[Editor’s Note: Fundamentalist Baptist pastor and author John MacArthur has always been an outspoken critic of Pentecostal/Charismatic beliefs, particularly those regarding the continuation of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit following the original Day of Pentecost upon “all flesh” as Joel prophesied and Peter affirmed, which outpouring of the Water of the Holy Spirit distributes upon all recipients the supernatural “charismata” or Manifestation Gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:7-11). Recently, MacArthur conducted a “Strange Fire Conference” that he publicized widely devoted entirely to denounce the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Gifts of the Spirit, and the innumerable myriads—now and through the previous twenty centuries—who have received of the Baptism in the Spirit and the precious and powerful Gifts He distributes to whoso He wills. MacArthur is a vehement proponent of “cessationism,” which is a theological proposition that maintains that Pentecostal outpouring was for the First Century church only, which the fundamentalists regard as “The Apostolic Age,” and the Gifts of the Spirit ceased with the death of John, the last of the Apostles of the Lamb to die. This entirely unbiblical belief has been adamantly held by myriad fundamentalists despite the fact that many more myriads of Born Again believers have been partakers of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and personal operators and beneficiaries of the Gifts of the Spirit in their lives, proving by personal and pragmatic experience that the naysaying view of the cessationists is simply wrong. A number of leading Pentecostal/Charismatic voices have recently published articles to refute the anti-biblical theories of MacArthur and the cessationists he represents and to appeal to MacArthur and his allies to desist from their public diatribe against and broad-brushed condemnation of Pentecostals and Charismatics, as well as their venomous rantings against the Holy Spirit and His Gifts that comes dangerously close to actually being blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the one and only sin which Jesus Himself said would never be forgiven (Mat. 12:31,32). This article is an excerpt of the writings of the late A.W. Tozer, well known for his prolific and masterful monographs regarding personal intimacy with the God.]
That every Christian can be and should be filled with the Holy Spirit would hardly seem to be a matter for debate among Christians…. I want here boldly to assert that it is my happy belief that every Christian can have a copious outpouring of the Holy Spirit in a measure far beyond that received at conversion, and I might also say, far beyond that enjoyed by the rank and file of orthodox believers today.
It is important that we get this straight, for until doubts are removed, faith is impossible. God will not surprise a doubting heart with an effusion of the Holy Spirit, nor will He fill anyone who has doctrinal questions about the possibility of being filled.
In light of this, it will be seen how empty and meaningless is the average church service today. All the means are in evidence; the one ominous weakness is the absence of the Spirit’s power…. The power from on high is neither known nor desired by pastor or people. This is nothing less than tragic, and all the more so because it falls within the field of religion, where the eternal destinies of men are involved.
Fundamentalism has stood aloof from the liberal in self-conscious superiority and has on its own part fallen into error, the error of textualism, which is simply orthodoxy without the Holy Ghost. Everywhere among conservatives we find persons who are Bible-taught but not Spirit-taught. They conceive truth to be something which they can grasp with the mind.
If a man holds to the fundamentals of the Christian faith, he is thought to possess divine truth. But it does not follow. There is no truth apart from the Spirit. The most brilliant intellect may be imbecilic when confronted with the mysteries of God. For a man to understand revealed truth requires an act of God equal to the original act which inspired the text…. “Now we have received, not the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things which are freely given us of God” (1 Cor. 2:12).
For the textualism of our times is based upon the same premise as the old line rationalism, that is, the belief that the human mind is the supreme authority in the judgment of truth. Or otherwise stated, it is confidence in the ability of the human mind to do that which the Bible declares it was never created to do and consequently is wholly incapable of doing.
Philosophical rationalism is honest enough to reject the Bible flatly. Theological rationalism rejects it while pretending to accept it and in so doing puts out its own eyes.
Few there are who without restraint will open their whole heart to the blessed Comforter. He has been and is so widely misunderstood that the very mention of His name in some circles is enough to frighten many people into resistance.
It is no use to deny that Christ was crucified by persons who would today be called fundamentalists. This should prove to be disquieting if not downright distressing to us who pride ourselves on our orthodoxy.
An unblessed soul filled with the letter of truth may actually be worse off than a pagan kneeling before a fetish. We are saved only when our intellects are indwelt by the loving fire that came at Pentecost. For the Holy Spirit is not a luxury, not something added now and again to produce a deluxe type of Christian once in a generation. No. He is for every child of God a vital necessity, and that He fill and indwell His people is more than a languid hope. It is rather an inescapable imperative.
Now the Bible teaches that there is something in God which is like emotion…. God has said certain things about Himself, and these furnish all the grounds we require. “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing” (Zeph. 3:17). This is but one verse among thousands which serve to form our rational picture of what God is like, and tell us plainly that God feels something like our love, like our joy, and what He feels makes Him act very much as we would in a similar situation; He rejoices over His loved ones with joy and singing.
Here is emotion on as high a plain as it can ever be seen, emotion flowing out of the heart of God Himself. Feeling, then, is not the degenerate son of unbelief that is often painted by some of our Bible teachers. Our ability to feel is one of the marks of our divine origin.
We need not be ashamed of either tears or laughter. The Christian stoic who has crushed his feelings is only two-thirds of a man; an important third part has been repudiated.
Holy feeling had an important place in the life of our Lord. “For the joy that was set before Him” He endured the cross and despised its shame. He pictured Himself crying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.”
The work of the Holy Spirit is, among other things, to rescue the redeemed man’s emotions, to restring his harp, and open again the wells of sacred joy which have been stopped up by sin.###
Aiden Wilson Tozer (1897-1963) was an American, pastor, preacher, magazine editor, Bible conference speaker, spiritual mentor, and author of more than 40 books, including at least two now regarded as Christian classics: The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy. Though he had no formal theological training, his spiritual acumen and life’s work was recognized by two Christian colleges who bestowed upon him honorary doctorate degrees. He was affiliated with Christian and Missionary Alliance for his entire 44 years of ministry that began with his first pastorate in a small storefront church in Nutter Fort, WV, only five years after his conversion in 1919, and his longest pastorate spanning 30 years Southside Alliance Church in Chicago. The father of seven lived a simple and non-materialistic lifestyle his whole life, never owning an automobile, preferring to travel by bus or train. Tozer gave away most of his substantial book royalties to the poor. The inscription on his grave-marker in Akron, Ohio, reflects the simple life this anything but simple man lived, saying simply: “A.W. Tozer – A Man of God.”
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