What do Acts and Romans say about the charismatic discussion?

What do Acts and Romans say about the charismatic discussion? November 27, 2013

In these few posts I am wanting to simply draw our attention to what the Scriptures say on the debate that has been raging recently. I am trying not to pass comment on these verses but allowing them to speak for themselves. It is worth pointing out one key difference in the way that charismatics approach Acts in particular, however. For us, this book is broadly speaking intended to be a normative model of what the Church can be like at best. For more of that follow the link, but here are the verses. As usual, if I have missed any please let me know below.

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like ga mighty rushing wind, and hit filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And sall were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.2 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 v“ ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants3 and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and zthey shall prophesy . . .

“Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. (Acts 2)

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31)

Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. (Acts 5:12)

And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. (Acts 6:8)

And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. (Acts 8:6-7)

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:14-19)

And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea. (Acts 8:39-40)

So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 9:17)

Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance (Acts 10:9-10)

While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, (Acts 10:44-46)

Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). (Acts 11:27-28)

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. (Acts 13:1-4)

Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed…So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.(Acts 14:1-3)

Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. (Acts 15:32)

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. (Acts 16:9-10)

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. (Acts 16:25-26)

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:11)

And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” (Acts 18:9-10)

And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. . . And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.” (Acts 19:1-2)

And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. (Acts 19:11-16)

I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. (Acts 20:29-30)

“And having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days. And through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 5 When our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey, and they all, with wives and children, vaccompanied us until we were outside the city. And wkneeling down on the beach, we prayed 6 and said farewell to one another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home.
7 When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and we greeted xthe brothers2 and stayed with them for one day. 8 On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of yPhilip zthe evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 He had four unmarried daughters, awho prophesied. 10 While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews3 at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” 12 When we heard this, we and the people there gurged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem ifor the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, k“Let the will of the Lord be done.”

. . .Then the tribune came up and arrested him and ordered him mto be bound nwith two chains. (Acts 21)

“Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives. . .Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. (Acts 27:10, 22)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:5)

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Romans 8:9)

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (Romans 8:14-16)

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.(Romans 8:26)

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  • hopechurch

    Adrian, good post. Below is a Strange Fire devotee link. Thoughts?


    • Even if we accepted the validity of their research, the argument is a spurious as if we were to include all “true” Christians in the first group, conclude that the “heretical” Christians were more influential and therefore Christianity as a whole is false! The presence of distorted forms of something does not invalidate the genuine, whatever the precise balance is between the genuine and the false.

      Im not sure that you can infer that everyone who follows someone on Twitter agrees with them anyway, I mean, I follow MacArthur, does that make me a cessationist? I don’t think so!

      • Donna Carlaw

        My bad. I checked my Disqus again… Adrian, the bigger issue is not whether or not there are soundly orthodox theologians who are also Charismatic. MacArthur would not have have had his conference to spotlight them.

        His conference was about the heretical Word of Faith movement that has done so much harm to the Gospel. Even orthodox Charismatics and Pentecostals recognize that and have spoken out against those teachings.

        Unfortunately, it is those teachings that have gained the forfront not only of the Charismatic movement, but of Christianity worldwide through the influence of TBN.

        • Kate Snyder

          Donna, the conference — and book — were/are about much more than what MacArthur perceives as heretical doctrine.

          He believes he has been called by God to identify who is part of the body of Christ and who is not, and he does this identifying based on his own extrabiblical standards. In so doing, he pigeonholes most charismatics and Pentecostals as false converts.

          As for charismatic Word of Faith teaching versus cessationist Word of Doubt teaching, at the end of the day (the very last one!), God will be the judge of which extreme has done more damage to His gospel, not John MacArthur.

          • Donna Carlaw

            Word of Faith is not the opposite of Word of Doubt. Word of Faith teachers hold to such heretical doctrines as the “little god” teaching that allows them to use the preaching of the Gospel to make themselves incredibly wealthy while taking donations even from widows on fixed incomes. Word of Faith teachers teach that Jesus was born again in hell, and that He became a sinner in order to save us.

