John MacArthur and his Strange Fire

I was listening to a radio program the other day and heard about the Strange Fire conference that is scheduled for later this year.  The speaker said something about the need to warn about the dangers of charismatics, so I had to go to the website and see what they were even talking about.

The Lord calls His people to honor Him, to treat Him as holy. Leviticus 10 pictures the consequences of not doing so—of offering to Him strange fire.

For the last hundred years, the charismatic movement has been offering a strange fire of sorts to the third Person of the Godhead—the Holy Spirit. And evangelical churches have chosen to be silent or indifferent on the matter. This hasn’t served the church or the Spirit of the church with honor.

So what should be our response?

Strange Fire is a conference that will set forth what the Bible really says about the Holy Spirit, and how that squares with the charismatic movement. Through keynote speakers and seminars, the conference will expose the dangers of offering strange fire—and what the church can do about it.

The questions about and controversies surrounding the charismatic movement are more than theoretical. Your view of the Holy Spirit influences your relationship with God, your personal holiness, and your commitment to the church and evangelism. And He calls for our worthy worship of Himself.

I wish people would come out and say what they feel needs to be shared instead of making you wait and pay to hear it.  If this is really that dangerous of an occurrence, wouldn’t you want someone to know now instead of having to wait months to be set straight?  What if they die before the conference?  Are there no negative results of offering this “strange fire”?  What is this “strange fire“ that we are supposed to be offering up to the Holy Spirit?

I understand why people react the way they do when they encounter something that they do not understand.  I wish I could say that “charismatics” did not take the ideas to far and end up going astray, but I cannot.  That is true for every church and every theological group.  Just as I can honestly say that not everyone at my church has had an authentic encounter with God, I can say that about John MacArthur’s church and every other church that is in existence.  It amazes me at how much division there is within the Church.  If you think about the amount of time spent discussing theology instead of sharing the Gospel, I often wonder if it is worth it.  Of course, if a Christian thinks you might be going to hell for following a false doctrine then I understand why they feel the need to call it out.  I just wish they would not post pone the event or make people pay to find out what they are going to say.  Since the conference is really only going to attract those that agree with their position, I do not see much change coming in the near future.

I heard something the other day that I think pertains to this situation.  The statement was something to the effect that thankfully God uses people who do not think the way I think.  I am not sure who said it, but it keeps things in perspective.

When I Became Judgmental

I think most of us have seen those blurbs “Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged” all over the place.  Christians love to toss that out when someone speaks against what they are doing.  Typically I feel they are misusing the verse to shift confrontation away from their “sinful” activities.  If the Bible says something is wrong and you claim to uphold the Bible and what it says, yet your actions are in direct contradiction to what it says, then I am not being judgmental when I say what you are doing is wrong. 

With that being said, the other day I apologized to my friend for being judgmental towards him.

He and I had a slight falling out last year that should not have gone down the way it did.

I knew he was going through some issues with his marriage and some of his activities were contrary to what the Bible says.  I pointed this out to him and he agreed it was wrong but he was going to do it regardless.  It put a stain on us, because I kept trying to figure out how to process Paul’s teaching to put out those who are in knowingly sinning. 

Typically I think of this as withdrawing from people when they are participating in an act that I disagree with but with my friend, I almost felt like I needed to stop hanging around him as if that was in some way condoning his actions.  It is really easy to over think religious instruction at times.  Even at this time though, I was not being judgmental towards him.

I did not cross that line until I began taking his continued “sinful” action as a personal offense against myself.  I think this was partly a pride thing, but in my mind, his continuation despite my warnings and addressing his actions as wrong appeared to be a rejection of what I said.  I took offense to that and I was wrong.

I hold that a sin is disobedience towards God.  If you hold to what he says as truth and then break it, you are sinning.  As often as people fail each other, their actions toward each other are not sinful.  I would not sin against my neighbor by taking something that belonged to him as I can only sin against God.  I would have wronged my neighbor, but not sinned against him.

When my friend rejected what I was saying, he might have hurt my feelings, but he did not sin against me.  He rejected what God had said and sinned against God, but when I took it as a personal offense and responded, I became judgmental as I was holding him as accountable to me and not solely God.

Humbling experiences are good.