Defending the Worldwide Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement
Pastor Dennis Balcombe
Revival Chinese Ministries International
Pastor Dennis Balcombe reviews Strange Fire by John MacArthur and shares his testimony of the work of the Holy Spirit during his 45+ years of ministry in China. From The Pneuma Review, June 24, 2014:
Strange Fire by John MacArthur is a vicious and callous attack on the worldwide Pentecostal/Charismatic movement, and a great affront to the hundreds of millions of born-again Christians in every nation of the world who have found Christ directly through the work of the Holy Spirit as He works through Spirit-filled ministries. This is especially true in China, where I have lived and worked for the past forty-five years. The majority of the estimated 100 million Chinese believers have come to Christ through Holy Spirit anointed preaching and teaching, and the work of the Holy Spirit in healing the sick and performing all kinds of miracles.
While MacArthur has been accurate in pointing out some errors in doctrine and practice as well as moral failures among some well-known Charismatic leaders, the book is full of doctrinal errors and a severe distortion of the truth. And by relegating what is clearly the work of Jesus through the Holy Spirit as being that of Satan and false teachers, he is certainly bordering on the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. We are used to attacks from certain overseas Chinese ministers like Rev. Stephen Tong of Indonesia, but even their condemnations of the Pentecostal movement do not begin to approach the acrimony, distortion of facts and malevolence that permeate this book.
First, his theological defense of the cessation theory can in no way stand up to solid Biblical exegesis. The supernatural manifestation of God’s power through miracles, healing of the sick, casting out of devils, and God speaking directly to people is recorded throughout the Bible and is at the foundation of the Christian faith. There is not the slightest hint anywhere that these have ceased or would cease in the future. Secondly the two thousand year record of church and mission history following the death of the apostles when these supernatural gifts and ministries were to have ceased, prove without a doubt the falsehood in the writings of MacArthur. Thirdly, the testimonies of millions of Christians today totally refute everything in this book.
Others have addressed the first and second points more thoroughly and efficiently than I can do, but I think after 52 years in the Pentecostal movement—having travelled to almost every nation in the world—I can address the third point. I have personally seen and witnessed hundreds of miracles of healing, casting out of demons, miracles where God intervened in the course of nature, supernatural and extremely accurate words of knowledge as the Holy Spirit speaks through people, people speaking in tongues in fluent foreign languages they have never learned and accurate fulfilled prophecies. And the result of all the above has been literally millions of people in China and other nations I have visited turning to Christ.
I certainly would not recommend any Christian to read this book, for the contents are in no way objective or factual and is as close to hate speech as anything I have ever read. But for those who have not read it, this paragraph on page xvii in the Introduction summarizes MacArthur’s position: “In recent decades, the Charismatic Movement has infiltrated mainstream evangelicalism and exploded onto the global scene at an alarming rate. It is the fastest-growing religious movement in the world. Charismatics now number more than half a billion worldwide. Yet the gospel that is driving those surging numbers is not the true gospel, and the sprit behind them is not the Holy Spirit. What we are seeing is in reality the explosive growth of a false church, as dangerous as any cult or heresy that has ever assaulted Christianity. The Charismatic Movement was a farce and scam from the outset; it has not changed into something good.”
If what he says is true, it means the vast majority of professing Christians in most nations are part of a false church, the church as we know it is a cult and its ministers are preaching heresy, and obviously if the spirit behind them is not the Holy Spirit, it is the work of Satan and false spirits. According to this view, the vast majority of what is known as Protestant Christianity is false, in error, and only those who hold to MacArthur’s extreme prejudiced views are right. In a way, I real feel sorry for anyone with such a view, and realize how miserable they must be to see the explosive growth of Pentecostalism all over the world.
