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Charismatic Chaos - Part 9

Written by: MacArthur Jr., John    Posted on: 04/02/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN

The following message was delivered at Grace Community Church in Panorama City, California, By John MacArthur Jr.  It was transcribed from the tape, GC 90-60, titled "Charismatic Chaos" Part 9.  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 9, to strengthen and encourage the true Church of Jesus Christ.

                        Charismatic Chaos - Part 9

                          "Does God Still Heal?"

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

Well, as you know, we are involved in a study of the Charismatic movement, the contemporary movement, and tonight we come to a section entitled, "Does God Still Heal?"  Now, in the messages that I have been giving we have intersected with the thoughts about healing, and we have said some things about that in some of our prior studies and we are not going to repeat those things.  But there is much more that needs to be said tonight as we evaluate a movement that advocates healing.  In fact, if there is anything that would be typically Charismatic or typically characteristic of the modern Pentecostal movement, Third Wave movement, or Charismatic movement, it would be a major emphasis on healing, and we need to understand that. 

Let me begin with some illustrations that set the scene for us.  A familiar name to anybody who studies the Charismatic movement and delves into the issues of healing is the name of a man, Hobart Freeman, a very interesting man, at one time a professor of Old Testament at Grace Theological Seminary, from which our own Dick Mayhue graduated.  And when he was a professor there in Old Testament, he was considered to be the finest communicator, the finest teacher there.  In fact, Hobart Freeman wrote a very significant book entitled, "An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophets" which, in 1969, was published and printed by the Moody Bible Institute.  So he was considered by everybody to be a mainline evangelical professor, one who not only understood but could adroitly teach the truth of Scripture.

Somewhere along the line he changed.  Hobart Freeman believed that God had healed him from Polio.  Nonetheless, one of Freeman's legs was so much shorter than the other that he had to wear corrective shoes and walked with great difficulty.  Freeman became a pastor.  He began his ministry as a Baptist and after he had written and taught for some years, in the mid 60's he became very fascinated with "faith healing," and it moved him into the Charismatic movement, and then it moved him further and further towards the fringes of that movement.  He started his own church in Claypool, Indiana; it was known as Faith Assembly and it grew to more than 2,000 members.  Meetings were held in a building which he called the "Glory Barn" and Church services were closed to non-members. 

So it was kind of a secretive and cultic association.  Freeman and the Faith Assembly congregation utterly disdained all medical treatment.  He believed that modern medicine was an extension of ancient witchcraft and black magic.  To submit to a doctor's remedies, Freeman believed, was to expose oneself to demonic influence.  Expectant mothers in Freeman's congregation were told that they must give birth at home with the help only of a church sponsored midwife rather than go to a hospital delivery room or to be treated by a doctor.  By the way, obedience to that teaching, cost a number of mothers and infants their lives.  In fact, over the years, at least 90 church members died as a result of ailments that would have been easily treatable.  No one really knows what the actual death toll would be if nationwide figures could be compiled on all the other people who followed Hobart Freeman's teaching.

After a 15 year old girl whose parents belong to Faith Assembly, died of a medically treatable malady, the parents were convicted of negligent homicide and sentenced to ten years in prison.  Freeman himself was charged with aiding and inducing reckless homicide in the case.  Shortly afterward, on December 8, 1984, Freeman himself died, interestingly enough of pneumonia and heart failure complicated by a severely ulcerated leg. 

Hobart Freeman's theology did not allow him to acknowledge that Polio had left one of his legs disfigured and lame.  Quote, he said, "I have my healing."  And that is all he would say when anyone pointed out the rather conspicuous inconsistency between his physical disabilities and his theology.  Ultimately, his refusal to acknowledge his infirmities cost him his life.  He had dutifully, according to his own theology, refused all medical treatment for the maladies that were killing him, and medical science could easily have prolonged his life, but in the end he was a victim of his own teaching.

Now, Hobart Freeman is a very familiar name to those involved in Faith Healing, but he is not the only one.  There is another one who succumbed to ailments and that is a man by the name of William Brannom (sp.), and if you study anything about the healing movement you are going to come across the name of William Brannom (sp.).  He would be the father of the post World War II healing revival.  He was a man reputed to have been instrumental in some of the most spectacular healings that the Pentecostals have ever seen.  He died, however, in 1965 at age 56, after suffering for six days from injuries received in an automobile accident.  His theology was unbiblical and heretical, and of course when applied to himself his theology of healing had no effect whatsoever, though his followers right to the end, were confident God was going to raise him up.  And even after he died they believed that God would raise him from the dead.

