"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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What Does A True Move Of God Look Like?

What does it look like when there is a move of God in a Church...? in a locality?

Some people think the following is what it might look like (this is a direct quote from a recent meeting in Australia this week):

“It was really a beautiful night with Holy Spirit! We worshipped for a while and it was just nice, but we had a bit of a silent moment which turned into roaring laughter, at which point (two people named) started handing out chocolates that they had bought the day before! So of course that caused even more joy! The chocolates were Lindt ‘champagne’ flavour!! Haha. We were discussing later the prophetic symbol of champagne being a drink for royalty, it was so special. There was also lots of dancing! So much joy, I haven’t heard that kind of holy laughter since I was young, in Rodney Howard Browne meetings.”

Really? This was the Holy Spirit at work?

Forget the fact that absolutely NONE of this stuff can be found in the Bible... nothing of the kind happened in the Book of Acts.

I was a Pastor involved in this silliness for far longer than I should have been (in the 1990’s). People were always seeking the next new thing – the next novel experience. Some chased across town, states or even countries to find churches that said they had seen angel dust in the meetings. Some chased the “laughing” thing, flying to Toronto where “revival” had broken out in the Airport Church there – wanting to be “drunk” on God rather than intoxicated by an alcoholic beverage - hours on end were spent rolling on floors, laughing hysterically. The weirder it was (there were accounts of people ‘barking” and acting like animals), the more people thought God was surely at work.

Some of you (readers) have never heard of such things and this is all very strange and weird to you. That is because – IT IS VERY STRANGE AND VERY WEIRD. Its good you have not encountered this – but believe me, this was a “thing” in the 90’s, and some people still seek these kinds of manifestations as proof of God being among them.

No one wanted to say this was strange (out-loud anyway) because.... well... no one wanted to “grieve” the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees were guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit when they saw Jesus in action, saying that the power behind the miracles He was doing was the devil… and for sure, no one wanted to be a Pharisee.

But ladies and gentlemen - there is nothing wrong with asking “are any of these manifestations found in the Bible? Can you assure me that any of this has a basis in Scripture?” Nothing wrong at all!

In fact, if anyone were to ask Jesus or the Apostles to show where they were getting what they were doing by the Scripture, I don’t think they would have been in any way offended. When the Apostle Paul was teaching the Bereans, they were commended for checking his teaching out by the Scripture – commended, not rebuked. Here’s what we read:

Acts 17:10 The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed...

Paul could have said “Hey, I am an Apostle, trust me...” But he didn’t. He was very happy to find people who would test his teaching by the standard of the word of God, knowing this was the entire basis of his ministry anyway. He knew that Scripture was the basis for all he was doing and so he wasn’t fearful or threatened when people would go to the Scripture to examine his claims.

And the result was this – BECAUSE what Paul was teaching had its foundation in the word of God, those who checked this out, found his teaching there, and came to believe the message he brought – not because Paul was a super apostle, or had charisma coming out of his pours – but because what he taught was Biblical.

Just on the so called “Toronto Blessing” let me say this. The fruit of a move of God is seen over time. We can look back and see fruit – either good fruit or bad fruit. And sadly, when I see the leader of Toronto Church (John Arnott) embracing the Pope (and with him, his doctrines) as a brother in Christ... that for me in one photo op is the lasting fruit of Toronto – the gospel is unimportant – false gospels are embraced – all in the name of love, unity and the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit was at work – he would have made the gospel clearer to people, not fuzzy or blurred and certainly not discarded.

Continue reading "What Does A True Move Of God Look Like?" »

August 25, 2018  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Seven Charismatic Deceptions

As a guest on Chris Arnzen's "Iron Sharpens Iron" podcast (Thursday, July 26), I got to talk about seven deceptions found in charismatic circles.

July 26, 2018  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Slain in the Spirit?

John Samson:

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 03, 2017  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Charismatic Deception

Text: Ephesians 5:18 - "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit..."

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

February 26, 2017  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Pneumatology and Inerrancy

Dr. Sinclair Ferguson on the work of the Holy Spirit in the inerrancy of the Bible. Dr. Ligon Duncan described the session as "truly remarkable. I have no words to describe its power."

Shepherds' Conference | General Session 15 - Sinclair Ferguson from Grace Community Church on Vimeo.

March 07, 2015  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Do Not Quench the Spirit - Test Everything

Dr. Sam Storms once stated, "Many Christians are either woefully deficient in their knowledge of Scripture or noticeably devoid of any experience of God's power. The Lord never intended this for His people. We have all seen firsthand the joyless intellectual arrogance the absence of spiritual power can produce, as well as the fanatical emotional excess that comes from the lack of theological integrity."

Yesterday, here on the blog I made the point that there seems to be extremes both on the cessationist side and on the continualist side. Personally speaking, I am a continualist, but I would be very quick to state that I am much more comfortable with the stance that fellow continualists such as Dr. John Piper or Dr. Wayne Grudem take than say the "crazies" out there who seem to be the main voices on so called "Christian" television in America. I shudder inside to think that my non-Christian neighbor friends tune in to these television shows and conclude that this is the Christianity I represent. Many times I would have to say that I abhor what I see portrayed there probably as much as they would.

