Tuesday, December 07, 2021
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Op-Ed

The excesses of Charismatism

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By EMN Updated: May 04, 2014 11:54 pm
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Diezevizo Iralu

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]t the outset, I want to state clearly that I am not embarking on a denominational type attack on the charismatics. And more importantly, I am not against the people attending charismatic churches, I also attend one such church and have learned a lot about God from there. Rather, this is an attempt to point out the shortcomings of the mindset, the doctrines, and beliefs of charismatism as a whole. Every denomination has its good virtues and bad virtues, and this is an attempt at pointing out and hopefully influencing change in the mindsets through Godly love and correction. The Bible says in Proverbs 27:6, ‘Faithful are the wounds of a friend’, so here goes.All believers, whatever denomination, have a point of time in their lives when they pour put their hearts to Jesus, accept His Lordship, ask for mercy and get saved. This salvation is received as a free gift to all who believe, not as a result of works. So now, it is the same process for any believer from any denomination that professes Jesus as savior and King. After that, each believer decides which denomination he wants to follow, or in the case in Nagaland, start attending the church that the parents attend. Each denomination has its strengths and weaknesses. The charismatics are often in the spotlight because they do the ministry of the Holy Spirit, many manifestations which we have seen in Nagaland also. There is also God TV which is Charismatic in nature. I have seen a lot of signs and wonders myself, and glorified God, seeing Him deliver, heal, set free, etc. I fully endorse the ministry of the Holy Spirit, but at the same time, I have seen that the faith or ability to do this ministry often creates pride in the person, if his/her heart is not guarded. I have also seen a lot of great charismatic ministers of God fall from grace due to pride. My point is, yes, we all know that salvation is a free gift, unmerited favor from God and complete forgiveness of our sins. But, do we also know that the same grace applies in the endowment of the power of God to heal, deliver, set free, etc.? Yes, the power also is free, not as a result of works. Matthew 10:8 says, ‘Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. FREELY you have received, FREELY give ‘. Hmm…. Interesting huh? Jesus clearly pointed out that this power of God is freely given and unmerited. I guess that means that whenever someone asks, “How did u get all this power?”, we can’t say, “I fasted, I prayed for 40 years, I stayed in a prayer house for many years or I attend a charismatic church!”. Unmerited means that we can’t boast about it, and in any case, we are not doing the healing or delivering. God, or the Holy Spirit is doing it. Therefore, we get no credit for the works, because flesh cannot heal flesh. The problem is that, the charismatics often buy into the lie that they are God’s only chosen people, so that all these gifts operate through them. I have heard a lot of their preachers saying, “If you don’t like worshipping here, you can go across the street to that dead traditional church”. I have even heard them say things like, “Phd(Doctorate of Philosophy) is Permanent Head Damage”. Where is the love brothers? Hey, God is very much in the traditional churches as well, not just confined to places where there are signs and wonders, and by the way, these are only signs pointing to a greater reality. And there are many Phds who are very humble, committed believers. Yes, I know that feeling when you enter a traditional church after being a part of a charismatic church. BUT, as I sat and listened, I found out that God is very much working amongst them too. He comes down to our level of faith, and I have really enjoyed the sermons. It is very deep and spirit filled too. I realized that if we believe for miracles or signs and wonders, we will see it and that is well and good. But, that doesn’t mean that God is only confined to the churches where we see His Spirit manifest. Every denomination wants to have God tucked away in their pockets. Folks, God is bigger than that. And yes, 1 Corinthians 13, 1-3 ‘Though I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, though I prophesy, though my faith can move mountains, though I give all I possess to the poor, though I surrender my body to the flames, BUT have not love, I am NOTHING!’. Hmmm…interesting, right? What is love? Verse 4: ‘Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, not rude, etc.’ Who are you? Romans 8:16 ‘ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children’. So, there we have it, we are God’s children in Christ Jesus. What is our Father like? 1 John 4:8 ‘God is love’. So, if we have become His sons and daughters, we need to become like our Father who is love personified. And what love is this? This love is patient, kind, does not envy, etc. I have in my life seen very few people who are like this, myself included, of course. I am striving to become more like my Daddy everyday. Anyway, I have seen mighty ministers of God, working miracles, signs and wonders, healing the sick, etc, but saw that a lot of them have pride and other issues. Instead, I have met simple believers, many from traditional churches, who practice these qualities in Corinthians 13 perfectly. They may not speak in tongues, they may never have healed the sick, or raised their hands in worship – (criteria that Charismatics think are indispensible for a Christian), but that doesn’t mean that they are lesser believers or dead Christians. Yes, the Word tells us to do these things, and yes, it is wonderful to see God manifest in healings, deliverance, peace, etc, but just because some don’t do these things doesn’t mean one denomination can belittle the other. Hey! Body of Christ, when are we going to realize that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ whether you be Catholic, Baptist, Revival, Charismatic, etc. ‘The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you”(1 Cor.21:21)’, wait, it gets more interesting , verse 22, ‘On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable’. Hmmm… food for thought, eh? “But I thought God is only working in my church” Read the word, brother. Yes, God is good, He is very much working in your church, but He is working in mine as well, because we are both members of the body of Christ. Folks, don’t you think it is high time that the body of Christ starts loving each other in Nagaland instead of denominationalizing (don’t think it’s a word) Christianity? The works of the Spirit manifest as a result of our faith or belief in it, it doesn’t mean God loves us more than the brother in the ‘other’ church. God loves the Baptists, Catholics, Revivals, Charismatics, etc, EQUALLY, He even loves the Hindus and Muslims because Jesus died for all mankind, Christian or otherwise. The only difference is that they don’t know of His great love for them. If you are a Hindu or Muslim reading this, I want to tell you that Jesus loves you, and God has forgiven all your sins at the cross of Jesus Christ.(Hebrews 9:26). And shame on us, brothers and sisters of the Faith, for indulging in petty misgivings, arguments, and selfish denominationalism amongst ourselves. Are we not acting like mere men? For when one says, “I follow Paul”( I’m a Charismatic), and another, “I follow Apollos” (I’m a Baptist), are we not mere men? 1 Cor 3:3.
