Day two of the Strange Fire conference has come and gone, leaving us with one more day to tune in and hear the argument for Cessasionism. The second day of the conference offered no “cease fire” and continued to live up to the promise of straightforward preaching from all involved. If you haven’t listened to all of the messages, they will be available for download shortly after the conference.
MacArthur opened with a message on testing the spirits, basing the sermon off of 1 John 4 and excerpts from Jonathan Edwards’ The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God; the entire basis of this being sublimated to a higher form of criticism upon the miraculous works being evidenced in the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement.
If our adversary is as a lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8); if he is the father of lies (John 8:44); if Satan is the god of this world and blinds the eyes of unbelievers (2 Cor. 4:4); if he has thwarted the work of Paul and his coworkers in the gospel (1 Thess. 2:18); if he seeks to lead us away from the truth just as he did Eve (2 Cor. 11:3); we should by all means, test the spirits to see if they are from Christ to ensure we are walking in the truth.
Though MacArthur didn’t get to finish listing Jonathan Edwards’ distinguishing marks of the work of the Spirit, he did key in on one important aspect of it: a Christological focus. The Spirit’s ministry is to show us Christ. He does this in a myriad of ways – but this is His primary ministry.
What is being advocated is a clearer focus on the more boring aspects of this ministry, rather than flashy signs and miracles. I do not mean to diminish the work of the Spirit by saying it is boring; it is really rather exciting to see it in action. However, these “boring” aspects would include the following and more:
- Coming to faith (Titus 3:5)
- Growing in godliness (1 Peter 1:2)
- Growing in biblical truth and maturity (2 Peter 1:3)
- Having a deep affection for Christ
- Having conviction of sin
- Having a deep conviction to bring glory to God
- Evidencing the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)
- Spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:1-11)
As we have seen through the various false teachers Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, and many others within the Pentecostal/ Charismatic movement (specifically called out by MacArthur and Lawson) is that the Word of God is downplayed in favor of an ecstatic, frenzied, uncontrolled fringe Christianity. All you have to do is read the Word of God in order to see how blatantly false these men are, and how they are swiftly leading thousands to Hell. To be fair, this conference has not labeled every participant of this movement to be heretical; they have specifically stopped multiple times to say that there are preachers and congregations that love Christ and His Word – yet they are calling out the need to demolish the ministry of those who show a blatant disregard to the truth in scripture and especially, the gospel.
Lawson gave a historical account specifically on this, leaving the pulpit on an incredibly high note with a sermon that was simply incredible. Coming back to the Reformer’s and Puritan’s love for Sola Scriptura (scripture alone) to display the utter sufficiency and perfection of the Word.
Encapsulated within his sermon is the very real and present danger of those dismissing the Word in favor of further revelation. If we have a closed cannon, there is no room for further prophecy; there is no room for an ecstatic, uncontrolled congregation. There is no room for God’s people to dismiss this movement as anything less than heretical on the basis of Sola Scriptura and all that it entails.
The basic pillars of the gospel hang on the foundation of the Word of God in all its splendor and perfection. It is sufficient for all mankind, and there is nothing further needed in this lifetime for the Christian. In essence, any man making less of the Word in favor of a different revelation are preaching a new gospel; a gospel that does not lead to everlasting life and fellowship, but confusion and disarray. Coming back to a high view of the Word, we cannot ignore those who say it is incomplete.
This is an incredibly huge issue within the movement, evidencing itself in thousands who would rather experience divine truth and special revelation through the manifestation of miracles and signs than in the written Word of God through careful study and exegesis. Through the course of his sermon – it was clear that one thing was being pushed for: that Christians take scripture as final authority in their lives and do not rely upon anything else for life and godly living. Anything further than this diminishes the written Word and leaves us open for speculation, and worse than this, taking and believing heretical teachings, leaving Satan to delight in our folly.
In all of this, I couldn’t help but think of 1 Cor. 1:21-23…