine state of repentance, that they fell to the ground before the Lord. I personally heard Brother Duncan Campbell, the Scottish revivalist of our century, tell of a young woman who was instrumental in organizing a dance for the youth of her community on the first night of Mr. Campbell’s revival meetings in her town. This, of course, she did in opposition to the meetings. But the Holy Spirit brought her under such conviction of sin that she came rushing into the church after the service was over and collapsed before the Lord at the altar. No hands were laid on her. It was a genuine ministry of the Holy Spirit.

There are examples of prostration in fear, humiliation, and repentance in the Scriptures as well, but what is happening in some areas today seems to be of a different character, largely man-made and manipulated. All such manifestations that are not related to a deep conviction of sin and true repentance, and do not stand the test of Scripture, particularly the Epistles, should be avoided. “Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good,” is God’s Word, and is so very helpful to us here (Rom. 12:9).

Further, in the area of seeking the tongues experience, it is deplorable to what extremes some will go. Over-emphasis of the value of the tongues experience has brought with it a variety of questionable methods to produce it. It appears that some are so anxious to speak in tongues that they will try almost anything to cause it to happen. Either the seeker or the person praying with him, or both, are often responsible for the methods employed.

Here are a few of the questionable methods that I observed:

The seeker, praying or praising the Lord in an audible voice, is shaken by the hands of those praying for him. The result is a vibration or quiver in the seeker’s voice. “That’s it, Brother” or something similar is the encouragement the seeker hears as he seemingly gets nearer to the “experience.” But worse yet, the sight of a seeker having his jaw manipulated by some over-zealous helper to distort the words of the seeker and produce unusual sounds, is sickening, yet often practised. Then there are those who ” teach people to speak in tongues.” Repetition of certain phrases must be practised, sometimes at accelerated speeds till proper language is lost, and unintelligible sounds result. Cassette tapes to teach experience-seekers how to “speak in tongues” are available. What biblical basis is there for “teaching” believers to speak in tongues? It is completely foreign to the New Testament concept of the gift of tongues. In the three instances of tongues-speaking recorded in the Book of Acts (chapters 2,10,19), there is no hint of the recipients having first to be “taught how to speak in tongues.”


One other method that I witnessed and which disturbed me very much, though I was still wholeheartedly in the Tongues Movement, comes to mind.

In a series of special meetings held in a certain church in Saskatoon, Sask., the evangelist had a “new” way to get people to speak in tongues.

After the message of the evening he called for all seekers to come forward and be seated in the front pews. Then he briefly explained what procedures they would follow. It would be different than the conventional methods we usually used. This was his theory: “The seeker needs to initiate the sound, that’s his responsibility, and the Holy Spirit’s responsibility is to take that sound and produce the tongues sound from it.”

He quoted the Scripture: “… Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Psa. 81:10). Then he urged all the seekers who were seated, and not kneeling, to put their heads back and open their mouths, and then make a sound. He suggested that they simply say “Ah-h-h-h”—to draw out the sound and keep on repeating it. It was a strange sight! For someone raised in the Tongues Movement even this was too much. Here were several rows of adult people sitting, heads back, mouths open, all saying “Ah-h-h-h…” And the evangelist and the pastor were walking back and forth down the rows, laying hands on them and to some extent shaking them to get a quiver into their sounds, then encouraging them to get louder and to “let go!”

And, by his standards, he was successful in getting some strange and peculiar sounds out of some of the seekers, which he labeled as “tongues speaking.” But I had to ask myself, “Was this `as the Spirit gave them utterance’ (Acts 2:4), or were these `man-made tongues’?”

But this wasn’t all. What really startled me, and caused me to begin to think very seriously about this type of procedure, was what I witnessed a few minutes later. One dear old lady, a seeker, seated on the front pew against the wall, was praising the Lord and praying in her accustomed way, when the evangelist came back down the row of seekers to where she was. He discovered that she was not saying “Ah-h-h.” So he made it very plain that he wanted her to say nothing but “Ah-h-h.” She began, but by the time the evangelist had gone back down the row and returned to her she was once again back to praising the Lord and saying, “Jesus, Jesus, etc.” Then to my utter amazement, I heard him say to her, words to this effect, “Lady, I told you to say `Ah-h-h’! If you don’t stop praising the Lord and saying, `Jesus, Jesus,’ I won’t pray with you anymore!”

Was I hearing things? I could hardly believe my ears! And lest I should make a mistake in later quoting him I took out a notebook and wrote it down.

I had to seriously ask, What is this? Is this biblical? When it wrong to praise the Lord? Is it safe to omit the name of the Lord Jesus from my praying, especially when seeking the fullness of the Holy Spirit? Could not this kind of procedure leave the seeker open to the entrance of another spirit? Does not Prov. 18:10 tell us that “the name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” What could the seeker be letting himself open to with this procedure?

And, simply because someone produces some unintelligible sounds does not prove that it is the Holy Spirit speaking. Evil spirits can “peep and mutter” as well. Isa. 8:19 reads: “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God?” This incident opened my eyes to the dangers of using man-made methods, for the results are at best questionable, and not the product of the Holy Spirit Himself.

In searching the Scriptures we discover that tongues speaking was produced by the Holy Spirit, not man-made. Acts 2:4 states: “As the Spirit gave them utterance.” And the gift of tongues, spoken of in 1 Cor. 12:11, as well as the other gifts, are given “to every man severally as He will,” not worked-up or man-produced. It is a dangerous practice to play around with tongues or to try to manufacture them. The Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of giving the gift of tongues, if He so wills, without man’s questionable methods!

Paul also refers to another disorder in the Corinthian church in 1 Cor 14:27-28: “If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the Church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.” There is an orderly limitation stated here. Often this is not obeyed in modern tongues meetings, and these excesses are often overlooked by the leaders for fear of hindering “the work of the Holy Spirit” or of grieving Him, or of offending someone. So confusion results.

But in verse 33 we read: “God is not the author of confusion.”