I think I am straying a bit from the title of the article, but all the straying is from my heart! Here’s an attempt to come back to the point:
The doctrine of prosperity:
This is another strong belief of the Charismatics that I believe is overemphasized to the point that now, there are many Baptist ministers who are dead against the prosperity gospel. Well, my esteemed readers, what do you think on this? If you would ask me, I would opine that the Word of God is a balance , albeit an intricate one where, whenever one is overemphasized it becomes a doctrine again. The Charismatics like to pick out verses from the Bible where there are promises of prosperity and material wealth, and start thinking that this is the sole purpose of coming to Christ. Of course, who doesn’t want to pick out verses to suit their own comfort levels, yes, I also fell into that a lot of times and had heated arguments with my dad.
But I have realized that the Word is a balance, where we can’t pick out only the ones we like, and ignore the others. We either take it all, or don’t take it at all. Coming back to the point, it usually goes like this, “You want cars? You want buildings? You want money? You want finances? Come to Christ”, “All the ‘blessings’ of Abraham will come upon you, your flock will be blessed, your crops will be blessed, etc”. Jesus never said, “Get saved, and I’ll make you rich, or come to me and I’ll give you things”. Instead He said, “If you come to me, you must renounce your life, you must die to the world ” Hmmm… do we realize that God is a spirit, and His blessings are spiritual? If we come to Christ only for the material blessings, then we are no better than the world. And also, the larger implication in propagating this gospel is that unbelievers will not be convinced. After all, a Hindu or a Muslim can get very rich out of his own hard work, without the help of God, many examples of which we see even in Nagaland – the Marwaris, the Bangladeshis, etc. Moreover, the Word says, ‘He redeemed us in order that the blessing (Singular) given to Abraham might come upon the gentiles through Christ Jesus’ – Galatians 3:14. It says, ‘the blessing’, singular, not blessings. And what is this blessing? The next line says it all, ‘so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit’. So, that’s the blessing, it’s the promise of the Spirit through Christ Jesus. It’s a spiritual blessing folks, not cars and money and ‘things’. However, having said that, I do believe that God our Father is good and wants us to be blessed materially also, yes, He does care that we have money and material blessings too. I have also received many of these material blessings from a loving Father in heaven and I’m not trying to be a kill-joy. Yes, God wants us to enjoy His material blessings, I recognize the fact that the gospel is not, all sacrifice, and no joy. But, it is imperative as a Christian to know that those things are not supposed to be the entire focus of the gospel. Material blessings are nothing compared to the spiritual blessings. The fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, joy , patience, kindness , goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Gal 5:22. Aren’t these virtues more important than cars and money and things? After all, we can become very rich and have none of these virtues, and more importantly, money cannot buy these virtues. These are the real blessings of the gospel and they come free of cost because of the sacrifice of Jesus at the cross. Natural Christians gravitate towards natural blessings, while Spiritual Christians gravitate towards spiritual blessings.
Moreover, the church likes to take the principle of sowing and reaping to squeeze money out of members, nothing wrong with that principle, it works, I have also tried and tested it to be true, but at the same time, I have also noticed my Father blessing me even when I sowed nothing. But then, I realized that Luke 12:32 also says ‘It is the Fathers good pleasure to give you the kingdom.’ I have often listened to preaching which says “If you don’t sow, God will not bless you”, and it used to make me feel condemned if I don’t give enough until I realized, “Wait a minute, that’s works, not grace”. After that, I don’t feel condemned even if I don’t have money sometimes and can’t give in the offering because He is Good. God is good even if we’re not good enough. He is not restrained by our shortcomings. He will still bless us even if we don’t sow a dime because ‘IT IS FINISHED’. It is by grace, not by works. I even heard a preaching once where the preacher said, “If you eat God’s seed, meaning the tithe, He will curse you”, but then she went on to say, “We don’t want you to be cursed, we want you to be blessed, so sow generously”. I was there thinking, “Very crafty, very corny to get people to sow out of fear”. Ok, big mouth(yours truly ) will touch a very sensitive issue now, since I’ve touched it, why not go the whole yard – We are also freed from tithing, especially the 1/10 tithing, stepping on a lot of toes here, but wait! The good news is that now we get to give a lot more in the New Covenant ministry. Christ has redeemed us from the law, so please don’t use the sowing and reaping principle as a doctrine to coerce people to sow. Shepherds, tell the flock also that even if they don’t sow, He will still bless. Church leaders, I want you to know that God is your provider, not man. If you preach what He wants to say, He will provide. But if you preach what man wants to hear, then you will have to depend on man for your providence. I say this with love, not judgmentally. So, let’s receive the word in a balanced way, shall we?
