Charismatic Chaos – Part 2
AUTHOR: MacArthur Jr., John
PUBLISHED ON: April 2, 2003

The following message was delivered at Grace Community Church in Panorama
City, California, By John MacArthur Jr.  It was transcribed from the tape,
GC 90-53, titled “Charismatic Chaos” Part 2.  A copy of the tape can be
obtained by writing, Word of Grace, P.O. Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412.

I have made every effort to ensure that an accurate transcription of the
original tape was made.  Please note that at times sentence structure may
appear to vary from accepted English conventions.  This is due primarily to
the techniques involved in preaching and the obvious choices I had to make in
placing the correct punctuation in the article.

It is my intent and prayer that the Holy Spirit will use this transcription
of the sermon, “Charismatic Chaos” Part 2, to strengthen and encourage the
true Church of Jesus Christ.

Scriptures quoted in this message are from the New American Standard Bible.

                        Charismatic Chaos – Part 2

                              Copyright 1991
                          John F. MacArthur, Jr.
                            All rights reserved.

I want to just preface the message tonight, really a study of an issue rather
than a text, which is a little unfamiliar to us as normally we are in certain
texts of Scripture.  But I want to preface it with just a couple of comments. 
First of all, I want to say that I am very much aware of the fact that not
everyone who is associated with the Charismatic movement is engaged in the
kind of extreme error that we will be from time to time referring to.  There
are people who are more moderate.  There are people within the Charismatic
movement who themselves are very, very concerned about the heresies and the
aberrations that exists within that movement.  And so the movement runs quite
a wide gamut and there are people at all different points. 

However, there are some salient features and elements in the movement that we
are endeavoring to deal with and illustrate to you.  But again, I ask you to
keep in mind that not everyone in the movement would affirm all these things. 
There are various and sundry different kinds of viewpoints.  To reinforce
that, there are, according to current statistics, 382 million members of
Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches worldwide, or 1 out of every 5
Christians.  So when we talk about a widespread movement, indeed it is the
case.  They gain about 19 million members per year and they donate about 34
billion dollars to Christian causes.  It is a formidable group.  The movement
now includes 11,000 Pentecostal and 3,000 Independent Charismatic
denominations covering 7,000 languages, and two-thirds of all Charismatics
live in the Third World.  It is a worldwide movement.  And thus it demands
our attention. 

Now tonight as we come to the second in our series on Charismatic Chaos, the
issue at hand is, “Does God still give revelation?”  That’s our subject for
tonight: Does God still give revelation? 

If someone were to write an anthem for the Charismatic movement it would have
to be titled, “God told me!  God told me!”  you hear that over and over
again.  Strange prophecies abound in the Charismatic movement; in fact, it is
well nigh impossible to turn on a Charismatic television station or a radio
station without being exposed, almost on a daily basis to some new “Words
from the Lord.”  I was watching one today and sure enough, “The Lord said,
the Lord said, the Lord said,” was repeated again and again. 

This week I listened to a very fascinating tape by a man by the name of James
Ryle.  In his tape he tells about the fact that God gives him revelation
through dreams, and that God revealed to him in this incredible dream, which
I listened to him explain,

    “Pictures of guitars, blue guitars, iridescent blue guitars.”  And
    then in the dream God showed him amplifiers, and then God told him
    that, “The guitars and the amplifiers belong to the Beatles.”  And
    God told him that, “The Church will win the world to salvation
    when it goes into the world and sings anointed music like the
    Beatles.”  The tape is filled with statements, “The Lord said, the
    Lord said, the Lord said, the Lord said.”  And here are some
    quotes, “The Lord said, ‘I called those four lads from Liverpool
    to myself.  There was a call from God on their lives.  They were
    gifted by my hand and it was I who anointed them (speaking of the
    Beatles).  The purpose was to usher in the Charismatic Renewal
    with musical revival around the world.'” 

    Then the Lord said, “The four lads from Liverpool went AWOL and
    did not serve in my army.  They served their own purposes and gave
    the gift to the other side.”  And then the Lord said, “I lifted
    the anointing and for twenty years I’ve held it in my hand and I
    am about to release it again.”  And then the Lord said, “It
    doesn’t belong to the world, it belongs to the Church.”  And then
    the Lord said, “I will release an anointing in music that will
    take the world by storm like the Beatles when they first came. 
    New, anointed music that will capture men’s hearts.”  And then the
    Lord said, “The same kind of reaction that the Beatles extracted
    will come, only this time the girls will not scream, Ringo, John,
    George, or Paul, they will scream, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”

Did the Lord say that?  Did the Lord say any of that?  He says he did. 
Surely the most famous of all the Lord’s speaking to Charismatics is the
famous, “Oral Roberts Death Threat Prophecy” a preposterous and fabricated
supposed “Word from the Lord.”  Roberts told his nationwide audience in 1987
that God had threatened to call him home if he couldn’t raise 8 million
dollars by his creditor’s deadline.  Whether or how that threat might have
been carried out the world will never know because Roberts received a last
minute reprieve in the form of a large check from a Florida dog track owner,
as you remember.  Two years later when Roberts was forced to close his
massive, multi-million dollar City of Faith Medical Center anyway, in spite
of the 8 million dollars, he asked God, “Why?”  And Oral Roberts said God
spoke to him and God said,