In concluding this section many other questionable methods and practices could be referred to, such as catering to the sensational: sensational meetings, sensational speakers, sensational methods, advertising sensational healing and miracle meetings. Some even try to bring in the crowds by featuring child or boy-preachers, without considering the eternal harm that this might do to the child involved. Not long ago a Charismatic evangelist in Western Canada was conducting tent meetings about ten miles from our home, in which he featured a boy-preacher whose pictures adorned the colorful advertisements. I was personally invited to hear this boy- wonder. Some people got quite excited about him. There always are people who are attracted by this kind of sensationalism. But, we could ask, what are they doing to this child? How will all this popularity and acclaim affect him for time and for eternity?

In his book, Truth About Tongues, Dr. Hugh F. Pyle gives this information about Marjoe Gortner, a “child-preacher,” who was “used” for years in this manner:

“Television and movie actor Marjoe Gortner was ordained to preach at the age of four and was billed as a boy-wonder on the miracle-preaching circuit. He preached for years. Women would swoon and fall to the floor at his touch and his command. He says now that he was just `acting,’ and that while he could have made a lot of money in the healing-revival business, he became bitter about it all by the time he had reached seventeen, and realized what his mother had done to him. Yet great crowds had faith in his power to heal by the `laying on of hands.’ Marjoe laughs about it all and says it was all psychosomatic” (Hugh F. Pyle, Truth about Tongues, Denver: Accent Publications).


Seriously, brethren, before we embark in new and sensational methods of doing the Lord’s work, let us ask ourselves these questions first:

1) Is it really scriptural?

2) Is it edifying? 1 Cor.14:26: “Let all things be done unto edifying.”

3) Is it decent and orderly? 1 Cor. 14:40: “Let all things be done decently and in order.”

4) Is it glorifying to the Lord and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? 1 Cor 10:31: “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

Please note that these questions are the very ones that the carnal Corinthian Christians undoubtedly failed to ask themselves in their church conduct, for the references that I have quoted above are all from the First Epistle to the Corinthians directed to them in the very areas of their weakness and failure. May we today be careful not to make the same mistakes that they made!




This fear would manifest itself by failure to question or judge, even though some of those activities seemed strange, out-of-place, or even wrong. I recall that on many occasions in our church services when someone would “prophesy” or “speak in tongues” that the congregation would bow their heads and listen quietly and almost fearfully. The message that was coming through was, it appeared to me, more respected than when the Scripture itself was being read. Wasn’t this God speaking directly to us?

And who would dare to question these messages? But should they not be questioned or challenged? This fearful bowing to every so-called prophetic utterance should be questioned, according to 1 Cor. 14:29: “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the others judge.” Not only was there to be order in the manner of giving the messages, but there was to be a judging of the validity of the prophecy. This, to my knowledge, was rarely done. Almost slavishly the messages were received as genuine.

May I give you an example? An evangelist was invited to speak in a series of meetings in the large city church where we attended at that time. He laid claim to being a prophet, and every once in a while he would give a “prophetic” message, usually apart from his sermons. He would begin these “prophecies” in a loud, booming voice, usually with the words: “Thus saith the Lord, ” or, “The Spirit speaketh expressly” or other familiar introductory words used by Bible prophets. When he began, a real quiet ensued as people bowed their heads and almost fearfully awaited this “message from God.” Not once did I hear any judging or questioning by any of the leaders or elders of the church. Everything seemed to be accepted as God’s truth. When I voiced some misgivings, I was looked upon as someone who was in danger of God’s wrath for not receiving “the message.”

On one occasion, this was in the late 1940s, this man gave a message in “prophecy” informing us that all born-again Christians, of whatever denominations, would all be united together in one church in the 1960s. And he added, “If what I am saying today does come to pass, phone me collect, and tell me that I am a liar!” I wish I had his phone number! Obviously, he was a false prophet. But I venture to say that over 90 per cent of the people there believed him, but have long since forgotten about his prophecy. The biblical test of prophets is found in Deut 18:22: “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously; thou shalt not be afraid of him.” Notice that the Old Testament ordered severe judgment on false prophets—it was death! Why? Deut. 13:5 reads: “Because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God.”

Many times I have asked myself this question: “Why are so many Christians so gullible? Why are they so easily deceived by the clever acts of the deceiver? ” And this, in spite of all the warnings in Scripture. There are at least a dozen direct warnings in the New Testament about deception.

Let’s look at just three here: Matt. 24:4: “Take heed that no man deceive you.” This warning by the Lord Jesus is given three times in this chapter.

Eph 4:14: “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive …” Notice the phrase, “no more children.” The Lord expects us to grow up and mature so that we are not tossed and “carried about with every wind of doctrine.”

And Rom. 16:17-18 issues this warning: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” Notice these words here: “contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned.” Doctrine is very important! These deceivers must be judged by the doctrine of the Scriptures, not slavishly believed, feared, and followed.

The fear of ascribing the work of the Holy Spirit to the Devil or demons was and is very real in the Tongues Movement. There is, of course, a biblical basis for this, Matt. 12:31-32. But to go to an extreme and let deception go unchallenged, even though we are scripturally warned again and again, is also to be disobedient and sinful!

It is true that ascribing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan is a very serious sin, but it is also a serious sin when we ascribe the works of the flesh and of Satan to the Holy Spirit! I am afraid that too much of this is done today. The Holy Spirit gets credit for many, many things that He didn’t do! Brethren, let us avoid this sin too!




Because tongues speaking is so much in prominence in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, and, incidentally, is not even mentioned in any of the other twenty church epistles, it became a very important epistle to us. I personally , as I’m sure many others did too, looked upon the Corinthian church as a model in the area of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, particularly the gift of tongues.




Can we build upon their church conduct as being exemplary and such as will please the Lord? In short, should our churches today strive to be like the Corinthian church ? Is it a “model” church?

I, for one, did not approach the Book of First Corinthians with these questions in mind. Because of the tongues-emphasis teaching that I was raised in, I felt and believed that we should be more like the Corinthians, for did they not have the gifts of the Spirit in operation in their church?

