The Charismatic Encounter

The Charismatic encounter

The Charismatic Encounter

Richard Hollerman

Come with me as we visit the

“Word of Faith Charismatic Community Church”


How many of you have visited churches and fellowships in your area, either because of your curiosity, because a friend invited you to go with him or her, or because you were sincerely seeking a better understanding of God’s will?  If so, some of you may have been pleasantly surprised with the friendly acceptance or inspiring message, while others may have been disillusioned over the coldness, the formalism, the worldly participants or members, or certain false teachings or practices you noticed.

Will you take a trip with me to a large Charismatic mega-church and observe what I observed?  To some of you with Charismatic or Pentecostal backgrounds or affiliations, these things will be all-too-familiar.  But others of you who know virtually nothing about the Charismatic movement, perhaps what you read will be shocking—and dismaying.  (The Church that we write about isn’t an actual congregation but it includes elements that one may find to different degrees in many Charismatic Churches—especially the “Word of Faith” or Prosperity type of churches.)

You will find many footnotes with comments and Biblical passages.  These will help you to understand the issues much better.  So come along with me and get ready for an interesting visit.  –Richard

The Charismatic Encounter

The day began like many others over the years.  I had wanted to visit the “Word of Faith Charismatic Community Church” on the other side of town.[1]  A friend of mine had invited me to his church some time ago and I decided to take him up on it.[2]

Over the years, I had visited other churches and fellowships, always eager to learn something more about the Word of God and compare the teachings and practices of the various groups with what God had already revealed.  I knew that we are commanded, “Examine everything carefully, hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).[3] I was not a person who would just accept everything I would see or hear, but I always wanted to compare all things with what God has revealed.[4]

I wasn’t sure what to expect on this little visit but, as usual, I carried my Bible so that I might follow the teaching and also have God’s Word available if any discussions should develop.[5]  Whenever I visit such a group, I always seek to have a love for the people[6] as well as a love for God’s Word so that I might turn from every false way.[7] As I approached the tall-steepled, huge sanctuary, I noticed the marquee in the front lawn.  The church name overshadowed all of the other information: “Word of Faith Charismatic Community Church.”[8]  Under this was the pastor’s name: “Reverend[9] Doctor[10] John Stewart Bailey, Senior Pastor[11] and General Overseer.”[12] Under his name was written, “Gloria Smith-Bailey, Pastor.”[13] [14]  On the next line, we found: “11 AM: Praise Service!”[15]

I didn’t want to be late, so I proceeded to pull into the parking lot where there must have been a thousand cars already parked.[16]  I walked to the gigantic ecclesiastical edifice, and above the entrance were the words: “Enter the House of God!”[17]  I entered the main auditorium where I was able to locate a seat toward the front, since I wanted to be able to see and hear well.

The stage toward the front reminded me of a place where a concert might be held.  Multi-colored lights played on the walls, the ceiling, and the stage floor.  Blaring, almost deafening, noise emanated from the pounding drums, the electric guitars, the piano, the organ, cymbals, and assorted other musical instruments.[18] The combination of deafening instruments, the shouting of several thousand in the audience, and the glaring lights gave the sensation that I was in a rock concert!  The vibrations literally permeated the sanctuary.[19]

This portion of the service continued for what must have been a half hour or even an hour, often including repetition of choruses.  Sometimes we were instructed to stand and at other times we were told to sit.  After the music ceased, the woman pastor took the pulpit and led the audience in prayer.[20]  I felt uncomfortable with this arrangement, but I must admit that female leadership has become increasingly common, in both liberal denominations as well as Pentecostal and Charismatic circles.