As a boy, I was brought to become aware of another Faith Healer who became very, very famous, a man by the name of A. A. Allen.  And A. A. Allen, about whom I read and whom I followed with curiosity, was a famed "Tent Evangelist."  He took his healing meeting from place to place in a tent.  Interestingly enough, A. A. Allen claimed thousands upon thousands of healings, and himself died of sclerosis of the liver in 1967, having secretly been involved with alcohol for many years while supposedly being able to heal everybody else. 

Perhaps a more familiar name in the healing movement would be the name of one who is elevated almost to the status of the Roman Catholic elevation of Mary, and that's a woman by the name of Kathryn Kuhlman.  Kathryn Kuhlman died of heart failure in 1976, curiously enough.  She had battled heart disease for nearly twenty years, and that statement is made by Jamie Buckingham who would have been one of her disciples. 

Another one that comes to mind, Ruth Carter Stapleton, was the Faith Healing sister of former United States President Jimmie Carter.  [She] refused medical treatment for cancer because of her belief in faith healing.  She died of the disease in 1983.  And even John Wimber, who would be probably the most prominent modern contemporary Third Wave healer, struggles with chronic angina and heart problems.  He begins his book on Power Healing with a personal note.  This is what it says; quoting John Wimber, he says,

      I had what doctors later suspected were a series of coronary       attacks.  When we returned home a series of medical tests       confirmed my worst fears, I had a damaged heart, possibly       seriously damaged.  Tests indicated that my heart was not       functioning properly, a condition complicated and possibly       caused by high blood pressure.  These problems combined with my       being overweight and overworked meant that I could die at any       time.

Wimber writes that he sought God and he says that God told him that in the same way Abraham waited for his child, I was to wait for my healing.  In the meantime, he says, "He told me to follow my doctor's orders."  Wimber writes, "I wish I could write that at this time I am completely healed, that I no longer have physical problems, but if I did it would not be true."  Now, it seems obvious, at least a curiosity to all of us, that so many leading advocates of faith healing are sick! 

Annette Capps (sp.), the daughter of Faith Healer Charles Capps (sp.), and herself a Faith Healer, raised that question in her book; her book is entitled "Reverse the Curse in Your Body and Emotions."  This is what she writes,

      People have stumbled over the fact that the so-called "Healing       Minister" later became ill or died.  They say, "I don't       understand this.  If the Power of God came into operation and       all those people were healed, why did the evangelist get sick?        Why did he or she die?"  The reason is because healings that       take place in meetings like that are a special manifestation of       the Holy Spirit.  This is different from using your own faith.        The evangelist who is being used by God in the gifts of       healings, is still required to use his own faith in the Word of       God to receive divine health and divine healing for his own       body.  Why?  Because the gifts of healings are not manifested       for the individual who is ministering, they are for the benefit       of the people.

Now that double-talk basically means that somebody could have faith for somebody else's healing but not enough faith for their own healing.  And so, sometimes without faith for their own healing they die, while they have enough faith for other people's healings who live.  She goes on to say,

      Over the years I have seen various manifestations of the gifts       of healing in my own ministry, but I have always had to use my       own faith in God's word for my healing.  There have been times       that I have been attacked with illness in my body but as I       ministered many were healed even though I did not feel well.  I       had to receive my healing through faith and acting on God's       word.

Thus, she astonishingly concludes that if a Faith Healer gets sick, it is because his or her personal faith is somehow deficient when applied to his or herself.  Now, to take that a step further, you must understand that these people go so far as to say, "That even Jesus Himself sometimes did not have the faith required for people to be healed." 

Perspectives on Faith Healing often seem as varied as the number of Faith Healers around.  Some say that God wants to heal all sickness, others come close to conceding that God's purposes may sometimes be fulfilled in our illness and infirmity.  Some equate sickness with sin; others stop short of that, but still find it hard to explain why spiritually strong people get sick.  Some people just "flat out" blame the devil, and they think if they can tie the devil up in a knot and send him off to Tibet or something [then] everybody will get well.

Some claim to have the "Gifts of Healing;" others say they have no unusual healing ability, they simply are used of God to show people the way of faith.  A lot of people used to say they had the "Gift of Healing" but the chicanery they were using has for so many years been exposed that nobody today can get away with that stuff anymore.  So now they just claim they don't have the "Gift of Healing," they just sort of pray and have faith and God does what He wants.  Some will say they heal with a physical touch; some will say you heal through anointing with oil; others say they can speak forth a healing, that they can speak it into existence; some people say they can only pray for a healing, and so forth and so on.  And there are healers who just keep changing from one approach to another as the chicanery and the charlatanism of the healing movement becomes exposed and they have to change their methodology. 