Chapter 1:7 tells us that they came “behind in no gift.” And they, of all churches, must have been most spiritual because of the great prominence of tongues in their services, for only in this church are tongues mentioned in the epistles. They excelled in tongues speaking!

How wrong I was ! Isn’t it strange how doctrinal extremes can blind a person to truth! I have since learned, and not overnight, either, that I was wrong in my approach to the Book of 1 Corinthians.

Answering our questions now, first, Paul did not write this epistle to commend the Corinthians for their emphasis on tongues speaking, or to urge them to do more of the same, but rather to bring them back to a more restrained and orderly use of this gift. In fact, he urged them to major more on the “best gifts” (12:31). He said: “Covet earnestly the best gifts, ” one of them being the gift prophecy (14:5): “I would that ye all spoke with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied.” In 14:19 he adds these words: “Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.” In other words, he is plainly telling them that they were putting their emphasis in the wrong place.

Second, Paul makes it very plain in his letter that the Corinthian Christians, though they had the gifts of the Spirit in operation in their church, were nevertheless “carnal” (3:1-4). Notice a few of the “carnal” or unspiritual fleshly manifestations present in their church:

contention–1:11; division–1:10, 12, 13; carnality–3:1-4; fornication–5:1; taking one another to court–6:6-7; disorders at the Lord’s table–11:17, 20-22; immaturity in spiritual matters–3:1, 12:1, 14:20; disorders in church meetings–14:40.

What does all this tell us? The lesson is plain. It is possible to have gifts and yet be unspiritual. Read 1 Cor 13:1-3 again! Remember, spirituality is not gauged by your gifts but by the fruit you bear ! In this area, then, the Corinthian church was certainly not to be followed as a model church !


This is what Paul is trying to get across to them in chapter 13 particularly. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance …” (Gal. 5:22-23). But these were in short supply in the Corinthian church. That is why they took each other to court, were contentious, divided, and exhibited selfishness and pride, etc. No, the Corinthian church was far from being a model church. It would have been preferable to take the Philippian church or the Thessalonian church as our model, but then, there was no indication in their epistles that they were tongues speakers!



While still in the Tongues Movement, I had to come to grips with the problem of divine revelation—was the Bible a completed, finished Book, or was God continuing to reveal new truths, even in our day? Does the Bible contain all that the man of God in the Church age needs for faith, and godly living, or do we need further revelations?

When a message was given in tongues and interpreted, or when a “prophet” would prophesy in the assembly, prefacing his remarks with “Thus saith the Lord” or “the Spirit speaketh expressly,” was this indeed God speaking by inspiration? If so, then was this new revelation on a par with the written Scripture? And if so, could we add it to our Bibles? Was this “gift of prophecy” the same as that which Peter, Paul, James or John had?

When I began asking questions, the usual answer I received was, “No, we should not add these prophecies to our Bibles. They are simply reminders of truths already in the Bible, and must be in agreement with the Scriptures.” All of which made me ask, “If there is no new truth revealed, why don’t we go to the Scriptures themselves in the first place instead of this round- about method? Are we too lazy to read, study, and meditate? Must we get our Bible truths in this fashion? Is the Bible not good enough? Do we need this added procedure?

Secondly, I’m afraid that many Christians, particularly the younger ones, got the wrong impression of this procedure and concluded that this was indeed new revelation—God speaking directly by inspiration. They would rely upon such messages for their guidance, which in some cases, led to spiritual shipwreck. If we use these means to guide us, we leave ourselves open to deception. The message can be colored or even fabricated by the messenger. Remember the repeated warnings in Scripture about false prophets (Matt. 24:11,24, etc.). Many have found this to be so to their sorrow. But this I know, that the written Scriptures are sure, trustworthy, reliable.

Remember Peter’s statement in 2 Peter 1:19: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy [that is, the Scriptures]; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed.” To the Scriptures! They are the means that God has ordained for Christian faith, guidance, growth, and maturity.

Notice also Paul’s statement on this point in 2 Tim 3:16-17: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect throughly furnished unto all good works.” What is Paul saying here? What does the man of God need for guidance, for growth into maturity, for producing all good works? Not new revelations or these round- about procedures that can be deceiving counterfeits, but the written Scriptures that God gave to the Church through those whom He had ordained to lay the foundation of the Church (Eph. 2:20, 3:3-5). Let’s read these verses: “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone”; “How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery (as I wrote before in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.”

Paul here lays claim to the gift of prophecy—by which God revealed “mysteries” (truths not revealed before) through him. But notice carefully verse 5: “Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men [that is, church truth and doctrine], as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” “Now revealed.” When? Not a continuing revelation throughout the entire Church age, as some try to teach, but the word “now” points specifically to Paul’s day—the day of the apostles. God was pleased to give us Church truth, the New Testament, through the apostles and those closely associated with them. These writing apostles were New Testament prophets through whom the Holy Spirit spoke (2 Pet. 1:19-21). When the last apostle laid down his pen, the New Testament was complete and revelation ceased. All we needed for the entire Church age, “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16), was written and preserved for us in the blessed New Testament as it complements the Old Testament. The Scriptures are complete! The written Word is sufficient; there really is no further need for oral revelations!

Incidentally, that means that there is no longer any need for the real gift of prophecy in the church today. The canon of Scripture has been completed.

Why prophecies then? That is why, in 1 Cor. 13:8-10 Paul says: “Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail [or, “be done away”]; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect [or, “complete”] is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” Prophecy, a gift of revelation, was given by the Holy Spirit to give us the New Testament Scriptures, piece by piece, part by part, 27 books in all. But now that the canon of Scripture is “perfect,” that is, “complete,” this gift, as well as the other revelatory gifts here mentioned—tongues and the gift of knowledge, would “cease” or ” vanish away.” Why? Because their purpose in the Church was fulfilled and there was no further need or use for them. Why then, should we insist that we must have these gifts in operation in the Church today?