    “I had you build the City of Faith large enough to capture the
    imagination of the entire world, about the merging of My healing
    streams of Prayer and Medicine.  I did not want this revelation
    localized in Tulsa, however, and the time has come when I want
    this concept of merging My healing streams to be known to all
    people and to go into all future generations.”  So said God. 
    Roberts said, “It is clearly in my spirit, as I have ever heard
    Him, the Lord gave me an impression, ‘You and your partners have
    merged prayer and medicine for the entire world, for the Church
    World and for all generations.’  And then He said, ‘It is done.’ 
    And then I asked, ‘Is that why after eight years you are having us
    close the hospital and after eleven years the medical school?’ 
    And God said, ‘Yes, the mission has been accomplished in the same
    way that after three years of public ministry, my Son said on the
    cross, Father, it is finished!'”

Putting yourself in company with Jesus Christ is a bold move.  That kind of
arrogance almost makes us catch our breath.  I recently had the opportunity
to stand on the dandelion patch that now surrounds the City of Faith Medical
Center in Tulsa.  A sixty floor building next to a thirty floor building.  An
absolutely unbelievable edifice rising out of the midst of nothing, in the
outskirts of this city.  A monument to a man’s folly and certainly no
testimony to the character and the quality and the power of God, for it
stands empty and unfinished, wasted. 

The arrogance that causes people to think that God talks to them and puts
themselves on a plane with even Jesus Christ and His work is amazing.  But
Oral Roberts is not the only Charismatic who thinks he’s receiving private
revelation from God.  Most Charismatics, at one time or another, feel that
God speaks to them in some specific way.  Either through an audible voice,
some kind of internal impression, a dream (and that’s kind of a new one), a
vision, or a prophesy. 

Linda Fell (sp.), founder of Rapha Ranch (sp.), sells a tape, a song she was
given by the Holy Spirit as she was being healed of cancer.  An editor for a
Christian publisher once told me that he receives submissions every week from
Charismatics who claim God inspired them to write their book, article, song
or poem.  My editor friend noted that these manuscripts are often poorly
written, filled with bad grammar, marred by factual and logical errors, or
full of poems that mutilate the language or attempt to rhyme but just miss. 
And these are supposed to be authored by the Holy Spirit?  Lest you think
that cranks and obscure eccentrics or naive Charismatic believers are the
only ones who would make such claims, you need to know that’s not the case. 

Even Jack Heyford (sp.), who is very near to us, and would be known even
among Charismatics is a man of honor and integrity and a man who believes the
Scripture, recently told the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America that God
had revealed to him that a new era is coming.  He related a vision, in which
he had seen Jesus seated on His throne at the right hand of the Father.  And
in his vision, Jesus began to lean forward and rise from His seat, and as the
anointing caught in the folds of His garment and it began to splash out and
fall over the Church, and then Jesus said, “I’m beginning to rise now in
preparation for My Second Coming, those who will rise with me will share in
this double portion of anointing.”  This is a private revelation that Jesus’
Second Coming is near.

Larry Lee, popular Charismatic preacher, wrote, “Recently, I was in Chicago
preparing to preach and the Lord’s Spirit came upon me.”  He spoke, “I am
going to tell you now the name of the strong man over this nation.  The
spiritual strong man that you are facing, the demonic strong man that has
your nation under his control.  It is the strong man of greed.” 

Now, the question is, “Did God talk to this man about the Beatles?  Did God
talk to Oral Roberts about the City of Faith?  Did God write a song for Linda
Feld?  Did Jack Heyford actually see Christ rise from His seat and get ready
for His Second Coming?  Was Larry Lee’s prophecy really a word from the Lord? 
Are we to believe that that is revelation?”  One television evangelist claims
that he had a seven hour conversation with Jesus Christ.  Seven hours.  And
during that time they talked about the problems on earth and discussed
decisions which he, the evangelist, was facing.  And Jesus was trying to help
him work out some of these decisions.  Significantly, this man also has said
he had some direct encounters with Satan, who has tried to choke the preacher
in his bed.  Unfortunately, the man doesn’t see the connection between the
two events.  It seems to me that Jesus appearing to him was nothing different
than the manifestation of a demonic spirit who took the name of Jesus Christ
and was very likely the same spirit that wanted to choke him.  Certainly,
there is no way to tell the difference in that kind of mystical experience. 

Spirits who claim to be Jesus Christ abound in my limited experience.  I have
even heard them take His name myself, and say they are Jesus Christ when it
is apparent that they are not.  Anyone who seeks direct communication with
God or Christ is in serious danger of demonic impersonators of deity. 

And there is another, even more basic issue than that, and that is, “Are
Christians still receiving, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, direct
revelation from God?  Are we still getting it?  Is God still talking?”  Most
Charismatics would say a loud and resounding yes. 