At the very heart of the Pentecostal Full Gospel Charismatic movement is the phenomenon of glossolalia or speaking in tongues. This is covered in depth in Chapter Seven, “Twisting Tongues”. MacArthur may have truly heard of or even seen people who simply speak gibberish, words that are not a part of any language, people simply repeating certain syllables quickly, or people who have been taught to speak in tongues. But I can totally refute the criticism of the University of Toronto linguistics professor William Samarin (p.134). He claims tongues are always “strings of syllables, made up of sounds taken from among all those that the speaker knows, put together more or less haphazardly but which nevertheless emerge as word-like and sentence-like units because of realistic, language-like rhythm and melody.”
It is true there are some individuals who believe in speaking in tongues, and desperately want to speak in another fluent language, but for whatever reason have not been baptized in the Holy Spirit, and make up their own language or imitate others. But where I live and work (in China and other Asian nations), such instances of imitated tongues or people speaking gibberish are isolated and due mainly to the lack of good Biblical teaching. The vast majority of Spirit-filled believers will pray in beautiful fluent languages that are immediately recognized anywhere.
We cannot even begin to number the many instances where Chinese—without even the most rudimentary knowledge of the English language—spoke in perfect fluent English, at times quoting portions of the Bible (from the Book of Psalms), or bringing messages to others. And we have on many occasions heard Westerners speaking fluently in Chinese Putonghua or other dialects, such as Cantonese, Shanghainese, and on one occasion in the dialect of Chongqing in central China. This occurred at a “Get Ready” youth conferenced in Lüdenscheid Germany when we heard an eighteen year old young German sister, with absolutely no knowledge of Chinese, speak fluently in this language. We knew this for a Chinese sister on our team ministering in this youth conference was from Chongqing. This is one of the more difficult local dialects of Chinese, something no foreigner could learn unless he lived there most of his life. This girl had never been to China once.
Obviously John MacArthur has never experienced speaking in tongues under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and doesn’t have the slightest clue what it is all about. People who speak in tongues know clearly it is a miracle and something that can never be made up or something that comes from the human mind. Having spoken in tongues for up to several hours daily for over 52 years, I could not possibly write or remember even one phrase. It comes from the Holy Spirit working in our spirits, and not from the mind. Thus we have the teaching of Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 of both praying in the Spirit and praying in the understanding. By the way, on a few occasions others have told me they recognized the language I was praying in, once in Italian and more recently in Swedish, both being languages I have never studied at all.
Back during the time of the Vietnam War, we baptized some American sailors visiting Hong Kong on R&R for a few days in our church. They came out of the water speaking in tongues, one in Cantonese and one in Shanghainese (recognized by a sister from Shanghai in our church). Both gave a short message stating that Jesus would return soon, and we were all to preach the Gospel to the lost.
At a recent Revival Chinese Training Conference in Hong Kong in which we hosted over 2,000 mainland Christians, an American missionary living in Shanghai who speaks fluent Putonghua heard a Chinese behind him praying in fluent English. He inquired where he learned such good English, and the brother who was from a rural village in Henan Province responded saying he did not know one single phrase in English, and this was his first time to leave China and come to any place where people did not speak only Chinese.
To try to prove his point, on page four MacArthur quotes an story of a “Spirit-filled” woman in Africa who falls down and knocks over a boy speaking in tongues, and he gets up with a bloody lip and says, “Oh why?” in his native language. He questions why the “tongue-speaking spirit should, in a split second, leave the bleeding lips and speak in native dialect.” This shows his total ignorance of what speaking in tongues is about. Speaking in tongues is a gift as the other gifts, and the person with this gift can use it at will, and can in a second stop, speak in his native language, speak loud or soft, or speak quickly or slowly. He is not under the control of a “tongue-speaking spirit.”
The whole book shows the unscholarly and biased method MacArthur uses. He basically doesn’t have the slightly clue about the true nature of Pentecostal doctrine and experience. He has documented a lot of what he perceives as being moral failures, false prophecies or doctrinal error on the part of leading Pentecostal leaders. He goes all the way back to one of the founders of the movement in 1906, Charles Parham with Agnes Ozman. He has to report that he was arrested on charges of sodomy, though he was released and claimed to be innocent. He mocks the claim of Parham that missionaries with the gift of tongues would not have to learn foreign languages.