A brief further look at other Scriptures that indicate that New Testament church truth revelation is complete should be included here, though time and space does not allow the inclusion of all on this subject. But notice particularly Jude, verse 3: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once [or, “once for all”] delivered unto the saints.” Please notice the words “the faith.” He is speaking here of the body of truth that was then being given to the Church, that is, the New Testament. The phrase “the faith” is also found in Gal. 1:23 “He which persecuteth us in times past now preacheth THE FAITH.” And so also in I Tim 4:1. I am told that the definite article “the” here in the Greek indicates the one and only faith.

There is no other!


Notice too the word “once” or “once for all” as the marginal reading in my Bible has it. According to W.E. Vine, the Greek word here means, “once for all, of what is of perpetual validity, not requiring repetition.” The same Greek word is also used in Heb. 9:28: “So Christ was ONCE offered to bear the sins of many,” and also in 1 Peter 3:18: “For Christ also hath ONCE suffered for sins.” Obviously, the word “once” used in these three verses means that it won’t be repeated. It was a once-for-all act. Since that is so, the Scriptures as given to us through the instrumentality of the apostles are complete and final. There is no further revelation needed or forthcoming in God’s plan for the Church.

One more word here in Jude 3 needs our attention. It is the word “delivered.” “That ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once [for all] DELIVERED unto the saints.” John F. MacArthur, Jr., in his book The Charismatics, points out that in the Greek this word “delivered” is an aorist passive participle, which indicates an act completed in the past with no continuing element (John F. MacArthur, The Charismatics, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978, used by permission). So we must conclude that the Scriptures are God’s final revelation to the church, and they are complete.

Some other Scriptures that indicate this also are Gal 1:6-9, Heb 1:2, 1 Cor 15:1-4, and Rev 22:18-19.

There is a dangerous trend in the Charismatic Movement in seeking after revelations and prophetic utterances and tongues and interpretations, apart from the written Scriptures. And extremes usually start with slight deviations. We must ask ourselves, “Where will this end?” Many cults have gone this route, such as the Mormons, Christian Science, the Children of God, the Moonies (followers of Sun Myung Moon), and also the Roman Catholic Church. Remember this: the great Protestant thesis is and always has been, that the Holy Spirit speaks through the Scriptures! Regarding new revelations someone has said: “If it’s true it isn’t new, and if it’s new it isn’t true”! Back to the Scriptures should be our watchword in these days of dangerous and growing deception! I close with this Scripture of warning, I Tim 4:1. Please consider it carefully: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”




Needless to say, I grew up in a spiritual environment where divine healing was a prominent teaching and practice. Divine healing campaigns were very popular, attracting large crowds from far and near, often at great expense to the sick who needed special care and transportation. But also, for most of the sick they proved disappointing. Their expectations had been raised so high, only to be dashed after all the excitement was over. Some seemed to experience a momentary relief from pain, but all too many would discover no lasting benefit. And by that time the healer would be too far away to be questioned or to explain. The sick person would then simply be forced to accuse himself of lack of faith, or in some cases, throw his faith over- board. This type of procedure regarding the treatment of the sick is a very serious matter and ought to be questioned in the light of Scripture. Much reproach has come upon the cause of Christ by the actions of some unscrupulous people who claim to be prophets, miracle-workers, or to have the gifts of healing. These, Peter warns us, “through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you” (2 Pet. 2:1-3). How despicable! To masquerade as those who can help, but in reality, because of greed, they are out to exploit those who are least able to give them money.

Right here I want to make it very clear that I do believe in divine healing. I have seen the Lord heal the sick in answer to prayer, not in the spectacular environment of special healing campaigns, but in the simple biblical procedure, of James 5:14-16. Also, I don’t want to be misunderstood as being opposed to praying for the sick, far from it, but I do believe that we need to take heed to the clear warnings of Scripture in regard to the false, the deceptive, that comes in the name of Christ but is not of Him—Matt 7:21-23. Before we examine Scripture on this topic, I want to tell you of a healing campaign that I participated in vitally, in which the Lord opened my eyes to the deceptive practices that were employed. I went into that campaign a firm believer in the genuineness of the healer and his gift to heal. I did everything I could to help him. I was one hundred per cent for and behind him and encouraged sick friends to come long distances and be healed.

At that time, I believe it was in 1947, I was on the teaching staff of our denominational Bible school in Saskatoon, Sask. The healing meetings were held in the church auditorium which was adjacent to the Bible School dormitory and offices. It became my responsibility to place the very sick, such as stretcher-cases, in the various dormitory rooms. The “healer” in this particular campaign, was William Branham from the U.S.A., who had been invited by our church leaders to minister in some of our larger city churches. The services were very well attended by people coming long distances, many from other provinces.

When Mr. Branham had concluded his meeting in the church auditorium, I would take his arm and lead him from room to room in the dormitory, so that he could pray for those who were unable to attend the public meetings or stand in the healing-lines. This gave me an excellent opportunity to work in very close contact with him and observe what was happening. Let me repeat here, I was fully behind Mr. Branham at this time, and prayed earnestly with him for the healing of these dear suffering people. At that time, as he gave assurance to one after the other that they were healed, I rejoiced and praised the Lord with them.

A common practice of Mr. Branham was to take the hand of the sick person, and then say something like this, “The vibrations in your hand tell me that you have cancer. But I will pray for you that the Lord will heal you”. When he had prayed, he would say something like this, “The vibrations are gone, the cancer is dead. You are healed! But you will be very sick for about three days till your body throws off the dead cancerous tissue. But don’t worry, you are healed. Just trust the Lord.” With similar words he would give assurances to these suffering ones that they would recover. This, of course, would bring hope and joy to these dear souls, many of whom responded with a large financial gift, sometimes far beyond their means. At times I was given large sums of money to pass on to Mr. Branham, which I always did gladly, for I too believed him.

This will have to be just a very brief picture of what went on day after day throughout the whole campaign, but you can visualize the rejoicing that was created by this man’s declarations of healings, and the hope that was given to scores of people who were desperate in their pain and suffering. I wish that I could go on to say that all these, or at least a good number of them, did go on to recover. But I can’t. Time went on, the campaign ended, and Mr. Branham and his party were gone. Then we began to see the results being tested by time. It was a difficult time for us, and particularly for me. For one by one these that I had personally seen “healed” and declared so by the “healer,” died. Our faith was severely tested. Relatives of the deceased ones would ask, “Why?” What could we tell them?

