Thursday, September 27, 2012

“Drunk in the Spirit” – A move of the Holy Spirit or a Counterfeit stupor?

Over the past  decade and a half, revival meetings  in Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches (notably Bethel Church under Bill Johnson in Redding, The International House of Prayer under Mike Bickle, Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship under John Arnotte, and the defunct Lakeland Revival under Todd Bentley) have had a part of their worship gatherings occurances of Spritual “Manifestations” – that is, physical reactions to spiritual experiences including but not limited to convultions, trance states, “Holy Laughter” or - as the article seeks to address – the appearance of drunkenness or physical intoxication.

   But is such an experience a genuine expression of an encounter with the Holy Spirit? If so, what is the biblical basis?

“…They are filled with New Wine (Acts  2:13)

   Many proponents of being “Drunk in the Spirit” point to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost as setting a precedent for such phenomenon; the Holy Spirit is poured out, and the disciples stagger around as though drunk. Surely this must be the same phenomenon as what often occurs in these modern revival meetings, is it not?
   Let’s examine the Pentecost account in detail in Acts 2:

5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes andElamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mockingsaid, “They are filled with new wine.”
14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.
Acts 2:5-15 (Emphasis added)

Three things to note:

1) The Disciples were not drunk (v15) – the first thing Peter says in the sermon that would mark the birth of the Acts church is a word of correction: the disciples are all speaking in [known] tongues. While such would definitely seem unusual, Peter is quick to assure observers that the Disciples are perfectly fine, they haven’t had any liquor for their 3rd hour brunch.
   Last time I checked, getting drunk doesn’t necessarily make one multi-lingual or vice versa.

2) This is an outsiders observation (v7-11)  The charge of drunkenness comes not from the disciples themselves, but rather from the observing pilgrims who have come to Jerusalem for the Pentecost feast.

3) Opinions are divided (v12-13) – The pilgrims are immediately split when it comes to their opinions as to what it happening. The common factor is that they all know that something wonderful has just occurred. Some of the pilgrims are amazed and perplexed. Others mock and jeer – and it is from this latter group that the charge of drunkenness is brought forth, not as a word of commendation, but condescension.

   To put forward the day of Pentecost as a biblical example of being “Drunk in the Spirit” is to intentionally twist the scriptures to make it mean something contrary to what the text is really saying.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit(Ephesians 5:18) 

 At first glance, one may take this as saying “Either you’re drunk on [physical] wine which leads to corruption, or you get drunk with the Holy Spirit!”
   Let’s look at this verse in context:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:1-21 

The Apostle Paul speaks of being filled with the Holy Spirit not as an alternative to getting drunk, but rather in context of growing in Christ-likeness and personal Holiness. Drunkeness and Spirit-filled living, just like not being foolish, but understanding what the will of the Lord is (v17) are like oil and water: mirror opposites that do not mix.

What does God think about Drunkeness?

   It should be noted that the Bible does make a distinction between consuming liquors versus getting intoxicated or drunk. Vineyards are spoken of as illustrations of prosperity (Song of Solomon 2:15), Jesus himself turned water into wine at the Cana wedding (John 2:1-11) and often drank and dined with sinners to the point of being accused of gluttony by his opponents (Matthew 11:19).
   When it comes to actual drunkenness, much of what the bible says in spoken of the in the negative:

20 Be not among drunkards[a]
    or among gluttonous eaters of meat,
21 for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
    and slumber will clothe them with rags.
Proverbs 23:20-21

4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
    it is not for kings to drink wine,
    or for rulers to take strong drink,
5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed
    and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
Proverbs 31:4-5

11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning,
    that they may run after strong drink,
who tarry late into the evening
    as wine inflames them!
12 They have lyre and harp,
    tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts,
but they do not regard the deeds of the Lord,
    or see the work of his hands.
Isaiah 5:11-12 

11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.
1 Corinthians 5:11

3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.
1 Peter 4:3
By comparison, mature believers in Christ are admonished to pursue sobriety in their personal conduct:
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.
Titus 2:1-2

Also consider which categories drunkenness and self-control fall under when it comes to the fruits of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit:

   19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
   22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:19-25 

If drunkenness is a fruit of the flesh while peace, gentleness and self-control are fruits of the Spirit, why should the Holy Spirit manifest itself in the life of a believer as a fruit of the flesh?

