A Charismatic Christian Manifesto

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A Charismatic Christian Manifesto
Copyright © October 30, 2011 Douglas W. Jerving.
All Rights Reserved.

“Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.”
-- 1 Corinthians 14:39, (KJV).

I really believe many in the church today have the same experiences my wife and I have had. Most just do not make it evident because they fear retaliation. We have been in several church situations that we ultimately did not find were faithful to the Scriptures, and when we chose to walk according to the Word of God we were criticized. In every previous church, we chose to leave without making waves. As believers in Christ we have come to a point in our lives, because of the seriousness of the recent situation (which reading other posts should clarify sufficiently) where we are convinced that change will only come by challenging the religious status quo.

This article is a manifesto of sorts. It sets forth what we have believed as Christians all along, and especially as Christians who believe that the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit are not passed away, or a product only of the New Testament Church. Set forth below in seed form are some things that will be made clearer in some of the other posts on NewEdisonGazette.com. The following ideas are not to be taken out of context of our belief in the sole authority of the written Word of God as it has been laboriously established by the early Church counsels as the true and accepted canon of Scripture. We believe in the plenary- verbal inspiration of Scripture according to 2 Timothy 3:16, and that no word from man can supplant the total authority of God’s written Word, but only confirm it. Any thing more or less is a denial of the very Word of God. Therefore, all prophesy, tongues and interpretation, visions, dreams and supernatural experiences must be tested by their complete alignment and dependency upon the received canon of Scripture, i.e., the 52 books of the Bible contained in the Old and New Testaments.

After saying this, it is necessary that we make clear that the things we believe are wholly proven and testable as truth that is in line with the Scriptures as above defined. To that end, I will now set forth a charismatic and Christian manifesto of the things most assuredly believed by us, and hopefully still, by the vast majority of Christians who align themselves with the charismatic experience set forth by the New Testament.

1. We believe in the supernatural gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit which are manifested through all times in the believing Christian Church. (Rom 12:4-8; 1 Cor 1:5-7; 12:1, 4-12, 27-31; 14:1ff; Gal 5:22-23; Eph 4:8-13; 1 Tim 4:12, 14; 2 Tim 1:6; Mark 16:15-20; Matt 28:18-20.)

2. We believe in ‘body ministry” which means that the whole group of believers in the local church has something vital to offer to the Church both at times of the whole assembly of believers coming together and at specific times of need when the whole Church is not present. Every member of the Church from the least to the greatest has something valuable to offer to every other member, because we are all one in Christ and are members particularly of His One body on earth. (See the Scriptures under point 1 above.)

3. We believe in the authority of the believer in Christ apart from the need of an intermediary pastor, or other leader. It is not necessary for a member of the so-called clergy to be present to officiate or authorize the ministries of the various members of the body of Christ. Christ is the head of His Church and He has authorized the gifts of His Spirit to be used as He sees fit whenever and where ever the need arises. Authority comes from Christ alone, not from religious leaders, to benefit the whole body of believers whenever and where ever they need it. (1 Pet 2:5-10; 4:10, 11.)

4. We believe every Christian believer is responsible first to God, then to his neighbor, saved or unsaved, and lastly to himself. True JOY is Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last. The gifts of the Spirit are given to the Church for edification, exhortation and comfort, and never are intended as a way of controlling, manipulating or lording over others. (1 Cor 12-14.)

5. We reject as heresy the ultimate priesthood of any man excepting Jesus Christ. We denounce as unscriptural the usurpation of the laity by a pastoral hegemony. We denounce the denial of the gifts of the Spirit as the common resource of the whole body of Christ, and the claim that they are subordinate to the hierarchy of any supposed religious authority. We denounce the so-called authority of religious “leadership” to dominate and control the free expression of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We denounce the Nicolaitan politicization of the Church by a leadership (clergy as opposed to laity) that exalts itself as the sole arbiter and interpreter of Scripture or of the free exercise of the gifts of the Spirit. We denounce the denial of the priesthood of every believer, which implies his or her authority to manifest the gifts of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit gives utterance, whether that denial is Romish, or Protestant, or Neo-Charismatic. The gifts of the Spirit are given to all believers, that all may learn how to be a blessing to the whole body of Christ, and that none should remain mere spectators of the grace of God. (1 Pet 5:1-4).