This of course did not happen as there is no Scriptural or historical basis for people being given languages to use daily in foreign mission work. The Scriptures reveal that on the day of the Pentecost the one hundred twenty who spoke in tongues were “speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God” (worship and praise), and it was Peter who preached to the crowd using his native language, not tongues.
However what MacArthur does not point out is the fact that Spirit-filled missionaries often learn the languages of the nations they are called to quicker and better than non-Charismatic missionaries. In Hong Kong, both I and the well-known Heidi Baker were able to preach in Cantonese within months of our arrival, and this is considered one of the most difficult languages for a Westerner to learn. Heidi later went to Mozambique where she can preach in both Portuguese and the native African dialects. I and my whole family can speak Cantonese without the slightest accent, something that I attribute to the work of the Holy Spirit.
I personally have seen many thousands; perhaps tens of thousands of Chinese baptized in the Holy Spirit, and witnessed this great miracle. Nobody taught them to speak in tongues, they did not imitate anyone, and it certainly was not the result of mass hysteria or some emotional outburst. One by one I would see them change from praying in the native Chinese dialects to another fluent language. If you are standing close, you can see the instant it happens, and more often than not, you will see them weep for they realized they met God. But the proof is not even the tongues you hear, but the power that comes on them to preach the Gospel and share their faith, pray for and heal the sick, and perform miracles.
Right: Pastor Dennis Balcombe praying for people with Pastor Liu Yang in April 2014.
The last week of April 2014, I was invited to speak at the Daqing Three-Self Patriotic Church. Daqing is a large city in Heilongjiang Province in the very far northeastern part of China, an oil producing region of relative prosperity. I first went to this city in 1989 and at that time the whole city had less than 2,500 Christians. With some preachers from Henan Province who accompanied me, we prayed for about 100 of these believers, who were baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in fluent languages.
At that time I gave a prophecy to Liu Yang, the 12 year old son of the preacher who hosted the house church meeting in his home, and said that one day he would be a preacher and the leader of the largest church in Daqing. He told me recently at that time he did not even believe in Jesus, but after I left a great revival came to Daqing, he got saved, was called to preach, went to Bible Seminary and now is basically over the whole official church movement in the city of about 3 million people.
Now the official Three-Self churches in Daqing alone number 145,500 in their congregations, and there are tens of thousands more in the house churches. If counting the rural counties around Daqing city, there are close to 300,000 Christians. The house churches alone have sent dozens of missionaries to over 10 provinces to do evangelism and church planting.
RIght: Part of Daqing Christian Church of 3000.
I spoke in two official churches, one of 3,000 and the other 1,200. Most of believers are Spirit filled, speak in tongues, and are seeing phenomenal church growth. The anti-Charismatic preachers associated with Rev. Stephen Tong of Indonesia recently tried to come to the Northeast Bible Seminary in Shenyang and other churches in the Northeast, but the Spirit-filled Three-Self Patriotic Church leader, Rev. Liu Yang, forbid these people to speak in any church in Northeast China. They have the power to do this, and told me that whenever their anti-Charismatic theology comes to any church, the church will die and often close doors within one to two years.
According to Mark 16:15-20 speaking in tongues, healing and miracles were an integral part of the Gospel ministry in the first century. The writer of the book of Hebrews confirms this: “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?” (Heb. 2:3-4).
Sometimes we laugh at reports that some Catholics praying to Mary were healed of some incurable disease, or statues of Mary would weep or blood would be on the statue of Mary or Jesus. Often one or two confirmed miracles in the Catholic Church performed by a Roman Catholic qualify one eligible to be declared a “saint”. In our ministry we see healings and supernatural miracles often, and no one makes a big fuss about it, for it is simply a part of preaching the Gospel.
