61 Comments

MacArthur denies that Muslims are being converted through dreams of Jesus


In a recent post at Adrian Warnock’s blog (Strange Fire: John MacArthur responds further to his critics) is MacArthur’s claim of it being untrue that a number of Muslims have had dreams about Jesus which ultimately have led them to recognizing Jesus as the one true son of God. How can someone categorically claim this has not (or is not) occurring?

That morning in November 1980, when being wonderfully saved, I found myself (unexpectedly, I may add) on my knees in the living-room weeping uncontrollably and crying out to God. Suddenly before my eyes I ‘saw’ Jesus on the Cross and understanding flooded my spirit and mind–an understanding that He was there for me! It tore my heart asunder, truly it did folks. For the first time in my life I understood that Jesus died for me. And that because of His sacrifice all my sins were forgiven. True repentance poured from my heart and lips that morning while kneeling in front of my sofa. True heart-wrenching sorrow that sin…my sin, had placed Him upon that Cross.

People like MacArthur would deny this experience. I know it in my heart, and it makes me sad.

61 comments on “MacArthur denies that Muslims are being converted through dreams of Jesus

  1. PJ, me too!

    I was all alone sitting at a table reading Matthew chapter one and as I read for the first time 1:21 my heart was opened and mind touched and instantly I knew was lost and Jesus was real and the Son of God and He died for me! I hit the floor and cried with tears of joy! I don’t remember how long I was crying and praying but I know I didn’t stop reading the Scripture for several days.

    Now for dreams. Apparently MacArthur hasn’t read this:

    For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds, then he opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings, that he may turn man aside from his deed and conceal pride from a man; he keeps back his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword. (Job 33:14-18 ESV)

    And

    “Man is also rebuked with pain on his bed and with continual strife in his bones, so that his life loathes bread, and his appetite the choicest food. His flesh is so wasted away that it cannot be seen, and his bones that were not seen stick out. His soul draws near the pit, and his life to those who bring death. If there be for him an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him, and he is merciful to him, and says, ‘Deliver him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom; let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor’; then man prays to God, and he accepts him; he sees his face with a shout of joy, and he restores to man his righteousness. He sings before men and says: ‘I sinned and perverted what was right, and it was not repaid to me. He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light.’ (Job 33:19-28 ESV)

    And finally

    “Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life. (Job 33:29, 30 ESV)

    I’m going to, with all due respect, believe the Word of God and the testimony of a person who claims Jesus came to them in a dream and afterwards that persons declares Jesus is Lord singing and saying: “He sings before men and says: ‘I sinned and perverted what was right, and it was not repaid to me. He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light.’ (Job 33:27, 28 ESV)”!!!

    So MacArthur doesn’t believe God speaks to people by dreams? Well that doesn’t change the fact that Scripture teaches otherwise!

    • So MacArthur doesn’t believe God speaks to people by dreams? Well that doesn’t change the fact that Scripture teaches otherwise!

      Amen Michael.

      It’s very sad, even tragic, that he denies anything and everything supernatural, when so much of the early Church’s history (and subsequent history, down through the ages) is filled with numerous instances of God interacting with man. This is more then the old cliché of ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’ this boarders on unbelief, which we know is sin.

      3 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

      2 Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.

      3 For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.

      4 For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.

      5 And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;

      6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

      7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice,

      8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

      9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.

      10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.

      11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)

      12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. (Hebrews 3)

  2. MacArthur speaks as if he is the Pope. If he were the pastor of the church in Jerusalem he would have denied Paul’s conversion. You see God can only do things that are within my well defined cessationist theology. This is an example of how an obsession with theology and systematic theology can give rise to self righteousness and doctrinal idolatry. It is possible to have “sound doctrine” and yet not be worshiping Jesus.

  3. Let’s at least quote MacArthur properly. He said the following:

    Now, can God providentially work in such a way as to use people’s thoughts and impressions to draw them to faith in Jesus Christ? Yes, I believe that’s possible. As I noted earlier, God can do whatever He wants. But that work is neither revelatory nor miraculous. Phil Johnson gave a helpful explanation of this point in his breakout session at the Strange Fire Conference. He said this: ​

    ……………………..”How do we understand that inner sense, especially when God seems to use it to prompt us to pray, or witness, or duck and run at precisely the right moment? Because let’s be honest: that kind of thing does happen to most of us from time to time.

    Here’s the point: I do believe that God might providentially use a spontaneous thought in my head to accomplish something wonderful. But that’s what it is, and no more. It’s a remarkable providence, not a prophecy [nor a revelatory vision]. As I have been saying, God ultimately controls and uses everything providentially… . The fact that He uses an idea in my mind to achieve some good purpose doesn’t make the idea itself inspired.”……………………………..

    So where does that leave me? Well, I praise God that, in His perfect providence, He is drawing Muslims to saving faith in Jesus Christ. At times, the circumstances in which these individuals hear the gospel and are converted may sound extraordinary to us. Certainly, the miracle of regeneration is always extraordinary! But for reasons that come from the study of Scripture, I do not believe anyone today is genuinely experiencing supernatural visions or revelatory dreams.

    My comments:………………….
    MacArthur is clearly saying that dreams are providentially provided by God and not direct revelation from God..This is a far cry from the headline which states:
    “MacArthur denies that Muslims are being converted through dreams of Jesus”

    If one has a dream about Jesus does that mean Jesus actually appeared to and spoke to the person with new revelation? Scripture is pretty clear that the Lord doesn’t come until the last day, and that revelation is closed with the closing of the Canon, both things which I hold to be true because they are in the Bible. So do I believe a dream about Jesus amounts to new revelation from God? No, I don’t. I think it can be a providentially arranged occurrence designed by God to fulfill his will.

    JD Ellis

    • Here’s the point: I do believe that God might providentially use a spontaneous thought in my head to accomplish something wonderful. But that’s what it is, and no more. It’s a remarkable providence, not a prophecy [nor a revelatory vision]

      In my case it most certainly was a revelatory vision. I was an ignorant young woman who knew Nothing, Zilch, Nada, about Jesus Christ, salvation, being born again, what repentance was, etc etc etc. What was given to me in understanding as i saw (yes, saw) Jesus on the Cross, revealed not only WHO HE WAS, AND IS, but it also revealed my lost state and my great need for Him.

      I’m sorry if you cannot believe this, but nevertheless it’s true. No one will ever convince me that this never occurred…it would be as about as useless as me trying to convince you you’re not born again…a true child of God. A waste of time.

      As far as a number of Muslims (now Christians) having Jesus revealed to them within a dream, well, i can believe it. Does this make it true? Of course not, it only means i can accept that God knows best how and when to reveal the Son to each of us. I’d be willing to wager if 10 born again Christians were to share their personal testimony of how they came to salvation, each would be different…but with the same result: salvation through and by Jesus Christ.

      While there are deceivers and a few wackos who claim daily trips to heaven, gold dust flowing or falling from the ceilings of Churches through the work of Angels, etc. there are actual TRUE instances of God working through supernatural means.

    • PJ, I have also heard a similar story from a friend of mine (well, used to be a friend, it’s been many years since I’ve spoken to her) who was interested in becoming a Muslim, but was saved from it by a vision (or a dream, I cannot remember which it was).

      Her girlfriends were Muslim and she, who has always had a zeal bone, fell in love with the idea of devotion to God and giving up everything for Him. (She had a Pelagian tendency towards religion, unfortunately. In other words, a “what can I do for God because God needs us to do it” approach, and as far as I know, still does, but hopefully God would have delivered her from it too). Her Muslim friends were all quite zealous, which is what attracted her to them. However, just as she was about to join, she had a vision of being in a Mosque, I forget the exact details, but the end result was that she realized Islam was a false religion, and that she ought to obey Christ.