6. We believe God is restoring the priesthood of all believers, the gifts of the Holy Spirit to all believers, and the authority to minister in love supernaturally as God grants wisdom to all believers apart from any dependency upon any so-called religious hierarchy. We believe that this was the foundation of all New Testament theology regarding the true nature of the Church, but that it has been set aside by many fellowships as the Church organized to defend itself against the world. Nevertheless, history reveals to us that many if not most persecuted members of the true Church down through the ages, have maintained a belief in the priesthood of all believers down through history, whether in the Old or New Testament revelation of God's people. The Reformation was a movement of many groups in the direction of this restoration, but it had been subverted by clerical aspirations that were not in line with Scripture. But God is not done with His work, and perfect restoration to the New Testament pattern is becoming more and more a realized experience for those who are committed to following the sole authority of Scripture.

7. We believe and are assured from Scripture that God is seeking a people who love His Word first, that seek His Biblical revelation despite every contradictory opinion of men, whether saved or unsaved; that reject the dissimulating and hypocritical authority of religious leaders; and that judge every false attitude by the purity of the plenary-verbal breath of God as revealed solely by the Scriptures.

In light of the above, it is necessary to consider several implications based upon the above statements:

First, Holiness Is the Evidence of True Conversion

On the subject of holiness, it is the authority of the whole Church, and not merely the pastor, to determine whether those in its midst are living lives faithful to God's Word. Holiness is part of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the individual. This may take time; nevertheless it is always a work that is evident. Those who never change and always seek counseling are probably first in need of true conversion and no amount of loving excuses for their sins will ever convert them to true believers. Only a pure Word spoken with authority can convince the gainsayers of their need for repentance. We must accept that some that are in the Church are not, and never will be true believers. We must accept the hard fact that the Church has authority to exclude such members from fellowship, realizing that their only motives are self-serving, whether political, or sexual or any other sort of evil motive. Some may look the part outwardly, even manifesting spiritual gifts for a time, but if their lives are immoral, their gifts make no room for them. We ought to always judge the fruit of men’s lives first, and only afterwards, allow them to enter a place of greater leadership in the Church. This of course does not mean that we make no allowances for the weak in the Church, but rather that we do not allow them greater leadership until we know they are grown enough in Christ to be able to withstand the assaults that inevitably come to those who are more prominently placed, or outwardly visible in the Church. This also means that the whole body of Christ, as Paul said, “You who are spiritual” (or more mature in spiritual things) should judge (Gal 6:1), implying members of the whole body and not just the pastors or deacons (1 Cor 5:4-5; 6:1-7). It is the responsibility of the whole body, not merely the pastor, to determine the eligibility for promotion among the saints, since the whole Church is ultimately involved (1Cor 12:27). This pertains to all practical matters, from the charitable distributions of Church funds, to properly addressing accusations against an elder (1 Tim 5). From this it should be clear that it is the responsibility of the whole body of Christ, more mature saints particularly, to determine the eligibility for leadership of the higher offices of the Church, including pastors and deacons, or any other five-fold ministry (Eph. 4:11ff.; 1Tim 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9)

Second, Does God Bless Our Motives Or Our Obedience?

It has been said that motives are what God anoints and blesses. The implication is that it does not matter what a man or woman does, so long as they really intended to do the right thing. Some men do the wrong thing out of ignorance, and others do the wrong thing hoping that so long as the consequences eventually work out for good, what they do must not be so bad. This fails to recognize that the basic premise of Biblical religion is that man has fallen from grace and his motives are right in his own eyes, but are terribly at fault with God.

Adam in the garden admitted his motive was to honor the opinion of his wife, despite the fact that she was in direct disobedience to the command of God. While Eve’s motive was a sincere seeking of truth on her own terms in light of what God had said, she still was at fault. Eve sinned through sincere but deceptive motives. Adam’s sin was far more insidious, knowing full well that he was in disobedience, but hoping that the consequences would ultimately produce a good result.

Saul kept back animals taken from the Amalekites that should have been slaughtered because he thought so much wealth should surely be dedicated to the LORD. David kept quiet about the horrible rape of his own daughter Tamar because he believed it would damage the reputation of the very kingdom that God had promised to his descendants. Saul, who became the apostle Paul, heartily administered a position of leadership over those who were murdering the faithful followers of Christ. All of these seemingly had right motives, but their motivations were darkened by the fallen nature of man within them.

Does God so bless fallen motives? No! God blesses obedience, and fallen man’s motives are nothing less than rebellion against God, which Samuel said was equivalent to witchcraft (1 Sam 15:22-24), a sin that required capital punishment in the Old Testament. The idea that God is only interested in our motives is nothing less than a failure to think things through based upon the Word of God. In light of this, read the above passage from 1 Sam again! Following our own motivations is rejecting the Word of the LORD. God does not bless and anoint the motives of fallen man. Rather, by His Holy Spirit's direction He first restores us to fellowship with Him and then corrects the motives we once had that were contrary to His will.

