A Response to Dr. Michael Brown’s Recent Article in Charisma.

Dr. Michael Brown,

I have been a follower of you for several years now, ever since my wife worked at a Jewish High School in California while I was in seminary and I got several volumes of your fantastic books on answering Jewish objections to Jesus.  Those were extremely helpful volumes for dealing with Jewish apologetics, and I have yet to acquire (though I look forward to reading) your book A Queer Thing Happened to America.  You’ve been an exemplary and outspoken defender of Christianity against the absolute onslaught against Christianity by the pro-homosexual movement, and I applaud you for your vast and possibly unmatched efforts in that field.

Beyond that, I’ve admired your interactions with James White when you two have debated the issue of Calvinism/Arminianism and though I would definitely disagree with you on an exegetical level, I find you to be one of the most gracious and articulate defenders of Arminianism today.  In the world in which I travel, most repulsion to Calvinism comes from knee jerk and vitriolic reactions stemming from foundational misunderstandings that offer little beyond blind repetition of John 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9, with insinuations that Calvinists are blind to (or mentally incompetent to grasp) the plain and obvious teaching of scripture.  I find it highly encouraging that you are such a good example of “brotherly disagreement” with White; displaying how passionate and deep disagreement can exist in a spirit of honest respect and affectionate camaraderie in the Lord.

It is in the context of only knowing you as a competent scholar, thinker and gracious gentleman that I find your article on Charisma news so utterly confusing.  It seems that you’re either really misunderstanding MacArthur, or have a personal stake in his response to the excesses of the Charismatic movement that is generating a blind spot in your thinking.   I’d like to interact with your article in an orderly fashion if I may (my interactions are indented in italics):

1.  In your first two paragraphs, you address a quote made at the Shepherd’s conference where MacArthur said that the charismatic movement “attributes to the Holy Spirit even the work of Satan” and then you make the logical assumption that MacArthur then is insinuating that many of the leaders in the charismatic movement are unregenerate.  You close off saying  that if these charges aren’t true, “Pastor MacArthur has seriously overstepped his bounds and misused the Word of God”.

Now I clearly don’t speak for MacArthur, but I’d suggest several things.  I’d suggest that being wrong and being unregenerate aren’t the same (there’s a confusion about legitimate works of the Spirit, but not necessarily intentional deceit).  I’d suggest that MacArthur is aiming his charge at the leaders of the charismatic movement who are seen as influential due to the roles and influence given them by charismatic media outlets like TBN or Charisma magazine (and the influential leaders are around 0.1% of the movement).  I’d suggest that the people MacArthur is going after would be those associated with biblically unfounded theology and behaviour like Paul & Jan Crouch, Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, Mike Bickle, Cindy Jacobs, C. Peter Wagner, Brian Houston, Ken & Gloria Copeland, Jesse Duplantis, John Whimber, John Arnott, Fredrick Price, Rick Joyner, Todd Bentley, Joyce Meyer, Rodney Howard-Browne, Bill Johnson, Rienhard Bonke, Jack Deere, Juanita Bynum, etc.  I’d suggest that MacArthur is clearly not going after generally level-headed Charismatics  (people that he openly associates with) like John Piper, CJ Mahaney, Josh Harris, Wayne Grudem, Matt Chandler, Don Carson, John Neufeld, etc.  The former list is far longer than the latter for the simple reason; there is an excessive amount of  people running around in the charismatic movement acting bizarre and making unbiblical claims (hence the Strange Fire conference).

2.  You followed that by asking if John, in his efforts to rightly condemn the “strange fire” is missing out on the “true fire” around the world, and claiming that “tens of millions of souls” have been saved by people in the charismatic movement, thereby somehow providing authentication to the theology of the movement on the whole.

