Posted in charismatic, discernment, strange fire

Strange Fire Q & A: How do we distinguish between the Spirit prompting us, and our own thoughts?

One hundred years ago, the modern Pentecostal movement was born. By October 2013 the Pentecostal movement has morphed into the Charismatic movement with its particular brand of false doctrine and had infected much of western Christianity and polluted quite a bit of Christianity abroad. The excesses of the movement include faith healing, reports of raising the dead, babbling tongues, alleged prophecies and direct revelation, disorderly church services and worse. The movement assaulted the sufficiency of scripture, the inerrancy of scripture, besmirched the name of Jesus Christ and damaged the faith of many. 

John MacArthur and his team at Grace To You took a stand against this movement and sought to bring clarity to why its doctrines needed comparison to the Bible correction. To that end, they organized the Strange Fire Conference, held in the fall of 2013. One of the main purposes of the conference was to initiate a substantive discussion about these issues. It achieved its purpose. Every sermon preached at the conference rebuked the movement simply by preaching the truth, and brought correct biblical doctrine to the fore. Given the outcry, it seems that the effect was immediate.

There were many good questions asked at the various seminars and Q & A sessions held during the conference period, but not all of them could be immediately answered. After the conference concluded, ministers and theologians at Grace Community Church and The Master’s Seminary wrote out answers to these unanswered questions, compiled them, and put them on one web page.

The page is a treasure trove of good, solid rebuttals to and practical helps about what to do if encountering Charismatic doctrines in your church, in your family, or in yourself.


Epidemic in the Charismatic movement is the acceptance of personal revelations. Everybody and their brother it seemed is hearing from Jesus and were eager to share “a word from the Lord”. Such practices assault the sufficiency of scripture, of course, and must be corrected. However, one book is doing its level best to continue to attack the sufficiency of God’s word-  Jesus Calling. Jesus Calling was published in 2004, 16 years ago now, but is still on the bestseller lists. Friends, Jesus is not calling. he has spoken and His word is contained in the closed canon of scripture. The book has spawned a cottage industry of studies, devotionals, children’s books, and other material that has never stopped polluting the faith. Indeed, it seems to be increasing in its staying power and corrupt work.

Here is just one of the Questions and Answers in the Strange Fire Q&A page.

Q. How do we distinguish between the legitimate prompting of the Holy Spirit and our own thoughts or will?
A. While God can prompt us to think or do something, He has not given a clear and objective mechanism to identify when He is doing that. Since no one can identify with absolute certainty the source of the impressions he experiences, he must not ascribe authority to them or rely upon them as direction from God. John MacArthur gives good advice on that point in this downloadable audio. Mistaking a personal impression for divine guidance can lead us far astray from God’s will and may cause serious problems in our lives. 

How should a Christian respond to what he thinks might be a leading of the Holy Spirit? By comparing the impression with the objective, authoritative revelation God gave us—the Scripture. So, does the thought you are having agree with biblical theology? Is the action condemned or condoned in God’s Word? Will that choice ultimately bring glory to God? As you answer these questions in light of biblical teaching, you can know whether you are walking in the will of God.

I would also encourage you to listen to John’s two messages on the topic of understanding God’s will for your life. You can listen to the messages here.


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.