CHARISMATIC/PENTECOSTAL MOVEMENT WITHIN THE BODY OF CHRIST
In today’s body of believers there is phenomena occurring that is causing a great deal of concern. The phenomena is that of the Charismatic or Pentecostal movement. The terms come from, in the case of Charismatic, the Greek term CHARISMA which means “gift”, or from the actions that took place on the day of Pentecost. In specific, the matter of speaking in tongues. The polarization of acceptance or rejection of the issue has caused many churches to split, and at the same time caused many churches to become alive and literally “on fire” for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
First of all, it is important that we acknowledge that this report will not resolve the issue to the body of Christ. This teaching is prayerfully dedicated to the hope that we will provide insights into what the Bible has to say about the matter, and to “prod” each person to “study to make thyself approved.” In short, to
have each of you seek your answer from God’s Word and not from any human of this age. Certain precepts are necessary in discussing the matter of speaking in tongues. These are:
(1) We must take the words of Jude 3 as THE premise for our investigation into this matter, and I quote: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”
It is important to look at the Greek (which, alone, is the inspired version) word THE preceding the word FAITH. The term points to the ONE and ONLY faith. It is clear that Jude is saying that there IS NO OTHER FAITH. Other references (Galations 1:23 and 1 Timothy 4:1) also reflect this SINGULAR and EXCLUSIVE faith. Now the really important term to look at is ONCE FOR ALL. The Greek term (HAPAX) is a term that means “done for all time with lasting results; never in need of repetition.” The term DELIVERED, in Greek, is what the Greeks call an aorist passive participle, indicating a singular act completed in the past with no continuing element – FINAL and COMPLETE action. Jude is telling us that NOTHING needs to be added to THE FAITH that was delivered ONCE for ALL of the Body of Christ.
(2) The basis for any investigation MUST be to compare what we know against the Bible. The cults have always based their activity on the basis of “additional” or “New revelation” from God and, in many cases,
additional scripture. The Bible, through Jude is telling us that ANY claims of “NEW” or “ADDITIONAL” revelation are to be rejected as false. Christ’s own words are to look at those who claim to be sheep, yet are “ravenous wolves.” John tells us they are the antichrist and the spirit of antichrist. We must accept the Bible as God’s Word and accept His Word as final authority, regardless of what we desire to believe to the contrary. Our “feelings” MUST be measured according to the spiritual yardstick of SCRIPTURE and SOLA SCRIPTURA (Scripture only).
(3) The test of anything calling itself Christian is not its significance or its success or its power, although these make it more important to test them. The test is truth.
(4) We are not going to deal with the issue of what a believer does in private in his/her communication with God. The only issue that the Bible deals with in this area is the PUBLIC observation of this Gift of God.
HISTORY OF THE MODERN MOVEMENT
Let me give you a scenario for a service on a certain Sunday: You sit with a congregation of intense worshipers. The zealous singing is punctuated by cries of praise and fervent prayers. Suddenly the person next to you stands up and begins to speak in rapid syllables that seem completely foreign to any language you have ever heard. The cryptic message is echoed by many other members of the congregation, but in a quiet whispered manner. Then another person stands and gives a message or “prophesy” in a first person manner as though God Himself is speaking. He says something like “Thus sayeth the Lord. If you, my people, will confess your sins, and seek my path, and call on my name, you will be blessed beyond measure.”
Then one by one, various members of the congregation are standing and giving similar messages or speaking in the rapid syllables as before, while others begin to sing praises to the Lord. Does this sound familiar to you? Have you attended a similar meeting?
The above is a narrative on a meeting that was conducted by a man named Montanus for his followers in the SECOND century A.D. Montanus taught that EACH and EVERY believer was a means for special
revelation. To “prove” this power, they exercised dramatic gifts of the Spirit including “prophesy” and “tongues,” which Montanus claimed were prophetic signs of the times. He even taught that the New
Jerusalem would descend and rest on his village in Asia Minor DURING HIS LIFETIME! It was the claim of the Montanists that their age was the “Age of the Spirit” and that in this “new age” the Holy Spirit spoke through the mouths of the members of Montanus’ group, each of which were prophets or prophetesses.