For over 100 years since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Azusa Street, miracles have been extremely common in the Pentecostal Charismatic movement, and this has been one of the main reasons for its phenomenal growth. Many astounding miracles have accompanied the ministry of well-known evangelists who took the Gospel to the nations such as John G. Lake, Smith Wigglesworth, John Sung of China, T.L. Osborn, Reinhard Bonnke, just to name a few. But the majority of miracles have simply been due to the faith and prayers of ordinary Spirit-filled believers as they shared Christ with others.
One of the worst excesses of hate toward others during the Cultural Revolution in China was the practice of labeling of others as “capitalist road runners, counterrevolutionaries, imperialists, people holding to religious superstitions (which included all Christians), cult members”, etc. The government of China and other communist nations even today use labels for people promoting democracy, the rule-of-law, or calling for more autonomy for so-called autonomous regions. The blanket labeling according to religious belief, race, nationality, sexual preference, etc., is an obnoxious practice and actually illegal in many nations.
But MacArthur does this throughout the book, especially when it comes to well-known Pentecostal ministers. He rightfully points out some doctrinal errors, moral failures, failed prophecies and extreme practices of certain leaders, and then lumps all of them together. As Christian ministers, we have been taught to deal with issues, not personalities, and it is not appropriate to openly speak negatively of other Christian leaders in public speaking or print. Yet MacArthur does the same as his corresponding anti-Charismatic minister in Asia, Rev. Stephen Tong of Indonesia. It is well know this famous evangelist will openly attack by name any and every Charismatic minister in public, even denouncing the churches and leaders of the Pentecostal churches that have helped to sponsor his evangelical crusades throughout Asia.
MacArthur attacks by name many well-known ministers: Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, Todd Bentley, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Fred Price, Oral Roberts, Paul Crouch, Joel Osteen, Myles Monroe, Creflo Dollar, Andrew Womack, Rodney Howard Browne, Peter Wagner, Bishop T.D. Jakes, David Yonggi Cho, Bishop Enoch Adeboye, Reinhard Bonnke, William Branham, Peter Popoff, Neville Johnson, Bob Jones, Robert Tilton, Bishop Clarence McClendon, Paul Cain, Robert Liardon, Eddie Long, Jack Deer, John Wimber, Mike Bickle, Joyce Myers, Kenneth Hagin, Ché Ahn, Marcus Lamb, John Arnott, David du Plessis, Dennis Bennett and others.
Some of these well-known Charismatic ministers have taught error, or at least are extreme in certain teachings, and a few have had moral problems. But several have been exposed by other Charismatic ministers or their denominations, and many have submitted to discipline. Having said that, it must be recognized that the vast majority are beyond reproach in doctrine, practice and character, and are truly being used greatly by the Lord. However, because MacArthur’s prejudice is against all Pentecostal ministers, they are all objects of his attack in this book.
It must be understood that MacArthur is basically addressing problems with ministers and movements in the West, specifically in North America, and has failed to see the whole picture of the church and the work of the Holy Spirit world-wide. If he were to take the time and effort to investigate the church in the rest of the world, if he had an objective open-mind, he would without a doubt come to a different conclusion, and admit this Pentecostal revival is truly of God and is changing millions of lives.
First, the culture in the West tends to find spiritual heroes to follow, and when Charismatic leaders are in a prominent position, they face the temptations of pride, money and materialism, and often misuse of power. There are places like China where spiritual leaders do not even want to be known lest it cause problems with authorities, and the culture in the church is for the leaders to truly be servants to the Body of Christ. We seldom hear of these problems in China.
Another problem is that both leaders and believers have a theological belief that states all believers should speak in tongues, the sick should be healed, all demon possessed should be set free, prophecy is for today, and gifts of the Spirit should be in free operation in the church. However, God’s work is truly through the work of God and the Holy Spirit. Nobody can force God and we cannot make spiritual things happen if God is not working. We do not know all the reasons, but there are simply times when God is not working, and nobody can force Him to move just by professing certain doctrines or going through certain religious exercises, such as prayer and fasting, worship and praise, preaching faith, etc. Thus some Charismatic leaders will declare people healed who are not healed, give prophecies that are not true, and declare people who have really not spoken in another language to be filled with the Spirit. This could be the reason for some of the “counterfeit works of the Holy Spirit” discussed in the book.
I know of several highly spiritual and dedicated people in China and our church in Hong Kong who have been seeking to be filled with the Holy Spirit for years, but to this day have not spoken in tongues. I do not know the reason, but I would never encourage them to imitate others or speak in “stammering lips” just to prove they have the Holy Spirit. I tell them they need the real experience, and even if they never get it all their lives, they are just as spiritual as those who speak in tongues. In fact some of these people do more than many who do pray in tongues. We don’t want the counterfeit gifts, which MacArthur identifies as “strange fire”.
Some of what anti-Charismatics attack as being false is simply people trying to make things happen based on their religious belief. But often God is not working in the West, for there is a great spiritual decline, lack of prayer and even a lack of faith. This is in-spite of the Word of Faith movement attacked by MacArthur. Perhaps due to all the confused theological teachings sweeping the church in the West, Western rationalism and intellectualism, and the failure of leading televangelists and other ministers, people simply do not have the faith needed for God to truly move.
But the situation is the opposite in China and many other nations. The worldview of peoples in Asia is close to that of the ancient Hebrews in which many people clearly understand there is a spiritual world that affects our daily lives. Most ordinary people believe in the supernatural and in the existence of demons. Christians believe God is all powerful and responds to prayer and faith.
Miracles and signs and wonders are a common occurrence among Christians in Asia, but they happen usually through the prayers and faith of ordinary people, not famous healing evangelists. But at the same time we realize that there are believers who are not healed through prayer, some of them passing away. Also there are some individuals who never speak in tongues, though they are so desirous to do so. Nobody can force God to move or for revival to come when He is not moving.
It would take far more space in this article to deal with the supernatural and miracles, so I will only make a brief mention of this. This is important in the rebuttal of this book, for again it must be recognized that only God or Satan and his hosts can perform supernatural miracles (those that defy laws of nature). If we can prove these miracles truly have happened, the only logical conclusion is they must be of God. These miracles are done in the Name of Jesus, and in all cases point people to Christ and away from the occult and idol worship. It is inconceivable that the Devil would be doing the work of the Christian minister and Holy Spirit.
I just finished writing the manuscript for a new book that Charisma Publishers will soon be publishing, China’s Opening Door. This book will clearly document the work of the Holy Spirit in China going back to missionaries and evangelists in the early 20th century, right down to the mighty revival in the Chinese house church that has resulted in up to 100 million conversions. To write the book, I spent four years going through hundreds of pages of documents and testimonies of mainland Christians. We also copied and transcribed up to 1,000 video tapes recorded in China in which we have documented testimonies relating to the revival going back to the Cultural Revolution in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
We have hundreds of accurate, verifiable testimonies (often with video footage) of some of the most amazing miracles including tumors and cancers disappearing, the blind seeing again, crippled people walking, AIDS victims finding total healing, and many testimonies of the dead being raised to life. However, I am sure that if MacArthur were even willing to look at these testimonies, he would find some reason to question or doubt them. This is the way all anti-Charismatics approach miracles. But what you cannot deny is the tens of thousands attending churches in areas where miracles took place, especially when most of these people claim that the miracles were the main reason they turned to Christ.