   The Bible gives only one valid reason why God would intentionally seek to intoxicate someone, and it is by no means a pretty picture:

13 Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord: Behold, I will fill with drunkenness all the inhabitants of this land: the kings who sit on David's throne, the priests, the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 14 And I will dash them one against another, fathers and sons together, declares the Lord. I will not pity or spare or have compassion, that I should not destroy them.’”
Jeremiah 13:13-14

16 They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.”
17 So I took the cup from the Lord's hand, and made all the nations to whom the Lord sent me drink it:18 Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and officials, to make them a desolation and a waste, a hissing and a curse, as at this day; 19 Pharaoh king of Egypt, his servants, his officials, all his people, 20 and all the mixed tribes among them; all the kings of the land of Uz and all the kings of the land of the Philistines (Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod); 21 Edom, Moab, and the sons of Ammon;22 all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the coastland across the sea; 23 Dedan, Tema, Buz, and all who cut the corners of their hair; 24 all the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the mixed tribes who dwell in the desert; 25 all the kings of Zimri, all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of Media; 26 all the kings of the north, far and near, one after another, and all the kingdoms of the world that are on the face of the earth. And after them the king of Babylon shall drink.
27 “Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Drink, be drunk and vomit, fall and rise no more, because of the sword that I am sending among you.’
Jeremiah 25:16-27 

Commotion and Spontaneity vs Order and Decency 

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace..
 All things should be done decently and in order
1 Corinthians 14:33, 40

   When one reads the Apostle Paul’s instructions for orderly worship and the operation of Spiritual Gifts incorporate giftings, one can see that the corporate gathering of believers is not to be treated as though it were an “open mike” free-for-all. If one were to infer as to what 1 Corinthians 12-14 were to reveal about the character and personality of the Holy Spirit, one could see that He is not a party-animal.

   The sad truth is that for most, the idea of “Orderly Worship” carries with it as much appeal as the word “Bath” does to a dirty dog. If you were to stand up in one of these church which promote “Drunk in the Spirit”, “Holy Laughter” and other “manifestations”, open up your Bible and read 1 Corinthians 14 out loud, chances are you would immediately be labelled as legalistic and restrictive.

   Generally, how one biblically applies “orderly worship” in the church tends to fall in two categories: 

Worship must include all the elements that Scripture commands and may include others so long as they are not prohibited by Scripture. 

Worship must include all the elements that Scripture commands or are a good and necessary implication of a biblical text and nothing more, nothing less. 

   On the other hand, the ideology governing corporate worship in churches endorsing “Drunk in the Spirit” would probably fall into a third category:

The Bible, being written several centuries ago in a different cultural context to our own, is not binding in application and is thus open to improvement in light of contemporary disciplines and personal experiences. 

   If the character of the Holy Spirit is that of decency and order, why then do so many instead attribute to His personhood chaos, spontaneity and intemperance as we see in these contemporary revival movements?

The Great Omission

   Throughout the history of warfare, one of the most effective strategies for weakening an enemy is to deprive their armies of essential resources – supplies, food, communication – so that when the time for direct engagement arises, they are not at their full 100% effectiveness.

   So what are the “supply lines” that keep God’s battalions equipped and ready for the mission of being Salt and Light? Two of the most obvious ones are Prayer and The Bible. Prayer establishes a direct line of communication between the Christian Soldier and his Commander in Chief. The Bible outlines the orders, strategies and objectives necessary for the mission to see victory.

   How does a manifestation of drunkenness truly benefit the church in terms of encouraging and equipping believers for ministry as well as empowering the Great Commission when you're in an altered state where God's revelation cannot be articulated or received clearly?

Such should clearly warrant reason for concern as to whether or such is truly a blessing from God, or an act of deception from Satan.
   Just as worrying is the fact then when it comes to preaching in these Manifestation-focused churches, much of the conclusions and applications derived are based more upon the preacher's. own personal conjecture as opposed to any straightforward exposition of any given text by way of in-sermon exegesis and/or systematic theology that gets to the bottom of what the Bible definitely says in context.    
   Sometimes entire services are devoted only to over-extended times of Praise and Worship or contemplative "soaking" in silence while the Bible is left closed and unread.

Answers to Common Questions and Objections 
  1.  "You're trying to put God in a box. God is bigger than the Bible!"