      The problem though is that she was full of such visions and dreams, since she was attracted to the Pentecostals/Charismatics. She was, therefore, I suspect quite gullible, and did not question men who claimed to have gone up to heaven and come down again. She later left them, but still committed many errors thanks to these “visions.” One of them, if not a vision, then a ‘word,” or an impression of some kind, convinced her that some guy was her soul-mate. (Which was inconvenient for me, since I was quite inlove with her at the time, and it wasn’t me who was pointed to LOL. I wouldn’t mind such words that work in my favor!). They later broke up, of course.

      I recall once she told me that, New Testament prophecies, at least that which is given to us now, need not be 100 percent accurate.

      It is because of this experience that I generally must reject Pentecostal/Charismatic claims. I’ve seen too many relatively good Christians (so far as any one may be called “good”) deceive themselves over the voice of God.

      Certainly they are all saved, as you are, but these presumptions of having the gift of prophecy, and other such things, do damage.

      I have many such stories to tell, some quite horrible, about people who have had “visions” or “dreams,” which in every way was convincing to them, and yet only led them to much folly.

      Certainly, God gives dreams and visions. Certainly, God answers prayer wonderfully… But, it isn’t so clear cut how much he does it, and in what ways. And, I would have to say, that since the church no longer receives Apostles, there are probably many other things which have ceased entirely.

    • Ahaha! Ricardo, i had to chuckle at the story about the girl you felt you loved—NOT because of your misfortune! But it was just the way you worded it,

      She later left them, but still committed many errors thanks to these “visions.” One of them, if not a vision, then a ‘word,” or an impression of some kind, convinced her that some guy was her soul-mate. (Which was inconvenient for me, since I was quite in love with her at the time, and it wasn’t me who was pointed to LOL. I wouldn’t mind such words that work in my favor!

      OK, moving on, im glad to see you don’t discount the possibility of God giving people dreams or even visions, and can understand and agree that it’s not clear or spelled out in the Word when, or how often He would do this–or as some wonder, why He choses to work in this manner with one individual but not another. My only thoughts on this is He knows each of us so well–inside and out, (and certainly much better then we know ourselves!) that this is a factor. God’s desire is all come to salvation through Jesus Christ, and on certain occasions (and with specific people) a dream or vision is His manner in getting their attention. Especially in nations where the gospel is much more difficult to hear. That’s one possibility-specifically in the case of many Muslims.

      Some months back i read of one instance concerning a Muslim. It was a middle-aged woman. She of course know the name of Jesus, as Islam does recognize him as ‘a’ prophet, but that was the extent of her knowledge of the name, and knew nothing whatsoever about Christianity except it was (as she had been taught) a false religion. She had a dream one night in which she claims this man in white (she saw no face, for the figure was surrounded by a white light) spoke to her, calling her by name. He told her HE “was the way” the only way, to eternal life…and to follow Him. At awakening immediately, she knew he had spoken the truth and that His name was Jesus. Now remember, in this dram the figure never told her his name.

      Anyway, long story short, over the following days she was able (without being found out) to gain access to a Christian bible. At reading it (not sure where she exactly read in it) she realized her lostness…and that Jesus was indeed THE Son of God. Then and there she cried out to be saved.

      This is only a brief synopsis of this woman’s entire testimony, but it’s possible it may answer ‘why’ God (through His Spirit) may have used a dream to reach out to this woman. The dream served God’s divine purpose which was to get this lady to seek out a Bible.

      I can somewhat relate to this for before my own “1980-Nov.” experience in which i was born again, i had never read the bible. After that morning and in the weeks and months following, i LIVED in the bible!–in fact i could not put it down. I would fall asleep reading it and wake to find it lying on the bed still open. aha!

  4. I was saved on the day I was reading a New Age book. I happened to have Buddhist and New Age views for most of my life, when suddenly as I was reading a paragraph about the life of the Buddha I was struck by the fact that Buddha had actually failed in his quest for God, and had settled instead for a philosophy about God. As I read on, I saw that the reason Buddha had failed is that he did not have Christ in the equation. In a moment, I was declaring the Lord as my savior.

    Do I think it was divine providence that led me to read that page at that moment? Absolutely. Supernatural? I guess so, because what are the odds I would just have that happen by coincidence? Or even have that book in my hands at that moment? But I don’t believe God was actually speaking to me through the pages of the book, although this would be a colorful and spiritual-sounding way to phrase it.

    I admit I may be just indulging myself in playing on words, but I still see MacArthur’s point in saying that this is God’s wondrous providence, rather than “direct” revelation from God. Read the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke. It tells the clear lesson that miracles themselves do not produce faith. Abraham says from heaven that he will not send Lazarus to appear before the rich man’s brothers because even if they were to witness the greatest of all possible miracles, the raising of a dead man to appear before them, they would still not believe.

    I believe not only your testimony, but I believe the testimony of the many Muslims who are reporting dreams, but I am also very careful to look at the dreams in the light of what scripture says. I have a friend who insists that in certain countries like Africa, where the culture can be very hardened by things like generations of witchcraft in the family, that God sends the gold dust flowing and the oil from heaven and the manifestations of shiny objects in those churches because people in these churches “just wouldn’t believe the simple gospel message” if the ministers of these churches just confined their services to bible study and preaching.

    I have long strenuous discussions with this person because, while God can do anything, as MacArthur continually asserts, the truth is the work of salvation is through God softening our hearts toward the truth of the gospel, to the point that the Holy Spirit can begin the work of regeneration within us. Miracles don’t “make” people come to saving faith. If that was the case, miracles would have been the foundation of Jesus’ ministry, when in fact it was the spreading of the gospel to all corners of the earth that was the core component of his ministry. Often Jesus was very reluctant to perform miracles.

    God’s plan of salvation has always been based on the preaching of the gospel, and I believe that from the beginning of time he had the exact course we were going to follow planned out. He has remarkable, often very intricate detail woven into his plan to put the book in my hands, or the dream in your mind, to accomplish his plans. But I think we fail to state it accurately when we claim that dreams themselves are the direct cause of the salvation of the dreamer, or that they constitute a direct revelation from God to us.

    I think articles like Warnock’s do nothing but muddy the waters, because they do not accurately represent either MacArthur’s views or the views expressed at the conference. Lesson number one in proper Christian doctrinal criticism is to accurately represent the opposing side’s views.

    Just my two cents worth, and sorry for rambling on for so long.

    Blessings,
    JD

    • I was saved on the day I was reading a New Age book. I happened to have Buddhist and New Age views for most of my life, when suddenly as I was reading a paragraph about the life of the Buddha I was struck by the fact that Buddha had actually failed in his quest for God, and had settled instead for a philosophy about God. As I read on, I saw that the reason Buddha had failed is that he did not have Christ in the equation. In a moment, I was declaring the Lord as my savior.

      That’s a wonderful testimony JD! And unique to you and ‘where’ you were spiritually at the time.

      Do I think it was divine providence that led me to read that page at that moment? Absolutely. Supernatural? I guess so, because what are the odds I would just have that happen by coincidence? Or even have that book in my hands at that moment? But I don’t believe God was actually speaking to me through the pages of the book, although this would be a colorful and spiritual-sounding way to phrase it.

      The important point is there was a moment that God chose for you…a time to personally intervene in your life with His truth. This is what always amazes me about our God; how personal His dealings are with each one He calls.

      Thank you JD for sharing this…

  5. Providential or revelation. It’s all semantics because when you are imprisoned by your own view of sound doctrine you must redefine anything that seems to be a miraculous event that falls outside your well documented theology.

    • Sadly that has been one of the fallouts from the false prophets/signs and miracles movement.

    • I do not believe the difference between divine providence and direct revelation from God is semantics. I believe there is a real and important distinction to be made between the two. I am not “redefining” anything.

      Just because I am not a charter member of the “doctrine doesn’t matter” club does not mean I redefine anything. Nor does it mean that I don’t believe in miraculous events. This misconception about reformed theology has really come front and center since the Strange Fire conference. I repeat what I said earlier, one cannot engage in meaningful debate with opposing views unless one adheres firmly to the rule of accurately representing the views of those you oppose.