Why is this discussion of motives so important to our understanding of the charismatic and leadership gifts that God has placed within the body of Christ? To answer that, we move on to the next implication of this manifesto.

Third, how are the Charismatic Gifts of the Holy Spirit Regulated in the Church?

First, it is important to realize that even leadership gifts such as the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher are all just as much gifts of the Holy Spirit given to the Church for its blessing and growth.

The true Church must always remain faithful in their personal representation of the revelation of God’s Word, and faithful to holiness as defined by the fruits of the Spirit. As the prophet of the Old Testament said, “If they speak not according to this Word it is because there is no light in them.” (Isa 8:20). When we fail to bring forth a word that is in line with God’s own, or when we fail to live a life in accordance to holiness, we reveal attitudes and motives that fall short of the message that God has called us to share. Certainly there is room for growth, and at some point, every one of us has spoken haphazardly out of our own spirits and missed God. The motive and zeal for God may have been there, but the heart was still motivated by selfish desires.

At that point, we must remember that the New Testament says we may all bring forth the gifts of the Spirit, so long as it is done in a “decent and orderly fashion” (1 Cor 14:40). “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” (1 Cor 14:32; note the plurality of leadership here). He (or they) can speak, but do(es) not have to. In other words the gifts are self-regulated first. Then, it says, let the others judge. It is the authority of every believer in the whole body of Christ to determine for themselves what is from God, and what may have been out of proper order. This is not the pre-determination of the pastor or some other ordinate! It is the responsibility of the whole Church.

This does not imply a condemnation of the prophet or speaker who has spoken out of order or in an indecent fashion. Instead, it means that we weigh the value of any word personally, and determine for ourselves its validity for our lives. Is it in line with Scripture? Is it spoken by a man or woman with a true heart for God? Does it speak to the current needs of the Church? Is it weighty and valuable or flighty and nonsensical? God bless our pastors, but we don’t need them to determine these things for us! As priests of God, we have the Holy Spirit ourselves and are fully capable of discerning right and wrong. Local leadership has authority to correct and to guide, but not to hinder, prevent or deny the exercise of the gifts of the Spirit within the local assembly of believers.

There is no right of the pastor to demand that all gifts be submitted to him for jurisdiction, whether to accept or deny. The gifts of the Spirit are given to the whole body of Christ, anticipating their own ability to discern what is from God and what is mere fleshly wisdom. The Spirit of God is perfectly capable of revealing improper motivations within the assembly of the saints. In most cases, this will not be to make us wary of one another, but when the life and message is grossly out of line with holiness, it is certainly to confirm within the Church those who really are anointed by Him. God does not anoint motives. He anoints obedience, faith, humility and holiness.

Finally, on the regulation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, there is not one single word in the New Testament you will ever find come hell or high water that says that it is the responsibility or privilege of the pastor to be the regulator of the gifts which belong to the Holy Spirit. It is at God’s sovereign discretion how these gifts are manifested to and through the individual believer, both in and out of the Church. Every indication from 1 Corinthians 12-14 is that the regulation of the gifts comes from the whole body of believers in a local assembly, not just an elite few at the top. Regulation of the gifts is the a priori responsibility of the person exercising the gift, and secondly, of the whole congregation which should bear witness to the truth as it lines up with the Biblical revelation. Last, the other prophets, elders, or leaders should be in accord with the message, because of their own maturity and knowledge of the living testimony of faith evident in the speaker. By implication, the bearer of the gift should be spiritual enough to regulate himself.

There is not the slightest indication in the New Testament that the "pastor" has authority to demand all gifts be brought first to him for examination before they are presented to the full assembly. The New Testament assumes the maturity of all believers to the point that they are capable of discernment for themselves without an intermediary usurping their rights as priests and kings before God. The usurpation of these rights of discernment by pastors and leaders in the Church is equivalent to the heresy of the Nicolaitans of Revelation 2 & 3, which the Spirit of God says is what He hates! The usurpation and quenching of the free exercise of the gifts of the Spirit are a thing that God hates and that are evidence of a church (or at least its leaders) that borders on apostasy.


Doug Jerving is the publisher of the NewEdisonGazette.com. You may contact him at dje@newedisongazette.com.


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