John MacArthur—Strange Fire
By David Ravenhill
I can well understand some enthusiastic young buck zealously overstating his belief about some pet doctrinal belief he adheres to; but there is no excuse for a father in the faith to do the same.
What grieves my heart and the heart of many I know is the untold damage done to the young of the flock. Jesus warned us about this very thing when He said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea.” It is only when you consider the severity of the punishment that you realize how great this sin was that Jesus was referring to.
Only this morning I was reading again the story of how a handful of men successfully thwarted God’s purposes. This unbelieving minority caused the majority of God’s people to believe that what God said was possible, wasn’t for them. For the next forty wasted years they wandered aimlessly in the Wilderness. Then they died, never seeing the gifts that God had promised them. Why would anyone follow their example, and in so doing rob God’s people of the very gifts He purchased for them at the cost of His precious blood! “When He ascended on high…He gave gifts unto men” (Eph. 4:8).
You recall the day when the disciples were returning from one of their numerous field trips and began to tell the Lord what they had encountered. “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name; and we tried to hinder him because he does not follow along with us. “Then a few verses later we are told that they wanted to call fire down from heaven and consume those who rejected the Lord. Jesus turned and rebuked them saying, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of.” One would have to wonder the same about John MacArthur.
While I will freely admit that the Charismatic movement could stand a little weeding in its own garden, I can also testify to the reality of the Holy Spirit’s power. The FBI does not have a host of undercover agents working tirelessly to track down the counterfeiting operation of criminals churning out millions of thirty dollar bills. The reason is simple, there are no genuine thirty dollar bills. The fact that there is false fire is a testimony to the real fire.
One of the sure proofs that the Holy Spirit is at work is evidenced by the presence of the enemy at work. In the parable of The Sower we are told that as soon as the seed was sown, then Satan cometh immediately. Many people mistakenly believe that any demonic or fleshly activity gives them the right to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
The scriptures tell us that where there are no oxen the manger is clean, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest (Pro. 14:14). Some pastors would rather settle for a clean church with no life, than deal with the aftermath of the Spirit’s activity.
Let’s face it, if you are going to have children, expect spilled milk and dirty diapers. If on the other hand you want a perfectly spotless house, then don’t have children.
My father would often say that he would rather pour water on a fire than try and raise the dead. Some pastors would rather minister in a morgue than a nursery. The former seems to be John’s preference.
The best cure for a cessationist would be to fly them into some heathen jungle where they are surrounded by every form of demonic activity. Only then would they see the need for the Holy Spirit’s power to be manifest. It is a known fact that numerous evangelicals who have gone to the mission field believing that the gifts of the Spirit have been withdrawn from the church; have returned with the very opposite belief. Being confronted by the reality of the demonic, their only hope was to cry out to the living God and see His miraculous intervention through healings, deliverance, signs and wonders. Only when the people see that the God of the missionary is greater than their god, will they believe.
Can you imagine John MacArthur confronting the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel? It takes more than fine expository preaching. It takes the God that answers by FIRE. Perhaps it’s time for him to climb down from his ivory tower of spiritual intellectualism and take a trip to the jungle for a season.###
This article was first published at on David’s blog (see link below).
David Ravenhill’s burden is to see the Church come to maturity through intimacy with God. He was born in England in 1942, the son of renowned Bible expositor Leonard Ravenhill. He graduated from Bethany Fellowship Bible College in Minneapolis where he met and married his wife Nancy. They served with David Wilkerson’s first Teen Challenge Center in New York City, after which they worked with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) for six years, which included two years in New Guinea. From 1973-1988 David was on the pastoral team of one of New Zealand’s largest churches, the New Life Center in Christchurch. They returned to the States in 1988, and from 1993 David served as the senior pastor of a thriving church in Gig Harbor, Washington until 1997, when he resigned to commence a full-time itinerant ministry throughout the United States and overseas. David also taught in the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry in Pensacola, Florida, during and after which he traveled with Evangelist Steve Hill and the Awake America Crusades. David and Nancy have three grown daughters, two sons-in-law and seven grandchildren. David has written five books, and continues his international itinerant ministry. Visit his website at: davidravenhill.com.
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