And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.(Acts 1:7-8)
I have taken you, my readers on a very truncated tour of what I believe to be the causes of the death of the Charismatic movement. I have no problem believing that God did indeed send His Holy Spirit into the secularized, spiritually dry Western World in the early 1960’s and awakened millions to the reality of salvation and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The problem entered in early, as Peter and the other apostles warned us, “There were false prophets among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you…”( 2 Peter 2:1).
That false teaching led to false prophecy and false experience, mostly done in the name of Jesus, the Father and the Holy Ghost.For more than thirty years, the terms Pentecostal and Charismatic have become synonymous with error, emotionalism, false prophecy, fanaticism, man worship(Touch not my anointed!), Spiritual abuse, superstition and mysticism, and in its final stages, occultism.
We have scriptural precedent in the story of Saul, who was anointed and given a measure of the Holy Spirit in the beginning. But he always insisted on “doing his own thing”(Iniquity), almost every time he was tested.Saul was warned time and again, by Samuel and by circumstances involving his own son,Jonathan, and his servant David.But he cut himself off from all of that input, and was alone in the end.
When God quit speaking to Saul, he went into the occult, (The witch of Endor) . It should be obvious to any spiritual person, that God isn’t speaking to Rick Joyner, Bill Johnson, Todd Bentley, Che Ahn, Joseph Prince, John Arnott, Benny Hinn and the host of other “Charismatic leaders” that have been raised up. Like Saul they ignored Dave Wilkerson, and Dave Hunt and other servants sent to warn them. They were marked as ‘heresy hunters’ and shunned.
I think I have demonstrated that people are being led into the occult by these new leaders. “Grave Soaking”, “Dream interpretation”, “Aura Reading” and fanciful encounters with “Angels” are all occult experiences and not true Pentecost.
The ironic thing is , the church needs the power and reality of the Holy Spirit more now than at any other time! We need to ask God for the Holy Spirit, as Jesus taught us in his teaching on prayer,
If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?(Luke 11:11-13)
The answer to the disappointment of the “Charismatic experience” is not cessationism, rather it is repentance, and a greater commitment to seeking God for the true experience of being filled and refilled with the Holy Spirit. What does scripture say about the fulness of the Spirit? We Christians desperately need the ministry and empowering of the Holy Spirit in order to carry out our task of evangelism and confronting the Spirit of our Age.
We need to undergo a rigorous process of repudiating the false doctrines and erroneous practices many of us had embraced, (such as slain in the Spirit,sins of the fathers doctrine, naming the “strongman” and “Binding and Loosing and a host of others).We must humbly acknowledge that our former lust for power, or for “Words” that go beyond scripture, or our man-worship, i.e. the lust for “the great man of Faith and Power”to arise, are all examples of our own forms of idolatry and alienation from the only true God.
But it still stands that the church needs to have the Spirit, and to constantly be filled and refilled with the Holy Spirit, as in the book of Acts. There was nothing static about the Apostles and early church’s experience of the Spirit, for we read many times over that even after Pentecost, the apostles and even the church were filled with the Spirit again and again.
We must have the Spirit in our preaching and exhortation, and in out evangelism we must also realize that we are utterly dependent upon God to get the message out with full conviction and much assurance. Otherwise we are in danger of merely being academic or mere critics of that which we once (rightly) saw as false.
I do not advocate any particular practice, rather that we recognize our need, and seek the LORD with all of our hearts. I do not believe in the much prophesied “Great Last Days Revival” for we are told that the last days are marked by an apostasy.
However, I also believe it always a possibility in localized settings, that wherever God’s people see their own poverty of Spirit and paltry results, if they seek the LORD, they will find Him if they seek for Him with all of our hearts. Whose heart breaks over the apathy and seeming powerlessness of the churches? In this hour where the need is most desperate, and the end is in sight(The judge stands at the door), Can we not cry out to God with all of our being for a Holy Rain of the true Spirit of God, the Spirit who can and does “Convict the World of Sin, Righteousness and Judgment”?
Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence. For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.(Isaiah 64:1-4)