One of their leaders, a theologian, by the name of Jay Rodman Williams,
former president of one of their schools, wrote this, “The Bible truly has
become a fellow witness to God’s present activity.”  That’s an amazing
statement.  When you say that the Bible is a fellow witness to God’s present
activity you mean that it is not alone, there is somebody else there
witnessing as well.  He goes on,

    If someone today perhaps has a vision of God, of Christ, it is
    good to know that it has happened before.  If one has a revelation
    from God, to know that for the early Christians, revelation also
    occurred in the community.  If one speaks a “Thus says the Lord,”
    and dares to address the fellowship in the first person, even
    going beyond the words of Scripture, that this was happening long
    ago.  How strange and remarkable it is.  If one speaks in the
    fellowship of the Spirit, the Word of Truth, it is neither his
    thoughts and reflections nor simply some exposition of Scripture,
    for the Spirit transcends personal observations, however
    interesting or profound they may be.  The Spirit, as the Living
    God, moves through and beyond the records of past witness however
    valuable such records are as a model for what happens today.

Now what he is saying is that the Bible is simply a model of what is going on
all the time.  It is one of many witnesses.  There have been witnesses in the
past; there are witnesses in the present and they just stand along side the
Bible.  The Bible is one of many.  He is alleging that the Bible is not the
final source of God’s revelation, but simply a witness, like a lot of other
witnesses and there is plenty of additional revelation that God is giving
today.  He is saying that Christians not only can, but should add to the
Bible, and that such additions are normal and conventional.  The Bible is
just a model for what the Holy Spirit continues to do today.  This obviously
is a frightening view: relativistic, mystical, subjective.  It tells us that
God continues to speak and there’s all kinds of things that He has been
saying and continues to say that we need to place along side the Scripture,
and here we are and we don’t have a record of that.  That’s inherent in the
Charismatic movement; the belief that there is continuing, ongoing
revelation, and God is continuing to speak (which of course is a denial of
the singular authority of Scripture).

Edward Gross in his book, “Miracles, Demons, and Spiritual Warfare,” sees the
deadliness of this trend in the Church.  He writes,

    The age of models has come.  A model takes the place of a law. 
    Models are human perceptions of truth, they are tentative and thus
    subject to change as new data becomes available.  These models are
    open and constantly tested.  No scientist dares claim any longer
    that one model is the way to explain all known phenomena for fear
    that some newly discovered data will prove that scientist to be a
    precipitant old fool.  The world of science has progressed from
    the old approach, Closed Systems to a new approach, Open Systems. 
    And there are all kinds of new models.  If the Bible is a Closed
    System of truth, with no new revelation being given through
    inspired Prophets or Apostles, then the model approach is an
    erroneous and dangerous tool in hermeneutics.  There should be no
    confusion in this area, the orthodox teaching of Christianity has
    always affirmed that God’s special saving revelation to mankind is
    restricted to the teaching of Scriptures.  That is the issue.  If
    the Bible is complete, then it represents a Closed System of
    truth.  If it entails a fixed and absolute standard of truth, then
    the teaching of Scripture must be ascertained and dogmatically
    asserted.  If God is still granting new revelation, then the truth
    of God is still being progressively revealed; and if this were the
    case, our duty would to be to faithfully listen to today’s
    Prophets as they unraveled God’s truth and new and clearer
    representations than we find in Scripture.

Well, he says, “I don’t believe that.”  “I don’t believe that the Bible is an
opened system, but a closed one.”  Scripture is a closed system of truth,
completely sufficient and not to be added to.  Revelation 22:18-19, the last
chapter in the Bible says, “If you add to it, God will add to you the plagues
that are written in it.”  And yet we have all these supposed revelations. 
What are they?  Imagination?  Fabrication?  Demonization?  But not divine
revelation.  Now in understanding this issue we need to face some questions. 

Question number one, “What does inspiration mean?  When we say that the Bible
is inspired, what do we mean?  What are we talking about?”  Our word inspired
comes from a Latin root that means to “breath in, to inspire.” 
Unfortunately, that doesn’t convey the true meaning of the Greek term used in
Scripture.  Actually the concept of “breathing in” is not found in 2 Timothy
3:16, where it says, “All Scripture is inspired by God.”  It’s not the word
for breathing in.  That translation has unfortunately mislead some folks, and
they have assumed that men wrote a lot of words and God breathed into them
some kind of power; some kind of divine life–that’s not it.  When it says,
“All Scripture is inspired,” the word “inspire” is theopneustos (GR.).  It is
actually a word that said “God-breathed.”  It is God breathing it out, not
God breathing into it.  Literally the verse says, “All Scripture is God-
breathed.”  It is the breath of God, not the words of men into which God
puffed some divine life.  It is God’s breath.  It is God speaking. 