Montanus intimidated Christians in his claims that the church was comprised of only two groups: (1) “Spiritual Christians” and (2) “Carnal Christians.” Needless to say the “spiritual” classification applied ONLY to those who followed Montanus. He claimed that the “carnal” ones were those who had only their “dead letter” of the Scriptures.
On many issues the Montanists were orthodox in doctrine; However, they were such a divisive force that the Council of Constantinople branded Montanus and his followers as heretic.
Larry Christenson, a major leader of the Charismatic movement, in his book ASPECTS OF PENTECOSTAL-CHARISMATIC ORIGINS and in the chapter PENTACOSTALISM’S FORGOTTEN FORERUNNER even claims the Montanist movement as part of the Charismatic tradition!
The “new age” for today began in 1900 on New Year’s Eve at 7 P.M. when a young Bible student by the name of Agnes N. Ozman asked Charles Parham to lay hands on her as shown in scripture and pray over her. When he had done so, Miss Ozman began to speak in rapid syllables which neither of them could understand. This story is a key historical moment in the pentecostal movement, and the charismatics
refer to it as a key to their movement. The above statement that “neither could understand” is in the book THEY SPEAK WITH OTHER TONGUES by John Sherrill. It is important, and I will show why, later in this report.
To summarize, the manifestation of speaking in tongues is traceable throughout the old testament and the new, with special emphasis on the BOOK OF ACTS and the matter of the preaching of the Apostles in tongues. Before looking into that, we should do a little more Greek grammar.
The Greeks used two words for tongues. “GLOSSA” primarily means human language when used in Scripture. The Septuagint uses the term 30 times to specifically refer to human language. “DIALEKTOS” is the other term used from which we receive our word dialects. The meaning is clear in both words, understandable speaking.
Now let us turn to Acts 2 and read the chapter. In verse 4 we are told that those chosen by God to speak for him “were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, and the Spirit was giving them utterance.” NOTE the statement, “other tongues.” The term is not UNKNOWN tongues – it is OTHER tongues. Then the question is, why would God want them to speak in a tongue not their own? Look at the next two verses:
“Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were bewildered, because they were each one hearing them speak in his own language.”
Many people were in Jerusalem from all over the Roman empire. They spoke many languages. God wanted THEM to hear HIS message. Reading on :
“And they were amazed and marveled, saying, ‘Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?’ “And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians and Medes
and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs – We hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” (verses 7 through 11).
Four points should be made about these verses:
(1) They each heard them in their own language. (verse 6)
(2) They each hear in their own language. (verse 8)
(3) They heard them in their own tongue.
(4) Spoke the mighty deeds of God
Due primarily to the fact that the Scripture was incomplete, God needed to utilize a supernatural basis for getting the message of Jesus out to the world. God chose 15 languages to bestow his initial message upon mankind. This is confirmed in the recognition of the gathering that the words spoke of the “great deeds of God.” A result of this outpouring of the Holy Spirit was the unification and encouragement of the body.
The next verses used by the Charismatics are found in I Corinthians 12 to 14. It is interesting to note that very little is even mentioned in the Bible on the matter of tongues until we get to Corinthians and then it is because the Corinthians are abusing the gift! Corinth was known for its do-your-own-thing philosophy and
carnality. The church at Corinth was no exception, and the problem became so grave that they asked for Paul to step in and give apostolic resolution as acknowledged in I Corinthians 12:1. Paul then lists the
gifts of the Holy Spirit and (as always found in the Bible) lists the gift of tongues LAST (it is sometimes found next to last). Throughout the remainder of 12 and 13, Paul enforces the major thrust of LOVE and its importance above all other outward acts of the believers. In chapter 14, Paul gets down to the specifics of tongues within the local body of believers. He actually sets up the principles for the use of this gift. In verse 26 Paul begins to lay out the principles:
VERSE 26 .. EDIFICATION
“What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.”
Before the Bible was completed, God needed to use His gifted messengers to carry His message to the people. The people had to wait for this message to be carried by these messengers. Some of the messengers were “prophets” in that they spoke the message of God without verbal error, while some spoke in a tongue while another spoke the interpretation to further increase the edification of the body. The very word edification means to remove confusion! Paul states that some had a psalm, another a truth to be taught,
another a revelation from God. This is all at a time when there was not a completed Scripture. However; ALL THINGS were to be for the edification of ALL the believers.
