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A Pastor's Thoughts from John MacArthur's Strange Fire Conference: A Plea for Balance and Meeting in the Middle

Contact: Pastor Shane Idleman, 661-524-6610, saidleman@gmail.com

OPINION, Oct. 17, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- The following is submitted by Pastor Shane Idleman:

    I thoroughly enjoyed day one of the Strange Fire conference...Dr. MacArthur and R.C. Sproul have been forerunners of solid christian teaching in our generation. My article is not to critique, but to plead -- plead for the middle ground in regard to the power of the Holy Spirit. "The true saints of God, who have clear heads, and pure, warm hearts, have in all generations had to walk between the two extremes of cold formality on the one side, and wild, ranting fanaticism on the other. Dead formality and the false fire of fanaticism are both Satan's counterfeits, and he does not care into which extreme the soul plunges..." (George D. Watson).

    I'm concerned that all who believe in the gifts of the Spirit are often thrown into the same camp as charlatans and false teachers, when this is simply not the case. I, like many Christians, tend to be "safely" conservative when considering the power of the Holy Spirit. Believing that the Scriptures support the miraculous work of the Spirit today does not mean that we agree with the majority of the Charismatic Movement. I'm open but cautious. We need sound doctrine and the power of the Holy Spirit. It is possible to be "Bible taught," but not "Spirit led" -- straight as a gun barrel theologically, but just as empty. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:6). Don't get me wrong, theological and expositional teachings are essential to Christian living, but how often are theology students encouraged to fast and pray as well as study? How often are they taught brokenness and repentance in addition to translating the Greek language? How often are they taught the surrendered life? We can sometimes be more concerned about a Master's Degree than a degree from the Master.

    I knew a pastor who instructed his worship leader to remove most of the songs that mentioned the Holy Spirit. How sad...in his zeal to avoid charismatic excesses, he actually quenched and grieved the Spirit. A.W. Tozer insightfully said, "If the Lord's people were only half as eager to be filled with the Spirit as they are to prove that they cannot be filled, the church would be crowded out." I sincerely believe that the greatest need ...

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