Inspiration does not mean that the Bible has somehow been blown on by God and
given some supernatural quality.  It means that the words of the Bible are
the words of God Himself, out of his own mouth.  Every word of Scripture
breathed out by God.  That’s why at the Burning Bush God said to Moses, “Go
and I will be with thy mouth and teach thee what thou shalt say” (Exodus
4:12).  And Jeremiah, the weeping prophet of Judah, received this charge from
God, chapter 1, “Whatsoever I command thee, thou shalt speak.  Behold I have
put my words in your mouth.”  And God said to Ezekiel in chapter 3, “Son of
man, go get thee unto the house of Israel.  All My words that I shall speak
unto thee, receive in thine heart and hear with thine ears and go and speak

And so then, we have in the Bible the words out of the mouth of God.  2 Peter
1:21, that very important text says, “No prophecy,” that is, “No revelation
was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke
from God.”  The word “moved” means “carried along.”  They were carried along 
by the Holy Spirit.  Theologian Thomas Thomas, recalls that as a boy he would
play in the little streams that ran down the mountainside near his home. 

    We boys like to play what we call “boats.”  Our boat would be a
    little stick, which was placed in the water, and then we would run
    along beside it and follow it as it was washed downstream.  When
    the water would run rapidly over some rocks the little stick would
    move rapidly as well.  In other words, that little stick which
    served as my boyhood boat was carried along, borne along, under
    the complete control and direction of the water.  It moved as the
    water moved it.  So it is with reference to the writers of
    Scripture.  They were carried along, borne along, under the
    control and direction of the Holy Spirit of God.  They wrote as
    the Spirit directed them to write.  They were borne along by Him
    so that what they wrote was exactly that which the Holy Spirit
    intended should be there, and what they wrote was in a very real
    sense, not their words; it was the very Word of God.

That’s what we mean by inspiration, that the Bible is the very Word of God.

Now, a second question faces us now that we know what inspiration means. 
“What is the contemporary approach to Scripture?  What’s going on today that
threatens this?”  Moving outside the Charismatic movement, just a very quick
lesson, but you need to understand it.  Modern theologians want to allow for
continued inspiration.  In liberal theology or neo-orthodox theology, which
is liberal in the sense that it denies the inspiration of Scripture: they
want to deny.  They start from the denial point.  Liberal theology, as I told
you this morning, and neo-orthodox theology came out of “The Enlightenment,”
when man began to worship his own mind, believing that he was the ultimate
judge of all truth, being enamored with his intellectual capability.  Man
said, “I go to the Bible, I find all kinds of things that are not reasonable,
rational, logical.  All the supernatural and miraculous things that I can’t
comprehend, I eliminate.”  So he starts eliminating all of that.  So
immediately he, of course, denies the inspiration of Scripture.  It isn’t the
Word of God, it’s the word of men; it has to be changed because there is some
foolishness in here.

So, modern theology then reduces the Bible to just the best efforts of men. 
Well, once it is reduced to the best efforts of men then you can have
continuing revelation.  Right?  Because men can continue to make those kinds
of efforts.  So modern theology wants to allow for continued inspiration. 
Continued, updated, Word from the Lord in some sort of mystical, personal
way.  It is the best of men writing about their religious experiences, and
perhaps even prompted somehow by God to write down their own thoughts and
ideas.  At least one of these modern writers, Dewey Beagle by name, believes
that some of the classic anthems of the Church are inspired in the same way
as Scripture.  So this is how he would understand inspiration and he is very
popular.  He has written, “Some of the great hymns are practically on a par
with the Psalms.  And one can be sure that if Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley,
Augustus Toplaley (sp.) and Reginald Heber (sp.) had lived in the time of
David and Solomon and been no more inspired than they were in their own days,
some of their hymns and praise to God would have found their way into the
Hebrew Bible.” 

In other words, the kind of inspiration they’re talking about is just the
kind of sort of emotional, intellectual, stimulation that makes you write
down some good thoughts about God, but it is a human effort.  Beagle refers
in particular, for example, to George Matheson (sp.), a blind Scottish pastor
who wrote, “Oh love That Will Not Let Me Go,” and he says, “It’s that kind of
inspiration that characterizes the Bible writers.”  He says,

    What distinguishes the Bible is its record of special revelation,
    not a distinctive kind of inspiration.  It is just that the Bible
    has a unique revelation; that’s what makes it distinct, but the
    inspiration that brought that revelation, revelation being the
    content, inspiration being the process, the process of inspiration
    which brought that content is being repeated over and over again
    with new content.  So you have the Bible and then you have this,
    and then you have this, and then you have this, and then you have
    this, and it all comes through the same kind of inspiration.  The
    same kind of inspiration that, for example, is characteristic of
    one who writes good music. 

Beagle believes that the Canon of Scripture has never been closed.  He has
written that, “The revelation and inspiration of God’s Spirit continues, for
this reason there is no basis in considering all of the Biblical writers and
editors as qualitatively different from post canonical interpreters.”  It’s
all the same.  You just keep having revelation, you just keep having
revelation.  That’s neo-orthodoxy.  That’s liberalism.  And that is, in
effect, precisely what the Charismatic movement believes.  That is why,
beloved, you can have neo-orthodoxy and Charismaticism coexisting in an
institution, because they basically believe in an open canon.  They basically
believe in ongoing revelation.  They may define it a little differently, but
they believe that there’s still inspiration and revelation coming. 