   At first it may seem admirable to say that “God is bigger than the Bible”. After all, we see it constantly misused, misinterpreted, misapplied. But is there any truth behind the idea that “God is bigger than the bible” or that the scriptures only contain some of God’s revelation?

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made through him,
and without him was not any thing made that was made.
John 1:1-3 

One must acknowledge "The Word" to be an essential attribute of God. "The Word" would not have come before God, as that would mean God would be subject to a Law higher than himself. At the same, "The Word" could not have existed after God as a created entity, because if the Word-less God were to say to anyone “I love You”, he would have to create the revelation rather than having it spring forth from his own mouth.
   If one makes the statement that “God is bigger than the Bible”, it must also be asked if God is perhaps bigger than some of his other attributes such as holiness, grace and mercy if "The Word" is as much a part of His being.
   Furthermore, what comments like "God is bigger than the Bible" seek to assert is that there are sources of information equal or superior to the inspired a scriptures when it comes to knowing the person of God. Yet the Apostle Paul made it very clear:

6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us NOT TO GO BEYOND WHAT IS WRITTEN, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.
1 Corinthians 4:6 (emphasis added) 

   I am personally yet to see someone who used the "God is Bigger than the Bible" who was not trying to assert a view of God that was either glaringly unbiblical, and/or called for a rejection of Biblical Innerancy in one form or another.

   The same is equally true when some declares "You're putting God in a box!" This is really a confession of agnosticism - "There may be a God, but he's obviously far too big and transcendent to make any conclusion about His character, therefore any conviction based upon such is of a purely human invention and you really shouldn't be so assertive". Such thinking ultimately denies the fact that yes, God has indeed revealed Himself in a limited but personal manner so that his attributes and character can be understood clearly.
   In addition, such thinking goes against the words of Jesus when he promised the disciples the Holy Spirit:

25  “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:25-27 

Jesus promised that one of the essential duties of the Holy Spirit is to bring understanding and remembrance of the things of God. In  the book of Acts, when we see the gospel proclaimed when men such as Peter on the day of Pentecost or Stephen before the Sanhedran are led and inspired by the Holy Spirit, one of the essential attributes of their speaking is both depth and clarity even though by social standards, these men were just commoners are far as education to the degree that the scribes and lawyers were amazed by what they heard. The Apostles didn’t speak riddles – especially not when they called their listeners to respond in repentance and faith.
  What is most disturbing however is that phrases like "You're putting God in a Box" or "God is bigger than the Bible" are being uttered not by undiscipled laity, but pastoral leaders themselves. The Bible gives clear warning against those who would deny the possibility of intimate relationship with God, yet would nonetheless seek to draw attention to themselves for supposedly being the ones with deeper revelatory insight:

1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,
4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions,
7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith.
9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.
2 Timothy 3:1-9 

2) Aren't you afraid of committing the unforgivable sin by blaspheming against the Holy Spirit? 

   Short answer: Not in any way.
   Please allow me to explain why and how I believe this to be so. First of all, what is "Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" and why is it unforgivable?
   Off the bat, the concept of an "unforgivable sin" seems like an oxymoron when we consider why Jesus died on the cross:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
1 Peter 3:8 

The idea of an unforgivable sin subtly suggests that when Jesus uttered "it is accomplished" upon the cross, he only made a statement of potentiality as though he were offering God the Father a blank check as opposed to Him actually fulfilling hat he set out to do; I.e, there are still some sins that the blood of Christ doesn't cover which will still separate us from God (let me admit upfront that I personally hold to the view of Limited Atonement wherein Jesus died for All Sin on behalf of believers only as opposed to dying for some sins on behalf of all people).
   So what is the "unforgivable sin", and why does it blaspheme against the Holy Spirit?
   It isn't Murder, for if this were so, The Apostle Paul would never be saved.
   It isn't suicide, because even as a believer, Paul himself had suicidal thoughts when undergoing intense persecution "For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself" ( 2 Corinthians 1:8) yet he still continued to serve The Lord.
   It isn't unbelief in God. A recent campaign by a group of atheists involved posting videos on YouTube where people  declared "I denounce the Holy Spirit" as though they were trying to taunt God into expressing wrath. If that we're so, every born-again Christian would have to fall into that sin category as we were all once Enemies of God who have been reconciled through Christ (Romans 5:10)
   Let's look at how Jesus described it:

In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.
4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.[a] Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?[b] And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
8 “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, 9 but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say,12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
Luke 12:1-11 