I’d suggest that MacArthur, as much as anyone on the planet, is highly informed as to what’s going on around the world.  Grace Community Church has their own missions agency with dozens of people in dozens of countries, and The Masters Academy International runs seminaries in 18 countries, having trained thousands of foreign nationals to be competent local pastors.  The question isn’t whether the Holy Spirit is doing something around the world; the question is “what does a move of the Holy Spirit look like?”, and most in the charismatic movement simply assume that all claims regarding a movement of the Spirit are legitimate.  I dare suggest that one does not “prove” that the Holy Spirit is doing something via a personal claim of authenticity or unverified rumors regarding claims of mass numbers of people responding to a gospel message; neither of those is a reliable or biblical test of authenticity.  I’m sure you’ll agree that we would both celebrate the salvation of souls, but “proof” involves a little more than finding out if people are claiming to make decisions for the Lord.

3.  You then complimented Macarthur and moved on to suggest that MacArthur is throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  You saidThe fact is that there has never been a true outpouring of the Spirit that has not been controversial, be it in the ministry of Jesus, at Pentecost in Acts 2 or throughout church history, right up to our day. Yet all too often, sincere leaders like Pastor MacArthur have failed to discern what God was doing in the midst of the human emotion and response.”

Interesting how you do the very thing you condemn MacArthur of doing.  It seems to me that you’re highly offended that MacArthur makes insinuations that many leaders in the charismatic movement are unregenerate and then you make that very same insinuation about MacArthur.  I mean honestly, were the people who doubted the unquestionable ministry of Jesus or the apostles/early church believers?  Not for a second.  It was the Pharisees, Sadducees, and unregenerate religious leaders/elite who were the main opponents of Jesus and the apostles/early church.  They opposed the unquestionable ministry of Jesus and the apostle/early church because they were unregenerate and hated the work of God (i.e. John 9 or Acts 5).  So why does MacArthur oppose it? Are you making some sort of parallel between MacArthur and the unregenerate Jewish leadership of Jesus’ day?  Isn’t that a fairly straightforward insinuation that MacArthur is unregenerate, like all those Pharisees who opposed (and persecuted/murdered) Christ and his apostles?

4.  You then make the strange parallel between Charles Chauncey and Jonathan Edwards, suggesting that “Edwards focused on the wheat while Chauncey focused on the chaff” and ask if MacArthur is doing the same thing.

Dr. Brown, let me get this straight.  Are you honestly suggesting that in a comparison to Edwards and Chauncey, Cindy Jacobs (or any of the other aforementioned questionable charismatics) would be Jonathan Edwards, the careful scholar of scripture, who is focusing on all the positive coming from the charismatic movement and John MacArthur would be Charles Chauncey, the liberal universalist father of American Unitarianism who is simply focusing on the negative coming from the charismatic movement? Call me crazy, but I’d suggest that your illustration is highly questionable, if not downright outrageous.

5.  You then asked “if a pastor is shepherding his flock and feeding them God’s Word and his people are not guilty of these abuses or watching these TV preachers, why is it his responsibility to address these errors?”

Well, no.  I don’t believe for a second that MacArthur is calling on the level-headed charismatics to become the “heresy police” of every self-labelled charismatic in the country.  I’d suggest that he’s calling on those influential people in the movement who are silent to speak up, separate themselves from the religious circus in their midst, and no longer provide a safe haven for false teachers within their circles.  I’m guessing that he’s calling on influential and level-headed charismatics to openly distance themselves from charismatic false teachers instead of going to their conferences to somehow try to redeem them.  I’m guessing that he’s calling on influential and level-headed charismatic leaders to stop assuming that there’s always a baby in the bathwater and to stop giving false teachers a safe haven to spread the delusions from their own warped imaginations.

And as for why MacArthur is the one speaking up about it, I’d simply suggest that he gets a tsunami of questions on the issue from around the world and tens of thousands of people have asked him to address the issue.  After all, his church is within easy driving distance from several gigantic charismatic churches that provide a steady stream of discouraged ex-charismatics out searching for a church of theological substance.  This is an ever present question for him; Grace Community Church has hundred of local ex-Charismatics that attend there who have thousands of friends still attending many local charismatic churches.

6.  You followed that up with this astonishing comment: ” And which is worse? To preach a carnal prosperity message or to give people false assurance that, once they are saved, no matter how they live, no matter what they do, even if they renounce Jesus, they are still saved?”