            It is not just perception. There are actual heretical teachings in the Word of Faith movement. I still don’t get why that does not bother Adrian more.

            I know that WoF teachers have penetrated British Evangelicalism. My husband thought that Joyce Meyer was part of the Minrith-Meyer Christian counseling and mental health clinics. While visiting a Christian friend in England, my husband bought a Joyce Meyer book in a Christian bookstore there. I told him when he got home that Joyce Meyer was a Word of Faith teacher. He said he had wondered when he read the book, since it was so shallow!

            Is it a man thing? I mean seriously? Do they not know what is going on around them?

          • Kate Snyder

            Don’t be drawn in by fear mongering. Joyce Meyer is not the face of anything. And if there were 6,000 Benny Hinn’s, that’s a drop in the bucket compared to 600 million believers that *only* God can judge. The presumptuous claim of the exclusive right to identify all genuine believers — tweeted on 10/17/13 by John MacArthur — is fraudulent and rooted in deep-seated prejudice. With one tweet he set himself up as the Protestant pope. Needless to say, he has clearly crossed the line.

            Not all of what is taught by so-called Word of Faith teachers is heretical. For example, Mark 11:22-24. If Jesus were to disguise Himself and walk into MacArthur’s pulpit to teach on these verses, He would be labeled as a heretic and thrown out on His ear. This is a faithless and perverse generation. Jesus asked if He’ll find faith on the earth when He returns – not hope or love. Please go to Blue Letter Bible, type in faith, and read what Jesus said. Jesus taught these truths and made these promises on faith – not Hagin, Copeland et al. So please be aware that *some* of what constitutes false Word of Faith teaching, at least in the eyes of doubting Thomases, are the very words of Lord Jesus Christ (which they reject).

            We must be careful not to broad-brush. Not all charismatics and Pentecostals who teach we should have faith in God, as Jesus clearly commanded, believe the “little gods” teaching or the Jesus Died Spiritually (JDS) heresy. In fact, the JDS heresy was first exposed from within Pentecostal circles in the early ’80s. That’s when I first heard of it, in a sermon against it.

            In spite of the global influence of TBN, I don’t know anyone who believes the false prosperity message. Every Pentecostal pastor I’ve had the privilege to sit under has vehemently railed against it. Anyone who tells you they know how many believe it is out on a limb merely speculating.

            Every true believer walking in the Spirit is bothered by false teaching. But in this debate MacArthur’s followers are blind to their own error. God is no respecter of persons; there is no double standard with Him. Why isn’t MacArthur bothered by his error? Because he thinks he has all his doctrinal ducks lined up in a row perfectly. Sadly, now that the book has been released we can read him and see he’s not infallible on doctrine, nor is he immune to religious pride. And pride will get you just as fast as any heresy.

          • Donna Carlaw


    • Kate Snyder

      This isn’t research, not by a long shot, and Unger knows it (he issued disclaimers). They’re grasping at straws now. Unger’s many wasted hours counting Twitter followers (as if Twitter is an accurate gauge of anything spiritual — Lord help us if that be true) is evidence of the desperate scrambling within the hard cessationist camp to cover for MacArthur now that the only stats cited in his new book proved to be a gross misrepresentation of the Pew Forum survey. In other words, his “vast majority” claim is nothing but opinionated hot air rooted in deep-seated prejudice against charismatics. After decades of festering, the root has born its fruit (Hebrews 12:15).

  • Morgan Trotter

    The problem is that the cessationists have (in my opinion arbitrarily) decided that all the miraculous gifts ceased with the closing of the canon, which in their minds renders all these passages and any others in the New Testament inapplicable to today because they believe it was a different dispensation (even if some of them don’t use that term). Some of them also believe that only the apostles were able to do signs and wonders, meaning they don’t believe any of those passages apply to ordinary Christians either.