Who is the charge of Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit brought against? The Pharisees. What did they say or do that would spur Jesus to throw out such an accusation? The answer lies in the previous chapter:

14 Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marvelled. 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons”, 16 while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls.18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Luke 11:14-20

Jesus was ministering deliverance from the demonic, and eyewitnesses – Pharisees, scribes, lawyers – openly attributed such not to being from God, but Satan even though there was irrefutable evidence otherwise. What follows is Jesus giving a sharp rebuke to the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of Israel.
   Based on this incident and Jesus’ words afterwards, I would define Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit as thus: To have undeniable proof that any given phenomenon is of godly origin and nature, yet intentionally attribute such as not being genuinely so. The Pharisees were essentially saying “Jesus, you are evil and I am good. Jesus, you are wrong and I am right. Jesus, you are not Lord, but I am. I reject you, Jesus. You are not God, you are not Savior, you are not Lord.” That was the commitment of the Pharisees all the way to the point of murdering Jesus.  The reason why it is unforgivable is not so much because you commit the act and God forsakes you, but rather vice versa. Such people are complete strangers to saving grace as their hearts were not humbled in repentance of sin, and crying out to God for mercy.

 It is also important that we know how to distinguish between Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit versus the Testing of Spirits:

1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them.
6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
1 John 4:1-6

19 Do not quench the Spirit.
20 Do not despise prophecies,
21 but test everything; hold fast what is good.
22 Abstain from every form of evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 

   Sadly, many Christians are so fearful of committing the unforgivable sin of Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit that they simply choose to exercise zero scrutiny towards anything that looks even remotely spiritual. To them, the spiritual realm is a free-for-all providing that it also be given diplomatic immunity against any kind of serious questioning lest they be cutoff from it entirely. The result is that instead of enjoying the freedom in the victory that Christ has achieved over Satan and his minions, such people are left as helpless victims of constant spiritual attack leading to deception and sin. Yet God's will for the growing disciple is the exact opposite:

14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Ephesians 4:14-16 

3) "Being drunk in the Spirit brings me so much joy!" 

   This is what I call Sheryl Crowe discernment: "If it makes you happy, It can't be that bad".
   One things that is noticeable about being Drunk in the Spirit and other spiritual Manifestations is the sense of euphoria that usually comes upon those involved.
    It should be noted that the emotion of joy in of itself not evil, after all it is listed among the fruits of the spirit! What can be wrong however is not the emotion of joy, but rather, theobject of it:

20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
1 John 5:20-21 

   When we think of spiritual idolatry, we tend to view it at the ideological level concerning views and teachings that go against the Word of God. Yet since the overarching theme of 1 John is how love expresses itself as a fruit of living in truth, we must also be conscious of the fact that idolatry concerns not just what we think about the things of God, but also what we feel. If any given teaching or practice seems questionable yet nonetheless draws us in emotionally while on the other hand we may be unfeeling towards things we know are legitimate and true, we have every reason to be suspect that an act of deception has taken place.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9

4) "It would be sad to see you miss out on a truly life-transforming experience and find your Christian walk falling short..." 

   I'd like to answer this question by pointing to the example of the Corinthian Church. The Apostle Paul was on his second missional  journey wherein he happened upon the city of Corinth where the gospel was preached, and converts were personally disciples under the oversight of Paul, Peter and Apollos.
   When Paul felt that the Corinthian believers had reached a sufficient stage of spiritual maturity, he left to continue on his journey. At time went on, it became apparent that Paul's departure may have been premature:

10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.
1 Cornthians 1:10-11 

   Among the concerns that Chloe brought before the Apostles was that a group had arose within the Corinthian Church who called themselves the pneumatikoi, literally "The Spiritual Ones", who had grown arrogant in the areas of spiritual gifts and experiences to the point that there would be competition as to who was considered to be the most spiritual - "I speak in tongues, you can't. I prophesy and perform miracles while everyone else don't."

