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Poor Charismaniacal Excuse Making

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But all things should be done decently and in order. -- 1Corinthians 14: 40 (ESV)

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Larry Sparks over at Charisma Magazine has put out an article trying to prop up the excesses within Charismania that so many continue to fall for. Beloved, I am not a cessationist. I believe the gifts are for today but that those in the church misuse or misrepresent them. If we are not driven by biblical truth then we are no better than Mormons or Jehovah Witness followers. We are not called to color outside the lines. I have heard the usual cries from people at Bethel, IHOP, and the four corners of Charismania that I am trying to put God in a box. As if I could. God has put Himself in the box and it is called Scripture. He did so to protect us from our own deceitful hearts. This way when we see people rolling around on the ground making animal noises we can dismiss it as demonic because it is not in the Bible. When we see people shouting gibberish we can turn to Scripture and see they are misinformed. When we see people fall down or convulse uncontrollably we can understand from His Word that they are probably having an emotional reaction; not a spiritual one. Nevertheless, people like Larry Sparks make his living in Charismania and must defend the circus show. So let us reason once more as we peer into the mind of a Charismaniac and see what we need to be mindful of:

'"Lord, send revival..."(but don't let it be weird) Many people in different denominations are praying these spiritual words. These sound nice, yes, but what we are often really praying is, "Lord, send revival... on my terms." Every time God moved in Scripture or recent history, His movement--by and large--was accompanied by weird phenomena. What do I mean by "weird?" It confronted complacency. It pushed people out of stale, dead and dry religion. It called for pastors and leaders to be more elastic with their "orders of service" to accommodate God's agenda. When God comes down and we experience a taste of the power of the age to come in the here and now, things are going to get a little weird. This is to be celebrated, not tolerated at best or rejected at worst.' -- Larry Sparks

I don't know anyone who prays that revival not be weird. I do not even know why someone would want to pray that. What Sparks is dancing around here is that we pray that revival be biblical. If it is not, then we are the author of it, not God. Sparks wastes no time here in attacking the favorite foil of Charismaniacs -- "religion." Anyone who does not agree that God moves by tickling people into unconsciousness is branded as having something "dead" and "stale." Pastors, leaders, and Christianity are not called to be elastic beloved. That is absurd. We are called to be stable, solid, founded upon the Rock. The order of service is God's agenda! How do we know that? Read the key verses where Paul summarizes after discussing the order of service! Everything should be done in an orderly and decent manner. Have you been to any Charismatic services? Do they appear orderly or decent? Or are the confusing, seemingly out of control, and often times frightening? I was at one where the speaker made people chase her around the sanctuary for their blessing. She would randomly turn around and smack someone chasing her and the person complied by collapsing to the arms of the security guard chasing her. I was at another service at a different church where the worship leader just kept repeating for 20 straight minutes for us to jump in the river if we wanted a hug from Jesus. That is not merely weird Mr. Sparks. It is out of order. It is unbiblical and quite possibly demonic.

"Consider the birth, ministry and death of Jesus Christ. All of it was weird! Jesus' birth was weird. I love Christmas, but I am concerned that we have overly glamorized what transpired at the birth of Jesus. The holy King of creation was delivered by a frightened teenager in a smelly stable while the sinister Herod enjoyed the splendor of opulent quarters. Jesus' birth was not welcomed by the kings or nobles of the earth, but rather, peasant shepherds (the magi/wise men came later)." -- Larry Sparks

In his ongoing attempt to normalize Charismatic excess, Sparks is trying to drag the plan God had for His son into the same "weirdness" category. He also claims His life and death were weird. In order to make this argument, Sparks offers that a "normal" way of Jesus coming to earth would have been with pomp and circumstance. Celebrated by all the earth. It's almost as if he has never read the Bible. Never read the Old Testament prophecies about how Jesus would be nothing special to look at. God's ways are so much higher than our ways but I would not characterize that as "weird." As for His "weird" life, Sparks wonders why Jesus didn't just hover around the planet and take over everything. Seriously? Larry, THAT would have been weird. He talks about how many felt He would deliver them from Roman oppression and the fact that he did not was weird. Was it really? Jesus came to deliver us from a much larger problem than carnal oppression. He came to deliver us from eternal oppression and there is nothing weird about that. Sparks also think that dying a criminal's death by crucifixion was weird but it was not. He points out the juxtaposition of the created slaying the Creator but forgets that even Jesus recognized that and said they knew not what they did. The plan God had for atonement is explained throughout the Bible. Certainly not what I might have come up with but then again I am not God. It certainly would be "weird" if I should think nothing of a man waving his sport coat over thousands of people to heal them and watching them all collapse. Sparks also pontificates that Pentecost was weird because of the sound from heaven, the rushing wind and the manifestation of tongues. OK, I can give him this one. It certainly appeared weird to those there that thought the disciples were drunk. The notion however that the church depended on this for dear life is simply not supported biblically. This is the underpinning however of Charismaniacal arguments. That we need to get back to some deeper move of the Spirit. A Pentecostal power that is for some reason lacking in this day and age and it produces a weak impotent church. That misses the mark by leaps and bounds. Romans teaches us that there is only one thing that has the power of God unto the salvation of man and it is not Pentecostal power. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the point Sparks and company keep missing. When you distract from the Gospel you strip the power out of not only the church but the cross itself:***