That heretical view frightens any true Biblical scholar, any true believer in
Scripture, because it destroys the distinctiveness of the Bible.  If God is
still inspiring revelation, we have got real problems.  If the Canon of
Scripture is still opened, and God is still giving prophecies, and psalms,
and words of wisdom, and words of knowledge, then we ought to be seeking to
compile all that stuff, and we ought to be most interested in studying the
more recent revelations because they’re the ones that speak most directly to
our times.  By the way, some of the Charismatics can see the problem here. 
Their most popular magazine is a magazine called “Charisma.”  An article in
Charisma recently said this,

    To meditate on our personal prophecies, we should record them if
    at all possible.  If someone approaches us saying, he or she has a
    word from God, we should ask the person to wait a moment until we
    can get an audio recorder or else ask the person to write it down. 
    If the word comes from someone on the platform during a meeting
    that is not being recorded, we must try to write down as much as
    is possible, getting at least the main points.

“This is Scripture, we have to write it down!”  My friend that’s heresy. 
That is outright heresy that the Bible is still being written.  The Canon of
Scripture is not opened.  God’s Word, Old Testament and New Testament, is one
unique miracle.  It came together over a period of 1500 years.  More than 40
men of God, Prophets and Apostles wrote God’s word.  Every jot and every
tittle without error in perfect harmony, and when it was done it was done. 
No hymn is worthy to be compared to Scripture.  No modern mystical experience
can be spoken of in the same breath as Scripture. 

And that leads to a third query, “Is revelation progressive?”  These people
who say that it is progressive, are they right?  Going back to J. Rodman
Williams, a Charismatic theologian, he argues for ongoing revelation,

    In the Spirit, the present fellowship is as much the arena of
    God’s vital presence as anything in the Biblical account.  Indeed,
    in light of what we may learn from this past witness and take to
    heart, we may expect new things to occur in our day and in days to
    come.  In prophecy God speaks; it is as simple, and profound, and
    startling as that.  What happens in the fellowship is that the
    Word may suddenly be spoken by anyone present and so variously a
    “Thus says the Lord,” breaks forth in the fellowship.  It is
    usually in the first person, such as, “I am with you to bless
    you,” or has the directness of an, “I, Thou” encounter.  It comes
    not in a heavenly language but in the native tongue of the person
    speaking and with his accustomed inflections, cadences and
    manners.  Indeed, the speech may be coarse and ungrammatical, it
    may be a mixture of King James and modern, it may falter as well
    as flow.  Such really doesn’t matter for, in prophecy, God uses
    what He finds and through frail human instruments the Spirit
    speaks the Word of the Lord. 

Now that is as clear as you can ever hear it, that God is still giving
revelation.  Bad grammar, but revelation.

    [He continues]
    All of this, to repeat, is quite surprising and startling.  Most
    of us, of course, were familiar with prophetic utterances recorded
    in the Bible, and willing to accept it as the Word of God. 
    Isaiah’s or Jeremiah’s “Thus says the Lord” we were accustomed to,
    but to hear a Tom or a Mary today in the 20th Century speak the
    same way!  Many of us, also had convinced ourselves that prophecy
    ended with the New Testament until suddenly, through the dramatic
    thrust of the Holy Spirit, prophecy comes alive again.  Now we
    wonder how we could have misread the New Testament for so long.

“Now we wonder how we could have misread the New Testament for so long.”  In
other words he is saying, “The New Testament should have told us that
prophecy would continue.”  In a later issue of “Logos” magazine, when he was
taken to task for such foolish and heretical views, he tried to clarify his
view, and this is what he said,

    I do not intend, in any way, to place contemporary experience on the same
    level of authority as the Bible.  Rather, do I vigorously affirm the
    decisive authority of Scripture.  Hence, God does not speak just as
    authoritatively today as He spoke to the Biblical authors, but He does
    continue to speak.  Thus He moves through and beyond the records of past
    witness, [that’s the Bible], for He is the living God who still speaks
    and acts among His people.

Double talk!  Nonsense!  Pointless!  What do you mean?  He says, “I don’t
want to put this on the level of Scripture authority.  God isn’t speaking as
authoritatively today as He spoke in the Biblical time, but He is still
speaking.”  Well, what’s the difference?  This doesn’t matter?  This isn’t
authoritative?  This is erroneous?  That is double talk.  Are some of God’s
words less authoritative than others, or less true, or less accurate, or less
important?  The view of the Charismatics is not distinguishable as I said
from the neo-orthodox, who have an incessant kind of free flowing revelation. 
The Charismatics says it comes from a prophecy, a word of wisdom, a word of
knowledge, and the neo-orthodox says it’s whatever you feel, it’s whatever
happens inside of you becomes the Word of God to you.  But both of them
destroy the central doctrine of “Sola Scriptura.”

