Recently a letter came to our church addressed “The Pastor and Christians of the Evangelical Free Church.” It was from a former member who gave a sincere testimony concerning his becoming a “charismatic” Christian. The purpose of the letter, he said, was to help clear up any “misunderstanding” on the subject of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Since I am one of the members of the church, I felt that this letter concerned me. Although I appreciated his effort to enlighten us, his letter gave me a strong desire to reply.
You see, I am a no charismatic Christian by choice—not by “misunderstanding” or ignorance of the subject. This choice was made neither easily not lightly. In fact, it took me almost two years of searching before I made this decision, and I spent many hours in the Word of God and in prayer over this issue.
While I have enjoyed warm fellowship with many of my charismatic friends, I have become a little weary of the suggestion that if I do not have this “baptism in the Holy Spirit” accompanied by speaking in tongues, then I posses only “half” of the gospel. At the moment I accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour, I receive a “full” gospel—not half! The Bible says that “In Him [Christ] dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him” (Col. 2:9,10). God became my Father, Christ became my Saviour, and the Holy Spirit became my Paraclete, All in one package, for He is One God.
Because of the finished work of Christ on the cross, I received everything that God has for me at the moment I believed. It was all in Christ. To say that I must have Christ plus something else to make it complete, is to preach another gospel than the one Paul preached. Paul did not take this matter of “adding” to Christ lightly, for he wrote to the Galatians, who were seeking to add the works of the law to their salvation to make them better Christians, “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8). If Paul regarded such teaching as heresy, how should believers today regard it? This then was my first decision: I decided to stand on the gospel of Jesus Christ alone.
My second decision was to stand on the Bible rather than on “experiences.” Changes are constantly taking place in today’s world, and experiences of many kinds abound. I attended a charismatic church during the two years that I was searching for answers, and I was definitely leaning toward this experience. I saw and heard many “experiences in the Spirit which were very convincing. Although it took me a long time to learn not to look at appearances but rather at the Word of God, I came out of my search with a sure knowledge that the Bible is the tester of all experiences. I believe that the only valid test of a spiritual experience is Bible doctrine. To take a Scripture passage out of context in order to prove that an experience is valid is not good enough for me. The cults do that also. I decided to let the Bible speak for itself—from beginning to end—and to test all “experiences” by the truth in its pages.
My third decision was to stand on sound doctrine. In the past few years there has often been an emphasis on the words “Love” and “unity” at the expense of truth and sound doctrine. But love without truth is as worthless as faith without works.
I became so confused by what appeared to me to be two conflicting doctrines on the Holy Spirit that I could not choose which was right. Both seemed to be based entirely on Bible passages. Yet, because there were two teaching which opposed each other, I could not sit on the fence, but found that I had to choose one or the other. So I prayed, asking the Lord to show me plainly what to do, and to lead me out of my confusion. A verse in II Timothy 1:13 stood out to me shortly after I prayed: “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” Paul was telling Timothy to hold firmly to the pattern of sound teaching which Paul had given him. As I looked to the Lord, I also felt the strong conviction that He was telling me to hold fast to sound doctrine—Paul’s doctrine. I found that when the Biblicist and the charismatic views on the Holy Spirit were put to the test of sound biblical exegesis, the Biblicist view point is the correct interpretation of the Bible passages on the Holy Spirit.
My fourth decision had to do with the warnings which Paul clearly gave Timothy: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing sprits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1). Satan cannot keep believers out of heaven, so his next goal is to get them off the track into error. In II Corinthians 11:3, Paul feared for the church lest “the serpent [which] beguiled Eve through his subtitle… should [corrupt their minds] from the simplicity that is in Christ.” There are many a new cults and doctrines these days and many of them use the truths of the Bible so diligently that it is difficult to distinguish truth from error. The Apostle Paul said, “For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully (II Cor. 11:4, NASB). Paul was speaking to Christians here. It is possible for a believer, in a counterfeit spiritual experience, to lend his human spirit to another spirit—other than the Holy Spirit, whom the believer has already received at salvation. Because many of the charismatic evidences I witnessed while attending their meetings were” supernatural” in appearance, I accepted them as from God, forgetting that the Bible is full of warnings that Satan comes as an angel of light to deceive believers, and that he also can produce supernatural evidences if this will serve to lead a believer into error. Once again, I believe that these experiences should be put to the test of the Scriptures, especially speaking in tongues, since it is so prevalent.
The gift of speaking in tongues in the Bible was a gift of speaking in another language. But tongues speaking today in the modern charismatic movement is not languages but gibberish or ecstatic utterances. Some of today’s leading linguists have listened to more than a thousand tapes of tongues-speaking, and not one has proved to be a language or to even be a form of language! Further, this gift of speaking in tongues was given as a sign to unbelieving Jews. It was a sign of judgment upon them, clearly predicted in the Book of Isaiah, as Paul states in I Corinthians 14:21, 22). Are the “tongues” of today being used for this purpose as outlined in the Bible? Clearly they are not.
All the gifts of the Spirit were given for the building up of the Church, not for private use, or for the building up of the individual. The gift of tongues was to be used to help others, not for oneself. Again, where a spiritual experiences cannot stand up to the test of scripture, I must conclude that it is a counterfeit experience which springs from an unsound interpretation of the Bible.
Finally, my question concerning the charismatic movement was answered by my own personal experience of the Spirit-filled life. I went into the charismatic movement in the first place because I felt a lack in my own spiritual life.
At the moment I accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour, I received a “full’ gospel-not half!
I believed that the baptism is the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues was the answer. I believe now that I went looking in wrong place. When there is a lack in my relationship with Christ, it is not because I need “more of God”! He has already given all He can give me in the gift of His Son. To receive Jesus Christ, is to also receive the Holy Spirit—not “part” of Him, but all—for the Trinity cannot be divided. If I am not enjoying the growth, blessing and filling of the Spirit in my Christian experience, it is because there is something blocking His ministry in my life. This was the case with me.
There came a day when the Lord, by His Spirit, strove with me and showed me my true colors. I saw that there was sin n my life—bitterness, a haughty attitude and an un yielded heart. As I came to the Lord, confessing these things and making a total commitment to Him, I knew the filling of His Spirit as I had never known it before, God desires His children to have all of His blessing and to be Spirit-filled. But if they are lacking this experience, it is because they are resisting or grieving Him in some way and thereby are quenching the flow of His Spirit. I knew that what the Lord poured out to me was according to the pattern of the Scriptures—repentance, than blessing. What I received was not different from anything I had known thus far in fellowship with the Lord, but love, joy, peace and consistent, overflowing witness.
I praise the Lord that He kept me from what I now believe was a counterfeit experience of the Spirit-filled life. I came very close to missing His best for my life. The proof of my experience is not the “sign” of tongues, but a cleansed and rejoicing heart and an abiding relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ! END
By C Myers