VERSES 27 and 28 .. PROCEDURE
“If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at most three, and each in turn, and let one interpret; But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God.”
Paul is explicit. Paul leaves no room for misunderstanding. Paul lays it out the way it HAS TO BE to BE OF GOD. There are to be no more than two persons who speak in tongues – not two at a time. Paul does allow an exception that there could be ONE additional person that could speak in a tongue, but the context would indicate that this would be rare. Then Paul specifies ORDER. The two (or three) cannot speak all at once. They are to take turns. First one then another and, sometimes, a third. Paul tells us in verse 40 that ALL things are to be done properly and in an orderly fashion.
Verse 27 says “… and let ONE interpret..” Verse 28 continues, in context, “But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God.”
Paul, again, makes it perfectly clear. ONE INDIVIDUAL is to do the interpreting. The Greek text makes that very clear. It is the word for one single individual from several. Paul states that ONE person with the ability to interpret would interpret for the two or three speakers who spoke in a tongue. The two or three different speakers but the ONE interpreter! Paul is giving Godly restraint to the exercise of these gifts. A clearly defined plan for the building up of each member of the congregation.
VERSE 33 .. NO CONFUSION
“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”
It goes without saying that where you find confusion and disharmony you do not find God. Look around you. God, in Scripture tells us in Romans that we KNOW that God exists from the creation of the world and all that it contains. Is there any confusion in God’s creation? God spins universes through space in such precision that we mortals set our quartz watches BY THE MOVEMENT OF THE PLANETS! Scripture tells us that God is not a god of confusion – this leaves only the “god of this age” who could author confusion.
VERSE 36 .. DIGNITY
“Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only?”
Look at the words. Do you see what Paul was saying? We, today, would probably say something like, “Do you think that you have a corner on truth, or that God himself started from your midst?” It would seem that the Corinthians actually thought or behaved as though the whole message of Christ began with them! It would also seem that the Corinthians were acting as though ONLY they had the truth. Let’s look at the rebuke Paul administered in verses 37 and 38:
“If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment. But if he does not recognize this, he is not recognized.”
Paul is literally saying that what he has said, and is saying, are of God, and if they don’t agree, then their opinion is not to be considered! A strong rebuke; but now look further:
“Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. But let all things be done properly and in an orderly manner.”
The gift of tongues was vital for God to get his word out to the world in as short a time as possible, but it was to be held in check through the function of the Creator of the universe and his way of doing everything in order. All things of the Body of Jesus Christ are to be meaningful, sensible, proper (I do not use the term stuffy) and orderly. What God does literally “drips” of dignity.
We need now to look at one other major facet of the Charismatic movement, and this is their claim that they experience a “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” unique from any other baptism (and claimed by many to
be the ONLY confirmation that they are saved) and unique in that it is confirmed through the speaking in tongues and that all believers “to be spiritual” must seek this gift and confirmation. Believers and preachers who do not seek or find as noted are accused of failing to preach the “FULL GOSPEL.”
Writer Robert Dalton states the matter for the Charismatics rather well when he writes: “This experience is not for a select few, but for all who desire it and are willing to pay the price.” At the very same time Ralph M. Riggs writes: “Seekers … after the Baptism in the Spirit should always remember that this experience
is also called ‘The Gift of the Holy Ghost.’ Gifts are not earned or won by choice or merit. Gifts cannot be forced from the giver … The Holy Spirit is a gracious … God-sent Gift, and we receive Him by faith and by faith alone.”
Let’s look at what God tells us in His Word and not look further at the writing of man. In I Corinthians 12:13 Paul explained what being “of the body of Christ” means:
“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”
The word “by” in the verse can be translated “at”, “by”, “with” and some do give the meaning as “in.” However; the context of Greek words such as “EN” as used here, is dependent on the case ending of
the words that follow the preposition. To be accurate and in context with the Greek, we should say “by” or “with.” Under no construct of the Greek could the word be used as “in” and the use of such is not found in the Bible. The term “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” is NEVER found in the greek or any of its accepted translations. Not one reference exists where the Holy Spirit did any baptizing!