Honestly, I was shocked to read this.  Are you so consumed with your hatred of Calvinism that you are compelled to take a cheap shot at MacArthur like this?  Dr Brown, which is worse?  The prosperity gospel is a false gospel; the prosperity gospel is worse; far worse…unless you’d dare suggest that Calvinism an equally false Gospel too?  You’re not possibly placing someone like John MacArthur  on the false teacher scale at the same level of Benny Hinn, are you? 

MacArthur doesn’t teach anything as absurd as “once saved always saved…so don’t worry about sin!”.  In fact, I challenge you to demonstrate where MacArthur has ever suggested that true believers can live in sin, or that true believers should take any sort of soft approach to sin.  I challenge you to show where MacArthur has ever suggested that any true believer could renounce Christ.  For having a book on homosexuality with so many footnotes, I’d sure appreciate some citations to back up this unfathomable insinuation.  For having spent so much time talking with James White and debating these issues, it sure appears that you weren’t paying much attention when he was speaking.

7.  You ask why MacArthur rejects the prosperity gospel and embraces Calvinism, insinuating some sort of double standard.

That’s easy.  MacArthur is convinced by his comprehensive teaching through the entire New Testament (and writing commentaries on almost every NT book) that the prosperity gospel isn’t in the New Testament and Calvinism is.  Like everything he says, he gets there because the Bible drags him there.  Most of us Calvinists get there the same way; exegesis and the illumination of the Spirit (which would be part of that “true fire” you’re asking about).

8.  You also included this rather confusing series of statements:

” And he is quite wrong when he states, ‘Its theology is bad. It is unbiblical. It is bad. It is aberrant. It is destructive to people because it promises what it can’t deliver, and then God gets blamed when it doesn’t come. It is a very destructive movement.’

In reality, more people have been saved—wonderfully saved—as a result of the Pentecostal-charismatic movement worldwide than through any other movement in church history…”

Maybe I’m not following your argument, but it sure seems like you’re suggesting that the validation of biblical theology is whether or not people “get saved” in response to it.  I thought that the validation of biblical theology is whether or not it comes from, and corresponds to, the text of the Bible? You know as well as I do that a public profession of faith means very little with regards to whether or not someone is an authentic follower of Christ, and public professions of faith don’t validate the truth of any movement.

Secondly, how in the world do you know how many people have made authentic professions of faith in response to charismatic theology/gospel proclamation in the first place?  I was once on staff at a charismatic church and I was part of a ministry where hundreds of people “got saved”.  Now, a decade and a bit later, when I look at the church and follow those people on Facebook, I can maybe count a handful that actually have any sort of lasting spiritual fruit in their lives, and some of the pastors that I worked with aren’t in the church, let alone ministry, anymore.  Beyond that, I thought that Arminians don’t know who the elect are, so how do you seem to know who are the true believers?

9.  You close off suggesting that MacArthur is denying the “true fire”.

What exactly are we talking about?  What movement?  Reinhard Bonke’s so-called evangelism where he claims to have lead 2.7% of the continent of Africa to the Lord…uh, via the prosperity gospel?  Or David Yonggi Cho’s million member church in Korea that’s also a prosperity gospel church? Or Rolland and Heidi Baker who was part of the absurd Toronto Blessing (more prosperity gospel) and now is working in Mozambique and claims to have lead 4% of the entire country to the Lord (and raised 400+ people from the dead)?  What are we talking about?  What “true fire”?

As I’ve said, I’m no more a spokesman for MacArthur than I am for you, but I’d defend both of you gladly if you were being attacked unjustly and consider both of you instrumental in my spiritual development.  As I said, in reading your article on the Charisma website, I was actually shocked and dismayed that someone I respect and have recommended openly to many friends came out with a piece of writing so uncharacteristic of what I’ve come to expect of him.