I had to ask myself several questions: If these people were really healed, why did they die? Did their faith fail? Why then did so many fail in their faith and lose their healing? How did this line up with healings recorded in Scripture? Did people healed by Christ and the apostles lose their healing? Were they subject to relapse too if their faith failed? Or, could it be that these Branham healings were counterfeit and not genuine after all, much as we had believed him to be genuine? And, worst of all, was it possible that we had been victims of deception?

All these questions were answered gradually in the days and weeks that followed the campaign. Time and space does not permit me here to elaborate or go into the various incidents involved, but I will simply refer to a few of the key ones.

In the first weeks following the campaign we received one report after another of people whose healing had not lasted. Either they were back to their original condition or had died. It was disturbing! Some meddlesome newspapermen had investigated. Their reports hurt the reputation of our churches and witness as more and more people who were supposed to be healed were found not to be after all.

One day while I was occupied in the office at the Bible School, I received a visitor. As he came in, I immediately recognized him as the father of four of our Bible School students. His was a highly respected family in our Fellowship. But not many days before this, during the campaign, he had flown his wife, sick with cancer, to Saskatoon. He had phoned me from the airport asking where the ambulance should being his wife to be prayed for.

I made the arrangements and placed her in one of the dormitory rooms. That evening when Mr. Branham had concluded his ministry in the church auditorium, I led him into her room where he prayed for her and pronounced her healed. Needless to say, we all rejoiced together! Joyfully they returned by ambulance and plane to their home near Regina.

Now, several days later, this dear brother sat before me in our office, his heart heavy and his mind in turmoil. He had come nearly 200 miles to speak to me. Before he did, however, I already sensed what had probably happened.

But in spite of this, his question still hit me very hard. “Brother Pohl,” he said, “you were there beside my wife’s bed the night Mr. Branham prayed for her and pronounced her healed?” “Yes,” I replied, ” I was right there.” He went on, “Can you tell me why it is that my wife who was healed just a few days ago is now in the grave?” My friends, I believe that was one of the hardest questions that I was ever called upon to answer! My heart went out to this dear brother. I felt with him. But how could I answer him?

Should I tell him that his and his family’s faith had failed? Yet his was a family that was highly regarded in our denomination for spirituality. Or, on the other hand, should I tell him that perhaps Mr. Branham did not have the gifts of healing after all and that we were all deceived? To admit this would reflect seriously upon the wisdom and integrity of our denominational leaders who had brought Mr. Branham to Canada to minister in our churches.

Actually I can’t remember just what I told our dear brother. But I do know that I did some very serious thinking about all this. I began to seriously question this whole area of our teaching and practice relative to this approach to divine healing. I am not so sure, however, that too many others did the same.

But someone might say that his case was an exception? But was it? There were, then, far too many “exceptions”! Let me cite another case:

One afternoon during the healing campaign I answered a telephone call. The call was from a Pentecostal pastor from Ontario. He had just flown in with his wife, sick with cancer, and her nurse. As on other occasions, I admitted them to a dormitory room, and in due course she was prayed for and Mr. Branham pronounced her healed. Again there was much rejoicing. I remember that the pastor handed me a cheque of a sizable sum of money to pass on to Mr. Branham. As he did so, he remarked that he couldn’t afford to give that much, but that Mr. Branham deserved it because his wife was now healed, and he had spent thousands of dollars on doctors that didn’t help her.

It was several weeks later that I, as the Missionary-Secretary of our denomination, visited and ministered in our churches in Ontario. When in the vicinity of this pastor’s home city, I made inquiry as to his wife’s state of health, only to be told that she too had passed away. What a blow that must have been to that dear brother? But that was not all. I was told that he had a good radio ministry in his city. When he had returned from the healing meetings in Saskatoon, he announced over his radio broadcast that his wife had been wonderfully healed. However, just a short while after that he had to inform his radio audience that his wife had died. I was told that it dealt a severe blow to his radio ministry.

My friends, what kind of a testimony is this to the world? To them it “does not add up.” And there is something wrong! Did this pastor’s faith fail?

Let me ask, did this sort of thing happen to those who were healed by the Lord Jesus or by His apostles? Where, then, is it recorded? As Christians we sometimes think that we’re “charitable” if we overlook these things, but is this real “charity” or love? Is it loving to permit this type of thing to be carried on in our churches, to the needless suffering, agony, disappointment, and expense of the sick? And more importantly, is it scriptural not to deal with the false, the counterfeit? (see Titus 1:7-14).

Are we church leaders called upon to “protect” the sheep …or the wolves?

It was this failing in our denomination, and in the Tongues Movement in general, to deal with ministers of high standing or popularity who needed to be corrected or stopped, that became one of the greater reasons for my leaving the Movement. I came to the conclusion that excitement, the spectacular, was not the most important, if the genuine God- glorifying working of the Holy Spirit was not present in healing meetings.

Now, though much more could be said, I must conclude this section with this summary: I believe that the Lord does heal today. His method for us is stated in James 5:14-15, where the sick person is to call for the elders of the church. Today this is reversed, the “healers” call for the sick! Large offerings are usually taken, much of which, if not all, goes to the healer.

Again I am reminded of Peter’s warning in 2 Peter 2:3, where we read: “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you …” And tragically, because of this, the “way of truth is evil spoken of.” It brings reproach upon the Gospel of Christ.

Secondly, we should examine the results of modern healing campaigns and compare them with those of Christ and His apostles. What percentage of sick prayed for are really healed? Generally, according to what I have observed, the average is very low. Yes, there are some. There undoubtedly are some psychological healings, and then there are a few whose faith reaches out to Christ Himself. They, I believe, are healed in spite of the healer. But these are few in number. Don’t be deceived by the number that you think you saw healed in the campaign. All that can be very deceiving. Caught up in the excitement and spirit of the meeting, you can easily be misled. I was privileged to be on the “inside” of this particular campaign, and had my eyes opened to some of the inner workings. I could, if time permitted, relate several instances where people in the audience thought that they saw a miracle when it was not so at all.