Pastor Niko Njotorahardjo is the Senior Pastor of Bethany GBI in Jakarta, Indonesia. His churches have 800 branches, some 6,000 family altar groups with approximately 250,000 in the congregations. In 2010, at the Empowered 21 Conference in Tulsa Oklahoma it was prophesied by leaders that he would lead a healing revival in Indonesia. This Conference was the offshoot of the 2006 Azusa Street Centennial of the Pentecostal revival held in Los Angeles.
Pastor Niko began to conduct healing crusades all over Indonesia, and the vast major of the crowd in these huge crusades were Muslims. We have personally been involved in this ministry, and countless numbers of Muslims have experienced miracles of divine healing and many have converted to Christ. This is true all over Indonesia, where some estimate up to 30% of the population—of the largest Muslim nation in the world—are now Christian.
Not only Bethany (GBI), but many other Pentecostal churches and denominations all over Indonesia have congregations of thousands to tens of thousands.The American evangelist Marilyn Hickey has on many occasions preached to Muslim congregations or large crusades in Pakistan, the Middle East and even at mosques in Canada. She avoids doctrines that would be controversial to a Muslim, but simply preaches Christ as the Healer. Many Muslims come forward for prayer, are supernaturally healed, and often through this give their lives to the Lord.
I will not take the time or space but could share similar testimonies of the work of the Holy Spirit resulting in tens of thousands of salvations in places as diverse as India, South Korea, many African nations, many nations in South America, the Philippines and of course my nation, China. Even John MacArthur will acknowledge the majority of professing Christians in these nations believe in the Full Gospel message.
In this rebuttal to MacArthur’s book, I have focused primarily on what is happening in nations outside North America, for these are nations where I live, work and have firsthand experience in witnessing the work of the Holy Spirit. But there is also a genuine great move of God though the Holy Spirit in parts of North America that has impacted the world.
Yes, there may be some false prophets, rip-off artists, immoral leaders and preachers of false doctrine in the ranks of those who claim to be Pentecostal, but they are a small minority compared to the majority of solid God-fearing leaders and believers. The vast majority of Pentecostal/Charismatic congregations are solid, Bible based, preaching the Gospel, reaching the lost and supporting or sending missionaries to the nations of the world.
God moved greatly in Toronto, Pensacola and other places in the 1990’s, and these revivals brought joy, deliverance and inner healing to countless numbers around the world. We all have emotional needs, and both in the record of the Bible and throughout history, many revivals have been characterized by physical responses such as laughter, weeping, shouting, falling onto the ground and even shaking and other more extreme emotional responses.
The vast majority of such emotional responses are people responding to God working in their lives, though there obviously will be some who will simply imitate others. We also cannot deny that at times evil spirits may be at work, for the Gospel is like a huge fishing net that attracts all kinds of people. Some people with mental illness, emotional problems, or even those who are demonized might attend some of these meetings. I personally have never seen or heard people making animal sounds as MacArthur claims, and I would guess these were only isolated events. However I have seen people being pushed down to the ground during prayer, a practice that I do not approve of and find disgusting.
From North America, the Pentecostal revival and Charismatic renewal, especially the Vineyard movement under the late John Wimber and what some call the “Toronto Blessing” has truly impacted the nations of the world resulting in phenomenal church growth. Again, MacArthur considers all these to be false and part of the strange fire, not of God and not Biblical. But is it reasonable to believe Satan’s working and deceptive doctrines would result in millions of people believing in and following Jesus Christ?
First, Jackie Pullinger of the U.K. came to Hong Kong in the 1960’s, a Spirit-filled young woman, and began to work among drug addicts in the Kowloon Walled City. Like David Wilkerson who started Teen Challenge in the USA, they found that once the addicts were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues, they would often immediately come off the drugs and not have go to through a painful process of slow withdrawal. Her book, Chasing the Dragon is a classic and a clear testimony to the work of the Holy Spirit, and can refute much of what MacArthur claims about this being false, close to a cult.
