Subscribe via RSS Feed

John MacArthur’s Strange Fire, reviewed by Dennis Balcombe

First, the culture in the West tends to find spiritual heroes to follow, and when Charismatic leaders are in a prominent position, they face the temptations of pride, money and materialism, and often misuse of power. There are places like China where spiritual leaders do not even want to be known lest it cause problems with authorities, and the culture in the church is for the leaders to truly be servants to the Body of Christ. We seldom hear of these problems in China.

Another problem is that both leaders and believers have a theological belief that states all believers should speak in tongues, the sick should be healed, all demon possessed should be set free, prophecy is for today, and gifts of the Spirit should be in free operation in the church. However, God’s work is truly through the work of God and the Holy Spirit. Nobody can force God and we cannot make spiritual things happen if God is not working. We do not know all the reasons, but there are simply times when God is not working, and nobody can force Him to move just by professing certain doctrines or going through certain religious exercises, such as prayer and fasting, worship and praise, preaching faith, etc. Thus some Charismatic leaders will declare people healed who are not healed, give prophecies that are not true, and declare people who have really not spoken in another language to be filled with the Spirit. This could be the reason for some of the “counterfeit works of the Holy Spirit” discussed in the book.

I know of several highly spiritual and dedicated people in China and our church in Hong Kong who have been seeking to be filled with the Holy Spirit for years, but to this day have not spoken in tongues. I do not know the reason, but I would never encourage them to imitate others or speak in “stammering lips” just to prove they have the Holy Spirit. I tell them they need the real experience, and even if they never get it all their lives, they are just as spiritual as those who speak in tongues. In fact some of these people do more than many who do pray in tongues. We don’t want the counterfeit gifts, which MacArthur identifies as “strange fire”.

Some of what anti-Charismatics attack as being false is simply people trying to make things happen based on their religious belief. But often God is not working in the West, for there is a great spiritual decline, lack of prayer and even a lack of faith. This is in-spite of the Word of Faith movement attacked by MacArthur. Perhaps due to all the confused theological teachings sweeping the church in the West, Western rationalism and intellectualism, and the failure of leading televangelists and other ministers, people simply do not have the faith needed for God to truly move.

But the situation is the opposite in China and many other nations. The worldview of peoples in Asia is close to that of the ancient Hebrews in which many people clearly understand there is a spiritual world that affects our daily lives. Most ordinary people believe in the supernatural and in the existence of demons. Christians believe God is all powerful and responds to prayer and faith.

Pin It
Page 6 of 9« First...45678...Last »

Tags: , , , , , ,

Category: Spirit, Spring 2014

About the Author: Dennis Balcombe knew he was called to be a missionary to China while he was a teenager, and was one of the first to enter the mainland when it opened to the West in the 1970s. He founded Revival Christian Church in Hong Kong in 1969 and continues to plant churches, travelling and ministering in China and internationally. He shares his story in One Journey, One Nation: Autobiography of Dennis Balcombe, Missionary to China (2011) and he is the author of China's Opening Door: Incredible Stories of the Holy Spirit at Work in One of the Greatest Revivals in Christianity (Charisma House, 2014). Revival Chinese Ministries International

  • Connect with PneumaReview.com

    Subscribe via Twitter 1370 Followers   Subscribe via Facebook Fans
  • Recent Comments

  • Featured Authors

    Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degree...

    Jelle Creemers: Theological Dialogue with Classical Pentecostals

    Antipas L. Harris, D.Min. (Boston University), S.T.M. (Yale University Divinity School), M.Div. (Emory University), was appointed as the founding dean of the Urban Renewal Center

    In Times Like These: Reflections on the COVID-19 Pandemic

    Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books<...

    Gordon Fee: Jesus the Lord according to Paul the Apostle, reviewed by Craig S. Keener

    Dan Reiland is executive pastor of 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Ch...

    Leader’s Authority