I’m going to walk into the waters of controversy. Again. It keeps being asserted that the current charismatic teaching in our community is from God. I’d like to share more thoughts about that. These thoughts are a little scatter brained and do not flow logically from one to another. This is going to be less diplomatic and more in your face like Jesus, Peter, John, and Paul.
People claim it is of God because healing is taking place or people are giving their lives to Jesus or because they “feel” the presence of God. Results do not justify the twisting of God’s word. But, I’d say there are no real healings taking place, only claims of such. I’d also challenge the idea that people are really accepting Jesus, especially since it is not a gospel of salvation from sins but a false promise of miracles and healing. Beyond this the call to faith, repentance, and baptism given by the true apostles Peter, and reaffirmed by Paul, are being ignored.
To be blunt it cannot be from God if the scriptures are being taken out of context and twisted to mean something other than what they actually mean. One small example is the assertion being made that 120 people in the upper room could heal and speak in tongues. This is false and reading what Luke actually wrote would reveal the truth. The Greek in which Luke wrote indicates only the apostles spoke in a common language foreign to them (tongues) and only by the hands of the apostles were signs being done in Acts 2-4. To say 120 people did, or all people can, is a distortion of the actual truth. Moreover, it is asserted that Isaiah 53:5 says that Jesus died to give us physical healing in this life. That is the furthest thing from the truth. The truth is , “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3).
A real sign of something being of God is our love for one another (John 13:34-35; 1 John 2:10). What I have seen in this movement is not a love for others but a love of the pseudo miraculous and the love of emotional highs. I know several people who have chronic illnesses or anxiety issues or the inability to engage in miraculous signs whose faith has been severely injured. It is the furthest thing from love to make people feel like their strong faith is not strong or to cause them serious doubt. It is cruel to take advantage of the sick and hurting to fill up the “altar.” This is not love. This is emotional abuse and manipulation. It’s one thing to call out sin and call to repent (in love, but brings godly sorrow) but it’s something entirely different to say a person lacks faith for not being healed when the truth is that it might not be God’s will.
Jesus taught us to prayer “God’s will be done” not us to name and claim promises he never delivered. To declare in Jesus’ name a healing take place, a person is ordering God to do something instead of humbly submitting to his will.
The teaching that true faith brings healing or miracles reminds me of the people who were claiming that in order to really follow Jesus you need to follow the law of Moses. Now there is a proclamation of a law of works of miracles and healings. If you don’t experience miracles and breakthroughs you don’t have real faith. Paul’s words about the false teachers is applicable today, “7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is” (Galatians 5:7-10). This leaven of false teaching is raising all sorts of doubts among the faithful and it needs to stop. (As an aside this popular teaching is very similar to proto-gnosmticism that made headway in the first century with a claim to have special knowledge gleaned from private religious encounters.)
The Spirit’s presence is not known by miracles or emotions but by genuine fruit of character (Galatians 5). People feel euphoric at secular concerts and Hindu festivals. Does that euphoria mean it’s from God? People are easily led along by emotional stimuli. Crowds get pumped and riot. Minor chords make people cry. Let’s call things what they are. Instead of saying, “I felt the Spirit” we should be honest and say, “I was emotionally moved.”
The Fruit issue really needs to be addressed. There are people who have gone to the altar, who have spoken in tongues, or have been slain in the Spirit, which are supposed to be marks of the Spirit, but continue in lives where they are physically violent, continue to have sex outside of God’s prescribed context, who willingly enjoy abusing drugs and alcohol, etc. In other words they continue in their rebellion against God. there is no fruit of the Spirit to demonstrate a genuine encounter with Him. If the Spirit’s presence is marked by these emotional or miraculous encounters then you ought to be able to see fruit from that encounter in the rest of a person’s life (Galatians 5).
We are not guaranteed physical healing. Not being healed is not a sign of a person’s weak faith. Paul was never healed from his illness, despite being a great man of faith. Stephen did not recover from injuries sustained while being stoned despite his great faith. Peter was not healed when he hung on a cross upside down. Jesus was not healed of the wounds inflicted by the Romans, and even after his resurrection the wounds were still there. Would you dare say Jesus lacked faith when he asked God to deliver him but he was not delivered? To be logically consistent you must say yes. In reality, weak faith is one that fails to trust God despite a lack of healing. This weak faith is quite often the result of the chronicle ill encountering this bad teaching.
Our only hope in whole bodies is in our coming resurrection (1 Corinthians 15).
Remember it was Jesus who said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Trials and hardships are a part of our walk with Jesus not proof that our faith is weak.
Moreover, Paul said, “3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us“ (Romans 5:3-5). Suffering, including physical illness, actually helps us grow in our faith instead of being something we have to be delivered out of.
Seeking earthly healing places our hope in this world while our true hope is in the life to come. Consider what Paul wrote, “7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:7-11).” Paul was delighted to suffer as Jesus did because his hope lay in the resurrection. Paul was content to not have every chain broken, but was content to honor Christ while literally being bound by chains. He was content to be ill, to be beaten to within an inch of his life, to go without proper nourishment, and be shipwrecked while preaching the true Gospel of Christ. This was because he was not concerned with his health, wealth, or wellbeing in this world.
All of this reminds me of Simon the Magician in Acts 8 who wanted buy the ability to pass on the miraculous gifts of the spirit. He wanted the fame and attention he formerly received as a practitioner of magic. It’s not really about Jesus, it’s about emotion, crowds, and applause. Also note, that the miraculous gifts were passed by he apostles. Since all of the apostles died and it is impossible for any new ones to arise (since they had to have walked with Jesus during his earthly ministry – Acts 1) anyone claiming the ability to lay hands on to pass the gifts is selling snake oil.
Anyone who yells at you “be healed” so that you then fall as being slain in the spirit is making a mockery of God. Nothing like that ever happened in the Bible. Not. One. Time. It’s just a show.
If you want real assurance of salvation read 1 John, Hebrews 11, Galatians 5. Love, obedience, faith, and fruit, these are the marks of the Spirit’s presence.