Always a Faith Healer, the well known Oral Roberts used to claim that he could heal.  He claimed great powers of healing; he no longer claims that.  Oral Roberts claimed God had called him, in fact, to build a massive hospital.  And He said this massive hospital would blend conventional medicine with Faith Healing.  If you visit the city of Tulsa, as I did this summer, you are absolutely astonished at this facility.  It is mind boggling to see a sixty story building rising out of a weed patch outside Tulsa, Oklahoma, and next to it a thirty story building rising as well, now completely vacant and most of it unfinished on the inside.  In the face of huge financial losses apparently God changed His mind and declared that the whole thing should be closed down.  It is a monument to the unfulfilled promises of Faith Healing.  Nonetheless, in spite of these bizarre claims that never come to pass, Faith Healing and the Charismatic movement keep growing. 

Charles Fox Pharham (sp.) who is the father of the contemporary Pentecostal movement, came to the conviction originally (this is way back at the turn of the century when the Charismatic movement was then known as Pentecostalism and just starting) he claimed that God desired all believers to have complete healing and he developed that into an entire Pentecostal system, and then it began to flow through the leaders.  Amy Simple McPherson (who founded the Foursquare Church), Angelus Temple (sp.), E. W. Kenyon, William Brannom (sp.), Kathryn Kuhlman, Oral Roberts, Kenneth Hagan, Kenneth Copeland, Fredrick Price, Jerry Seville (sp.), Charles Capps (sp.), Norval Hayes, Robert Tilton, Benny Hinn, Larry Lee, and on and on it goes.  They have all headlined their public meetings with healing. 

There are even Catholic Charismatics such as Father John Bertilucci (sp.), and Francis McNutt (sp.) who have followed suit seeing that the Charismatic healing emphasis is a natural extension of Roman Catholic tradition.  And then in the last phase of this so called "The Third Wave" in which we talked about leaders like John Wimber and others, Paul Cane (sp.) and the Kansas City Prophets, et al., have made healing a central element in their repertoire.  The claims and methods of these Faith Healers range frankly from the eccentric to the grotesque.  A few years ago I received--I receive everything in the mail; if they don't send it to me, somebody who wants me to see it does.  And I have received bottles of healing oil and healing water and all kinds of things--but I received a miracle prayer cloth, and in it the message said, and I am quoting,

      Take this special miracle prayer cloth and put it under your       pillow and sleep on it tonight.  Or you may want to place it on       your body or on a loved one.  Use it as a release point wherever       you hurt.  First thing in the morning send it back to me in the       "green" envelope.  Do not keep this prayer cloth, return it to       me.  I will take it, pray over it all night.  Miracle power will       flow like a river.  God has something better for you, a special       miracle to meet your needs.

Now, these are the kinds of things that go on all the time.  And of course in the "green" envelope you not only send the cloth but you send some "green" money as well.  Green being a good reminder of what color they would like to see.  Interestingly enough, the sender of the prayer cloth feels he has biblical support for doing this.  While Paul was in Ephesus, you remember God performed extraordinary miracles through him, and according to Acts 19, it says, "Handkerchiefs or aprons were carried from his body to the sick and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them."  And as we have been seeing in the series, however, Paul and the other apostles had been given unique power, and we talked about Apostolic Power as unique power; certainly nothing in the New Testament suggests that anybody could send out handkerchiefs and they are going to produce miracles.

Kenneth Hagan (sp.) tells of one Faith Healer he heard of who used a method that I have never personally witnessed.  Kenneth Hagen (sp.) writes,

      He'd always spit on them, every single one of them.  He'd spit       in his hand and rub it on them.  That's the way he ministered.        If there was something wrong with your head, he'd spit in his       hand and rub it on your forehead.  If you had stomach trouble,       he'd spit in his hand and rub it on your clothes and on your       stomach.  If you had something wrong with your knee, he'd spit       in his hand and rub it on your knee.  And all the people would       get healed.   

