The universe exists so that God will accomplish the redemption of man.
It’s that simple.
“As we read in Colossians, “All things created by Him and for Him.” And what is this grand design? What is this grand purpose? What is God doing? Why did He create this universe? Why did He create the earth? Why did He put on the earth all these creatures? Why did He make man? What is the point of all of this? (Colossians 1:16).
“And the answer is, “The grand design is redemption.” The grand design is the gathering of a redeemed people into eternal glory for the purpose of worshiping Him forever and ever.”
~John MacArthur, “The Theology of Creation”
To that end, Jesus commissioned emissaries to go forth with the message of redemption, AKA the Good News AKA the Gospel. Some proclaim it nearby and others go far afield. The ones who go far are missionaries, bringing the good news to every nation, tribe, and tongue. (Matthew 18:16-20; Acts 1:8).
God will sovereignly ensure all will occur as He designed it to occur as He said in Isaiah 46:9. It will happen. He said in Isaiah 46:9. “Remember the former things long passed. I am God, there is no other. I am God, there’s no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done saying, ‘My purpose will be established, I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’”
However, that is not to say that from our one-dimensional view down here on earth, that there won’t be heartbreaks, apparent setbacks, and distress among us as His plan is being carried out from above.
I keep up with a couple of missionaries who our denomination supports, via the Southern Baptist Convention and International Mission Board. The couple is in Central America, in the jungle. They have worked with a local man for a year who is a Pastor. This pastor travels over rough jungle roads to reach a family who lives in the jungle who had opened their home to the Pastor. He travels long to reach the place, and does the weekly bible studies. He travels so long he must stay overnight there. They had hopes to plant a church there, eventually. Above, Jungle, Wikipedia commons
This month’s mission report says that though we all expect opposition from without, the missionary couple were blindsided from within.
The local pastor who travels to the jungle there each week, “was told by the head of this family that they will no longer host the Baptist meetings. The reason: they have been led to believe by leaders of their church that Baptists do not believe in the Holy Spirit because we do not speak in tongues and have experiences like being “slain in the Spirit.” This is not the first time we have encountered this attitude from those we call our brothers in Christ.”
Until now, the worst battles had been against shamanism, Mayanism and Catholicism, all of which are so rampant in Central & South America. But now missionaries must also battle the worst examples of Pentecostalism from inside our own Protestant denominations? Sad!
The same is happening in Africa. Pastor Conrad Mbewe of Reformed Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia speaks often about evangelical issues in Africa. One of the issues with the decline of the church in his native land, he says, have also been the excesses of Charismatic Pentecostalism. Above, Africa.
This week he wrote,
“A century or two ago, Christian missionaries came from the West and taught us the Bible. As a result of this, we did away with polygamy, cannibalism, tribal feuds, etc. We were taught to put on more clothing to hide our nakedness. We learned to desist from tattooing our bodies, which were now temples of the living God. We even stopped sacrificing our babies to ancestral spirits.”
Yet this is the reality today, he wrote last May
“I am reminded of the many claims to healings that are made by “anointed” Charismatic preachers. Every week, there are tens of thousands of miracle services conducted across the country and the continent. When I say that these are just publicity and fundraising gimmicks, sincere Christians are often horrified at my saying so. When I then ask them to give me the name and address of one person whom they know who was once blind but now sees, or was a cripple (on a wheelchair or on crutches) who now walks, or was deaf and dumb but now speaks, they suddenly sober up and admit that they do not know anyone. “Sources” have told them of many people who have been healed.”
Clint Archer, one of the team at The Cripplegate, and a pastor in South Africa, interviewed Mr Mbewe a few months ago at the African Pastors’ Conference. Archer asked,
“What information would be helpful for Evangelicals in the West to know about the state of the African church?“
Pastor Mbewe responded,
The Christians in the economically and educationally challenged areas of Central Africa are in a state of what I call “blessed ignorance.” I find that in general their hearts are with Christ and they are faithful followers of His, but they lack the theological refinement necessary to get all their ducks in a row. The people have “low expectations of their leaders’ educational qualifications to preach.” It is in these areas where rampant health-wealth-prosperity preaching and extreme charismatic practices are most common and leave the church in a state of immaturity.
As for what’s happening in Asia, there is a terrible influence of the healing-miracle-prosperity church there, too, especially in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia, thanks to a charismatic South Korean named Pastor Lee at Manmin Church. We read,
“Abundant Fruit of the Holiness Gospel Has Been Borne in Thailand “
“Amazing works of the Holy Spirit unfolded and abundant fruit of the holiness gospel was borne even in Thailand where the 95 % of population is Buddhist. … Additionally, Thai Com 5 satellite TV has broadcast GCN TV programs, such as Dr. Lee’s sermons and the programs on the works of God’s power, nationwide. Since innumerable people watch the programs, the holiness gospel is being spread rapidly. Amazing works took place through the handkerchief prayer on which Dr. Lee had prayed. Even sorcerers and shamans accepted the Lord through the handkerchief prayer (Acts 19:11-12). Pastor Sungchil Lee has given glory to God by holding meetings in many areas of Thailand in September 2009, November 2010, and February 2011. Countless people were healed of their diseases in the meetings.”