Having said that, I wonder just how cessationist my cessationist friends are. Some dismiss all inward impressions as being either an over-active imagination or worse, having its source in the demonic. They would never be open to the fact that God might speak to someone through a dream or guide through an inward leading of some sort.

I realise that there are vast dangers involved here because (generally) the people who speak about God leading them are not normally known for their discernment, or know enough Scripture to be able to have a biblical filter in place. These dangers however are not new. They were the same dangers prevalent at the time of the writing of the New Testament. In 1 Thessalonians 5 Paul wrote, "Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil." (v. 19-22) All things should be tested by that which is theopneustos - the God breathed Scripture. All Scripture is God breathed. All claims to be a word from God certainly are not. That is why all things should be tested.

Continue reading "Do Not Quench the Spirit - Test Everything" »

October 26, 2010  |  Comments (25)   |  Permalink

Free will vs. blasphemy of the Holy Spirit


Free will vs. blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Please help me to understand how it is possible to blasphem against the Holy Spirit if man does not have free-will. ESV by Crossway notes at Luke 12:10?????????????

Apart from God's grace in Christ, no one believes the gospel. That man needs God's grace to believe (John 6:6:63-65) is itself proof that man has no free will. Left to himself he remains in bondage to sin.... Is He not? Ask yourself a simple question: Does the Bible teach that a person can come to faith in Christ apart from any work of the Holy Spirit? No, in his native, fallen, unregenerate state man will always choose to reject Christ. No one is coercing him to reject Christ, he does so voluntarily because his heart is corrupt and loves darkness. (John 3:19, 20)

You may ask, how can he be responsible then? Answer. Consider if a man borrowed $1 billion from the bank to finance a new company. Instead the man squandered the money in a week of wild living in Las Vegas. Is he responsible to repay the debt to the bank? Of course. Is he able to repay? No, he is bankrupt. So his inability to repay the bank does not alleviate him of his responsibility. Likewise God commands men everywhere to perfectly obey His commandments. Do they? no. Are they responsible to obey? Yes. So again inability does not alleviate responsibility. God likewise commands us to repent and believe the gospel? Can we do so apart from His Holy Spirit and grace ? No? Are we responsible to believe nonetheless? Yes. Our inability to believe is because, in Adam, we are sinners by nature and we continue to choose to sin. Unless God renews our heart to understand spiritual things we would never believe the gospel. (1 Cor 2:14).

So regarding your question about blaspheming the Holy Spirit. All those who reject the gospel, in the end, have blasphemed the Holy Spirit. They are completely responsible for their rejection of Christ (Whom the Holy Spirit gives witness). Furthermore, God is not obligated to save anyone ... and the greatest judgment is to leave them to their own so-called "free-will. So anyone who is saved can give God the glory for it was purely a work of His mercy and grace, in spite of ourselves. Praise the Lord.

Hope this helps
John H.

October 12, 2010  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

Is the Holy Spirit underemphasized in Evangelical and Reformed circles?

Dr. John Piper responds:

August 14, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Sola Scriptura & the Gifts of the Spirit by Pastor John Samson

Question: Pastor John, How does the 'vocal' gifts of the Holy Spirit work with sola scriptura? Wouldn't the revelatory nature of those vocals gifts contradict this sola in any way? Or does it complement it?

As the lone fellow on the contributing team who can be described as being an essentially reformed, credo-baptist and charismatic, I guess I knew this question would be asked of me at some stage, especially when I write something on the subject of sola scriptura.

A whole book would need to be written to cover this question in a satisfactory way. One book that addresses this question from a similar perspective to my own would be Dr. Wayne Grudem's "The Gift of Prophecy." While pointing you to this resource, allow me to also give a very brief answer to your question by asking a further series of questions:

Question 1: Were the vocal gifts taking place in the early church a violation of sola scriptura?

I think we'd all agree that the answer would be a resounding "no." Paul would have put a stop to the use of the gifts had he viewed them as a violation of Scripture. Of course, the canon was not yet complete when Paul was writing 1 Corinthians 12-14, but certainly the functioning of the gifts did not violate Scripture - at least at that time - I am sure we'd all agree.

There were certainly abuses of the gifts going on - very much so in fact. What is interesting though is that Paul, when writing to the Corinthians, knowing of the abuse of the gifts, did not stop the use of the gifts, but instead directed their use. 1 Corinthians 14:39-40 says, "Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner."

Elsewhere he wrote: "Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil." - 1 Thess. 5:19-22

Paul allowed for the functioning of the gifts of the Spirit while still cautioning that everything should be extensively tested. What passed the test was to be accepted, but all things that did not were to be shunned.

Question 2: As quoted above, Paul wrote, "do not despise prophetic utterances." Why would there ever be a tendency to do this?

Continue reading "Sola Scriptura & the Gifts of the Spirit by Pastor John Samson" »

February 13, 2006  |  Comments (8)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink