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Setting the Record Straight on Charismata, Cessationism, and Abuse of the Gifts (Part 1)

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The gift of faith is possibly the least spoken about gift. Now everyone has been given a measure of faith so what makes the gift different? It means a supernatural faith that goes beyond your average every day allotment of faith. I can think of one or two people I know who have been given this level of faith through the Holy Spirit. No matter what life throws at them their faith is unmoved. They are able to express that faith in biblical terms and without sounding self-serving. It is the brother or sister who sleeps through the storm because they know who controls the wind! It is a faith that transcends words and if people would ever obtain a slice of the peace that comes from it, then I would think it would soon become the most coveted spiritual gift.

Within Charismania, faith is less abused because it is less discussed in the capacity of a gift. Faith is abused however in terms of blaming people for their lot in life or their current problems. Like the wonderful counselors Job had, these people possess an almost anti-faith that they are always in a hurry to share. You don't seem to get healed? Must be your lack of faith. I remember reading a comment thread on Joel Osteen's Facebook page once about a man who was facing the sheriff padlocking his house in two weeks. The answers from the Osteenites were horrendous. They were all based on the false teaching they walked under. You just have to have faith! Speak your faith! Where is your faith! A congregant from Kenneth Copeland's church was diagnosed with cancer but she refused treatment because she thought it would be showing a lack of faith in God. Instead she just kept upping her tithes until she died shortly from the cancer.

Fourth on the list is the always controversial gift of healing. Let's deal with the false first. Charismatics have abused healing more than any other gift other than prophecy. Whether it is Benny Hinn knocking waves of people down with his suit coat or Todd Bentley punching a man with stage four pancreatic cancer in the stomach, we have seen it all. Part of this nonsense stems from the false belief that God must heal everyone. Places like Bethel and IHOP preach this heresy that completely robs God of His sovereignty. Then you have your run of the mill scammers like Todd White. Todd appeared in the first Holy Ghost movie where he performed the growing the shorter leg scam at a Korn concert. In other scenes, wannabe "healing evangelists" scour the foreign city they are in looking for suckers to ply their trade on. They are never in emergency rooms practicing their healings. It is always some public park after midnight stalking some 20-something woman "suffering" from generic symptoms that are easily assuaged through the power of suggestion. I read an article this week from the head of Charisma News bragging about someone else who claimed to have a 99% healing rate for people who need spinal alignment. Huh? Then you have the David Taylor's of the world using audience plants to throw away their crutches and walk out of their wheelchairs. These charlatans are not lost on the world. Christianity becomes mocked and derided often because it deserves to be so.

Which brings us to actual healing. Can God still heal today? Even Cessationists will say yes. They just object that He would choose to do so through any person. Yet even James says to call the elders of the church to lay hands and pray the prayer of faith for healing. There is no biblical proof to support healing cannot be provided today through a human vessel. I would agree it may be more prevalent in societies that are less corrupted in doctrine than the United States. Perhaps it takes the faith we see in the underground church in China or the unshakable faith of Christians in the Middle East facing beheading for not renouncing Christ. Either way, I have witnessed God's healing power on more than one occasion. I have also seen the answer of no, on far too many occasions. God however, remains good and faithful and loving and merciful.

Miracles are closely tied with healing as healing is always miraculous. Church history is littered with tales of the miraculous, well after the year 100 AD. I have witnessed personal miracles in the lives of friends. I think most cessationists would agree that God is still in the miracle business but would once again balk at Him using man to achieve the miraculous. With the amount of abuse in the church today I understand why. The explosion of false signs and lying wonders churches such as Bethel and IHOP cheapen real miracles. Fake gold dust, gem stones, gold teeth fillings, glory clouds and angel feathers are not miraculous! You cannot however throw out the baby with the charismatic bathwater. I know families who have been told their child would be born still born or severely damaged and instead of aborting they had faith and received prayer and the child was born perfectly healthy. How many of us know someone given a terminal diagnosis only to live 20 more years? Or someone who was cancer diagnosed one day and the next, after prayer, the results dumbfound the medical experts because it is now gone! We essentially agree on the miracle so let us not squabble on the details of how God performed that miracle. I would stand with Cessationists proudly denouncing anyone taking credit for the miraculous works of God.

Number six is prophecy. The most abused gift today. Churches like Bethel operate supernatural schools to teach people to be prophets. I watched a training video once from Bethel for their worship leaders where they were taught that all worship leaders are prophetic! The key verse cannot be clearer. Only the Holy Spirit apportions the gifts as He sees fit! Modern day prophecy is nothing short of clairvoyance. It is Shawn Bolz with a smart phone or the Kansas City prophets declaring a 65% accuracy rate makes you a solid prophet! In the Old Testament that made you a dead false prophet! I watched an itinerant false prophet once lay hands on nearly everyone in the congregation and was imparting absolute nonsense claiming it was God speaking. Go on Charisma News any given day and get 20 conflicting prophecies. God is not schizophrenic. Type in the word prophet in your Facebook search function and see how pervasive and often comical it has become.

With such egregious abuses of the gift of prophecy it often feels futile to fight back but God did not specify that prophecy will cease while the other gifts remained. The truth is that I have seen the gift or prophecy correctly carried out in service. Unfortunately, it is often preceded by the gibberish tongues (which we will get to). There were two people in my old church who understood you did not need tongues to proceed a word from God. These prophetic words were always directly taken from Scripture because the bible is the final revealed will of God. Their words were not adding to scripture but rather amplifying it. These words were often penitent in nature and not the sugar coated pablum you see falsely prophesied today. I think within these parameters, one can flow in the prophetic and display the gift of prophecy. I am not dealing with the office of prophet or apostle here specifically because I find them to be stumbling blocks for many people on both sides. The truth is that by the definition of apostle you can make a case that our current missionaries are apostolic. Either way, anyone who is a genuine prophet or apostle is too busy bringing glory to God's name to care one iota about bringing glory to their own name.

Number seven is the gift of discerning between spirits. Now, every believer has a measure of discernment that should grow as they mature. This gift is not speaking to the ability. It is also not speaking about visions into the spirit realm. It is the ability to discern solid doctrine from false doctrine. That is one reason why a ministry such as mine is referred to as a discernment ministry. One would hope that everyone could see through low hanging false doctrinal fruit such as Benny Hinn, Mike Murdock, or Kenneth Copeland. Others however need good testing and often this gift to see the truth. Joseph Prince sounds about 85% right but the other 15% will send you straight to hell. Understanding how Dr. Michael Brown is a gatekeeper for the NAR requires discernment. There are plenty of preachers out there that sound right until you peel the layers back. It would have been considered evangelical anathema to call Francis Chan a false teacher just five years ago but now he should be avoided at all costs. Why would God do away with this crucial gift to the body? He wouldn't. He didn't.

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