I mean no disrespect, but I honestly think you’re guilty of many of the charges you lay against MacArthur and hope only to urge you to offer a little more grace and a little less heinous insinuation against a person who is following the binding of conscience informed by the careful exegesis of scripture.  I’d suggest that you have overstepped your bounds here and possibly might want to either provide a little support to your accusations or maybe turn down the rhetoric in the future.  I know that toes have been stepped on, but sore toes aren’t an excuse for wild tongues, correct?

Longing for the day that all debate ceases in the presence of the Lord,

Lyndon Unger

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23 thoughts on “A Response to Dr. Michael Brown’s Recent Article in Charisma.

  1. You have a gift for being able to see the holes in what seems to be a well laid out argument. As I do not have such a gift, I appreciate you sharing yours.

      • I have listened Mr John McArthurs speech n the conference and understood pretty much the same way that Dr brown has, that he believes All charismatics are decieved or decieving people the vast majority of whom are not christians and that the movement is inspired by the devil. This is what Mr John MAcArthur communicated with that conference. And no matter how much you say he was pointing out to people like Cindy Jacobs, he was referring all the time to the charismatic movement in its entirety which he defined as comprising of 500 million people. Mr Mc Arthur seems to have assumed that all the Tv preachers he has heard are representative of his move of God. he is wrong.Has he examined the doctrine of any mainline pentecostal church with regard to these excesses? Mr McArthur has spoken authoritatively from his mistaken viewpoint of cessationism (At least every one can agree that cessationisn is not explicitly taught in the scriptures) and condemned the religious expression of 500 million people.I believe in baptism of the Holyspirit as a second experience after regeneration, but i do not follow the nonsense taught by many who claim to be charismatics. I also believe that the doctrine of limited Atonement and cessationism is nonsensical from my understanding of the scriptures and believe it is harmful. Many scholars would agree ith me, but that doesnt mean that i would accuse John calvin or Mc Arthur of teaching these things under the inspiration of the devil.

  2. Dr. Michael Brown responded to this post of yours on his Facebook page, “Ask Dr. Brown,” on his timeline under “Posts by Others” in reply to Luke Qart (who had shared the link to this post with him).

    Dr. Brown’s article “John MacArthur, Strange Fire and Blasphemy of the Spirit” is excellent, full of grace and truth (just like Jesus) and his reply to you is 100% right on.

  3. Pingback: Dr. Brown Responds to me… | Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely...

  4. Hi Lyndon,

    I’m answering you here instead, if that’s all right. (I think Jules is done with me, saying I don’t know what the Bible teaches.)

    No, I’m not perplexed at all by your misunderstanding of Scripture. Through the years I’ve talked to many who are blinded by denominational unbelief and confused by false teaching such as cessationism.

    You asked, “Did the apostles ever attempt to establish the authenticity of their teaching by appealing to how many “got saved”?”

    I don’t see the purpose of your question. Michael Brown hasn’t done this, so why ask? Reporting the number of people who profess faith in Christ when the true Gospel is faithfully preached by the power of the Holy Spirit, as it is through my blessed brothers Brown and Bonnke (and most Pentecostal and charismatic ministers, minus the TV hucksters) is not an appeal to validate a man’s ministry. It’s simply reporting the facts. There’s no difference between Acts 4:4 and what these godly minsters are doing. Of course the Lord knows who will bear lasting fruit, but that goes without saying. It’s the parable of the sower. And while I agree that affirmative responses to any message tell you nothing about the truth of the message, that applies to all messages preached in Jesus’ name around the world.

    So the real question is, who is preaching the genuine Gospel and reaping results from planting the seed of the Word in good ground? I know who they are and so it’s not an issue with me.

    The Lord will judge His people. Jesus said to let the tares and wheat grow together until the harvest. He’ll separate the sheep from the goats. In the meantime, why don’t you read the book Michael Brown suggested you read? The Kindle edition is only $10 🙂

    • Kate,

      You toss a whole bunch at me so I’ll attempt to respond in bullet points:

      – I’m not blinded by denominational belief. I’m at odds with my denomination on this one.

      – Cessationism isn’t false teaching, or at least you haven’t proved anything along those lines.