After this, Dr. John Stewart Bailey, the Senior Pastor and General Overseer, made his appearance before the assembly.  He was a rotund man, evidently well-fed,[21] dressed in the finest of clothes.[22]  He seemed to have a magnetic personality and was very outspoken, smooth in voice and demeanor, obviously well-liked and respected.[23]  Later, one of the members shared with me that Bailey was on his third marriage and his “wife” was on her second.  He says that God understands our weaknesses and give us a “second change” for marriage—in this case, a “third chance”![24]

“Doctor” Bailey took the pulpit and described the events of the week. He welcomed the guests and encouraged all of us to return.  Then he began a twenty-minute appeal for money.  He talked about “seed faith” and the need to sow the seed of our money so that God will agree to give us a harvest of more money.  It was something like, “give to get,” for we were encouraged to give to Bailey and his church so that God would be pleased and choose to give us more money.  Bailey then cited his own example.  He said that he always gave the best of his income and God gave him a Rolls Royce as well as a new Lexus!  According to Bailey, this was presented as a reward for his own faithfulness.[25]

I couldn’t help remembering Peter’s warning of some, “In their greed they will exploit you with false words.”[26] I also thought of Paul’s warning about certain men who were “teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.”[27] When the pastor was finished with his pleading for money, the ushers passed the plates and the members dutifully gave their contributions to build an addition to the sanctuary as well as a sports building and football field.  I wondered what this might have to do with either preaching the gospel or edifying the members.

Once again, Gloria, the woman pastor, came to the podium.  She was dressed in a glistening dress that sparkled when she walked, a dress that was half way up her thighs.[28]   She wore short and dyed hair of the latest fashion.[29]  Gloria began to teach the principles of faith to the eager audience.[30]

When she ceased, John Stewart Bailey again came to the pulpit and began his sermonette.  The crowd hung on his every word, especially laughing at his frequent jokes.[31]  He also taught on faith, emphasizing the fact that if all of the sick members would only “trust God” and “claim their healing,” surely they would enjoy the best of health.[32]  He demanded the sick to come forward “to claim your healing—the healing that Jesus died to give you!”  Several did go forward.  One said that she was healed of a headache, another claimed that she was healed of allergies, and a third said that he was healed of indigestion.

Sadly, one person went to the pastor for healing of terminal cancer and regretfully turned away–unhealed.   Another person—a diabetic—went to receive a new leg from God since his original one had been lost through amputation.  With tears in his eyes, he went back to his seat, using the same crutches he had when he went.[33]  When these “failures” left the stage, the pastor would tell them, “Have faith in God!  God will heal you when you have enough faith!”  I seemed to remember that often, in God’s Word,  healings were contingent on the faith of the person with the gift of healing rather than the faith of the sick person.[34]

The next direction of the service was more praise music, accompanied by the loud beat of the instruments.[35] I counted one praise tune that they sang at least 23 times!  Interspersed with the music came testimonies of those who were blessed during the week or those who claimed a healing.  One young man said that he had lived a wicked life of drugs and sex.  Not long ago, he was at a party and was about to take some drugs, but he said that he heard the Lord say to him, “Put down the drugs and call on me to save you!”  Right there, the young man dropped to his knees and asked Jesus to come into his heart and make him clean![36]  The thousands in attendance roared with approval, expressing with many “Amens!”[37]

After this, during the rousing, even deafening, praise music, some of the more “liberated” young people began to shout and run around the auditorium while others started to dance in the aisles.[38]  I noticed that some of the pastor’s assistants were in the front and placed their hands on different people.  These people would fall over backwards in a swoon and be caught by helpers, who placed sheets over some of them.  Some of the men and women began to shout on the floor, others began to tremble and shake, some began to giggle and laugh, while a few began to bark like a dog, as they scampered across the floor![39]

I kept waiting for some leader to initiate some sort of communion celebration, but I waited in vain.  The early believers in Biblical times “broke bread” or had the Lord’s supper regularly—each first day of the week—as they met in homes for fellowship, edification, and remembering the Lord’s sacrifice on the cross. In fact, this remembrance with the bread and cup seemed to be central to their meetings, but it was nowhere to be found in this church.[40]

I could see that the lengthy meeting of a couple hours was beginning to slow down.  All at once, a woman across the auditorium stood to her feet and began to say some words in another language which someone called a “heavenly” language.[41]  Then another woman began to shout in another language.[42] I then noticed that a large number of people arose in the sanctuary and began to speak in these languages—all at the same time.[43]  I also observed that all of these dozens of tongue-speakers were speaking but no one was interpreting the language, thus no one knew the messages that were being said.[44]

During this time, the lady pastor called out to the audience, “If any of you want to speak in tongues, come to the front so you can invite Jesus into your heart![45]  If you believe in Jesus, God will send the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues!”[46] A number of people did find their way to the front where they kneeled or lay prostrate at the altar, seeking the Holy Spirit and the supposed gift of speaking in tongues.[47]  Someone would kneel beside them, instructing them how to vocalize certain words, to “prime the pump” and begin speaking in a tongue.[48]  One could see a bit of frustration in those who couldn’t seem to connect with the Spirit and speak in the tongue.  They seemed to feel cheated.

