Content note: There are two long videos here. I realize they may take some time to watch. There is no rush. They are worth the time.
- The first is from John Piper. It is a great overview of “Who Is the Holy Spirit and What Does He Do?”
- The second is from Michael Brown on “Will Cessationism Cease?”
So, here we go!
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
(ESV Luke 11:9–13)
And then this good news:
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the good news [gospel] of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
ESV (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Eph 1:13–14
Let us start by considering that God really wants to give us the Holy Spirit.
- He wants us to have “good gifts”.
- That is what loving Fathers do.
- Jesus wants us to ask to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Here is a splendid video from John Piper. John believes that the gifts of the Holy Spirit continue today. It is a great background for us all on “How to Seek the Holy Spirit”.
Here is the transcript: https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/how-to-seek-the-holy-spirit
John Piper is an American New Testament scholar, Reformed theologian, pastor, and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Piper taught biblical studies at Bethel University for six years (1974–1980), before serving as pastor for preaching and vision of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis for 33 years (1980–2013).
Piper is the founder and senior teacher of desiringGod.org, named for his book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (1986), and has written a number of award-winning books, including ECPA Christian Book Award winners Spectacular Sins, What Jesus Demands from the World, Pierced by the Word, and God’s Passion for His Glory, as well as bestsellers Don’t Waste Your Life and The Passion of Jesus Christ.
Will cessationism cease? Michael Brown, Ph. D. explains in this video why he doesn’t believe that the cessationist view of Scripture will continue in the long run. Regardless of your position on the issue, it is worth your time to understand his logic.
Michael is well known for his response to Pastor John MacArthur’s call for a “collective war,” against charismatics and Pentecostals. Michael has called for unity in Jesus based on a return to the truth of the Scriptures in the fullness of the Spirit. His book on this is Authentic Fire.
As a charismatic biblical scholar and theologian, Dr. Brown responded to Pastor MacArthur’s charges, making a biblical case for the continuation of the New Testament gifts of the Spirit and demonstrating the unique contribution to missions, theology, and worship made by the charismatic Church worldwide. He called for an appreciation of the unique strengths and weaknesses of both cessationists and charismatics, inviting readers to experience God afresh, and he demonstrates how charismatic leaders have been addressing abuses within their own movement for decades.
I don’t think numbers determine correct theology. If it did, I would become Catholic, or Muslim, as there are more of them in the world than Pentecostals.
Aside from my ramblings, here is the truth of the numbers.
How Many Pentecostals are There in the World Today? There are indeed over 600 million Pentecostals in the world today, IF you have the whole “Pentecostal-Charismatic” movement in mind. This is typically how scholars will speak of global Pentecostalism.
Defined this way, the 600 million Pentecostals in the world includes:
- 92 million denominational Pentecostals (or “Classical Pentecostals”). This number includes 2.7 million Oneness Pentecostals.
- 234 million Charismatics. This includes Catholic (177 million), Orthodox (4.2 million), and Protestant (35 million) Christians.
- 259 million Independent Pentecostal/Charismatics. This number includes 11.8 million Oneness Christians.
Many people who describe how many Pentecostals there are in the world today are thinking only of the first group (Classical Pentecostals). Since they don’t realize that the 600 million includes many other types of Christians, they unintentionally misrepresent the global size of denominational Pentecostals.
We have good news! Want to know how to be saved? Click here or here for more.
And Growing: Taken as a whole, Pentecostals (in the large sense of the term) make up over 25% of all of the world’s Christians. So Pentecostalism is large! And it will continue to grow. By 2025 scholars expect over 30% of Christians will be Pentecostal-Charismatic.
Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. He holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a professor at several seminaries. He is the author of 40 books. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.
In fairness, here is what John MacArthur has to say. Let me say unequivocally that I respect and revere John MacArthur a great deal. I read his content and watched his videos. He is a great man of God.
Put simply, charismatic theology has made no contribution to true biblical theology or interpretation; rather, it represents a deviant mutation of the truth. Like a deadly virus, it gains access into the church by maintaining a superficial connection to certain characteristics of biblical Christianity, but in the end it always corrupts and distorts sound teaching. The resulting degradation, like a doctrinal version of Frankenstein’s monster, is a hideous hybrid of heresy, ecstasy, and blasphemy awkwardly dressed in the tattered remnants of evangelical language. It calls itself “Christian,” but in reality it is a sham—a counterfeit form of spirituality that continually morphs as it spirals erratically from one error to the next. . .
John MacArthur (Source: Strange Fire: Every biblical argument refuted
Wayne Grudem, Ph. D., is the author of multiple books, including Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, which advocates a Calvinistic soteriology, the verbal plenary inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, believer’s baptism, a plural-elder form of church government, and the complementarian view of gender relationships. Systematic Theology is a highly influential theology textbook that has sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Grudem holds to continuationist charismatic beliefs and one of the main apologists and spokesmen for reuniting Charismatic, Calvinist, and evangelical churches.
This comment from him sounds conciliatory. He does not take the bait from his critics. He turns the other cheek.
Finally, it can be argued that those in the charismatic and Pentecostal camps and those in the cessationist camp (primarily Reformed and dispensational Christians) really need each other, and they would do well to appreciate each other more. The former tends to have more practical experience in the use of spiritual gifts and in vitality in worship that cessationists could benefit from, if they were willing to learn.
On the other hand, Reformed and dispensational groups have traditionally been very strong in understanding of Christian doctrine and in deep and accurate understanding of the teachings of Scripture. Charismatic and Pentecostal groups could learn much from them if they would be willing to do so. But it certainly is not helpful to the church as a whole for both sides to think they can learn nothing from the other or that they can gain no benefit from fellowship with each other.
Source: Wayne Grudem
Here is the Apostle Paul:
Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit.
Source: ~Apostle Paul | 1 Corinthians 14:1-2
Good morning, Michael! I’m definitely a cessationist when it comes to the apostolic sign gifts, but I see this debate over gifts as a secondary issue that does not nullify our brotherhood in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. I’ll give these videos a listen, start to finish, over the next couple of days.
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Michael Wilson said:
I agree that it is a secondary issue. We all are thankful to be saved by grace alone.
Of the two, I think the one by John Piper is the more instructive. Michael Brown raises an interesting point when you look at what God is doing in the southern hemisphere. Souls are being won to Jesus in astounding numbers in spite of brutal persecution.
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I’m a bit skeptical of the number of converts reported in Latin America. The “health and wealth” prosperity gospel is a major theme in some Pentecostal churches and I think that is a big attraction for many people living in challenging economies. So I’m skeptical about the genuineness of some of these “get rich through Christ” conversions. I understand not all Pentecostal/Charismatic pastors teach the “health and wealth”/prosperity gospel. John Piper definitely doesn’t. However, it is very popular in some Pentecostal circles. That said, I look forward to listening to the videos.
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Frank Hubeny said:
I consider myself “charismatic” or “Pentecostal”. That is, I am not just hoping for salvation after I die, but I seek the presence of the Lord and to be useful through gifts of the Holy Spirit right now.
Rejecting the Trinity as oneness Pentecostals, sacred namers and some Hebrew Roots proponents do is a deal breaker for me. However, most charismatics I have run into are Trinitarians. Similarly, I don’t consider “cessationism” to be biblical (see 1 Corinthians). That is also a deal breaker for me.
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Michael Wilson said:
Thanks brother. I was unfamiliar with Oneness Pentecostals. Rejecting the Trinity is unscriptural. The gifts of the Holy Spirit continue today. The Holy Spirit is building up the church and bride of Jesus.
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Hope your travels is a blessing this week!
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