Other gimmicks, not quite that uncouth, but every bit as outlandish, also can be visualized everyday as you watch your television set.  Some ask for "Seed Faith" money.  Oral Roberts often says that if you donate money to him, that is in effect a down payment on your own personal healing.  Robert Tilton regularly devises simple ploys; [he] pledges special healings and financial miracles to people who send him money; the larger the gift, the better the miracle.  "It's in direct proportion to how much money you send," he says.  Pat Robertson will peer into the camera and as if he can see into people's living rooms describe people who are being healed that very moment.  Benny Hinn recently healed fellow Faith Healer and Talk Show Host Paul Crouch (sp.).  He healed him on the live broadcast of the Trinity Network.  After Hinn had released his anointing to a roomful of people, Crouch step forward to testify that he had been miraculously cured of a persistent ringing in the ears he had been suffering from for years.  And on and on it goes, this list of fantastic claims, incredible stories of healings grow at a frantic pace, but real evidence of genuine miracles is conspicuously absent.

And everywhere you go people are asking questions about this.  From all sides comes confusion, questions, contradictions.  Now as we study the Scripture, we find there are three categories of spiritual gifts, if we want to call them that.  First would be the category we could say are gifted men like apostles, prophets, evangelists, and teaching pastors.  These are the men themselves given as gifts from Christ to the Church.  And then we could say there are the permanent edifying gifts and the temporary sign gifts (the other two categories).  Permanent edifying gifts would be gifts related to knowledge, and wisdom, and preaching, and teaching, and exhortation, and faith, and discernment, and showing mercy, and giving, and administration, and helps, and those things that have an ongoing ministry in the Church. 

And then there are those temporary sign gifts, in other words, divine enablements given by the Holy Spirit for a temporary period of time as a sign for a very special purpose.  These are listed for us in Scripture; they are miracles, healings, tongues (or languages), and the interpretation or translation of those languages. 

Now, we have noted in our study that such sign gifts had a unique purpose: very simple--they were to identify the authentic spokesman for God.  First of all, Jesus did miracles.  Jesus cast out demons.  He did miracles that fall into three categories: Miracles of Physical Healing; Miracles of Demonic Deliverance; and Miracles of Natural Phenomena, like walking on water, or stilling the sea, feeding the people by multiplying bread and fish.  And those miracles were to demonstrate to people that Jesus was not a mere man, but that He was the Messiah of God.  It should be very clear to everyone who saw Him that this was not a man, because no man could do what He did. 

And so Christ had unique capability to do supernatural things in order to draw attention to the fact that He was unique.  In fact, you need to remember that up until the time of Jesus Christ, there was nobody who could just go around healing people.  There were some healings in the Old Testament, and there were some miracles of nature, and there were some powerful exhibitions of God's supernatural work: in creation, and the flood, and many other supernatural powerful things; but as far as a miracle, which is a subcategory of the supernatural. . .sometimes people say, "Well, you people always say there are only three eras of miracles," (and that would be: the Time of Moses; and then Elijah and Elisha; and then Christ and the Apostles, and those are the only three periods of miracles).  And then they will say, "Well, that's not true, because creation was miracle, and the flood was a miracle," and they will go right on through, "Jacob wrestled with an angel and that was a miracle, and God was always doing supernatural things."  But they fail to make the clear distinction that "miracle" is a technical term: it is a subcategory for the supernatural. 

God is always acting in a supernatural way, even today.  Every time someone is saved that is a supernatural work.  But "miracle" is a technical term to describe an act of God which He does through a human agency, and they are very rare.  And even when you go back into the Old Testament and you find miracles where God acts through a human instrumentation to authenticate his messenger and the message, they are rare and nothing like the healing ministry of Jesus.  No one ever just roamed everywhere, healing everybody.

So what you have in the case of Jesus [is something] you have never seen before.  Nothing like this has ever happened before in the history of the world.  And so this is a very unique thing.  And to assume that it never happened before (to know that by Old Testament revelation) and it happened at the time of Christ, uniquely, and then it faded out in the end of the New Testament era, and now for some strange reason it has all come back at the same level as once it did and we are supposed to have this massive kind of healing going on as it did in the day of Christ, is to demonstrate an imbalanced and an unsound perspective of the purpose of the miracle ministry of Jesus.  It was to authenticate His Messiahship, and it is therefore irreproducible and unrepeatable.

And so Jesus did unique things which were unique to His own ministry.  Now, it is true that Jesus passed on to the Apostles power in two of the three categories.  Remember now, He healed diseases, He had power over demons, and He did miracles of nature (natural phenomenon).  The first two he gave the Apostles.  They never did any miracles of nature.  But "Peter," you say, "Walked on water!"  Yes, but that was a miracle Christ was performing and that occurred only in His presence.  They never did anything like "Feed the 5,000" or "Walk on water" after that, or "Still a storm" or anything like that.  The only two things they were given power to do were "cast out demons and heal the sick (including raising the dead)." 