      JD

    • I believe part of the problem here is the underlying issues of content and symbolism. I believe that much of the fear of the term “revelation” is symbolic, because to a LOT of Christians the word “revelation” implies “new information”. But it is not the symbolism that is crucially important. It is the CONTENT that is EVERYTHING. How do we KNOW when something is from God and NOT from the enemy? BY ITS CONTENT! IF its content is in COMPLETE AGREEMENT with the scriptures, are you going to attribute it to the devil simply because you have this big theological issue with the medium of revelation? What on earth do you gain by trying to strip a scripturally sound dream or vision of its supernatural origin? It makes absolutely no sense other than to attempt to neuter God of any ability to supernaturally break into people’s lives any more, even though He has been doing so since the days of Adam and Eve. Most of the “supernatural” happenings I hear of these days are so bogus and often even evil that I, myself, cringe when someone announces that they have had a dream or a vision. BUT, if anything, the creepy stuff is just that much more evidence that the real stuff is out there as well. After all, is God going to grant the devil more power than He allows Himself? There is no way that I will settle for an unbiblical concept that only the devil and his minions can supernaturally gain access to people’s minds when they sincerely seek to find the God of Heaven. In His great mercy He will do whatever is necessary to reach the hearts of the lost. That DOES NOT mean that there is some NEW information to be had. The Bible is COMPLETE. Of that there is no doubt, and people who are looking for new information with itching ears WILL find it in the form of a lie straight from the enemy, despite our best efforts to stop it from happening. But the heart that is searching for Christ will find the way made easier by a God who speaks through his Word, but is not limited to speaking out of the pages of a book. His love is so powerful that it will not be limited by the preconceived doctrinal hangups we carry around in our heads.

    • Content, amen. And results–fruit!

      God comment George!

  6. PJ…your experience with being broken and saved by God mirrors mine. I was destroyed by the vision (if you will) of Christ on the cross. I was tormented for days before by the sounds in my heart of the clinking of nails. It nearly drove me nuts, and then I guess, when the time was right, God flooded my mind and heart with the reality that MY sin put Him there. I murdered that innocent Lamb of God and it also tore my heart to pieces. No man (unless it’s Jesus), can say yes or no emphatically. MacArthur is actually claiming to be perfect and omniscient here…not good.

    • God flooded my mind and heart with the reality that MY sin put Him there. I murdered that innocent Lamb of God and it also tore my heart to pieces.

      Yes, amen, amen. This is how i felt too…as though my heart was being torn asunder at the sight and the sudden knowledge of my sins (and His love for me) having placed Him there.

      MacArthur is actually claiming to be perfect and omniscient here…not good.

      That is what i find frightening…frightening for him.

    • Even now, when I think upon His sacrifice, and to think, “My Lord Jesus, I did that to You!” It will always bring me to tears. Here we are watching a Bible cartoon about the crucifixion of Christ and my wife and I look at each other, and we have tears streaming down our faces. Only those who are truly saved can understand this.

  7. Reblogged this on The Diary of a Slave.

    • Great testimonies, both of you! I climbed up the face of Garret Mountain in Wayne, New Jersey on cold March night in 1975. I carried no Bible and I had heard Billy Graham a few times on television. I had seen and heard the name of Jesus all over the place which before I had ignored and not really seen. I audibly asked God if Jesus was God’s Son and the Savior of the world. I did not hear an audible voice, however I heard God say that Jesus was all He claimed to be. I climbed up a lost sinner, and I climbed down a saved sinner.

    • Thanks for sharing your testimony too Rick. Your mentioning have heard Billy Graham a few times caused me to think about something. The bible refers to those who plant, others water, but all share in the harvest (sorry i can’t recall the exact verse). Even though every born again believer’s story of where and when they came to the knowledge of Christ are different, each must have had a seed planted at some point…don’t you think? What brought it to mind was i also can recall my mother watching Billy Graham when i was still living at home.

  8. Hello P.J.

    I’m a newcomer here and I’ve looked around a bit. I think we have much in common, however I have disagreement with this post and some of the replies to it.

    I’ve not read the Warnock article but have carefully read John MacArthur’s response to Tim Challies questions. In my opinion endtimedelusion has given an accurate portrayal of his response.

    Nowhere does he (MacArthur) say it can’t happen. If others have had experiences that have led to a true conversion that does not put them at odds with Dr. MacArthur’s comments. Let’s simply take it back to scripture.

    1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

    Galatians 1:8 but even if we, or an angel of heaven preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

    If my brother Paul from Master’s Slave has had an experience that does not contradict Scripture and he goes on to live a life worthy of being a Believer then his conversion was real. Same with PJ.

    God has given us His revealed will in the Bible, He uses the gospel and the word of God to save and if a dream was involved it also involved the gospel somewhere along the line.

    We must then have a knowledge of sin, broken over our miserable lives because of that sin and clinging to the only hope we have in Jesus Christ as the means to salvation.

    To me it looks like the alarm bell was sounded with a misrepresentation of what was being said. I don’t see anywhere John MacArthur is claiming to be omniscient. He does appear to be driving people back to scripture to examine themselves to find out if their conversions are real.

    Shouldn’t we all be doing that? (2 Cor 13:5)

    Kevin

    • Hi Kevin…thank you for stopping by and commenting. Hope to see you again!

      Nowhere does he (MacArthur) say it can’t happen.

      I confess to not listening/reading the entire interview, so if you say MacArthur agrees that some of these incidents (dreams) may be real and true supernatural occurrences, i’ll take your word for it–but it certainly contradicts what he has said in the recent post concerning supernatural occurrences: he completely wrote them off in many of his sermons and teachings as all being demonic.

      Anyway, your comment has given an opportunity to share something i received today (coincidence?) aha! Perhaps, but it surely fits under this topic.

      This was emailed out today from Deception in the Church:

      Biblical Signs of a Work of God

      I will now show positively what are the sure, distinguishing scriptural evidences and marks of a work of the Spirit of God. By these marks we may judge any operation we find in ourselves or see among people without danger of being misled. In this I shall confine myself wholly to those marks that are given us by the apostle John in the fourth chapter of his first epistle.

      1. Jesus Is Exalted
      When the operation raises people’s esteem of Jesus, it is a sure sign that it is from the Spirit of God. This work of the Spirit of God confirms and establishes people’s minds in the truth of what the gospel declares to us about Jesus being the Son of God and the Savior of men. The apostle gives us this sign in the second and third verses: “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God” (NIV).

      2. Satan’s Interests Are Attacked
      Satan’s kingdom lies in encouraging and establishing sin and cherishing men’s worldly lusts. This sign we have given us in the fourth verse: “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

      What the apostle means by the world, we learn by his own words in the second chapter of this epistle, verses 15-16: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.”
      Therefore, we may certainly conclude that the work is from the Spirit of God when the following conditions exist:

      -People are sensitive to the dreadful nature of sin.
      -People understand God’s displeasure against sin.
      -People are aware of their own miserable, sinful condition.
      -People are earnestly concerned for their eternal salvation, and they are sensitive to their need of God’s pity and help.

      3. The Bible Is Honored
      The Spirit who causes men to have greater regard for the Holy Scriptures and establishes them more in their truth and divine inspiration is certainly the Spirit of God. The apostle gives us this rule in the sixth verse: “We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”

      The devil never would attempt to produce in persons a regard for that divine word. And accordingly, we see commonly in enthusiasts who oppose Christ that they depreciate this written rule and set up the light within their souls or some other rule above it.

      4. Sound Doctrine Is Established
      Another rule to judge the spirits may be drawn from those words used in addressing opposite spirits in the last words of the sixth verse: The Spirit operates as “the Spirit of truth.” He represents things as they truly are. He brings men to the light, for whatever makes truth manifest is light. And therefore we may conclude that it is not the spirit of darkness who discovers and makes manifest the truth.

      5. Love Is Advanced
      If the spirit who is at work among people operates as a spirit of love to God and man, it is a sure sign that it is the Spirit of God. This sign the apostle insists upon from the seventh verse to the end of the chapter: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Love and humility are the two things more contrary to the devil than anything in the world.