      – Brown makes the implicit equation that since people are being saved in the charismatic movement, there’s legitimacy to it as a movement of the Holy Spirit. He writes in his first article:

      “And it is only fair to ask whether Pastor MacArthur, in his rightful zeal to correct excesses or errors in the charismatic movement—what he calls “strange fire”—is also guilty of rejecting the true fire. Does he embrace the glorious things the Holy Spirit is doing worldwide, resulting in the salvation of tens of millions of souls, or does he write them off as the result of emotionalism and deception?”

      He makes the equations that since the results are the salvation of souls, the “glorious things” that he’s talking about are actually the works of the Holy Spirit. I (and many others) would question that assumption and that logic.

      – Bonnke is preaching a prosperity gospel, not the biblical gospel. His claims about the working of the Holy Spirit are simply and only that: claims. What he claims to do doesn’t look like what’s in scripture and doesn’t fit the pattern of scripture.

      – There is a night and day difference between what these men are doing and what has happening in the bible. The tongues that these men do aren’t the same as the tongues in the Bible. The miracles aren’t either, neither are their prophecies. There are various rampant heresies in many of the big charismatic leaders (like the list I provided in my response), and that gives me several flashing warning lights.

      – “So the real question is, who is preaching the genuine Gospel and reaping results from planting the seed of the Word in good ground?”

      Well, Reinhard Bonnke isn’t preaching the genuine Gospel. He’s a huckster who preaches a prosperity gospel. The things that he calls “fruit” aren’t the things that the Bible calls “fruit”. So many people support people like that because of how they pull an exegetical slight of hand, talking about the “fruit” of their ministries that isn’t fruit at all.

      Rapid growth of a ministry isn’t “fruit”.

      Mass acceptance of a person/evangelist isn’t “fruit”.

      People getting a miraculous healing isn’t “fruit”.

      People responding to the proclamation of the gospel isn’t even “fruit”.

      Reinhard Bonnke’s ministry, for all I know, hasn’t produced a single ounce of biblical fruit.

      What is biblical “fruit”?

      I’ll write a blog post on that next week. Feel free to come back and tear me up when I’m walking through text of scripture. That will really show us who’s who.

      – The Lord will judge his people.

      He sure will. He’ll judge even those who aren’t his people too.

      Matthew 7:22-23 says “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

      If you read that passage carefully, Jesus never responds to their claims of prophesying, casting out demons and even working miracles with “no you didn’t”. Jesus doesn’t challenge their actions, but rather their associations; Jesus says that he never knew them, meaning that those things weren’t ever (nor for a second) associated with him. Those things really happened, but Jesus never had any part in it.

      Real (looking) prophesy, real (looking) exorcism and real (looking) miracles mean nothing.

      Jesus will send people to Hell who on earth were heralded as miracle-working exorcists & prophets.

      Know anyone in the charismatic who does all those things and suggests that those things verify their “ministry” as authentic?

  5. Pingback: A Response to Dr. Michael Brown's Recent Article in Charisma … – Charismatic Feeds

    • Lyndon, the onus is on the deniers of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with charismata, not on those who believe Jesus and His Word.

      Michael Brown isn’t making an assumption. He doesn’t have to; he knows and has the real thing. He’s simply asking a valid question – is John MacArthur guilty of rejecting the true fire of God? Does he embrace what the Holy Spirit is doing? Or does he write off millions of saved as the result of emotionalism and deception?

      You said, “There is a night and day difference between what these men are doing and what has happening in the Bible.”

      Who are these men? I’m not defending phony TV preachers or quacks. But that’s not the main issue here. The bottom line is MacArthurites reject what Jesus and the NT writers taught and that’s why they condemn all Pentecostal/charismatic ministers as charlatans. They reject His Word and that’s why they reject those who preach and teach it. There’s a humungous difference between genuine discernment and a satanic “ministry” of attacking true saints who move in the Holy Spirit. True discernment is not criticism.

