Where are you on the ‘Strange Fire’ debate? Are you a cessationist or a continuationist?
In short, John MacArthur recently did a conference and wrote a book entitled Strange Fire. I have not read the book, nor listened to any of the talks from the conference. (Apparently, there has even – already – been a book written in response.)
THEREFORE – though this is a GREAT question – I am not a good one to ask.
If I understand it correctly, however, what the ‘debate’ boils down to is whether or not some of the miraculous ‘sign’ gifts of the Spirit (prophecy, tongues, healing, miracles, etc.) ceased when the New Testament was completed? In other words, do these gifts still exist today – or, have they ceased? If you are a cessationist – you believe they ceased with the writing of the New Testament. If you are a continuationist – you believe they continue through today.
John MacArthur (again – I HAVE NOT READ THE BOOK!) – from my limited knowledge – is a die hard cessationist. In other words, he believes the miraculous ‘sign’ gifts of the Spirit have ceased and no longer exist today.
Needless to say – if you have made it this far down the post – the debate is endless. You can read all you want to by clicking here . Guys who are much smarter than I am and whom I have the utmost respect for disagree on the issue. But the question posed for the day is where I am on this whole deal? Do I believe the miraculous ‘sign’ gifts of the Spirit have ceased, or do I believe they continue?
I’ll put it plainly: I believe the potential exists for them to continue today. I am totally open to miraculous sign gifts being used by God to accomplish His purposes today. I have not personally seen them (practiced biblically) or experienced them. But I believe God can and does use them for His purposes if He chooses.
The ONLY use of miraculous gifts of the Spirit I have seen personally have been – in my opinion – badly abused by excessive charismatics. But I have heard and read of God doing incredible things – using miraculous ‘sign’ gifts of the Spirit – overseas to draw men and women to Himself.
Can these gifts be abused today? Sure they can. Excessive charismatics (in my opinion) have a tendency to abuse the miraculous gifts just like excessive Southern Baptist’s (in my opinion) have a tendency to reject excitement in their expression of worship. The pendulum seems to always be swinging.
But at the end of the day – based on my limited knowledge and understanding biblically and personally – I cannot at this point say God cannot or will not use miraculous sign gifts of the Spirit to accomplish His sovereign purposes and will. If He wants to do it for His glory and draw men and women to Himself through the gifts like He did in the NT – by all means – BRING ‘EM ON!
My advice? Prayerfully study 1 Corinthians 12, 13, and 14. Get your theology and doctrine from the Bible. Pray for God’s perfect will to be done here and everywhere. Plead for Him to get the glory He deserves through your life from all nations. And leave it to Him to do what He chooses.