      Adapted from the complete, modernized text of Jonathan Edwards’ The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God, made easy to read by Archie Parrish and R. C. Sproul in The Spirit of Revival: Discovering the Wisdom of Jonathan Edwards, copyright © 2000. Published by Crossway Books.

      And here’s my point for posting this; can we say categorically that all of the Muslims who have told of dreams of Jesus (AND who subsequently accepted him as Savior), do not meet this criteria? No, we can’t. Not unless we’ve personally met each and every one of them and get to know them over time. So for anyone to flat-out claim its all a hoax, fake, or perpetrated by some “muslim demonic entity” would be making a judgment based on their personal opinion without the facts.

    • PJ,

      That’s perfectly in step with what I’m saying and what I believe John MacArthur is saying. I would recommend reading the Q&A found at challies.com

      The danger is to jump on the bandwagon that they are all saved. Or on the other hand say it’s impossible that any of them are saved.

      I didn’t hear either one of those positions by John MacArthur, I thought his comments were well thought out.

      I think we need to be very discerning on whether we accept someone’s testimony and test that by the truth of God’s word. Too many in modern day evangelicalism just assume since someone says their saved then they are saved.

      I’m grateful for your response and an opportunity to offer my thoughts. May the Lord continue to show us His truth for His glory alone.

      Soli Deo Gloria!

      Kevin

    • Hi Kevin,

      I think we need to be very discerning on whether we accept someone’s testimony and test that by the truth of God’s word.

      Why? I know that is a simple question, but why do we feel the need to judge someone else’s testimony. Isn’t this for God to know?

      Sometimes i think we spend too much time trying to ‘discern’ (or judge) another’s born again experience and not enough time examining our own faith. Frankly, i believe those like JM do just that. Unless God has given MacArthur some type of special “heart-reading” spiritual gift, which i seriously doubt, knowing he thinks all the gifts have been done away with, how would he “know” anything about the spiritual condition of the ex-Muslims we’re discussing?

    • Amen Kevin. The amount of misrepresentation of the cessationist side is staggering. I learned along time ago that to be respectful in any kind of debate you have to show that you have at least made an effort to learn what the other side is saying. If I’m not mistaken, I get the clear impression that most here have read the Warnock article, but not the Challies interview from which the article is based!!

      JD Ellis

    • JD, i believe what most of us do is take MacArthur at his word, and he has discounted any true supernatural experiences on many occasions. Maybe his real problem is he’s not sure now? That would be wonderful for it shows even old JM can still grow and learn!

    • Hi Kevin,

      I’m Nick over on Challies site – maybe you read my comment.🙂

      While I can agree that MacA DOES actually allow for the fact that God MAY be using visions, he only gets there after a lot of proposing argument after argument as to why he is PROBABLY not, and makes that concession mostly meaningless.

      Here are his two key quotes on that point from the Q&A with Tim:

      “Now, don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled to hear that Muslims are coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That is remarkable, and I rejoice in that reality! Moreover, I would gladly affirm that their regeneration truly is a miracle (just as it is for every sinner), even if I would deny the notion that any previous dreams, impressions, or experiences were revelatory or miraculous.”

      and

      “Now, can God providentially work in such a way as to use people’s thoughts and impressions to draw them to faith in Jesus Christ? Yes, I believe that’s possible. As I noted earlier, God can do whatever He wants. But that work is neither revelatory nor miraculous.”

      In large part, the argument turns on what ‘revelatory’ and ‘miraculous’ mean, but I think he honestly rejects the idea that someone could have a vision from God, but even more importantly, he also seems to reject prima facie the common form of these ‘visions’ as reported by Muslims (some sort of appearance of Christ, or at minimum a white robed figure), which I think suggests he believes that what Muslims report are too extravagant to fit into simply ‘God fiddling with people’s thoughts’, and thus makes the stories, rather than his theory, suspect. As evidenced by his use of phrases such as ‘third or fourth’ hand accounts, or ‘exaggeration’. In other words, he strawmans the issue, and then begs the question.

      I don’t think anyone (particularly ex-Muslim believers!) would say a vision is a substitute for God’s word, or being a part of a church that will teach sound doctrine. But if they do happen (and I have spoken to enough ex-Muslims to believe that at least SOME converts have something that is a genuine experience to them, that they are not lying about or exaggerating), then MacA needs to come up with a better theory as to how they fit in with his cessationism, or abandon cessationism altogether.

      FTR, I guess I’m technically a continuationist, but I don’t speak in tongues, and have no inclination to.

    • Just a quick thank you for adding to the discussion Nick.

      (excellent comment, by the way…thanks!)

    • I think it deserves mention that the Jonathon Edwards book you referenced, P.J., “The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God” was the exact volume used as the basis for his lecture at Strange Fire entitled “Testing the Spirits.” It wouldn’t hurt if some of the people out there who have convicted MacArthur would actually give it a listen. Then at least, if nothing else, there will be some authority and accuracy behind the critiques being leveled.

      Also, a side-by-side comparison between Warnock’s article and the actual Challies interview with MacArthur will show numerous discrepancies, not the least of which is the headline itself of the Warnock piece. If we are presenting ANY critiques of doctrinal issues as Christians, whether it be about continuation or cessation, or Arminianism vs. Calvinism, etc., whatever the point being discussed, it MUST be accurate. or BOTH sides on each issue.are discredited.

      JD Ellis

    • Perhaps, concerning his judgments made during the conference, he should have given heed to what Edwards really wrote JD.

      As far as his interview–i took the time to now read his entire interview including the whole response to the Muslim question, not just the quotes you pulled, and i find the entire “tone” of his response disgusting.

      MacArthur DOES set him self up as the “only” voice concerning what is truth and what is not…as Rick pointed out, he acts like “The” Pope within Protestantism. No one in the Church offered him that “front” seat, he and his followers placed him there–in the front to declare to poor sheeple who follow his every word, what is of God and what is not. What this egotistical man does not want to accept is he may have his faithful followers but there are millions of Christians who could care less what he ‘declares’…they follow Christ, not him, or any man.

      Im not going to apologize if my comment comes across as a tad angry–for after reading this man’s entire response I am angry. I wrote this guy off a few years ago…kindly within a post, saying i no longer had confidence in his teachings. This, after reading a few of his (then) recent sermons, and discerning how his entire tone had drastically departed from (being) one of many teachers to “the one” and only. Today, i am expressing this sentiment even more strongly: i have no confidence in him, his teachings, or his position, given to him by his followers within the Church. He has fallen into the category of those warned of by Paul to Timothy:

      having a form of godliness but denying its power. 2Timothy 3:5

      As Paul further wrote,

      Have nothing to do with such people.

      The man needs ernest prayer–this i can and will do for he treads on dangerous ground.

  9. The whole Q&A construct is also a subtle way to elevate a person’s opinion/interpretation to the level of an absolute prism into Scriptural truth. In the end who cares what MacArthur believes? Let’s be honest here. The question to MacArthur about Muslim dreams was like throwing red meat to a tiger. No one expected MacArthur to openly endorse or authentically rejoice in such a phenomenon. The crowd wanted to hear him at least doubt it if not openly refute it.
    And using the nuances of the words “revelation” or “miraculous” is such a self serving exercise in semantics. An authentic dream of Christ that leads a sinner to redemption is not miraculous? Again, the only reason people care about MacArthur’s views is because he is famous and many people have his personage in admiration. To God it means nothing. The Holy Spirit can lead us all into truth that needs no authentication from the college of cardinals.

  10. PJ,

    You asked me this question.

    “Why? I know that is a simple question, but why do we feel the need to judge someone else’s testimony. Isn’t this for God to know?”

    Simply because scripture tells us to judge those in the church. And the reason for this is to keep the church pure. I need to know who I’m dealing with. Now I certainly don’t determine their salvation. As you rightly stated this is God’s decision and I strongly agree we should constantly be examining ourselves as I mentioned 2 Corinthians 13:5 in my first comment.