At the conclusion, another one on the church staff took the mike and again challenged the audience to make sure they gave a “tithe” into the Lord’s “storehouse” which was thought to be the “church treasury.”[49] He assured the people that God was just waiting for their “seed” gift so that He would give 10 times as much in return! He challenged them, “Just look at Reverend Bailey, our Pastor!  He always gives his seed gift, and God gave him an 18-room mansion in the best neighborhood in town!  He always wears the best clothes, eats at the best restaurants, and takes the finest vacations—all because he is faithful in giving his tithes and offerings!”[50]

The speaker then enticed the people, “Our Senior Pastor is a great writer!  He has been on the New York Times “Best Seller” list for 30 weeks on a row!  He has written yet another book that is fast becoming a best seller!  It is called, “How to Make it Rich in Ten Easy Lessons: Letting Faith Connect You to God’s Gold Mine!”  Just drop your check into the plate for at least $100 and the book is yours!  You can’t afford to be without this volume!  God doesn’t want any of His children poor!  He promises to make you rich! You are the King’s kids!”[51]

I was dismayed with the rank commercialism I noticed in this appeal as I remembered Jesus’ encounter with the Pharisees, “who were lovers of money.”[52]  Jesus responded to them, “God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.”[53]  I concluded that Jesus would not be welcome in this place if He were to visit it![54]

Oh, there was one more announcement.  Another woman on the staff came to the mike and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, remember to come back tonight after the big game!  We’ll have our favorite food for all!  There will be pizza, ice cream, hamburgers, and all kinds of soda!  Come back and enjoy yourself with your brothers and sisters in the Lord!”[55]

And then the meeting was over.  People immediately moved toward the doors and headed to their cars. I was told that there was an exciting football game they wanted to see on their TVs, thus they didn’t want to delay to visit other members this particular Sunday.

As the building emptied and I made my way to the now-deserted parking area, I had to lift my eyes to the sky and wonder, “God, where were You during this religious service?  Where was Your word?  Why wasn’t Your word taught with clarity, with authority, with exposition, and as the truth given to lead us to Christ?[56]  Why was the Spirit glorified at the expense of Jesus Your Son?[57]  Why were things so different at this place as compared to the early New Testament meetings of the body of Christ?  Where are these people and where is their heart?”

I also ask this of you, dear reader.  Are you willing to throw off all religious tradition, false doctrines, unscriptural practices, and worldly ideas and beliefs?  Won’t you come to Jesus and make His ways your ways!”


[1] This is not the name of an actual congregation, but it represents what one might find in the Charismatic movement and especially the Word of Faith segment.

[2] We are not suggesting that everything we’ll notice in this little story is typical of every Charismatic church, especially the more brazen and raw elements of it.  But sadly what we’ll encounter is found in many of these churches.

[3] All quotations of Scripture are taken from The New American Standard Bible, Update Edition, 1995, © The Lockman Foundation.

[4] “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1; see Acts 17:11).

[5] “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).

[6] “Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14).

[7] “From Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:104).

[8] The early Christians were simply known as the “body of Christ” (Romans 12:5), the “community of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2), the “assembly of Christ” (Romans 16:16), the “flock of God” (1 Peter 5:2), and other non-denominational names.  None of these were official titles, but simply descriptions of some aspect of the believers’ life and relationship to God and Christ.  See our tract, Christians Only: Is it Possible?

[9] “Reverend” is not found in the NASB and it is found only once in the KJV, with reference to God, not man (Psalm 111:9).  Jesus clearly stated that His followers were to avoid all religious titles of honor and ostentation (Matthew 23:7-12).

[10] It is increasingly popular for some clergymen to favor the title “Doctor” or place “Th.D” after their name.  This serves the purpose of broadcasting to others the pastor’s credentials and constitutes a prideful boasting of one’s accomplishments.  Amazingly, some of those who call themselves “Doctor So-and-So” don’t even have an earned doctorate, but assume the title to make an impact on others!