Once a congregation or a person sees Scripture as less than the final,
complete, infallible authority for faith and life, it has thrown open the
door to absolute chaos.  Absolute chaos.  Can you imagine being in a church,
where when people stand up and say they, “Have a word from the Lord,” and
you’re supposed to believe it every time?  Anybody could claim anything, and
they do.  They do, and pass it off as divine truth.  And corrupt Charismatic
leaders, the ones that are corrupt, and the ones that are self-aggrandizing
and do it for their own gain, do it all the time. 

Perhaps the most brazen example of that is a widely publicized prophecy
delivered by Kenneth Copeland.  He claims that Jesus gave him a message
during a three-day victory campaign held in Dallas, Texas.  Judge for
yourselves whether this could be a message from the Christ of Scripture.  I
am quoting Kenneth Copeland; this is what he said,

    It’s time for these things to happen, saith the Lord [this is his
    prophecy].  It’s time for spiritual activity to increase.  Oh yes,
    demonic activity will increase along at the same time, but don’t
    let that disturb you.  Don’t be disturbed when people accuse you
    of thinking you’re God.  Don’t be disturbed when people accuse you
    of a fanatical way of life.  Don’t be disturbed when people put
    you down and speak harshly and roughly of you; they spoke that way
    of me, should they not speak that way of you?  (And again he’s
    quoting Jesus)  The more you get to be like me, the more they are
    going to think that way of you.  They crucified me for claiming
    that I was God, but I didn’t claim I was God.  I just claimed I
    walked with Him and that He was in me.  Alleluia, that’s what your

You mean to tell me that Jesus gave him a revelation that said He didn’t
claim to be God?  Copeland’s prophecy is clearly false.  The real Jesus, the
Jesus of the New Testament did claim He was God.  Using the covenant name of
God He told the Jewish leaders, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham
was, I Am.”  Is Copeland genuinely a prophet, or is he one whom Peter spoke
of when he wrote, “False prophets also arose among the people just as there
will be false prophets among you.” 

Now, not all of these bizarre prophecies and visions are as clearly in
conflict with Scripture.  Some are merely frivolous, silly.  Like the guy
with the blue guitars and the Beatles.  Larry Lee wrote this,

    Several years ago one of my dear friends said, “Larry, when I was
    praying for you the other day I had a vision.  I saw you with
    great big Mickey Mouse ears.  Everything else about you looked
    normal except for those elephant sized ears.  When I asked the
    Lord to tell me what the vision meant, the Spirit of the Lord
    spoke back to me and said, ‘Larry Lee has developed his hearing;
    he has developed his spiritual ears.'”

Charismatics have abandoned the uniqueness of Scripture as the only Word of
God and the result is a mystical trivial, silly, and foolish heretical free-
for-all.  Longing for something new; longing for something sensational.  A
longing for some emotional experience has replaced settled confidence and
diligent study of God’s Word, and this invites Satan’s deceptive
counterfeits.  Melvin Hodges is a Charismatic pastor who has admitted his
strong reservations about these new revelations.  He’s an honest fellow. 
Melvin Hodges is very worried about all of these even though he’s a
Charismatic.  Let me quote what he says, just to show you that some of them
are concerned. 

    Today some people tend to magnify the gifts of Prophecy and
    Revelation out of their proper proportion.  Instances have
    occurred in which a church has allowed itself to be governed by
    gifts of inspiration.  Deacons have been appointed and pastors
    removed or installed by prophecy.  Chaos has resulted.  The cause
    is obvious; prophecy was never intended to usurp the place of
    ministries of government or of a gift or a word of wisdom.  Paul
    teaches us that the Body is not made up of one member but of many,
    and if prophecy usurps the role of wisdom or the word of
    knowledge, the whole Body is dominated by one ministry, that is
    prophecy.  In other words, the whole Body becomes ruled by the
    prophetic member.  The idea that the voice of prophecy is
    infallible has confused many people.  Some have felt it is a sin
    to question what they consider to be the voice of the Spirit. 
    However, in the ministry of all gifts there is cooperation between
    the divine and the human. 

What’s he saying?  Absolutely nothing!  But he understands there’s a problem,
but he hasn’t got clue one how to deal with it.  He didn’t say anything.  He
didn’t say a word about anything.  He didn’t give you any criteria to judge
anything.  All he’s saying is that we got to cooperate, we can’t have too
many prophecies, but he has nothing to say about how do you know it’s true or
not true.  He wants a way to resolve the confusion, but there isn’t any! 