But more importantly, the low percentage of those healed today compares very unfavourably with the biblical record. Of Christ Himself we read in Matt 8:16: “When the even was come, they brought unto Him many that were possessed with devils: and He cast out the spirits with His word, and healed all that were sick.” Of the apostles we read, Acts 5:16: “There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits, and they were healed every one.” No need to ask in those days, “Were there any who were healed?” No! For they were all healed! That was the real gift of healing.

It was genuine. Let those who profess to have the gifts of healing today produce this kind of evidence! But, sad to say, they fall very far short.

Besides, some of the modern healers seem to “specialize” in healing certain kinds of sicknesses. They shy away from the more difficult cases such as severely crippled people. But the healings performed by Christ and His apostles were not limited to certain diseases. Of the Lord Jesus we read that He healed “every sickness and every disease among the people” (Matt. 9:35). And as we read in Acts 5:16, the apostles “healed every one,” obviously every sickness and disease was dealt with by them.

Finally, we must also remember that the miraculous sign-gifts were given to the apostles, and to those whom they authorized, to be their apostolic credentials as they were called upon to complete the laying of the foundation of the church that Christ had begun (Eph. 2:20). This is what Paul is referring to in 2 Cor. 12:12 as he defends his apostleship before the Corinthian church. We read: “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.” My question here is this: If anyone apart from the apostles or those authorized by them could perform these amazing genuine healings and miracles, then where or what were the signs of an apostle? We must conclude, then, that these special gifts of healing and miracles were given to the apostles as their credentials while they finished laying the foundation of the Church, and when their work was done, and they passed off the earthly scene, these sign-gifts would no longer be operative.

The great display of the miraculous that accompanied Christ and the apostles in the church’s beginnings ended with the passing of the apostles.

For us to try to duplicate these today can only lead to confusion and the opening of a door that makes room for deception and disappointment. I believe recent history simply proves that point.

Church history also shows us that with the passing of the apostles the great display of miraculous gifts ceased. Even near the end of Paul’s ministry apparently he did not use his gifts of healing for he wrote to Timothy, 2 Tim 4:20: “But Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.” Now if the modern teaching that God wants all His people to be well and healthy all the time were true, why did not Paul exercise his gifts of healing and heal Trophimus? Surely, he could have used Trophimus’s help in the ministry? But it appears that even then already the gift of healing was passing away.

That does not mean that God cannot or does not heal today, even though He has withdrawn the gift. He is still sovereign, and does answer prayer, if we come to Him according to James 5:14-15. Thank God many are healed, not through the gift but by “the prayer of faith.” But we should not expect the same spectacular display of healings and miracles that accompanied the ministries of Christ and the apostles, for these belonged to them as their credentials and to the church’s beginnings. Now we “walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7).




There is a dangerous tendency in the Movement to idolize and give undue reverence to leaders with abilities and strong personalities, or we might say, “charisma.” Even when there are glaring errors, inconsistencies, and unscriptural practices, many will support, defend, and blindly follow these leaders. In a previous section I referred to a “prophet-evangelist” who visited one of our churches. I remember the unquestioned respect, reverence, and awe that people showed, especially when he “prophesied” (so-called). It reminds me of the Samaritans in Acts 8:9-11, who also gave undue reverence to Simon the sorcerer. We read these words in verse 10: “To whom [that is, Simon] they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.” I believe many today are similarly deceived by false prophets and miracle-workers (so-called), in spite of the oft-repeated scriptural warnings against deception. The prophet evangelist I mentioned above turned out to be a false prophet, yet he was given great honour and respect by practically the whole church.

It is amazing how these clever personalities can capture the minds and hearts of unsuspecting sincere Christians and blind them to their own errors and faults! I remember hearing, when still a young boy, the glowing reports about Aimee Semple McPherson. She was the originator of one of the tongues denominations, and was acclaimed as a great leader. Many of us would have considered it a great privilege to see her and hear her speak.

But though great crowds followed her and idolized her, the “behind-the- scenes” picture is not pleasant. An examination of her record is as disappointing as it is revealing. But I am sure that many of her devoted followers will not believe anything that might be proven against her. They can’t and won’t believe that their revered leader could be guilty of doing any wrong.

Another popular faith-healer, Mr. A.A. Allen, whom I heard on the radio years ago, and who must have had a considerable following of supporters, was found dead in his hotel room in San Francisco in 1970. He apparently had come to the city for an operation on his arthritic knee, but died in his hotel room. The coroner reported that he had died of acute alcoholism and fatty infiltration of the liver. But I dare say that many of his loyal followers will not believe the coroner’s report. They just can’t believe that their leader could do such a thing.

It is this “blind loyalty” that is all too prevalent in many areas of the Movement that is alarming. In the area of financial support, many sincere people of God, overcome by the “charisma” or personality of some leader, give very generously to line the coffers of these people, without investigating or questioning what use is made of their offerings and gifts.

Just to illustrate, I refer to a news item that appeared in the Calgary Herald, June 7, 1980. The article made reference to evangelist Rex Humbard’s pleas for financial support for his television programs, and then told of how he spends some of that money. Here is a quote in part:

“Evangelist Rex Humbard, who last year said his television ministry was strapped for funds and appealed to viewers for more cash, admits he and his sons recently purchased a home and condominiums in Florida for $650,000.

“`My people don’t give a hoot what I spend that money for,’ Humbard said.

“Humbard said last September 24, his ministry was $3.2 million in debt but purchased a home and condominiums near Palm Beach, Fla. with his sons for the $650,000 sum, the Cleveland Press reported this week” (Calgary Herald, June 7, 1980, used by permission of United Press International, 366 Adelaide St. East, Toronto, Ontario).

When Mr. Humbard said: “My people don’t give a hoot what I spend that money for,” he certainly uncovered an obvious trend and reality among many Charismatic people today, and he underscores what I am trying to point out.