29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
1 Corinthians 12:29-30 

The obvious answer to the above questions is: "of course not." Why then should any person with x gift feel that are any closer to God in intimacy or maturity?
   As a result of this, the Corinthans found themselves stumbling into gross sin and were quickly divided.
   But note how Paul directly addressed the pneumatikoi:

7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you!
9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.
10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute.
1 Corinthians 4:7-10 

When believers elevate themselves above others as being more "spiritual" or they lack down upon those who have not had the same or similar spiritual experiences, most of the time the motivations derive from condescension. At best such pride is immature, at worst it is just carnality.
   Compare the mindset of the pneumatikoi with Peter's description of the grace of God:

3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,
4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,
6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,
7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
2 Peter 1:3-10 

If God the Holy Spirit is truly omnipresent and "His divine power has [already] granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3) why should there be any need for today's modern pneumatikoi in these manifestation-based churches to waste hundreds of dollars traveling to seminars and conferences held throughout the world in the hopes of receiving and taking back the latest "blessing", "Annointing", "impartation" - or in this case, "new wine" along with a "new wine skin" to go with it?

 5) This article is divisive! 

   Certainly this issue of whether being "Drunk in the Spirit" and other related "manifestations" are sure to arouse opinions.
   Of course, the last thing we want to see within the church are divisions that give rise to competing factions. But even so, there is only one form of division within the Church that God views as being both pleasing to Him and necessary for the health of the Church - the separations between Holy and profane, true and false, biblical and unbiblical:

18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.
1 Corinthians 11:18-19 

When God's people are obedient to His word and are continually growing in Christ-likeness and becoming rooted in biblical convictions, there should be an immediate clash with those who do not yet still profess the name of Jesus. If a church existed that had absolutely no divisions at all, the pastorate should have reason to be very worried about the health of it's members.
   So to, when a new teaching or practice comes into a church that claims to be Bible-based and gains rapid acceptance without any call for evaluation or debate, such should immediately be cause for alarm.

Conclusion: The Mourning Assembly

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law.
Nehemiah 8:9 

   As we can see, the biblical support for the notion of being "drunk in the Spirit" is far too scarce; not to mention the seriousness of the admonitions against drunkenness in favor of sobriety and sound-mindedness . To intentionally continue to promote such activity with knowledge that it does not line up with scriptural precedent is not just an act of wanton deception, but a denunciation of Scripture in of itself.
   Just what precisely is it that causes believers and even entire churches to fall for this kind of stuff? How exactly do leaders of bible-believing congregations go from passionately contending for orthodox Christian doctrine to yelling “Amen!” to anything, no matter how obscure and unusual?
   Most of us know of at least one Christian friend who started off as a trustworthy peer, committed to solid discipleship to the point of teaching others, teachable, hungry to learn as well as to defend their convictions from attack at any angle. Yet over time, changes of mind take place. At first it may seem like a minor tangent, until you listen to who they’re listening and what they’re following. You notice they start to say and do things that they previously would have fought hard against. You hear them quote ministers who only seasons ago would have been put on the discernment blacklist. In only a short time, what started as a minor tangent becomes a large-scale deviation to the point that their Christian walk has undergone a massive revision that makes you honestly question whether you can still break bread with them in Christian fellowship. You voice concerns – only to hear them respond with full assurance that they are correct in their new direction even though you know it doesn’t stack up with scriptures. Worse still is when they go on the offensive against you or anyone else for not being as willing to follow suite.

   If these practices are being brought into a local church, then it is the obligation of those familiar with Scriptures to call those responsible to account:

17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
Romans 16:17-18 

The word for “watch”, skopeō σκοπέω means to oberve, to mark, to fix attention upon i.e., like a sniper we are to target – from afar if need be - our focus upon those whose teaching and doctrine doesn’t line up with the word of God.

8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.
9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
2 John 8-11

If you welcome a teacher into your church with knowledge that what they believe and practice is faulty yet you nonetheless give them a platform to speak, God will hold you as guilty by association as though such falsehoods were indeed coming forth from your own mouth.

1 comment:

  1. Far from blaspheming the Holy Spirit, you honour our precious Lord Jesus by accepting His guidance and discernment on these issues, and obediently sharing the truth to help others. I praise God for his faithfulness in these difficult times, as he shows us His truth amidst terrible delusion...and what glorious, life-giving truth it is. With aching heart and much prayer, I have just left a church that has succumbed to the deceptions taught by this extensive network of wolves. If only more Christians knew how wide and deep the web stretches, and how many are being caught in it.(I will be sending this post to many others!)

    Thankfully, I am greatly encouraged by the many faithful Christians such as yourself, who continue to stand firm in the Word, and take heart that the narrow path leads us to eternal life with our wonderful Saviour!