[11] The early community of Christ had pastors, but this term (from the Greek presbuteros) simply means “shepherds” and it applies to all of those who have been appointed to feed the flock (cf. Ephesians 4:11; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2). Scripture speaks of a plurality of shepherds in each assembly, not one “chief” shepherd.

[12] The shepherds in the early body of Christ were also called “overseers” (KJV: “bishops”), from the Greek episkopos. (See Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7.) Since there were a plurality of shepherds, there were a plurality of overseers as well.  These workers were also called “elders,” from the Greek presbuteros (see Acts 14:23; 20:17; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 5:17)

[13] Shepherds (pastors), elders, and overseers (bishops) were always men (males) in the body of Christ, since they had to be “the husband of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6).  Although women had a vital role in the believing community, they were not called to be leaders.  See our booklet, The Discipleship of Devoted Women in Christ.

[14] Note also that Gloria has retained her maiden name, which generally expresses an unscriptural radical feminism in our age and an unwillingness to be subordinate (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:3).

[15] Although praise and worship in song was an important part of New Testament meetings (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 14:26), it appears that the main purpose of the gathering was edification, teaching, and admonishment (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:6, 5, 12, 17, 26; Acts 15:32; 20:7-11).

[16] Many of these “mega-churches” do have several thousand or even ten thousand members.  Early fellowships of believers met in homes (cf. Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 2), thus they couldn’t have been very large in number.  Further, since the elders/shepherds were responsible to oversee and feed the flock, and know the welfare of the sheep, it would be an impossible task for a shepherd to know the spiritual condition of thousands or even hundreds of sheep (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-3). Further, since the early believers broke bread (had the Lord’s supper) each first day of the week (Acts 2:42; 20:7), and they were to “wait for one another” to eat (1 Corinthians 11:33), it would be impossible for a huge group to fulfill these characteristics.

[17] Paul said that “God . . . does not dwell in temples made with hands” (Acts 17:24), and Stephen added, “The Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands” (7:48).  God dwells in the believer’s heart, his life, and his body (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

[18] For the first 600 years of early church history, the music was vocal rather than instrumental.  Scripture speaks of singing in worship (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 2:12), but not a word was said about instrumental music.  In fact, if instrumental music was removed from a church, people would be able to focus more effectively on the words of the songs and the emotional, highly-charged atmosphere would cease. See also Everett Ferguson, A Cappella Music in the Public Worship of the Church (Fort Worth, TX: Star Bible Publications, Third Edition, 1999).

[19] Paul’s instructed the assembly, “All things must be done properly and in an orderly manner” (1 Corinthians 14:40).

[20] Scripture is clear that only men (males) are to lead prayers in the assembly: “I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension” (1 Timothy 2:8).  In the Greek, the term “men” is andras, from aner, which is “never used of the female sex.”  It is used “in distinction from a woman” (W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).

[21] Scripture teaches that our body is to be given as a living sacrifice to the Lord, that it is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and that we are to practice bodily discipline for the Lord (cf. Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 10:31; 1 Timothy 4:8).  See also our booklet, Devoting Your Body to God!

[22] Interestingly, the rich man mentioned by Jesus was also well-dressed (Luke 16:19), whereas the Christian is to practice frugality for the glory of God (cf. Luke 16:10; John 6:12; Colossians 3:17; Luke 6:20, 24).

[23] Luke 6:26; 1 Corinthians 2:2, 4.

[24] Divorce and remarriage has become exceedingly common among clergymen and women.  Various well-known Charismatics, such as Richard Roberts and others, openly justify their divorce and remarriages and consequent adultery.  Their followers seem to accept their explanation.  But Jesus warned, “Whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9). “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery” (Mark 10:11-12; cf. Luke 16:18; Romans 7:2-3; Matthew 5:31-32).  We must remember that adultery (if unrepented and unforsaken) will prevent one from entering the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Hebrews 13:4; cf. Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 21:8).  See our booklet, Serious Questions about Divorce, Remarriage, and Adultery.

[25] See our The Biblical Teaching on Support of Preachers with Warnings and Contemporary Violations.

