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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)