Later, during the Vineyard movement in the 1980’s and 1990’s, she invited John Wimber to Hong Kong, and it literally changed Hong Kong. Hundreds of evangelical pastors flocked to the meetings and were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to preach a message of the Kingdom among us. Now the vast majority of the 1,400 or so Protestant churches in Hong Kong are either totally Spirit filled, or at least open to the Full Gospel. Very few are opposed and as such most congregations in Hong Kong are seeing real growth.
God used Demos Shakarian to start the Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship International, a movement that has touched the whole world. Hong Kong has one of the largest FGBMFI chapters in the world and hundreds of highly successful and quite wealthy business leaders are active in this fellowship. They work close with churches to host “gospel banquets” where thousands have been saved. Now the FGBMFI is spreading all over China with branches in most major cities, and tens of thousands of leaders in the market place and even the government are coming to Christ and preaching the Gospel. These Spirit-filled movers and shakers are literally changing the spiritual climate of China.
Lastly, I want to mention one American preacher and her husband who due to the revivals in North America have impacted many nations, specifically Mozambique with the Gospel. This is Roland and Heidi Baker. Rolland’s grandfather, H.A. Baker, the author of Visions Beyond the Veil experienced one of the most amazing Pentecostal revivals among orphan children in Yunnan Province, China in the 1920’s. Rolland is a fluent speaker of Mandarin Chinese, and after missionary work in Indonesia, came to Hong Kong, and worked under my ministry. Heidi as a Spirit-filled Christian was able to speak Cantonese in months. They began a ministry among drug addicts, sex-worker and others in the district around Temple Street, and saw tremendous success.
Later, Heidi and Rolland went to Mozambique, one of the poorest nations in Africa, a primarily Muslim nation. Later they were greatly touched by the “Father’s Blessing” revival that spread from Toronto in the 1990’s, and now are very close to leading ministers such as Randy Clark, Bill and Beni Johnson. For several years they have come yearly to Hong Kong and Taiwan where they have conducted “Kingdom Culture” conferences, and yearly thousands from China and Hong Kong are ministered to.
Their ministry in Mozambique under the name “Iris Global” which has seen the participation of and support of thousands of Spirit filled North American and European Christians, has seen the salvation of hundreds of thousands of people living in Mozambique and other African nations. It is reported over 10,000 churches have been started in Mozambique and other nations, a total of twenty, and they are directly related to the operation of the Holy Spirit: healing the sick, other miracles, and casting out of demons.
I have personally visited the work with a team from my Hong Kong church. We saw or heard first hand testimonies of multiple miracles such as blind eyes opening, crippled people walking and other miracles. We visited one village where after only three weeks of a team visiting on the weekend, the whole village, including the Muslim Imam, converted from Islam to Christ. The whole village was baptized in water and a simple church building was build. Some church growth experts have claimed that this is one of the greatest church growth movements in history. This part of Mozambique that was previously mostly Muslim is now becoming Christian, a fact recognized even by the government.
The three above examples are of people or ministries who are working or at one time worked in Hong Kong with the roots from the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement in North America. Hundreds of thousands are now in the Kingdom of God, members of the Body of Christ, and whole nations and society are being blessed and changing for the good. These facts of successful mission work rooted in the Pentecostal revivals in North America alone are sufficient to refute what John MacArthur says in Strange Fire.
People reading and believing in the writings of John MacArthur’s Strange Fire must be living a miserable life thinking the majority of the church worldwide is in error and deception. In addition to that, they do not believe God will speak to people today, heal their bodies, deliver people from bondages and experience His presence in praise and worship, which is basically nonexistent in churches not filled with the Holy Spirit.
Jude says, “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
This faith was not just the doctrines of the reformation under Martin Luther or Calvinism and Reformed Theology, but the faith recorded in the Book of Acts. We need both personal faith and the doctrinal faith based on a true interpretation of the Word of God.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8).
Pastor Dennis Balcombe
18 May, 2014
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