      Your accusations against Reinhard Bonnke are hearsay. He doesn’t claim to do anything. You’d know that if you understood how the Holy Spirit heals the sick. He can’t and doesn’t take an ounce of credit because it’s not him doing the healing and he knows it. He’s not a peacock evangelist; he’s a humble man. And since you don’t understand or believe what Scripture says about divine healing, and you openly deny Jesus is the Great Physician who heals today as He did when He walked the earth, then how do you know the pattern? You don’t know Jehovah Rapha.

      Reinhard Bonnke would never claim this but he may have preached the Gospel to more human beings than anyone who has ever lived. Criticize him and other Pentecostal evangelists all you want, slam the full Gospel that sets the captives free in Jesus’ name, and diss the multitudes who have been saved and healed and delivered, as the unbelieving religious leaders did to Jesus’ face, as Saul persecuted the church thinking he was doing God service, but, in so doing, you are fighting against God and resisting His work. Not a good place to be. You really need to step back and take a fresh look at the Word.

      You twisted the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 7:21-23 and read into them what He never said or implied. To wrest the words of the King of kings is serious. I hope you repent. If your interpretation were correct that would mean most in the first century church never knew Jesus and are eternally lost, including the twelve and everybody in the upper room. So Peter, Paul, and Mary the mother of Jesus are in hell. Nice theology! But here’s the real kicker: those who work iniquity can and will be forgiven IF they sincerely and humbly repent, but those who claim that the works of the Holy Spirit are demonic have no repentance, neither in this world nor in the world to come. Think about that.

      (You don’t have to answer this because I don’t think I’ll be back.)

      Please listen to:

      http://www.lineoffireradio.com/2011/03/15/interview-with-reinhard-bonnke-and-where-is-the-power-of-the-gospel/

  6. Good article. As an ex-pente, neo calvinist, among the many things that really get my blood boiling is when charismats quote Edwards when trying to defend the myriad of unbiblical manifestations and heaps of false teachers and prophets – an I mean heaps. If you had any doubt whether Edwards was a cessassionist go to the primary source and read his own words in his account on revival found here

    THE DISTINGUISHING MARKS
    OF A WORK OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD,
    APPLIED TO THAT UNCOMMON OPERATION THAT HAS LATELY APPEARED ON THE MINDS OF THE PEOPLE OF NEW ENGLAND:
    WITH A
    PARTICULAR CONSIDERATION OF THE EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES WITH WHICH THIS WORK IS ATTENDED
    Jonathan Edwards
    from
    SECT. III.
    Practical inferences.