Far too many Christians today are “too-trusting.” Dare we handle the Lord’s money in this careless manner, either in the giving or the receiving of it?

No wonder, then, that many God-fearing pastors and missionaries serving the Lord in small churches or in difficult areas, are suffering for lack of sufficient support—because God’s money is being “drained off” by appealing personalities. Also think of what the non-Christian thinks of all this. Is it a good testimony? By no means! The very fact that this newspaper reporter investigated and the Calgary Herald published this article tells us something.

This tendency, then, to blind devotion and faithfulness to leaders with strong personalities, I believe, is very dangerous. We see much of the same in some of the better known cults today. All we need to do to emphasize this point is to mention the name of Jim Jones. In 1978 the world was shocked by the mass suicide of hundreds of Jones’ loyal followers. Why did they do it? Because long before that fatal day they began to give blind, unswerving loyalty to Jones. They began to trust him, for everything and with everything, even when he did wrong. They ceased to think for themselves. They were deceived. They certainly did not follow God’s Word closely in its teachings or they could not have followed Jones too long. It is so important, Christian, that we stay very close to the Bible. Study it!

Believe it! Trust it! Follow it!

Someone might object here and say that I am too hard on the Tongues- Charismatic people in this area. May I then add this thought: it is also true that among non-Tongues Christians we can find leaders with strong personalities who take advantage of trusting Christians. But there is this difference—if the Tongues people are correct in their claim that they “have more” and are “filled with the Spirit” because they speak with tongues and are therefore “more spiritual” than the non-Tongues people, then they should have a better record in this area! If they indeed have more than we have, then it should be evident! It is one thing to make a claim, it is quite another to produce the evidence.

May we all, by the grace of God, strive to be more Bible-oriented, and to be more loyal to our Lord Jesus Christ and the Scriptures than to personalities!



Strictly speaking, this was not a reason why I left the Tongues Movement, but it is a reason why I am not, and would not, be in the Movement today. I see signs of great danger ahead. Some other Christians share the same concern with me. I wish that I were wrong, but all signs at the present indicate that the Charismatic Movement could be the common denominator for a worldwide ecumenical organization or church. In the past, all attempts to bring about ecumenicity on the basis of faith, belief, or doctrine, have failed. But in the Charismatic Movement, unity is attained, not by unanimity of doctrine but on the basis of a common religious experience. To them largely, doctrine is not the important thing. But the experience is.

So it is not surprising that in Charismatic circles people of many denominational backgrounds and doctrines can all worship and fellowship together, not because they agree on doctrine but because they agree on a common religious experience.

This is a very dangerous trend! Why? Because setting truth aside in order to have unity will ultimately put the One Who is “the Truth,” the Lord Jesus, outside the Movement. That’s just what we see predicted in Rev. 3:20. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” Here is a picture of the condition of the Church in the last days. We see the Lord Jesus standing “outside” the Church, knocking, trying to get in. But there is no room for Him. Doctrine and truth have been neglected. Experience has become the important thing, and the criteria for church membership or fellowship. No longer is it faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ that makes one an accepted Christian. He who is “the truth” is no longer wanted or welcome in church but is left standing outside … what a sad, tragic picture!

Can it be, then, that the Charismatic Movement will be the instrument that will help to bring about the great world church of Revelation, chapter 17?

It is possible if they continue, in the interests of unity, to put experience ahead of doctrine. Anything can happen to the church that moves away from the solid foundations of the truths of God’s Word.

Dr. Vernon McGee, in a radio broadcast not long ago, referred to a statement by a Charismatic who said that in these last days God was laying His Word aside in order to bring the churches together! It is a sad, sad day, when Truth must be sacrificed to obtain unity! But that is what we see developing today.

Perhaps the warning voiced by a dear uncle of mine shortly before he went to be with the Lord, is right. He was an ardent Pentecostal Christian, and in my last visit with him he greatly surprised me with this question.

Calling me by my first name, he said, “Do you know that the new Charismatic Movement is leading our Pentecostal people right into the church of the Antichrist?” Nothing that he could have said could have surprised me more.

But, from that point on we found ourselves in agreement as we had a lovely and profitable discussion together. It happened to be the last visit I had with him, for shortly after that he went to be with the Lord.

He was an old-time Pentecostal, or one of those who are sometimes referred to as “classical Pentecostals.” I’m discovering that some of these classical Pentecostals are also becoming concerned or alarmed by what is happening in this “new” Charismatic Movement. This is evidenced by a statement made by a Pentecostal writer, Mr. Harry Lunn, in an article entitled, “Beware the Christless Pentecost.” He said: “A Pentecost without repentance, a Pentecost without Christ, that is what some are experiencing today” (End Times Messenger, publication of the Apostolic Church of Pentecost of Canada, Saskatoon, Sask., March 1972). I was glad to see this thoughtful and challenging article. It tells me that some of the classical Pentecostals are also beginning to see the warning signals in the “new” Charismatic Movement.

Another classical Pentecostal, an elderly aunt of mine, also expressed her misgivings by asking me this question: “How is it that Charismatic Catholic people can speak in tongues, and then go back to the Catholic church and worship Mary, pray to the saints, go to Mass, etc? How can they do this?

There is something wrong, isn’t there?” I had to agree with her. Something is wrong! It doesn’t stand up in the light of the Scriptures. And to Auntie it was a special problem because she herself is a converted Catholic. Years ago when she was saved, she knew that she could not go back to the Catholic church to fellowship and worship there. It would be to compromise truth. So now she can’t understand these “new” Charismatics.

These are days, then, that we need to live very close to the Scriptures.

There is a dearth of good, sound Bible study amongst God’s people. Only with the Truth will we be able to combat the Lie.



The Scriptures definitely teach that there is a spirit-filling for every believer. God has a plan whereby every child of His can live a new life, a life of victory, fruitfulness, and effective service for him—a life that will be Christlike and glorify God. God’s basic provision to make this possible is the filling of the Holy Spirit, for we cannot live holy and God-pleasing lives in our own strength.