[26] 2 Peter 2:3.  These men would teach falsehood with ulterior motives—to gain riches at the expense of those they are teaching.

[27] Titus 1:11.  False teachers like this “suppose that godliness is a means of gain” (1 Timothy 6:5).

[28] “I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness” (1 Timothy 2:9-10; cf. 1 Peter 3:3-4).

[29] “Does not even nature itself teach you that . . . if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her?  For her hair is given to her for a covering” (1 Corinthians 11:14-15; cf. Luke 7:38; 1 Peter 3:3).

[30] It is noteworthy that Scripture says, “A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.  But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet” (1 Timothy 2:11-12).  It is also interesting that “the women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. . . . It is improper for a  woman to speak in church” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35). The Bible says that women are to “receive” teaching, not “give” teaching in a mixed group.

[31] “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).  Paul said, “When I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1; cf. vv. 2-5).

[32] Scripture teaches that sometimes God wants His children to suffer physical ailments for their own spiritual good.  He didn’t remove Paul’s “thorn in the flesh,” and Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9; cf. vv. 7-10). Interestingly, Timothy had stomach problems and “frequent ailments” (1 Timothy 5:23).  Epaphroditus was also far from well, for he was “sick to the point of death” (Philippians 2:27).

[33] There were absolutely no failures when Jesus healed people who came.  Matthew says that they “brought to Him all who were ill,” and “He healed them” (4:24).  The writer says that Jesus was “healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness” (9:35).  Luke also says that all who had people who were sick brought them to Jesus and “He was healing them” (Luke 4:40).  There were no failures—all whom Jesus determined to heal were healed.

[34] In the case of the paralytic, Jesus found faith on the part of the men who brought the paralytic rather than the paralytic himself (Luke 5:20). In the case of those who were brought back to life, they simply couldn’t exercise faith—such as Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:35-43), the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:12-16), and Lazarus (John 11:1-44). Sometimes the miracle was performed to create faith rather than as a response to faith (John 11:45; 20:30-31).  One gets the impression that when there is a failure, the professing healer doesn’t want to take responsibility.  The one who offered the prayer for healing was the one who needed faith in God for the healing (James 5:14-15).

[35] Instruments were part of the Old Testament temple worship (cf. 2 Samuel 6:5; 2 Chronicles 7:6; 23:13; 29:26, 27; 30:21; Nehemiah 12:36; Psalm 149; 150).  There was no instrumental music in the synagogues. Biblical scholars find an interesting similarity between the vocal music of the early Christian fellowships and the vocal music of the synagogues, in contrast to the instrumental music of the temple.  In various ways, Charismatic groups are more oriented to Old Testament worship and patterns than they are to the simplicity of New Testament ways.

[36] The “sinner’s prayer” arose especially during the evangelistic campaigns of the nineteenth century.  In the Scriptures, God’s men would call on the sinner to believe in Christ (Acts 16:30-31), to place their faith in the sacrifice of Jesus who died for our sins (John 3:14-16), to repent of their sins (Acts 3:19), to turn from their idols (Acts 14:15; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10), to confess Jesus as Lord (
Romans 10:9-10), to be baptized into Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 3:38, 41; 8:12; 10:47-48; 22:16), and to live a new life in the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:17; Revelation 2:10; Ephesians 4:20-24).

[37] In the Scriptures, we find that the gospel is God’s power for salvation (Romans 1:16) and people were not saved directly through a miraculous manifestation of God. Rather, God would send a person to the lost one in order to share the good news of Christ and to call on the person to be saved.  Examples would be Philip being sent to the Ethiopian (Acts 8:26-39), Peter going to preach to Cornelius (Acts 10:1-40; 11:14), and Ananias being sent to Paul (Acts 9:1-19; 22:12-21).  See also Romans 10:13-17. The Great Commission of the Lord Jesus testifies that He uses people to reach people, rather than miraculously revealing the gospel to individual people (cf. Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:5-16; Luke 24:44-48).

[38] Dancing was an occasional part of the worship in Old Testament times (cf. Psalm 149:3; 150:4; 2 Samuel 6:14), but there is no indication that New Testament worship included this.