    Some of the true friends of the work of God’s Spirit have erred in giving too much heed to impulses and strong impressions on their minds, as though they were immediate significations from heaven to them, of something that should come to pass, or something that it was the mind and will of God that they should do, which was not signified or revealed any where in the Bible without those impulses. These impressions, if they are truly from the Spirit of God, are of a quite different nature from his gracious influences on the hearts of the saints: they are of the nature of the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, and are properly inspiration, such as the prophets and apostles and others had of old; which the apostle distinguishes from the grace of the Spirit, 1 Cor. xiii.
    One reason why some have been ready to lay weight on such impulses, is an opinion they have had, that the glory of the approaching happy days of the church would partly consist in restoring those extraordinary gifts of the Spirit. This opinion, I believe, arises partly through want of duly considering and comparing the nature and value of those two kinds of influences of the Spirit, viz. Those that are ordinary and gracious, and those that are extraordinary and miraculous. The former are by far the most excellent and glorious; as the apostle largely shows. (1 Cor. xii. 31,. &c.) Speaking of the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, he says, “But covet earnestly the best gifts; and yet I show you a more excellent way;” i.e. a more excellent way of the influence of the Spirit. And then he goes on, in the next chapter, to show what that more excellent way is, even the grace of the Spirit, which summarily consists in charity, or divine love. And throughout that chapter he shows the great preference of that above inspiration. God communicates his own nature to the soul in saving grace in the heart, more than in all miraculous gifts. The blessed image of God consists in that and not in these. The excellency, happiness, and glory of the soul, immediately consists in the former. That is a root which bears infinitely more excellent fruit. Salvation and the eternal enjoyment of God is promised to divine grace, but not to inspiration. A man may have those extraordinary gifts, and yet be abominable to God, and go to hell. The spiritual and eternal life of the soul consists in the grace of the Spirit, which God bestows only on his favourites and dear children. He has sometimes thrown out the other as it were to dogs and swine, as he did to Balaam, Saul, and Judas; and some who, in the primitive times of the christian church, committed the unpardonable sin. (Heb. vi.) Many wicked men at the day of the judgment will plead, “Have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works.” The greatest privilege of the prophets and apostles, was not their being inspired and working miracles, but their eminent holiness. The grace that was in their hearts, was a thousand times more their dignity and honour, than their miraculous gifts. The things in which we find David comforting himself, are not his being a king, or a prophet, but the holy influences of the Spirit of God in his heart, communicating to him divine light, love, and joy. The apostle Paul abounded in visions, revelations, and miraculous gifts, above all the apostles; but yet he esteems all things but loss for the excellency of the spiritual knowledge of Christ. It was not the gifts but the grace of the apostles, that was the proper evidence of their names being written in heaven; in which Christ directs them to rejoice, much more than in the devils being subject to them. To have grace in the heart, is a higher privilege than the blessed Virgin herself had, in having the body of the second person in the Trinity conceived in her womb, by the power of the Highest overshadowing her: Luke xi. 27, 28. “And it came to pass as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lift up her voice, and said unto him; Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps that thou hast sucked! But he said, Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it.” See also to the same purpose, Matt. xii. 47,. &c. The influence of the Holy Spirit, or divine charity in the heart, is the greatest privilege and glory of the highest archangel in heaven; yea, this is the very thing by which the creature has fellowship with God himself, with the Father and the Son, in their beauty and happiness. Hereby the saints are made partakers of the divine nature, and have Christ’s joy fulfilled in themselves.
    The ordinary sanctifying influences of the Spirit of God are the end of all extraordinary gifts, as the apostle shows, Ephes. iv. 11, 12, 13. They are good for nothing, any further than as they are subordinate to this end; they will be so far from profiting any without it, that they will only aggravate their misery. This is, as the apostle observes, the most excellent way of God’s communicating his Spirit to his church, it is the greatest glory of the church in all ages. This glory is what makes the church on earth most like the church in heaven, when prophecy, and tongues, and other miraculous gifts, cease. And God communicates his Spirit only in that more excellent way of which the apostle speaks, viz. charity or divine love, “which never faileth.” Therefore the glory of the approaching happy state of the church does not at all require these extraordinary gifts. As that state of the church will be nearest of any to its perfect state in heaven, so I believe it will be like it in this, that all extraordinary gifts shall have ceased and vanished away; and all those stars, and the moon with the reflected light they gave in the night, or in a dark season, shall be swallowed up in the sun of divine love. The apostle speaks of these gifts of inspiration as childish things, in comparison of the influence of the Spirit in divine love; things given to the church only to support it in its minority, till the church should have a complete standing rule established, and all the ordinary means of grace should be settled; but as things that should cease, as the church advanced to the state of manhood. 1 Cor. xiii. 11. “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things;” compared with the three preceding verses.
    When the apostle, in this chapter, speaks of prophecies, tongues, and revelations ceasing, and vanishing away in the church—when the christian church should be advanced from a state of minority to a state of manhood—he seems to have respect to its coming to an adult state in this world, as well as in heaven; for he speaks of such a state of manhood, wherein those three things, Faith, Hope, and Charity, should remain after miracles and revelation had ceased; as in the last verse,. and “now abideth (menei, remaineth) Faith, Hope, and Charity, these three.” The apostle’s manner of speaking here shows an evident reference to what he had just been saying before; and here is a manifest antithesis, between remaining, and that failing, ceasing, and vanishing away, spoken of in the 8th verse. The apostle had been showing how all those gifts of inspiration, which were the leading-strings of the christian church in its infancy, should vanish away, when the church came to a state of manhood. Then he returns to observe, what things remain after those had failed and ceased; and he observes that those three things shall remain in the church, Faith, Hope, and Charity: and therefore the adult state of the church he speaks of, is the more perfect one at which it shall arrive on earth, especially in the latter ages of the world. And this was the more properly observed to the church at Corinth, upon two accounts; because the apostle had before observed to that church, that they were in a state of infancy, chap. iii. 1, 2. And because that church seems above all others to have abounded with miraculous gifts. When the expected glorious state of the church comes, the increase of light shall be so great that it will in some respect answer what is said, ver. 12. of seeing face to face. (See Isa. xxiv. 23. and xxv. 7.)
    Therefore I do not expect a restoration of these miraculous gifts in the approaching glorious times of the church, nor do I desire it. It appears to me, that it would add nothing to the glory of those times, but rather diminish from it. For my part, I had rather enjoy the sweet influences of the Spirit, showing Christ’s spiritual divine beauty, infinite grace, and dying love, drawing forth the holy exercises of faith, divine love, sweet complacence, and humble joy in God, one quarter of an hour, than to have prophetical visions and revelations the whole year. It appears to me much more probable that God should give immediate revelation to his saints in the dark times of prophecy, than now in the approach of the most glorious and perfect state of his church on earth. It does not appear to me that there is any need of those extraordinary gifts to introduce this happy state, and set up the kingdom of God through the world; I have seen so much of the power of God in a more excellent way, as to convince me that God can easily do it without.
    I would therefore entreat the people of God to be very cautious how they give heed to such things. I have seen them fail in very many instances, and know by experience that impressions being made with great power, and upon the minds of true, yea eminent,—saints even in the midst of extraordinary exercises of grace, and sweet communion with God, and attended with texts of Scripture strongly impressed on the mind—are no sure signs of their being revelations from heaven. I have known such impressions fail, in some instances, attended with all these circumstances. They who leave the sure word of prophecy which God has given us as a light shining in a dark place—to follow such impressions and impulses, leave the guidance of the polar star, to follow a Jack with a lantern. No wonder therefore that sometimes they are led into woeful extravagancies.
    Imagine if he was around in this day and age. Remember he was writing about real revivals in which he was a major instrument of God.

