Recently, I attended the Strange Fire Conference at Grace Community Church in California. The conference was very well done. My husband and I felt extremely welcomed and enjoyed ourselves so much. They were even kind enough to serve a luncheon just for Canadians so we had the opportunity to spend time with some of our countrymen. Over 700 people from the church served us and we are so thankful for them.
Each speaker taught me so much and held to the truth of Scripture.
Here are some thoughts and reflections that I want to share from the conference:
- According to John MacArthur, the biggest problem in the church today is a lack of discernment. I would totally agree with him. Lately, I've discovered almost a willful ignorance on the part of some Christians. Many who don't even want to know the truth about a "celebrity" pastor/author/speaker. They refuse to be good Bereans and they hide behind their fabricated and worldly idea of unity and grace. Truth is going to divide.
- Worship of God is a very serious undertaking. The most serious crimes against God occur in corrupt worship. In Exodus 32, we have an example of corrupt worship when Aaron fashioned a golden calf. This was a false representation of the True God. Anytime we engage in corrupt worship we are committing a crime against God. We must be careful to ensure that the theology behind our music, our sermons, and our worship practices is Biblical. John MacArthur stated that "the theology of the charismatic movement follows their music and will enter the church in that way." He specifically mentioned the bands Hillsong and Jesus Culture.
- There can't be 2 streams of revelation. It must be Scripture alone. This is one of the solas that was fought for by the reformers. The charismatic movement was in the Roman Catholic church before it even came into Protestantism. The Holy Spirit will only work in accordance with the Word. He inspired the Holy Word He will only work in unity with it. If you are expecting to receive personal revelation from God than you are saying that Jesus wasn't the full revelation. People want what is new. But if it is new than it isn't true.
- Miracles were rare in the Bible. Charismatics seem to expect the miraculous to occur everyday. In the Bible, there were only 3 primary eras of miracles. The first era occurred during the lifetimes of Moses and Joshua. This was about 65 years long. The second era occurred during the lifetimes of Elijah and Elisha. This was about 65 years long. The third era occurred during the lifetimes of Christ and His apostles. This was about 70 years long. For approximately 200 years God empowered men to do miracles. These were done to affirm that the words these men spoke were from God.
- The difference between miracles and God's providence was made clear to me. A miracle is an extraordinary work of God that goes against the laws of nature. Its purpose is to authenticate the person and their message. God's providence is that God is involved in all the details of our lives. God works all things together for good therefore He is working in our lives. (Phil. 2:13) God might use a spontaneous thought in our heads for His glory. This doesn't mean that your thought is inspired. Christians who fall into following the voice in their heads will end up in disaster. (Prov. 28:26)
- The work of the Holy Spirit is essentially to point us to Christ and to cause us to become more like Christ. He produces in us a desire to become a slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. The wiggling, gibberish, and phony healings of the Charismatic movement do nothing to point us to Christ. They are also nothing new. In fact these types of ecstatic experiences can be found in many religions including Islam, Hinduism, Catholicism, and Mormonism. It has been recorded that at the dedication of the Mormon temple in 1831 there were charismatic experiences taking place.
- My most favourite part of the whole conference might seem strange to those who aren't aware of my background. This has been a tough year for my family and me. We left our church after 12 years of membership because their theology changed. They became indoctrinated with Keswick theology through a group called Life Action Ministries. This group believes that there are 2 types of Christians. Carnal Christians and Sanctified Christians. According to them, a Christian can slip from his/her sanctified state by sinning. Therefore in order to return to their sanctified state they must experience revival. This is where LAM comes in. They will help you "work" your way back to your sanctified state. Anyway, this "ministry" is constantly wanting revival of America and the world. John MacArthur made a statement that encouraged me so much. He said "If you are praying for revival, wake up, reformed theology is everywhere."