    1 Corinthians 5:12-13 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.” verse 13 quotes Deuteronomy 17:7.

    To keep Christ’s church pure decisions need to be made or we all just go around feeling good about each other. I rejoice and embrace those that are true brothers and sisters in the faith, but there is so much weak teaching on conversion that we must not accept everything we hear or see at face value.

    I don’t determine nor does John MacArthur determine salvation, but I will hold a person’s testimony up to the light of scripture. And that doesn’t always sell very well.

    I see a lot of emotion in some of these responses and I’m not sure why. I don’t need to defend John MacArthur and those that choose to listen or not to him is completely their choice. We should be far more concerned that we are being shepherded by our own Pastor and are living out obedience and submission to their leadership as Hebrews 13:17 tells rather than spend too much time being upset by the guys that speak on a national platform.

    Thank you for your hospitality and to all the comments here. I trust the Lord will judge righteously in the end as he can see the heart and fortunately we cannot.

    Kevin

    • How can you and i judge another’s salvation experience without at least meeting them, getting to know them, or their fruit…their lives?

      We can’t.

      If someone feels called to judge these instances which have occurred in the Muslim world, let them earnestly attempt to contact one or more of these individuals….or at the very least, attempt to follow up on what has transpired in their lives since their experiences. Don’t just stand in front of a microphone giving an interview, and categorically deny it could have happened.

      from his interview,

      I do not believe anyone today is genuinely experiencing supernatural visions or revelatory dreams.

      So. He has never experienced it, so naturally, he cannot believe it possible that another has. Repeating one of my favorite terms in response to nonsensical claims, i say “horse-feathers”.

      From my perspective Kevin, if 50 Muslims had the type of dream (or vision) we’ve heard about and 10-20 of those subsequently came to true salvation through Jesus Christ, this is something to rejoice over…not judge or even debate. And it is definitely a call to pray for those trying to serve Christ in countries which don’t take too kindly to Muslims leaving Islam to follow Christ. Amen?

      Thank you for your hospitality and to all the comments here. I trust the Lord will judge righteously in the end as he can see the heart and fortunately we cannot.

      Kevin, i’ve truly enjoyed your input and hope you’ll return… God bless you and yours!

  11. To me the whole cessationist argument makes no sense in relation to scripture. Like a lot of other theological positions, it appears to me as being contrived, like the arguments about wine or the discussion of faith and works in the book of James. Whenever people have to go into long explanations about particular scriptures that clearly “bother” them, it is a big red flag for me. Either you believe what the scripture clearly states, or you have to start modifying things to fit your own theology through complex convolutions. Do people have divine revelations today leading them to Christ? In my understanding there is no question they do. In such cases is it appropriate for us to “test the spirits”? Without a doubt it is. The testimony of the mouth has to be backed up with the testimony of the life. But when what the person received in the revelation lines up with the clear teaching of scripture, AND the change in their life AFTER the revelation lines up with the clear teaching of scripture, who can question it??? A major element of cessationism is the leaven of secular rationalism, there is no question of that in my mind. God can do anything He wants whenever He wants however He wants and He is not bound by ANYBODIES theology in doing so. Of course there IS such a thing as strange fire, a lot more of it around than of the real thing, unfortunately. And no one has been more critical and more willing to test the spirits in that record than those of us here who also want nothing to do with cessationism. The reality is that people don’t like to think for themselves and/or search the scriptures and the writings of the church fathers. It is much easier to come up with cookie cutter one size fits all theologies that remove all the grunt work from the Christian life. Human logic always presents itself as being more user friendly than the mind of God. And that is very much what blinded the Jewish leaders in Jesus day.

    • George, it DOES seem contrived. I mean, what is the purpose…if it is not for the reason you pointed out, the need to modify things to fit one’ own personal theology…and if i may add, push that personal modified theology onto everyone else.

      If you notice, most non-crazies who believe the whole word of God, thus believe the spiritual gifts are still in operation today, and that God does (on occasion) still speak to his people through divine revelation, do not go around arguing for it…or are constantly feeling a need to bring it up and defend it. In fact most people i know personally who have had a supernatural (Holy Spirit inspired) experience, rarely if ever talk about it. It’s something personal, between themselves and God. (hope that made sense).

    • “In fact most people i know personally who have had a supernatural (Holy Spirit inspired) experience, rarely if ever talk about it. It’s something personal, between themselves and God.”

      EXACTLY! I have found that the more public people are about those things, the more likely it is NOT from God. But if somebody tells me that an Angel led them to Christ and they have a life testimony that lines up with that, how can I question that? Are the devil and his demons going around leading people to Jesus? There is, in fact, an interesting parallel here in that Jesus Himself was accused in the very same way by the Jews who were trying to refute His miracles. On the other hand if one hears a miraculous story of conversion that sounds exceptionally fishy, we know full well where those come from as well. After the Montanist circus, the early church became VERY cautious about the supernatural, which is very understandable, but the early church was NEVER cesationist. That came later with the reformation. And now we have ended with two extremes, the charismatics with their freaky gold dust and angel feathers and the cessationists with their stuffy religious rationalism. Neither approach lines up with scripture or historic understanding of scripture.

    • Amen George!

      But if somebody tells me that an Angel led them to Christ and they have a life testimony that lines up with that, how can I question that?

      And therein is the problem with automatically condemning ALL such experiences. The proof in the pudding is the changed life afterward, which those who discount all these accounts never seem interested in following up on.

  12. I think that regardless of how John MacArthur may or may not have overstated or misspoken the case for cessation, if you really want to know what cessationists believe, you have to stop with the second and third hand quotes that people supposedly said, and research the topic.

    Just go to Sermonaudio.com, and do a search for “cessation.” You will find at least a couple of dozen sermons on the topic. I would bet NOT ONE would say that cessation is the belief that God cannot or does not perform miracles today, and I have taken the time to listen to many of them. What they all say is that the apostolic sign gifts have ceased.

    Why is it so illogical or “contrived” to believe that the apostolic gifts ceased with the death of the last apostle? I don’t think anyone here believes the gift of apostleship continues; at least I would hope that we don’t have any of those puffed up NAR folks lurking around here. Why would the apostolic sign gifts continue, not only without the apostles or their appointed helpers, but without the reason for the signs being in effect today, i.e., the foundation of the church already having been laid, and the canon of scripture being now closed?

    I have always had an open offer for anyone who can point out a real prophet, or a real healing ministry today, and perhaps I would change my thinking on this. Nobody has ever taken me up on the offer.

    Imagine, attendance at healing revivals over the last hundred years must be in the millions. Twenty thousand people pack an arena, and if you figure at least 5 to 10 percent of the audience has come to be healed, then do the math for thousands of revivals for decades. NOT ONE verifiable healing done by a healing minister. It is clearly the OFFICE of the healer, and the OFFICE of the prophet, that cessationists believe is now closed.

    What is the record of the modern day PROPHET? Just as dismal as the modern day healer, I’m afraid. Throwing darts at a dartboard would give you a better idea what is going to come to pass than listening to a modern day “prophetic ministry.”

    • The best and only honest way in which to study the topic is to study what God’s Word has to say. I’m sure you’d agree? And frankly, He chose to say quite a lot…devoting at least one entire chapter to the topic; 1 Corinthians 12. This, besides the many examples found within the Word of the gifts operating within individuals.