  7. like you said. Mr Brown quotes names and people without really knowing what they teach. Puritans were too “unspiritual” and heady for modern day charismats to read through them. Better to follow a “jack with a lantern” as edwards states. a wicked and adulterous generation seeks ….some peoples revival could be other people’s apostasies. in the 30 years of promised revivals by the charismatic movement all we have seen is the term born-again become a household joke and the western nations such as the US degrade to the level that we cant even tell the difference between a man and a woman. some revival. but when you believe that barking like a dog and talking in gibberrish are the work of God’s Holy Spirit nothing should be surprising. Look forward to the Strange Fire conference LLLLLONG overdue.

  8. Lyndon,

    Very good response witch I can identify with so well. I too read Dr.Brown’s work back when it was in three volumes and I also recognized his scholarship there. Problem is this scholarship is massively inhibited and put on hold when it comes to his Arminian agenda as so many have seen in his recent approchement to Reformed Faith. Frankly, I must say that I have recognized that Dr.Brown can be just as easily driven by agenda as by scholarship a couple of years back and I am speaking about his Zionism resulting from his dispensationalism. He had a Jewish settler on his show once when they discussed the dynamics of Jewish and Arab populations in Israel. His guest described that Arab population in Israel is about ONE MILLION when in fact it is very close to 1.8 million of people. That is a huge difference and Dr.Brown knew the real number as did his guest but he did not make any correction of his speaker, any attempt to present correctly such an important fact, especially for the topic they so intensely discussed and why? For the very same reason he intentionally misrepresents and dishonestly attacks John MacArthur – it did not served his agenda. That is troubling and saddening but it is definitively there and let the thinker be aware of this tendency so visible in Dr.Brown’s interactions with those who are not lined up with his agenda. Whether a theological of political one.

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