“We are hungry, we are thirsty, O God, please release”
Sounds familiar? These phrases are chanted very frequently in charismatic gatherings. Is it biblical? Nope. Not in the light of the new covenant to which we belong. (Hebrews 8:13). The new covenant never tells us to cry out to God, hungry and thirsty. It talks only about zeal. Zeal is not hunger. Zeal will make you go out and do something for God, but hunger and thirst are designed to make you stay inside the four walls of the church. We should not hunger and thirst anymore. Why? Because Ephesians 1:3 says ‘ Praise be to the God and Father our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed(past tense) us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Colossians 2:9 also says ‘For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ. ‘John 4:13 also says, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water (the Holy Spirit) I give him will never thirst.’ Proof enough? Blessed are those who hunger and thirst(Matthew 5:6) – before they are born again and filled, but ignorant are those who still hunger and thirst after getting filled. And by the way, Matthew 5:6 is pre-Calvary, we are in post Calvary times. Aren’t we being very ungrateful when we keep crying out to God saying that we’re hungry, thirsty, asking Him to release. Yes, we were hungry and thirsty, until God filled us. If you’re hungry, get filled with the Holy Spirit. If you’re filled, stay filled! God does not hold back anything. If He has given us Christ, would He not freely give us all other things?(Romans 8 :32) He is good, He’s not looking down from Heaven, measuring how much we pray, or fast or cry out until He releases. Grace is unmerited folks; it is not by our works. He is also definitely not stuck – “O God, please move!”. He has already moved, at the cross. It’s our turn now to move our lazy behinds, instead of gathering up and crying out to Him, asking Him to move. None of our prayers or fasting or hollering can make His hand move, why? Because He has already moved at the cross, and anyway His grace is not dependent on our works. We are crying out to God for revival in Nagaland without realizing that we ARE the revival. (Christ in us, the hope of glory) Col 1:27. The ‘Gospel’ is Good News folks, News is something that has already happened. That’s why Jesus’ dying utterance was, “It is finished!”.
Ah yes, not forgetting the Glory, the gold dust, the clouds, the Presence, etc. Folks, that’s Glory unto the Old Testament. In the new covenant, Paul says in Romans 8:18, – that the glory is in us. Even Jesus said, the Kingdom is within you. We live by faith, and not by sight – 2 Cor 5:7. ‘Because you have seen me , you have believed, Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”. John20: 29.
Yes, it is wonderful to see all these manifestations, but we live by faith, we are a people of faith even if we don’t see these manifestations. I can’t feel my lungs, I can’t feel my liver, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. Even if I can’t feel the presence of God, His word says, ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you’(Hebrews 13:5), and I believe that, even though I don’t see the glory or see the Glory cloud.
The Israelites in those times were spiritually dead, so God in His mercy, came down to their level and showed these manifestations. He even identified Himself as a traveler! We, in the New Covenant are much higher spiritually than the people in the Old Covenant because of the revelation of Christ.
Nothing wrong with wanting to see these manifestations, BUT, we live by faith and therefore it is not wise to blindly run after only these manifestations. Christianity is not a feeling! It is a Faith! And by the way, Psalms 46:10 says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God’. So, it’s not a rule that we have to shout and raise our hands when worshipping. I have often found the presence of God in solemn, quiet gatherings too. And all the Baptists say, “Amen!”. Haha. ( However, having said that, I do also enjoy praising Him and raising my voice or my hands when I attend Charismatic churches). Nothing wrong with doing that too folks, and yes our youth usually prefer doing that nowadays. There is an urgent need to start building bridges between the elder generation and the youth, honoring each other’s views. My dear Charismatic brothers, you would have found Nagaland as a heathen land, and so much more difficult to convert people, if our elders had not solemnly and unflinchingly held on to the faith.
The founding fathers of our faith deserve our praise, whatever shortcomings they may have. So, please don’t be too quick to judge the traditional churches. Love is King!
Ahem, I know I am stepping on a lot of toes again here, buts that’s the Word, whether we like it or not. It’s not my view, it’s His view. He’s the boss, not you and I. We get into line with His word, not the other way around. I hope everyone understands. And believing that, here I go again.
( Part 1/ of 2 to be continued)

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By EMN Updated: May 04, 2014 11:54:38 pm