The book by Candy Gunther Brown titled Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing, was published 2011 by Oxford University Press. The abstract says,
“This book explains why Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity is a rapidly growing global phenomenon. Although often caricatured and reduced to speaking in tongues (glossolalia), prosperity, or snake handling, this volume reveals that the primary appeal of pentecostalism is divine healing and deliverance from demons. Globalization heightens the threat and fear of disease, fueling growth of religions that are centrally concerned with healing. In Latin American, Asian, and African countries where world Christianity is growing most rapidly, as many as 80 to 90 percent of first-generation Christians attribute their conversions primarily to healing for themselves or family members.
Even in the United States, 62 percent of Pentecostals report healing experiences. Contrary to popular stereotypes of flamboyant, fraudulent, anti-medical “faith healing” televangelists who preach a materialistic, “health-and-wealth gospel” or sensational “exorcism” of demons, this book offers a more nuanced portrait. The chapters illumine local variations, hybridities, and tensions in practices, depict human suffering and powerlessness, and explain the attractiveness to many of a global religious movement that promises material relief and empowerment by invoking “miracles” and spiritual resources. Achieving the twin goals of thick description and comparative analysis of global practices is best achieved by bringing area experts into conversation. Sociologists, anthropologists, historians, political scientists, theologians, and religious studies scholars from the United States, Europe, and Africa write about illness and healing on six continents. Read together, these chapters generate and set the agenda for a new program of scholarly inquiry into some of the largest forces of change reshaping today’s world—globalization, pentecostalism, and healing.”
I’ve striven to show you both personal and widespread examples of the worst excesses of the
Charismatics that are happening in Latin America, Asia and Africa and the devastating impact on the church. The tomfoolery you view each day on TBN is not just contained in American broadcast media and a few churches at the fringes of the faith. It is a widespread, global phenomenon that is killing the church.
“However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”” (Luke 18:8b).
The answer is yes, because God purposes to bring a group He’s selected for His son to redemption as His Son’s bride. It will happen. But the falsity of the false church which abuses the Holy Spirit is daily being revealed and the stain of is is spreading.
When I refer to the excessive charismatic aspects of Pentecostalism, I’ve said “fringe” or “excesses” etc, so it is clear to you that I do not indict an entire denomination. As John MacArthur said in his essay, “Encouragement to Faithful Pentecostals,”
“There are those in charismatic and Pentecostal churches who love Christ, serve His people, and—like John—are disturbed by the sinful excesses they see dominating the charismatic movement.”
He said, however, that they need to speak up against the abuses against the Holy Spirit with the ridiculous excesses of tongues, slain in the spirit falling down, toking the spirit, laughing in the spirit and so-called miracles and alleged healings. Speak. Up.
John MacArthur and colleagues are speaking up. He has organized a conference called Strange Fire. The Strange Fire conference “will boldly and thoroughly deal with prosperity preachers, faith healers, and many of the other familiar charismatic aberrations and blasphemies of the Holy Spirit.”
MacArthur, along with Phil Johnson, RC Sproul, Conrad Mbewe (I mentioned him up above), Tom Pennington, Steve Lawson, Nathan Busenitz, Justin Peters (I refer to him frequently regarding his monumentally helpful series “A Call For Discernment”), Todd Friel, and Joni Eareckson Tada. These speakers’ bios can be read here.
“If you believe that the baptism of the spirit is subsequent to and separate from salvation, you have now created two classes of believers. If you believe in mystical experience, transcendent esoteric kinds of supernatural things, then what you will do is depreciate study, spiritual discipline, and the means of grace by which you grow. If you exalt feeling you will denigrate reason and open the mind and the spirit, the powers that people cannot understand or deal with. And as long as these kinds of things lie at the core of Pentecostal tradition, the potential for disaster is there, and if you believe that God is still giving revelation of any kind, the lid is off.” (source)
It’s as if satan had said, “Cry ‘Havoc!’, and let slip the dogs of war,” as Shakespeare wrote in Julius Caesar. “Dog has its ordinary meaning; havoc is a military order permitting the seizure of spoil after a victory, and let slip is to release from the leash.” (Wiki)
The lid is indeed off, and nobody likes what was released. Fortunately, in this long essay for the third time, I refer back to Isaiah 46:9. “Remember the former things long passed. I am God, there is no other. I am God, there’s no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done saying, ‘My purpose will be established, I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’”
His good pleasure is to bring a Bride to His son- us, believers in the resurrected, holy and divine Jesus. As our wedding day approaches, please pray for your own church to withstand this worldwide onslaught of Holy Spirit perverted-charismatic excess, and pray for those who are caught up in it. There are many, and we weep for them as much as we do the lost in Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, atheism…
Won’t you be glad when satan is thrown into the Lake of Fire to deceive the nations no more! (Revelation 20:3, 10).
Strange Fire conference website
Charismatic Chaos sermon series
Discerning Angus Buchan’s ‘Faith Like Potatoes’
What is the Charismatic Movement?
Drive By Pneumatology: Correctly Understanding the work of the Holy Spirit (purchase CD lectures)
Justin Peters ‘A Call For Discernment’ Overview, updated