    • I would also add that those who TRULY possess apostolic gifts in our day do NOT choose to advertise THEMSELVES, rather they shrink in fear from taking any credit from the resulting miracles. This is not unlike the practice of the original twelve. Genuine apostolic ministry results on God receiving all the credit and glory. Thus, once a person becomes an obvious example of a modern day apostle, their work is already tainted in a sense. And PROVING cessationist theology wrong on the basis of contemporary evidence is an impossibility. So what we really have to go on is scripture alone. And scripture alone does NOT support cessationist theology. Cessationist theology is based on human logic, not on the clear teaching of scripture. The very foundation of cessationist theology is that now the we have the completed Bible, there is no longer a need for sign gifts. But even that concept is flawed, in that there are often exceptions where the scriptures are not available in a given mission setting due to language issues and the foundation of the church is no more established in that setting than in apostolic days. In such cases, sign gifts can have great evangelistic value. In this light, cessationism is no more credible that other forms of dispensationalism, that argue that God somehow operates in different ways during different contrived periods of history. To that the scriptures reply: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” The fact is the original twelve apostles ordained successors, and those successors ordained more successors in an unbroken chain until the reformation. There is no biblical evidence whatsoever that those successors were somehow stripped of their sign gifts and provided with Bibles and organized church infrastructure in their place. If sign gifts have truly ceased, it would only be because the reformation broke the previously unbroken line of apostolic succession. But I would prefer to argue that the grace of God has effectively bridged that gap and that apostolic gifts continue today in the church as a whole. In other words I would argue that all forms of dispensationalism end up putting God in a box and are thus fallacious and heretical. God is NOT dead AND neither is He SILENT as cessationists would have us believe. He is still able AND willing to make His presence known through His humble servants scattered across the various pieces of His broken body. Even through those whose theology would deny such supernatural manifestations.

    • George i agree. This is why i pay no heed whatsoever to those advertising themselves as apostles, prophets or “workers of miracles”.

      I believe the Church has been blessed with a few prophetic voices in my lifetime, but never once did i ever hear of one of them calling them self a prophet or allowing anyone else to refer to them as such. If God has placed a calling upon an individual the need for self promotion will not be needed: God Himself, will prove that person’s calling or gift.

      The fact is the original twelve apostles ordained successors, and those successors ordained more successors in an unbroken chain until the reformation. There is no biblical evidence whatsoever that those successors were somehow stripped of their sign gifts and provided with Bibles and organized church infrastructure in their place. If sign gifts have truly ceased, it would only be because the reformation broke the previously unbroken line of apostolic succession. But I would prefer to argue that the grace of God has effectively bridged that gap and that apostolic gifts continue today in the church as a whole.

      And, there is much written, historical, evidence that these early successors experienced (and witnessed) the gifts of the Spirit still being in operation many years later. I posted a few items concerning this some years ago. One can be read here

      We have become a generation of extremists: we are either extreme pessimists and doubters with faith playing very little in our walk today. Or else rather we are a generation of extremists in that we believe every thing we hear and see is of God.

      The first makes me think of Jesus’ words,

      “….when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”

      God is NOT dead AND neither is He SILENT as cessationists would have us believe. He is still able AND willing to make His presence known through His humble servants scattered across the various pieces of His broken body. Even through those whose theology would deny such supernatural manifestations.

      Amen George.

    • Yes, what the Word says is the litmus test. But the comments here have clearly and decisively gone from criticism of MacArthur’s comments to criticism of the large group of Christian believers who call themselves cessationists. Clear inferences have been made here that to believe in cessation is to have one’s head in the sand and not see anything miraculous coming from God’s hand today. Nothing could be further from what a cessationist believes.

      So I guess then we’re just going to be satisfied with painting this large group of mostly reformed Christian cessationist believers who hold to the doctrines of grace, to be as unaware and out of touch as is being presented here, with great approval and applause coming from many. Here we see the hand of the greatly criticized “broad brush” at work. I believe if you want to do proper discernment which is based in any way on doctrine, one must first learn what that doctrine is that you are opposing. Otherwise, true discernment is impossible.

      Again, if the apostolic sign gifts are active and very much alive in today’s church, surely it wouldn’t be a monumental task for someone out there to name a true prophet or miracle worker today. There shouldn’t be any reluctance to publish names of those with these gifts, since the gifts were never intended to be something hidden. Who knows how many sick people out there could be helped if someone just published the names of true healers of God today.

      My heart goes out to the parents of sick children who are spending their last dollars to travel thousands of miles to healing revivals only to be rejected and put off out of sight in the wheelchair section to the side or back of the stage, never to be even seen by the crowd, or even spoken to by the healing evangelist. Meanwhile the healer proudly announces he has “cured” someone’s lumbago or migraines, something that can’t be proved or disproved.

      How their hearts must break as they wheel their kids back to car after the program to go home each time, wondering if maybe the next time the healing will come. Or worse, blaming themselves for not having “enough faith.” to “allow” God to perform healing through the minister. This is the “fruit” of the charismatic and Word of Faith movements, which Strange Fire was rightfully addressing. It is a pity so many have made a decision to keep their eyes and ears closed to the wonderful messages which came out of MacArthur’s conference.

    • But the comments here have clearly and decisively gone from criticism of MacArthur’s comments to criticism of the large group of Christian believers who call themselves cessationists.

      That may be very true…but let us not forget who opened this can of worms. It was MacArthur and his conference.

      Did he or those who agree with him, really believe those who know for a fact, not only because they’ve seen or experienced the gifts first-hand, but because the bible is VERY CLEAR on the fact they are still in operation, were going to keep silent and allow MacArthur to slide by without refuting him? He’s spoken about the third person of the Holy Trinity my friend! Frankly, and i pray im wrong, im not sure he’s not truly ‘stepped over the line’ into blaspheming. If he hasn’t he’s come pretty close JD.

      This is serious. When a follower of Jesus Christ can say with confidence that anyone who speaks in tongues today is doing so by the power of satan, that’s getting pretty close to blasphemy. How is it any different then what the pharisees accused Jesus of in Matthew 12 when they accused him of recognizing the man was demon possessed and then casting the demons out?

      Matt. 12:22-32 says, “Then there was brought to Him a demon-possessed man who was blind and dumb, and He healed him, so that the dumb man spoke and saw. 23And all the multitudes were amazed, and began to say, “This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?” 24But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebub the ruler of the demons.” 25And knowing their thoughts He said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand. 26″And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand? 27″And if I by Beelzebub cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Consequently they shall be your judges. 28″But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29″Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 30″He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. 31″Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32″And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come,”

      Discerning of spirits is also listed as a gift of the Spirit,

      Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

      5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

      6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

      7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

      8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

      9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

      10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

      11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 1Cor. 12

      I can’t speak for anyone else, but go back through my blog posts—all 6-7 years. You’ll find very few posts on spiritual gifts. I’ve never used this blog to promote my beliefs concerning the gifts, but on rare occasions. Why, because i realize how divisive a topic it can be, and, it’s not a doctrine (however one believes) which determines one’s salvation or lack of.

      BUT MacArthur has made it one…he has more or less said those who believe the whole word of God concerning (certain) gifts of the Spirit are being led by demons–by satan. In this light, he’s also attributing these same gifts (given BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD) as demonic.

      Should we stay silent on this, just lie down and roll over? Not me. Not when i know what God’s Word says and know MacArthur is seriously wrong.

    • The point of the “sign gift” itself was NEVER to heal or to prophesy. It was to magnify the Lord. Modern day “healers” and “prophets” are but caricatures of the real thing. And those who oppose them, even though rightly so, as a result scorn any report of healing that meets their ears. They assume it is untrue until “proven”. You can take any person who reports some miraculous recovery and the skeptics will insist that either the original diagnosis was “wrong” or that their was some sort of SPONTANEOUS (not miraculous!!) remission. It is bizarre. It is the same phenomena exhibited by atheists in denying creation. The MAIN reason for not believing is that they passionately believe something else. In the same way if one passionately believes the sign gifts have disappeared, they WILL find evidence for that because they will throw out all evidence to the contrary no matter how stark because it doesn’t fit with what they believe. They will even go to the extent to pronounce the unexplainable as being “satanic” or “demonic” rather than accept the obvious.

      As for prophecy, a large part of the problem is that prophecy as a sign gift was never some sort of divine version of fortune telling. At times it did reveal the future, but only in the process of revealing Christ. For example, Agabus was a prophet according to scripture, though NOT one of the twelve. He made a certain prophecy as to what would happen to Paul if he went to Jerusalem. The purpose was not “fortune telling” but rather to make known the will of God and to reveal Christ. But if a prophecy like this were to occur in a modern setting the cessionist would critique it out of existence. They would say that what Agabus prophesied was “obvious” and that there was no supernatural power involved. The prophecy makes sense only in the context of scripture.