Now, not all Charismatics would agree that the problem of abuse is one of
overemphasis.  Some think people just aren’t well trained enough.  One group
has started a School of the Prophets.  I’m quoting from their literature,

    Perhaps you feel that you have been called to be an oracle of the
    Lord; and have had difficulty explaining your experiences or
    finding someone that you could relate to and learn from.  The
    School of the Prophets is designed to help bring grounding and
    clarity to the myriad of dreams and visions that are the hallmark
    of a prophet and seer ministry, and to assist in the restoration
    of the prophetic ministry within the Body of Christ.  There are
    many that have become disillusioned and disenchanted with the
    prophetic ministry because of abuses and ignorant usage of the
    gifting.  “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”  For if
    you have had the bitter experience of the counterfeit, know that
    there is a reality to discover.  Abuses and misrepresentations
    occur simply because of the abomination of ignorance.  Come and be
    trained at the School of the Prophets, so that you will be
    properly prepared to fulfill the destiny that God has chosen for

So their suggestion is, you just got to have good training.  Take some good
courses and you will be an accurate prophet.  Is the distinction, by the way,
between true and false a matter of technique?  Is a true prophet a true
prophet because he has gone to school to learn how to do it?  Was there a
school to train the Biblical writers?  Listen, false prophecy is no Picadillo
(that means a trivial thing, trifling fault).  This is a major issue.  In
fact, if you were a prophet in the Old Testament and you missed one, you got
killed.  They executed you.  In spite of this, some Charismatics believe
anybody with any claim to have a Word from the Lord should be believed,
should be heard, and don’t even need a “Call” from God.  “Charisma” magazine
carried an ad teaching people how to listen to God’s voice and talk with Him
24 hours a day.  It said they could really be good at it!  They were teaching
how to get it and how to pass it on. 

It’s a lark!  No accountability.  And of course it points Christians away
from the Scripture which is trustworthy and teaches them to seek truth
through the Word.  Nothing in the Charismatic movement is as destructive as a
failure to adhere to Scripture alone.  It opens the movement to everything;
worse of all–demonic lies, seduction from spirits, pumping demon doctrine
through hypocritical liars (1 Tim 4).  Once you have gone beyond the Word,
you are in chaos and confusion. 

I want to conclude with just a brief statement about the close of the Canon
of Scripture, because I think it’s important.  Jude 3; you might want to look
at it.  We’ll bounce off of this for just a moment.  Jude, chapter 3.  It’s a
crucial passage on the completeness of the Bible.  Jude 3, 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 we should earnestly
contend,” now listen to this, “for the faith which was once for all delivered
unto the saints.”  Literally, the Greek text says, “The once for all
delivered to the saints, faith.”  In the Greek text the definite article
“the” preceding “faith” points to the one and only faith, there is no other. 
The one and only true faith.  Such passages as Galatians 1:23 refer to
preaching the faith.  First Timothy 4:1, “Some will fall away from ‘the’
faith.”  And so it is an objective use of the expression “the faith.” 

Greek scholar, Henry Alford is right when he says, “faith here is objective,
it means the sum of that which Christians believe.  It is not subjective
faith; that is, believing in a verbal sense.  It is a sum of what we believe,
the Christian faith.”  “The Faith,” he says, “is once for all delivered.” 
“Once for all” is hapax (Greek), it refers to something done once and no
more.  Done once and no more.  It has lasting results; it never needs
repetition.  The faith was once for all delivered.  Delivered.  The Christian
faith then is complete.  It is unchangeable, which is to say, that it does
not need to be fixed; it does not need to be edited; it does not need
additions or deletions.  Every doctrine and every revelation that has arisen
since is a false doctrine or a false revelation.  All claims to additional
revelation are false claims and must be rejected. 

The word “delivered” is important as well.  In the Greek it is an Aorist
Passive Participle which in this context indicates an act completed in the
past with no continuing element.  An act completed in the past with no
continuing element.  Once in the past, once for all, never to be repeated,
the faith was delivered.  And so through the Scriptures, God has given us a
body of truth that is final and complete.  Our Christian faith rests on
historical and objective revelation.  That rules out all prophecies, all
seers, all forms of new revelation until God speaks again in the end times. 

Now you can see the pattern of this even in looking at Scripture.  The Old
Testament was written.  The final books, Ezra and Nehemiah, they’re not the
final ones in your Bible chronologically, but they were the final ones
written.  There was a rearrangement of the order of the books.  But after the
time of Ezra and Nehemiah, when the Old Testament was completed, there was no
more revelation.  Four hundred years of silence.  No prophet spoke God’s
revelation.  For four hundred years, no prophet spoke.  Why?  God was making
a point, the revelation is complete, it is done.  And no prophet existed for
four hundred years.  And God was punctuating the completion of the Old
Testament Canon with silence and sending a message to us that said,
“Revelation doesn’t go on all the time, it has an ending point.” 