But in their case, again, these were to point to them as the messengers of God.  There was no printed New Testament and it was very essential that among all of the people who were saying that they spoke for God somebody be able to tell who was real, and you could tell because they had power over demons and power over disease.  And so they were given that ability to do those things.  And the Apostles could do them, and those closely associated with the Apostles could do them. 

Go back into Matthew 10:1, "Having summoned His twelve disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out," (and that by the way is the Gift of Miracles: miracle is "dunamis (Greek)" power, power over the forces of demons) "and He gave them the power to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness."  And that was granted to the Twelve.  Later on you find out that that group was expanded and it included the Seventy.  Remember when He sent the Seventy, two-by-two and gave them the same power?  So it was a very small group.  "These were the signs," says Paul, of a true Apostle.  "Signs and wonders and miracles," 2 Corinthians 12:12.  They were limited in scope--only casting out demons and healing diseases, and they were limited in terms of who received them--only the Apostles and the Seventy commissioned directly by Jesus, those who worked alongside the Apostles.  It never went beyond that. 

It never became common for anybody and everybody in the Church to do this.  There is no indication that the evangelists, that the prophets (with a few exceptions: Barnabas, Philip, Stephen, and those very early men), never an indication that teaching pastors could do this, and certainly no indication that members of the Church, the Body of Christ, could do this.  These were unique apostolic gifts.  When you study the epistles of Paul--and Paul is very clear about the fact that if you have problems with Satan and demons you don't find somebody who can chase them away: you put on your armor.  Right?  "We have spiritual weapons to battle against those forces," he said. 

Now if false teachers want credibility it is very obvious that they can sure draw a crowd and gain creditability if they can heal.  And so that is always a kind of ploy that is used by false teachers--it has been so in history, whether you are talking about tribal witch doctors in Shamanism, in Animism, and in Paganism, or whether you are talking about Occultic kinds of healings, or New Age kind of mind healings, or whether you are talking about the charlatans and the frauds who parade themselves even as Christian healers.  It is a great way to draw a crowd.  Why?  Because the number one human anxiety is illness and death. 

Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden disease has been a terrible reality, and for millennia the search for cures to alleviate illness and suffering has consumed mankind.  And I will tell you that if I could choose one gift, if God would give me one gift that I don't have and I could ask Him for it and get it, I would ask Him for the gift of healing.  I mean, if it was available to me.  Can you imagine what you could accomplish with it?  There are many occasions when I have wished that I could heal.  I have stood in a room in a hospital watching a precious child die of Leukemia while the parents wept.  I prayed with a dear friend as inoperable cancer ate at his insides.  I have stood by helplessly as a young person fought for life in an intensive care unit, the result of a motorcycle or an automobile accident.  I have seen teenagers crushed through those kinds of things.  I have watched their parents in agony. 

I have seen people in the hospital on the edge of death with a gunshot wound.  I have watched people lie comatose while machines try to keep their vital signs alive, at least on a screen, if not in reality.  I watched a close friend weaken and die after an unsuccessful heart transplant.  I have seen friends in terrible pain from surgery.  I know people who are permanently disabled with sickness and injury.  I see babies born with heart breaking deformities.  I have helped people learn to cope with amputations and other tragic losses.  I have been there when a mother was holding to her arms, in the bedroom, a dead baby who had died of "crib death."

If I could wish for anything, I could certainly wish that I could do that--heal all those people.  Think how thrilling it would be.  Think how rewarding it would be to have that gift.  Think of what it would be like to go into a hospital among the sick and the dying, walk up and down the hall and touch people and heal them like Jesus did.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to go into the Cancer Ward and the Heart Disease Ward and the Aids Ward, and all the other places and just heal everybody.  And somewhere along the line you want to ask these Charismatic healers why they don't assemble all of themselves and go down to that place and let's see if they have the power to heal!  Opportunities to heal the sick are unlimited.  And if, as Charismatics claim, such miracles are "Signs and Wonders," (listen carefully, they say this) if they are "Signs and Wonders" designed to convince unbelievers that the gospel is true, then wouldn't that be the way to really convince them?

But strangely, the healers rarely, if ever, come out of their tents, rarely ever come out of their buildings, rarely ever come out of their television studios.  I have never seen them in a hospital.  I have never seen them walking down a ward with a camera follow

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