[39] Some try to “prove” these practices by going to the Old Testament or citing the case of Paul who “fell to the ground” where he heard the voice of Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:4; 22:7).  This solitary instance is not enough to establish a pattern today; besides, this was a falling to the ground of an unsaved man, not one who was filled with the Spirit!  Paul was “filled with the Spirit” three days later (Acts 9:17). Others may cite the example of Saul who prophesied and laid on the ground all day—but in this case, he was also naked, and we know of no Charismatics who would recommend this (1 Samuel 19:24).

[40] Matthew 26:26-29; Acts 2:42; 20:7; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 11:23-34.

[41] The languages heard on Pentecost were ones known in different parts of the world.  In other words, they were spoken languages (cf. Acts 2:4-11).

[42] It is interesting that many so-called “tongue-speakers” are women.  In a very context of speaking in tongues and prophecy, Paul says that “women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak. . . . for it is improper for a woman to speak in church” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).

[43] Paul specifically says, “If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret” (1 Corinthians 14:27). Thus, God says that not more than three people should speak in a tongue in any given meeting.

[44] The apostle said that when someone does speak in a legitimate language, “one must interpret” the message (1 Corinthians 14:27).  He then instructs, “If there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God” (1 Corinthians 14:28).

[45] There is no indication that anyone came to Christ in the early days of Christianity by “inviting Jesus into his heart.”  This phrase is taken from Revelation 3:20, where Jesus invites, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” This was spoken to Christians who had fallen into lukewarmness and sin (vv. 15-19), not to alien sinners who had never been born again.  The early preachers of the Lord called on people to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved (Acts 16:30-31), and to repent and be baptized in the name of Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39; cf. 22:16).

[46] The Book of Acts doesn’t give evidence that everyone who was saved would speak in a foreign language.  Paul made it clear that not everyone at Corinth spoke “various kinds of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:28), for this was a gift of the Spirit given only to a limited number of Christians (vv. 29-30).

[47] There is no indication that those who wished to be saved in the New Testament era ever sought the Holy Spirit.  Rather, they responded to Jesus Christ and His gospel (the redemptive death and resurrection of Christ), and the common indwelling of the Spirit was automatically given by God (cf. Acts 2:38-39; 5:32; Romans 5:5; 8:9, 11, 14; Ephesians 1:13-14).

[48] No one in the first century needed to be instructed on how to receive the Spirit, for the Holy Spirit was given directly by God (Acts 5:32). And no one needed to be instructed on how to speak in tongues, for “varieties of gifts” were given by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4), and God was the One who “works all things in all persons” (v. 6; cf. vv. 7-11).

[49] This concept is taken from Malachi 3:8-12 where Malachi, the prophet, states that God charges Israel with robbing Him (v. 8).  They ask Him how they have robbed Him.  He replies, “In tithes and offerings.”  God says, “Bring the whole tithe into the store-house, so that there may be food in My house” (v. 10). The Lord would then “open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows” (vv. 10-12). This passage is referring to unfaithful Israel in Jerusalem, about 400 BC, when the Jews were required to give a tithe (10 percent) to God.  (Actually, they gave two tithes and a third tithe every three years, for an average of about 23 percent a year.) This does show generosity with the Lord, but it has no bearing on giving under the new covenant in Christ. See our book, Christian Giving, where the question of the tithe is discussed at length.  The Christian doesn’t give God a mere 10 percent; he gives the Lord 100 percent of everything, and directly gives money and possessions as others have need (cf. Acts 2:44-47; 4:32-34; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15; 9:6-15).

[50] These concepts are an abomination to our Holy God.  They are far removed from New Testament Christianity, where we read of the danger of seeking to be rich (Matthew 6:19-21), and Jesus shows the danger of wealth: “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:23).  “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (v. 25).  We must remember also that even Jesus had little or nothing: “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Luke 9:58).

[51] “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:9-10).  See also James 2:5; 1 Corinthians 1:26; Luke 6:24-25; 16:14-15.

[52] Luke 16:14.

[53] Luke 16:15.

[54] The interested reader may want to read the book Charismatic Chaos by John MacArthur (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992).

[55] 1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  See also our booklets, Devoting Your Body to God!, Why I Don’t Eat Junk Food! and Do You Really Want that Soft Drink?

[56] 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 4:2-4; 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

[57] John 16:14.

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