I started reading a tome on Puritan theology at the beginning of the year. It has been an immense blessing so far, but it has also caused a lot of heartache. The Puritans focused solely on Christ and His gospel, even regarding discipleship. Over the last couple of years, I have realized just how absent the gospel was in the churches and conferences I attended. As Christians, it is easy to think the gospel is only a salvation thing; in reality, the gospel also speaks to our sanctification.
One of my favorite Scriptures is 1 Corinthians 2:2 in the Classic Amplified Bible, “For I resolved to know nothing (to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing, and to be conscious of nothing) among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified.”
I have a playlist called ‘The Gospel,’ it is sermons on the gospel. Whenever I listen to a sermon, every time I read a portion of a gospel, I feel like I am growing in ways I never have before. In the “movement” I came out of, the gospel was simply a door to get you to revelation, signs and wonders, and prophecy. There was more significance to be had in the Christian life. You even heard people say they read the Bible, but they wanted more. So many speakers would quip, “it’s not father, Son, and Holy Scripture.” An emphasis on Scripture was often seen as antagonistic to the Holy Spirit.
I want to encourage you to take time and read John chapters fourteen through seventeen and see how Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit. You won’t find the antics of the modern-day charismatic movement; Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would bring back to the disciples’ memory the things He had shared. We have those things in the gospels, we have those things further explained in the epistles, and we have all the end-times prophecy we can handle contained in the Scripture; we simply need to study it.
The gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ. That is the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Yet it is more than that; it is the entire life of Jesus and the work of the Spirit in our lives. The Word of God sanctifies us (John 17:17), the Scripture was given for our instruction and correction (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and The Scripture gives us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). The Scripture also says that the miracles recorded were to prove Jesus is the Son of God, and they are sufficient for people to come to salvation (John 20:31).
The Charismatic movement has a significant emphasis on signs and wonders, and that emphasis is entirely unbiblical. Does God still heal today? Absolutely. Jesus performed several healings and miracles in Scripture, yet, his most firm rebuke was to the cities those miracles were done in because they didn’t believe. Paul said the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. When the emphasis is placed on signs and wonders, we are displaying a belief that the gospel itself doesn’t have enough power. The same can be said about churches whose style imitates the world.
My plea and my prayer for charismatic believers is to return to Scripture. Take twenty-one days and spend it in the Scripture and prayer. Don’t ask for a word; simply pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you through the Scripture. The Word of God is living and powerful, sharper than any double-edged sword. Let the Word do a work in you. The authentic ministry of the Holy Spirit is to teach us the Word, not give us euphoric experiences.
The more I read the Scripture, the more sufficient I find them. The more I hear expositional (verse-by-verse) preaching, the more I realize those I used to listen to were taking Scripture out of its context or simply preaching their dreams instead of the Word of God.
The most incredible thing I have learned since the fall of 2019 is just how incredible, deep, and life-changing the Word of God is; as Dawn Hill likes to say, let us grow in the Word and loving the One who is the Word, Jesus Christ.