      The divine purpose of the sign gift of healing is to bring people to Christ, NOT to heal the masses. Even in apostolic times only a very few were healed of the many who were suffering. And skeptics were most likely never healed.

      The divine purpose of the prophetic sign gift is also to bring people to Christ. It was never a traveling side show promoting the prophets. There is no real evidence that either the prophets or the healers enjoyed any enduring following amongst the masses. We only know of their ministries by way of the scriptures.

      Cessationist doctrine may well only rule out modern day sign gifts, but that doctrine sets a pattern for cessationists that, as PJ have clearly pointed out, in practice, goes far beyond sign gifts to the point of questioning anything with even the slightest supernatural qualities.

      Again, dispensationalism is a doctrine of men, not of scripture, and cessasionism is a dispensationalist doctrine. The scope of time reveals a very consistent God, not a God who operates differently during one generation than the next. It is men that are inconsistent, not the God of Heaven. In the right circumstances, what ever was available to the men of God of old is available to us right now. That does not mean we should pursue it, but we certainly should not deny the power of God in and through us today.

    • Yes i agree. The Spiritual gifts were and are always to magnify Jesus Christ, bear witness to the Kingdom of God, and to “profit” the Church,

      (Amplified Bible: 1Cor. 12:4-7) – Now there are distinctive varieties and distributions of endowments (gifts, [a]extraordinary powers distinguishing certain Christians, due to the power of divine grace operating in their souls by the Holy Spirit) and they vary, but the [Holy] Spirit remains the same. And there are distinctive varieties of service and ministration, but it is the same Lord [Who is served]. And there are distinctive varieties of operation [of working to accomplish things], but it is the same God Who inspires and energizes them all in all. But to each one is given the manifestation of the [Holy] Spirit [the evidence, the spiritual illumination of the Spirit] for good and profit.

      And amen concerning your comment concerning the gift of prophecy. Many of today’s self-proclaimed prophets DO act like fortune tellers George. Its disgusting.

  13. Here’s an interesting contribution from R T Kendall (successor to Dr Martin Lloyd Jones at Westminster Chapel).
    http://rtkendallministries.com/dear-dr-macarthur

    • Gordon, i greatly appreciated the link……so much so that i feel the open letter posted by R T Kendall to John MacArthur should be posted. Thank you again Gordon!

      Dear Dr. MacArthur,

      I have admired you as an able writer and speaker for years. I have not only read your book Strange Fire but listened to your talks as well as the panel discussions at your recent conference. I am as reformed theologically as you are and can say we are on the same page when it comes to many issues you address.

      I was not prepared however for some of the things you said. I had to reread some parts to be sure you said what I thought you said. First, if your book purports the danger of offending the Holy Spirit with counterfeit worship, I fear you are in greater danger of offending the Holy Spirit by attributing His work to Satan. Does this not worry you? You are risking an awful lot by counting on cessatonism to be totally true. You have tried to turn the hypothetical teaching of cessationism into a dogma.

      Second, surprisingly, you imply that my predecessor Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones would agree with you. A major portion of my own book Holy Fire is devoted to what he believed regarding the gifts, the baptism and the immediate witness of the Holy Spirit. He was no cessationist; he loathed cessationism. Nearly every Pentecostal and charismatic in Britain knew he was their friend. Not only that; he has turned more of them into reformed thinkers than anybody in the twentieth century. He would be horrified that you dismiss as demonic all contemporary testimonies of experiencing the direct work of the Spirit. According to you, my own baptism with the Spirit was demonic even though it led me to reformed theology without reading a single word of John Calvin.

      Third, to be consistent, if you have got it right, we should counsel new Christians to disregard many Scriptures – e.g. those that encourage us to believe that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb.13:8), that he still shows us when we are on the wrong track (Phil.3:15), that the Holy Spirit cannot speak today as he did to Philip (Acts 8:29) or that we should covet earnestly the best gifts (1 Cor.13:31).

      I hope you will consider reading my book. It will do you no harm and, just maybe, you might hear God speak to you in a way you never thought possible. I only pray with all my heart that you have not gone too far already. In the second panel discussion at your conference you actually said, “I know I am wrong somewhere”. If so, who would you listen to? Would you not want to know as soon as possible if you have got it wrong on those matters you are so dogmatic about?

      If I knew for sure it would be honoring to God – for the sake of sincere Christians who are fence-straddling on cessationism, I would ask that you and I have a civil debate (presidential style) on the issue of cessationism. Could we pray about this?

      – R. T. Kendall

      And thank you to R.T.Kendall for expressing some of same concerns which many others within the Church have shared.

  14. George commented:
    ………………….”those who TRULY possess apostolic gifts in our day do NOT choose to advertise THEMSELVES, rather they shrink in fear from taking any credit from the resulting miracles. This is not unlike the practice of the original twelve. Genuine apostolic ministry results on God receiving all the credit and glory”……………….

    So the gifts are worked in secret by agents of God who are in a sense working undercover? The recipients of the workings of the gifts are sworn to secrecy as well, and always keep that promise? And this is why we don’t have numerous evidences of healing in this age of Youtube and Twitter, where just about any phenomenon is on public view minutes after its occurrence?

    No miracle of healing in scripture was done simply to make a sick person physically well. They were all signs. You cannot give a sign to people when the events are occurring in secret and kept secret. Signs need to be SEEN to be of use. A hidden sign on a highway is of no use to the driver. Of what use would be a hidden spiritual sign? Show me chapter and verse where the signs of the apostles were hidden from public view. No disrespect intended George, but this just seems like an invented excuse to downplay or override the very real problem continuationists encounter, which is that if the apostolic gifts were still in effect, we would see evidence, very clear and powerful evidence.

    People in New Testament times saw clear and powerful evidence. It wasn’t hidden. But near the end of the apostolic age, we see even Paul losing his gift of healing and unable to heal his friend Trophimus of a stomach ailment. Scripture also tells us that Timothy was often sick. 1st Timothy 5:23

    If there is a ministry of healing today, we would definitely have evidence of the healing taking place. If people were being raised from the dead today, or limbs being restored, or cripples coming out of their wheelchairs through a human agent, you don’t think we would know about it? Not to mention the puzzling issue of how the healing would be to the glory of God, if it was never revealed.

    In the words of Dr. Max Younce:
    …………………”God has allowed mankind to learn much about science and medicine. He has given doctors for our benefit. God expects us to use the blessings of medical knowledge He has given us. In James 5:14-16 we find the elders anointed with oil (medicine) and prayed. That is what God wants us to do today. Use the medicine and knowledge available, and bathe it with prayer……………………God can and does step in, at His will; but it is not through the phony “faith-healer” procedures that are so prevalent today. When God heals, He heals completely and without charge!”………………….

    As I have repeatedly said, it is the OFFICE of healing that is closed. This does not in any way mean that God is not healing. It just means he is not using human agents, he is answering prayer when his sovereign will chooses to heal.

    And respectfully George, cessation is not in any sense a form of dispensationalism. I have read more than a dozen books on all aspects of dispensationalism, and no reference I have seen equates belief in cessation with dispensationalist doctrine. There is simply no connection whatsoever between the two.

    • I’m not going to answer each of your comments piecemeal, but would like to point out one thing concerning this,

      As I have repeatedly said, it is the OFFICE of healing that is closed. This does not in any way mean that God is not healing. It just means he is not using human agents, he is answering prayer when his sovereign will chooses to heal.

      What? If he is not using human agents then who is praying? Your observation makes no sense JD. And for goodness sakes, what are you talking about concerning an “office of healing?

      And it goes without saying that Of COURSE it is dependent upon His sovereign will…for not all are always healed. God’s sovereign will is THE determining factor concerning the operation of any and all of the Spiritual gifts. But to say God doesn’t use human agents is, well,…ridiculous.

      James 5 – Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up…

      Does God, through the Holy Spirit give some a specific “gift” (as well) to pray over the affirmed? According to the Word, yes He does,

      1Cor. 12 – Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

      For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

    • Quote;
      ………………………”What? If he is not using human agents then who is praying? Your observation makes no sense JD”……………………………..

