Strange Fire or Fresh Fire

On Wednesday night at Abba’s House, I was asked to address the recent controversy surrounding statements made by John MacArthur, Pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA. On the proverbial eve of releasing his new book, Strange Fire, Pastor MacArthur hosted a conference at his church by the same name. The Strange Fire Conference was October 16-18, 2013 and was dedicated to attacking Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians.

Before I continue, I would like to state unequivocally that I have a great deal of respect for what Pastor MacArthur has accomplished. He serves in a thriving congregation that has done much for the Kingdom of God. Many lost have come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ under his leadership and ministry. There is a lot he is doing that I believe is – as Philippians 4 says – “true, noble, right, and pure”.

With that being said, I believe that his stance on the Gifts of the Spirit, support of cessationism, and his related and unrelenting attacks upon his brothers and sisters who believe and walk in the fullness of the Spirit are – quite simply – wrong.

With real threats like militant Islam, creeping socialism, moral breakdown, government meltdown, crime and violence, it would seem that there are other targets of greater importance in the battle against the enemy of our souls than those who reside within the walls of the church. Yet, in his new book Strange Fire, MacArthur “opens fire” on fellow Christians. The famed pastor and teacher, who (it appears) has become the resident theologian for Southern Baptists and many evangelists, is continuing his attack on Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians with the publication of his book, as well as last week’s conference.

As the modern arbiter of cessationism, MacArthur is of the belief that the miraculous gifts ceased with the death of the last apostle or at the closing of the Biblical canon (around 100A.D.).

The problem is that this approach has no Biblical support and very little historical validation. His views are simply a regurgitation of the late B. B. Warfield’s views. The teachings of Warfield were a reaction to the events surrounding “Azusa Street” and the mighty Pentecostal awakening in the early 20th century!

I have absolutely no doubt that there are extremists, heretics, and hypocrites among us in every belief circle and corner of Christendom. However, Pentecostal Christianity is the fastest growing part of God’s Kingdom worldwide. It is obvious from what I read, have heard reported by witnesses, and have observed with my own eyes that miracles, signs, wonders, and gifts have not ceased. I have personally witnessed miraculous events, not just within the walls of Abba’s House, but in other churches throughout America, and foreign countries as well.

Cessationism (birthed by Calvinism) is killing both the spirit and the mission heart of Evangelicals. I wish this blog gave me adequate space for a full answer, but it does not. However, in my Essential Guide series of books on the Holy Spirit, I deal Biblically, historically, clearly, and spiritually with all of MacArthur’s attacks.

Volume 4 of the series, An Essential Guide to Spiritual Gifts, answers the cessationist argument in Chapter 3 called, The Availability of Spiritual Gifts Today.

For those of you reading this blog, I will make all 4 Essential Guides available for a gift of $25.00–postage paid (this is a discount of nearly 50% from our regular price… discounted price good through Nov. 2). This includes:

  1. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
  2. Speaking in Tongues
  3. The Gift of Healing
  4. Spiritual Gifts

Simply call our order line at 1-800-877-6493 and one of our representatives will be happy to assist you. Ask for the Fresh Fire blog offer. If the operators are busy, please leave a message, and someone will get right back to you. You can also order online by clicking here.

You can also download these at Kindle, as well as Barnes and Noble.

Remember Luke 3:16, “…He will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire…”

There’s nothing strange about that!

Ron Phillips

PrayerP.S. As I shared from my heart during the service, this picture was snapped by one of my staff members. Our Wednesday night crowd was taking a moment to pray for our brother, Pastor MacArthur. I believe it is time for the body of Christ to heed the words that Paul wrote to the Ephesians and “Make EVERY effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)

12 thoughts on “Strange Fire or Fresh Fire

  1. As a person who was in this spiritual uniting, I agree with you. GOD is still in charge, and he does as he pleases. GOD woke me from deaths door and gave me new life. People may wag their toung at every thing. But GOD He is GOD, do not be afraid.

  2. A perfect explanation in a short space……I love so much, Pastor Ron, your wisdom and insight….will be praying for brother MacArthur

  3. Pastor Ron, you know mine and Keith’s beliefs well, and you know that we are supporters of you and your staff and all at Abbas House. Thus said, I recently led a group of ladies through a 6 week synopsis of your book, ‘Spirtual Warefare’, using the Bible Chris gave to us last year at Christmas. That was the greatest gift we could have received. It opened my eyes to so much of what God wants from me. But, when I taught from God’s Word, I was attacked for my beliefs you stated in this blog. Speaking in tongues, Spiritual Gifts, and was even visited by the pastor to tell me, that the church does not believe in these. I was so saddened. Then we were snidely reprimanded by our Sunday School teacher for the same. Keith and I believe God is alive, His miracles still occur, (I have seen the Angel at Abbas House), I know my God is Real. Thank you for sharing this blog. Today’s notes came at the right time. I believe this, all things are In Time, On Time, In God’s Time. God bless you and all at Abbas House.

  4. Thank you Pastor Ron! This is the perfect explanation in a short amount of space but one we all need to understand!

  5. Being originally Southern Baptist, I know there are things they do not like to feel is out of their control. However, I have seen miracles, been touched by God and have been blessed beyond measure. Just because man doesn’t understand or cannot control does not mean it isn’t true. It is by faith that man is saved and it is by faith that we are to accept that which we do not understand. If science has proven and backed up the facts contained in the Bible, who are we to say any part of it is not true?

  6. We go through another round of these attacks ever so often — usually when the enemy is trying to distract us from our Great Commission, which includes healing, casting out demons, etc., etc. We are to be confronting the enemy of our spirit and the enemies of our nation — not getting into foolish and divisive quarrels with those who love Jesus. Cessationism has no Scriptural basis.

  7. That is my witness. How much have I missed of God because I was taught that the gifts and especially my prayer tongue had ceased. It is my very sincere desire to profess what I now know to be true. Your series on the Holy Spirit makes sharing so easy. I’ve not found book 3 on Barnes and Nobel but have the other 1,2 and 4. So clear and exactly what I’ve experienced. I find it amazing that anyone still teaches cessation given the number of people who engage the Holy Spirit for the first time every week. Are all these wrong? So sad. Jesus said we need power and that power comes from His gift of the Holy Spirit. We must activate that power through submission to Him in the Spirit. My prayer life, my walk with The Lord, my ability to stand firm, my ability to love and forgive…..all greater now that I’ve given myself over to His Spirit. Amen that we stand up for His glory and engage His gifts that He shows through us the untruth being taught, and for what purpose but approval.

  8. I couldn’t agree more pastor Ron ,MacAurthur and his mission to attack full gospel believers is a gross deception on his end . I believe he thinks his motives and reasoning are sound in doing so ,but unknowingly he is operating In a spirit of division and fortunately has no biblical backing in doing so . The hermanutical gymnastics that a cessationist has to do to make there case reminds me of what I’ve herd from those in the gay rights Christian circles trying to justify there beliefs (sin) ! It is odd how you can go to the bible with a predisposition and find a way to reinforce it with Gods Word ! Thank you for your stance on the situation in spite of all the persecution and continuing in fighting for the Truth of Gods Word !

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