Matthew 3:11 finds John the Baptist telling the Sadducees and the Pharisees about the “one who would baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire .. and will gather his wheat into the barn, but will burn up the
chaff with unquenchable fire.” John is telling about the fire of judgment that will be wrought by Jesus Christ – not the Holy Spirit. Charismatics wish to imply that the Holy Spirit would come to baptize with fire such as was done on pentecost; However, this is not the case as John was telling us that there will be two kinds of people in the world – those who are baptized with the Holy Spirit and those who will not and will be cast into the fires of Hell. (John 5:22 Mark 1:7-8, Luke 3:16)
Peter in Acts 2:33 states: “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.”
Again, Christ is the Baptizer – not the Holy Spirit – but with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit NOWHERE in SCRIPTURE does any baptizing.
The claims of the Charismatics and the Pentecostals as to the fact that they were baptized by Christ when they accepted him is seldom disputed. What they do say is that at a later date, “The Holy Spirit baptized them” and this is not possible as shown by God’s own words. Christ is always THE baptizing person of the Trinity.
Paul’s whole emphasis of I Corinthians 12:12 and 13 is that ALL CHRISTIANS ARE BAPTIZED WITH ONE SPIRIT INTO ONE BODY. WE ARE ALL ONE BODY, POSSESSING ONE LIFE SOURCE, INDWELT WITH ONE CHRIST. There is no “limbo” declared in scripture where one comes to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and then is yet unsaved until the experience of a “second” baptism. How can one be a Christian and yet not part of the Body of Christ?
Larry Christenson states: “Beyond conversion, beyond assurance of salvation, beyond having the Holy Spirit, there is a baptism with the Holy Spirit. It might not make sense to our human understanding any
more than it made sense for Jesus to be Baptized by John.”
I have never had a problem in understanding why Jesus was baptized by John. Jesus’ entire life was one of obedience to the Father, and the Father clearly wants each of us to be baptized, and Jesus led the example.
Baptism as shown in the 13th verse of I Corinthians 12 is the greek term “BAPTIZO” meaning spiritual immersion. Baptism is a spiritual reality that brings the believer into a vital union with Christ. To be baptized by the Holy Spirit means that CHRIST places us, by means of the Spirit, into the unity of His body and gives us a common life principle that connects us with everyone else who believes in Christ. Baptism with the Spirit makes ALL believers ONE.
It is imperative that each of us look in the Scriptures to find the answers to the claims of the Charismatics and Pentecostals. In the vast majority of cases, you will find that the “movement” or congregation fails to adhere to the principles set forth by Paul. Dissension, confusion, superiority and other man-made features are usually the rule. Extra-biblical revelation is not of God.
Several “brothers” of my own are charismatic and are very godly men of high standards and dignity of the Spirit. I am convinced that God’s gifts are still manifest in each of the categories mentioned in the Bible and that each believer is given a gift or gifts upon his baptism into His body. It may take time for each of us to realize what those gifts are, but I am certain that we each do have them. The gift of tongues, in too many times in my own life, has been demonstrated to be valid and uplifting in accordance with what Scripture says. I have noted the speaking of tongues with an interpreter telling me what was said. I have heard revelations from God come from these gifted men, but in each case they were for exhortation or the consolation or uplifting of someone else in the gathering. I have also been subjected to “prophesies” that were claimed to be from God and were never fulfilled. This is not of God. When my spirit becomes troubled, I immediately look to see if Satan is trying to keep me from something. If it checks out that Satan is not involved, then I look to God for guidance as to what I am troubled about.
I have seen preachers throw their Bibles on the floor, and dance and shout rapid syllables at the audience, without anyone knowing what he said or was doing. The amount of confusion proved to me that God was not in it.
We have many texts that have shown that experience is not a valid basis for testing anything dealing with God. God’s word is our only basis for testing anything.
Keep the command found in I Peter 3:15: “ALWAYS be ready to give an answer to EVERYONE asking you, a reason for the hope that lies within you.”
Peter is making an assumption here that is very important. He is assuming that you are living a life that will make people want to know why you are different! He is commanding each of us to present to ANYONE (and everyone) that asks, whether they be intellectual, atheist, agnostic, Doctor, Lawyer, Child or communist – EVERYONE – a presentation of the REASONS or FACTS concerning the Gospel of Jesus
Christ and WHY you believe in it!
Computers for Christ – San Jose