Have you ever asked yourself, Why did the Lord sent the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to indwell me? What was His purpose in doing this? As we study chapters 14 through 16 of John’s Gospel we will see a number of reasons, but they all add up to one basic purpose—that we, sinners, saved by grace, may now live lives to God’s glory, trophies of His grace, and that we too might be like our Saviour and Lord living Christlike lives.

The Lord knew that in our own strength this would be impossible, so He arranged that the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, should indwell every believer—not only to be “with” him, but “in” him, John 14:17. (He couldn’t be nearer to us, could He?) And further, He “abides with us forever”! (Jn. 14:16). Why this arrangement? That He, the Holy Spirit indwelling might, as we daily yield ourselves, our bodies, to Him, live the life of Christ through us—that we might “live” in the Spirit and “walk” in the Spirit.

All that we need to live victorious, God-pleasing lives is ours already potentially in the indwelling Holy Spirit!

But now someone will ask, “Where does the filling of the Holy Spirit come in, and what is meant by ‘being filled with the Holy Spirit’?” Our answer to these questions, I believe, will determine whether we hold to the Tongues-Charismatic viewpoint or to that of the non-Tongues Christians. The Tongues-Charismatic people generally have the concept that the filling of the Holy Spirit is a crisis experience, a once-in-a-lifetime experience evidenced by the speaking in tongues. When tongues speaking occurs, it signals that the seeker “has got it.” Now some do believe that there can be renewed fillings thereafter, but their whole approach to the filling leaves the impression that “now I have it,” and that’s it!

As a young Christian in the Movement, I got that impression when I repeatedly heard testimonies like this: “I thank the Lord that I was filled with the Holy Spirit 40, 30, 10, or whatever years ago, with the evidence of speaking with other tongues.” It left me with the thought that this filling of the Holy Spirit was something like a once-in-a-lifetime inoculation. From this experience on they are perpetually “filled.” And yet, in some cases, I wondered about the effectiveness of this experience when I observed some of the conduct of those who had testified. I had to ask, “If they still are filled with the Spirit, how can they do those things that are wrong?” Something didn’t quite add up.

On the other hand, the non-Tongues, non-Charismatic belief generally held is that the filling of the Holy Spirit is not a once-for-all experience but involves a continual yieldedness to the indwelling Holy Spirit, so that He can bring our lives daily into submission to the Lordship of Christ, thus producing the fruit of righteousness in us. In short, it is a life, rather than a crisis-experience.

One other teaching of Tongues-Charismatic people that contributes to confusion at this point is that the filling and the baptism are one and the same experience. If they were the same, then the teaching that the filling is a once-in-a-lifetime experience should be correct, for the baptism is a once-for-all event. But we never read in Scripture of anyone experiencing a second Spirit baptism. But, we do read, several times, of Christians experiencing a fresh filling. Nowhere in Scripture do we have a command to believers to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, but we do have such a command regarding the filling, in Eph. 5:18.

The baptism and the filling are two different ministries of the Holy Spirit. By the baptism all believers are placed into the Body of Christ, the Church, 1 Cor. 12:13. There we read, “For by one Spirit are [or were] we all baptized into one body…” It is a once-for-all act of Christ by the Spirit that unites the believer to His Body, the Church. The word “are” here could be translated “were,” which informs us that all Christians have experienced the baptism when they believed on Christ. It is not an experience to be sought again. That is why there is no command anywhere in Scripture for Christian believers to seek the baptism.

By Spirit baptism we are placed into Christ. Did you ever notice how often the phrase, “in Christ” appears in the New Testament? What does it mean?

How did we get into that position? By the baptism of the Holy Spirit. At the moment of believing on Jesus Christ we are placed into Christ by Spirit baptism.

But now let us look at the filling. Turn to Ephesians 5:18, where we read:

“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.”

Briefly notice several things that this Scripture tells us:

1) This is a command. God expects every Christian to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Are you? It is just as sinful for you not to be filled as it is for you to be “drunk.”

2) The filling is not optional. It is not a case of, “If I want to I will!” No! God expects all Christians to be filled, that is His plan for all of us.

3) This command is addressed to those who already are Christians, Eph 1:1, and who have already been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ, who are “in Christ.”

4) Be filled. A close look at these two words can be very helpful. The Greek here gives the thought of “being constantly under the control of” the Holy Spirit.

Years ago I looked at the filling as a once-for-all experience. One day I heard brother Theodore Epp of Back to the Bible Broadcast speak on Eph. 5:18. He pointed out the above meaning of “be filled” in the Greek. That really caught my attention and helped me immensely. It tied many Scriptures and truths together for me. For if a Christian is Spirit-filled, he is indeed Spirit-controlled. It cannot be otherwise. And if he is Spirit- controlled he is, then, under the lordship of Christ, which is where he should be. And being under the control of the Spirit he will also “walk in the Spirit” and “live in the Spirit”. The Spirit-filled person, then, is the Spirit-controlled person. The Holy Spirit is not a power that you can have and use, but He is a Person, Who desires to have and use you!

5) This brings us to another thought—if He is in control, then it isn’t a case of me having “more of Him” (the concept so many have today as they seek the filling), but it is a case of Him having “more of me,” yes, ALL of me! (Rom. 6:13,19; 12:1-2). You cannot have more of Him, but He can, and should, have more of you.

6) Every Christian has the Holy Spirit in his life as Resident, but the Spirit-filled (controlled) Christian has Him in his life as PRESIDENT!

In summary I would like to repeat that I believe that our doctrinal views of the Holy Spirit can either thwart or fulfill God’s wonderful plan and purpose that every Christian live a victorious, fruitful, and Christ- honouring life. There is no better testimony to a lost world than a Spirit- controlled LIFE with the fruit of the Spirit in manifestation (Gal. 5:22- 23). The world doesn’t care how often or how loudly we shout: “Look at me, I’m filled with the Spirit because I spoke with tongues, etc.,” but they do notice and care if they see a transformed LIFE, a life daily under the control of the Holy Spirit, a life that exhibits: “Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” They are witnessed to when they see Christ living in us! That is God’s design for our lives; let us not disappoint Him!
















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