This past Sunday, I experienced something I’ve never seen in twenty-five years of going to church. I’ve read about it, I’ve heard stories about it but, I have never experienced it. You may have heard the stories of men running on the backs of pews, all-night Holy Ghost prayer meetings where a church momma prayed in tongues for hours till she “birthed revival.” I’ve heard about services that went till three in the morning, and this past Sunday, I didn’t experience anything close to that. I’ve longed for that for years, but this past Sunday, I experienced the simplicity of multiple Scripture readings, the singing of hymns, and a message by Justin Peters on “The Duty of Discernment.”
After years of longing for something power-packed, a Holy Ghost explosion, if you will, it was in First Baptist Church of Keller where I heard multiple Scripture passages read, beautiful hymns sung, and I thought to myself, how refreshing. Listening to Justin Peters teach and reflecting on the words of a song a couple in the church wrote, I further realized just how empty my high energy, speak faith-filled words, receive the prophetic word, spiritual life was.
As they sang the song they wrote, these words stayed with me all day and throughout Monday and today, “The perfect Word of God is enough, it has been enough through generations.” The Bible tells us to test the spirits and to search the Scriptures. In the fall of 2019, I began searching the Scriptures concerning what I was taught and didn’t believe and other things I was taught and questioned. One of the big things was why do we all pray in tongues out loud in service when First Corinthians says to do things decently and in order? Why do multiple people prophecy when Scripture limits it to three at the most? Why do we put such an emphasis on tongues when the Bible asks do all speak with tongues, and the implied answer is no?
We were a “people of the Spirit,” yet I knew the Holy Spirit wouldn’t violate the Scripture. We were “people of the Spirit,” yet many actions were irreverent and manifestations unbiblical, some even resembling more of the Kundalini cult than the Scriptures. For example, we said it was God’s will for everybody to be healed in this life, yet it wasn’t happening; in the twenty-five years, I never saw legitimate healing or miracles outside of someone’s shoulder or back feeling better. And people who got healed were never followed up with; I carried questions for years. But the words of that song, “The perfect Word of God is enough,” Those words just struck me.
If we truly believed the Word was enough, we would find Scripture reading edifying and hymn singing beautiful; we wouldn’t need hype, lights, big productions, and series based on movies. If we believe the perfect Word of God is enough, we will lift Jesus up and let Him draw people unto Himself. Our gimmicks, tricks, and giveaways are proof that we don’t believe the Word of God is enough.
I began my process of walking away from the Charismatic Movement in 2019. The biggest hindrance for me was music. I loved the pumped-up, fast-paced, hand-clapping, run the aisles music. At times, I still struggle with the pull of the music. But I realized something Sunday, those boring old hymns that those dead churches sing, those hymns were full of life, not hype. Hymns carry the message of the gospel, whereas many modern songs emphasize me. The truth is much of contemporary worship and teaching isn’t centered on the glory of God but the goodness of man. We hear things like, “God can’t do it without you, God thinks you’re amazing, and we are the heroes of Bible stories.” This isn’t biblical Christianity, it’s another gospel, and Paul wrote to the Galatians that it is to be rejected even if an angel from Heaven brought another gospel. Paul even went so far as to say if I come back preaching a different message, reject it. The message we hear on Sundays should be the gospel of Jesus Christ, not a culture-centered or self-help message.
I have watched Justin Peters’ seminar before, as well as the Strange Fire Conference. From time to time, I rewatch them because I still need the truths they present. It’s not easy letting go of something, really the only thing you’ve known for twenty-five years. But did you notice I started this post by saying I experienced something? The Charismatic Movement is all about the experience. The problem is there were times that I knew what people were experiencing contradicted the Scripture. I knew certain teachings flew in the face of the Word of God. But, “a man with an experience is not at the mercy of a man with an argument.” I’m sorry but, I’m going to have to say if you can’t find your experience in the Scripture, you better bow your knee to the Scripture. Speaking in tongues may send you into euphoria, but go study First Corinthians fourteen and show me where Paul endorses the practice of “concert prayer in tongues,” find a way around at the most three should speak in a tongue in order and it is interpreted. The same goes for prophecy.
Is it wrong to experience God? No. Charismatic individuals will often ask why someone doesn’t believe in healing? Often the person does; they just don’t believe in it the way many charismatics teach it. But why someone doesn’t believe in healing is the wrong question. First, you need to ask, is what I believe about or have been taught about healing in the Bible? Methods included. Is what you believe about tongues in the Bible? Is being slain in the Spirit in the Bible? What are we supposed to do when prophets get it wrong? These are questions I’ve asked and studied out over the last year and a half. I’ve had to lay down some of what I experienced because my experience was no longer valid after studying the Scripture. It’s tough to say; I know what I experienced and felt, but what happened does not have a basis in Scripture. Scripture is the final authority, and it overrules any experience, no matter how great, no matter how life-changing, our experience must bow to the Scripture.
If you attend a Charismatic church and you have had questions but were told don’t quench the Spirit, or don’t touch God’s anointed, let me encourage you with Acts 17:11 LSB “Now these were nobler minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” Paul the Apostle preached the gospel, but they checked what he said by searching the Scriptures. It’s not wrong to test teaching or a prophecy; it is commanded. I know it may feel like you’re losing something walking away from a prophet or not listening to certain worship bands anymore. Still, when we search the Scriptures, we find that certain charismatic teachings and experiences are not so; it is our duty to abandon them and hold fast to the Word of God.
If you need help examining the teachings and practices of the Charismatic Movement, I would recommend two books to start with; Strange Fire by John MacArthur and Defining Deception by Costi Hinn and Anthony Wood.