      We have a totally different view of prayer, then. Asking for healing in prayer and intercession before God Almighty involves no human agency at all. It involves putting our requests before God, asking that his will be done, not ours, and accepting his decision. When the person we prayed for is healed, do we then claim we were the “agent” who arranged for or put in place the needed requirements on the earthly plane for the person to be healed? How pompous that would be. Then I repeat your own comment, “that makes no sense.”

      The difference between the sign gifts of the apostolic age and what are called apostolic gifts today is so marked, and this is why there is a large body of believers in the church today who believe the apostolic gifts have ceased. Did God speak once through a donkey? Yes. Am I to interpret that to mean he is obligated to speak through donkeys today, and every day until the end of time?? You can no more put God in a box than you can put him on a marionette’s string and expect him to respond to each pull of the string.

      A perfect example of God using human agency in the apostolic age, but not today, is where scripture tells us people were healed just by touching Paul’s handkerchief.

      Acts 19:12:
      …………………………………..”so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them”………………………………

      Look, if you want to believe God is now obligated to, and does, heal through handkerchiefs, don’t let me stop you. I don’t have a problem with that. I just don’t personally believe it, and I don’t think the passages about God being the same yesterday, today, and forever have put God under a binding contract with his people to repeat his every past action in future until the end of time. What a box that would be to put God in!

      Hebrews 1:1 tells us:
      ……………………………….1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son ……………………………………..

      For me that tells me clearly how God speaks to us today. Its not through men, or animals, or articles of clothing. It is through his son. The understanding we need is all contained in scripture, which tells the entire story of the redemptive act on the cross, and I take joy in knowing that all I need is contained in those pages. I need not rely on any man to give me the “latest scoop” from heaven.

      And George, now matter how you want to slice it, what is referred to today in the church as dispensationalism didn’t exist before the time of John Darby in the 1800s. Cessation is a doctrine held and taught in the church since the time of the early church fathers. No, not all the early fathers of the church believed it, there has always been people on each side of that equation. But you simply are in error to say it is a form of a doctrine that was birthed in the 1800’s.

    • We have a totally different view of prayer, then. Asking for healing in prayer and intercession before God Almighty involves no human agency at all.

      Then why pray at all? Sigh…you’re right, we do have different views concerning prayer.

      For i read that God has and does use human agents;

      (Again, from James 5) – Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
      Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit

  15. I have to admit, I am having a real problem with the term “sign gifts” itself. It is not a biblical term. It is rather a term that seems to have been contrived by cessationists themselves to carve out a specific class of activity wherein God is no longer allowed to be involved because in the eyes of the cessationist, that involvement on the part of God is no longer needed. This is just one of many areas of overreaching doctrine that I have problems with. Most of us know that the majority of religious performances out there is spiritual quackery, but to respond by declaring all of it invalid equally spiritual quackery. There were all sorts of miraculous spiritual gifts active in both OT and NT times and now we have a doctrine that the arrival of the NT and the church brought cessation. If that is not contrived, I don’t know what is. What we do know is that modern times have brought an onslaught of secular rationalism and to suggest that secular rationalism has infiltrated the church in a major way would be an understatement. Please understand, I am NOT saying that JM or any other cessationists are heretics, but I am saying that I am convinced without a doubt that cessationism itself is a heretical doctrine of man.

    • What we do know is that modern times have brought an onslaught of secular rationalism….

      That’s a much better term for what i was trying to say concerning there being extremists on both sides. Secular rationalism–im going to remember that George, thanks.

  16. Just to reference George’s comment that he believes the term “sign gifts” is contrived and unbiblical. By a quick count I see about 40 mentions of the term “signs” in the N.T. in verses which are directly addressing the miraculous works of the Apostles or of Jesus himself. It is not just a name applied, it is the very essence of the wondrous works themselves that they are signs. It is the word of God that has spoken, not man, in applying this name.

    • Not speaking for George but i understood his reference to “sign gifts” being unbiblical as meaning in the chapter which speaks of the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12), we don’t see the gifts broken up into specific categories..one of those being “sign gifts”. They are rather listed, not in any particular order.

    • Well, I can speak for myself I suppose. Just because the terms “gift” and “sign” are used in scripture doesn’t validate combining them into one term “sign gift”. That is exactly what I am referring to when I use the term “contrived”. Jesus pointed to his death and resurrection as a “sign”. All sorts of things were taken as “signs” in the scriptures. “Gift” and “sign” are two distinct terms. There are multiple cases in scripture where the gifts are exercised with no indication that they are intended to be signs or to be taken as signs. There is all sort of instruction in scripture as to how gifts are to be exercised. If signs ceased as soon as the canon of scripture was complete, why did the Holy Spirit specifically include these instructions which had already been rendered mute if the gifts were no longer valid? The whole argument only make sense to the person who is indoctrinated to believe the argument and approaches scripture with that preconceived theological framework. The whole approach is to create a theological rule and then subject all of scripture to that rule. This is a major reason way the body of Christ has been rent asunder. Every little group filters scripture through their own preconceived rules of interpretation and arrives at the desired result in the process. Unlike “little children” in their approach to scripture, they are more like the Pharisees who strive to fit the scripture into their own religious theology and emphasize any seeming evidence they come across and ignoring and explaining away those aspects of scripture that refute their private theology. The term “sign gift” itself is foreign to scripture and their is good reason for that. There is plenty of evidence from history that the gifts continued to operate throughout the early post apostolic days of the church. But, of course, the cessationalists would argue that the real church went into hiding and didn’t come out until the reformation. I thoroughly believe that is another ridiculous assertion. Certainly people can believe whatever they want to believe and I am not arguing that such minor heresies send people to hell, because salvation is the gift of God and not something earned by right doctrine. But they result in unnecessary divisions on the body of Christ and that is unfortunate. There are issues of doctrine that do condemn people to hell and those are the issues we should be upholding. But a lot of this peripheral stuff is childish and based only on speculation. And I would apply that to a whole range of pet doctrinal positions one finds across the whole spectrum of Protestantism. And Catholicism is an even worse offender in this regard.

  17. P.J.:
    I find I can always look to Charles Spurgeon for wisdom in times of discord. I offer today’s quote which came in my email this morning as a peace offering:

    “Avoid foolish questions.”
    Titus 3:9

    ………………………Our days are few, and are far better spent in doing good, than in disputing over matters which are, at best, of minor importance. The old schoolmen did a world of mischief by their incessant discussion of subjects of no practical importance; and our Churches suffer much from petty wars over abstruse points and unimportant questions. After everything has been said that can be said, neither party is any the wiser, and therefore the discussion no more promotes knowledge than love, and it is foolish to sow in so barren a field. Questions upon points wherein Scripture is silent; upon mysteries which belong to God alone; upon prophecies of doubtful interpretation; and upon mere modes of observing human ceremonials, are all foolish, and wise men avoid them. Our business is neither to ask nor answer foolish questions, but to avoid them altogether; and if we observe the apostle’s precept (Titus 3:8) to be careful to maintain good works, we shall find ourselves far too much occupied with profitable business to take much interest in unworthy, contentious, and needless strivings.

    There are, however, some questions which are the reverse of foolish, which we must not avoid, but fairly and honestly meet, such as these: Do I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Am I renewed in the spirit of my mind? Am I walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit? Am I growing in grace? Does my conversation adorn the doctrine of God my Saviour? Am I looking for the coming of the Lord, and watching as a servant should do who expects his master? What more can I do for Jesus? Such enquiries as these urgently demand our attention; and if we have been at all given to cavilling, let us now turn our critical abilities to a service so much more profitable. Let us be peace-makers, and endeavour to lead others both by our precept and example, to “avoid foolish questions.”………….

    Charles Spurgeon

    • Amen brother. Amen.

      (Its been a good discussion though!…and im very grateful for everyone’s participation)

  18. Thank you to the brother who sent the link to this small clip.

    Posted by OneMinuteApologist

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