The silence was finally broken and a prophet came.  He was related to the
Messiah and his name was John the Baptist, and God began to speak the New
Testament revelation.  And when the New Testament revelation was
done–revelation was done.  The last book was Revelation, penned by John in
96 AD, and it was over.  By the Second Century, the complete Canon (the word
canon means standard, rule, faith and practice), the complete New Testament
exactly as we have it today was popularly recognized.  Church councils in the
fourth century made it official, the Canon was complete.  And from then on
God has been silent as to revelation.  Just as the close of the Old Testament
was followed by silence, the close of the New Testament has been followed by
the utter absence of new revelation in any form.  Since the Book of
Revelation was written there has been no new written or verbal revelation
from God.  Scripture is the test of everything, it is the Christian’s only

Spurious books have been offered.  The Roman Catholic Church includes the
Apocrypha.  The Roman Catholic Church accepts it as Scripture but it is not. 
If you study it you will find, as I did when I studied it in seminary, there
are errors of history, errors of geography, and gross errors in theology. 
Jerome, who lived from 345AD to 419AD was a spokesman for excluding the
Apocrypha books.  Some of the early Church fathers, most notably, Augustine,
did accept them, though not necessarily on a par with the Hebrew Old
Testament.  Finally, in the 16th Century the Reformers affirmed “Sola
Scriptura,” the truth the Bible alone is authoritative, denied the Apocrypha
any place among the inspired writings.  It never had had any and it shouldn’t
of have.  The Roman Church reacted against the Reformers in the Council of
Trent from 1545 to 1563, stating that all of the Apocrypha was canonical. 
And Protestants and Catholics have maintained the disparity to this day.  If
you have a Catholic Bible you’ll find the Apocrypha is in the middle.  Those
are spurious, uninspired books.

How did Christians know the inspired books from the ones that weren’t
inspired?  There were three tests.  One was Apostolic Authorship.  It was
written by an Apostle or a close associated of an Apostle.  For example, Mark
was not an Apostle but the companion of Peter who was.  Luke was not an
Apostle but worked closely with Paul who was.  A second test by the early
Church was content.  Was the content consistent with Apostolic Doctrine?  Was
it absolutely accurate doctrinally?  This was very important because the
heretics were writing the false books, but in all of the false books there
was false teaching because why would a heretic write a book about truth? 
He’d want to get a heresy in.  Heretics tried to worm their way into the
Church.  Their doctrinal errors were easily spotted because they contradicted
the Apostle’s teachings.  A third test was the response of the Churches: if
God’s people accepted it, used it for worship, made it a part of their lives. 
If Christians were universally being taught and blessed by the Book that was
another stamp of approval. 

By 404 AD, the Latin Vulgate version of the Bible was complete.  It was the
earliest known translation of all 66 books of the Bible, and they were the
very same 66 in 404 AD that we have in our Bible today.  God spoke once for
all, delivered it and preserved it through the ages and you have it exactly
the way he delivered it.  True churches always believed the Bible is
complete.  The Charismatic movement doesn’t believe that.  Now, they want to
deny that they are adding to Scripture, but their views on prophetic
utterance, prophetic gifts, knowledge, wisdom, visions, dreams, revelations,
add to Scripture.  Unwittingly, they undermine the uniqueness and the
authority of the Word of God.  You see, Christians can’t play fast and loose
with inspiration and revelation, or they will never be able to distinguish
the voice of God, from the voice of man, from the voice of Satan. 

The Holy Spirit is working mightily, I believe, in the Church today, but not
in the way that most Charismatics think.  The Holy Spirit’s role is to
empower the Church to preach the Word; to empower the Church to teach the
Word; to empower the Church to write about the Word, that it might be
understood.  The Holy Spirit is empowering the Church to worship according to
truth, to witness to the truth and proclaim it, to grow by the study of the
Word, and to serve as the Word calls and commands.  He does lead us into
God’s truth and He directs us into God’s will for our lives through the Word,
not through new revelation.  “God told me,” is a dangerous and heretical
model for anyone to take, because it opens to chaos, confusion, mysticism,
subjectivism, demons and deception. 

“All Scripture, given by inspiration of God is profitable.”  It is completely
profitable.  It is so profitable that the man of God is made perfect by it
thoroughly furnished unto all good works.  Right?  And the Scripture is
sufficient; we need nothing more than this.  And once you introduce any more
than this the chaos is irretrievable.  That’s the tragedy of the Charismatic
movement and that is why it is in chaos.  That is why there are some people
in the movement who are tearing their hair out because they can’t control
what’s going on.  But once you allow for additional revelation its gone,
there’s no control.  This Word is all that God wanted us to have “Once for
all delivered.” 

Let’s bow in prayer.  Father, we thank you for the affirmation again tonight
as we think through these things.  That your Word is sufficient.  That we
have a faith once for all delivered to the saints.  It had a beginning and an
end.  You spoke and then you were silent, and now you work to implement and
apply and proclaim this already revealed truth.  We pray for people caught in
the confusion of new revelations, the chaos.  Who thus are turned away from
the single authority of Scripture and the responsibility to diligently study
it and find themselves running after and pursuing mystical experiences that
mean nothing.  That is nothing holy and righteous but things confusing and
even demonic.  Deliver folks from that Father.  Take them into the green
pastures of your Word where their souls are fed with all the nourishment they
could ever need.  We thank you for this treasure.  Nothing is to be compared
with it.  We acknowledge the great gift that it is, and desire to live by it. 
In Christ’s name.  Amen.

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