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. -- 1Corinthians 1: 17 (ESV)

Charismaniacs always get this wrong. The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth and gives us power but the draw is the Gospel. The engine is the Gospel. The entire point is the Gospel. This verse from Corinthians does not say a lack of Pentecostal power will empty the cross of it power. The true supernatural power they keep seeking in gold dust, gem stones, angel feather and glory clouds? They already have it in the Gospel. Sparks would continue dreaming about Pentecost:

Such a setting is every preacher or pastor's dream. Lots of people! A big crowd! An audience full of potential! I think it's important that we examine how the story did not play out. The Book of Acts does not record it this way: And at the sound of the relevant and eloquent preaching, the Broadway-style production, and the professional praise and worship the multitude came together. Multitudes, both then and now, are not drawn by the world repackaged in a Christian presentation. I prophesy that the Lord is awakening the church to the deep longing of those who are disconnected from God. Such a longing can be expressed in the following question--a question that, I am convinced, the people who cross the threshold from the world into a church building are burning to know the answer to. Is God real?" -- Larry Sparks

I would agree that "Christian" repackaging will not draw the multitudes. Neither will some humanistic, pseudo-spiritual concept like "Pentecostal power." Only the Gospel and most churches no longer preach the Gospel. They preach a purpose driven, seeker friendly, watered down, sugared up mockery of the Gospel. They preach self-help and motivation instead of sin and repentance. Then people like Larry Sparks think that if only we have uncontrolled muscle spasms -- then there would be revival! Only in emergency rooms Larry. What we need Larry is more obedience to the Word of God, not less.

"Wouldn't it be like the devil to try to distract the postmodern church from answering this question. There is only one thing that sufficiently answers this question, and it's not the size of a church sanctuary or the relevance of the preaching, or the hip-ness of a preacher or the professionalism of the music teams. These things are fine, to a degree. We need to be relevant, not irrelevant. We should pursue excellence and not settle for mediocrity. We do this, however, to honor God--not build an "experience" to attempt to please people. And yet, we often aim at this target because we are terrified of being "weird." The one answer to this question is the very thing we are terrified of--the movement and outpouring of the Holy Spirit. God made every provision available so that we could have an answer to a world that is desperate to know if God exists. He gave us His Spirit, and how do we often respond? We're afraid that He might do the very thing that will answer the cry of a hungry, thirsty world--we're afraid He might move." -- Larry Sparks

Sigh. Wouldn't it be like the devil to convince people that making barking sounds is a manifestation of Pentecost power! Ironically he correctly lists three things that have nothing to do with God and then excuses them all! We should not be trying to find relevance with a world consigning people to hell. We have no relevance to them and we should not. Hip-ness is not excellence but rather carnal vanity. People opposed to Charismaniacal outpourings are not afraid of the Holy Spirit being outpoured but rather whatever demonic spirits you are trafficking in. you see the Bible makes it very clear that we are fighting wars in the heavenlies and when your opening position is opposed biblically, we can rest assured the spirits you are dealing with are angels of light, disguised by Satan.

"I prophesy that it's time for charismatics and Pentecostals to boldly return to their roots of the supernatural. I prophesy that it's time for different denominations to re-dig the wells that were paid for (often through blood and martyrdom and sacrifice) by their founders, as many historic, orthodox denominations were birthed through a move of the Spirit. What drew the multitudes then, and will draw the multitudes today? I have to warn you, it's weird. But are we going to veer away from the opportunity to reach and impact the masses because we're afraid of what a few people will think of us?" -- Larry Sparks

It is not a matter of being afraid of what people will think about us. The lost already think the things of God are foolishness. You do not need to re-dig wells, or return to some faux-supernatural roots. You just need to preach the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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