-A. Ralph Johnson




The world today is full of conflicting claims by those professing to be guided by the Holy Spirit, while teaching a babble of contradictory doctrines.  It is obvious they cannot all be right.  The Bible's teachings are by inspira­tion of the Holy Spirit (1Pet. 1:20-21; Jn. 16:13).  It is manifestly impossi­ble for The Holy Spirit to be in conflict with His own words.  It is therefore the aim of this study to carefully examine modern claims of spiritual gifts by the words of the Spirit.






1Thes. 5:21. Prove all things (in reference to spiritual gifts).

2Cor. 13:5. Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith.

1Jn. 4:1. Prove the spirits; because of many false prophets.

Mt. 24:4, 11-13, 24-25.  Take heed that no man deceive you.

Mt. 7:21-27. Many will say, “Lord, Lord, We prophesied, cast out demons and did many wonderful works,” but He will say, “I NEVER knew you.”

2Cor. 11:13-15.  Satan's ministers appear as ministers of righteousness.

Gal. 1:6-10.  Even angels or apostles who pervert the gospel are to be rejected.

1Tim 4:1.  Warning about “doctrines of demons”

Rev. 2:2. Test those who claim to be apostles (cf. 2 Co. 12:12).

2Thes. 2:3, 9-12. Do not be deceived by “wonders,” even in God's house.

Rev. 13:13-14. False prophets will deceive the world with great signs.

Rev. 16:14. Demons will work miracles.

Deut. 13:1-3. Even if miracles come to pass, don’t follow those who are for other gods.

2 Tim. 3:8. Jannes and Jambres imitated signs of Moses (Ex. 7:11, 22; 8:7, 18).

1Kings 13:1-24. God punished a man who believed a false prophet.




1.      The Scriptures are inspired of God (2 Tim. 3:16).

Jn. 14:15-18.  The Apostles were guided into all truth (Jn. 20:22-23: 16:7-8, 12-15).

Mk. 13:11. The Holy Spirit gave the message.

2Pet. 1:20-21. No scripture ever came from the prophet's opinion.     

1Cor. 14:37. The things written by Paul were the commandments of God. 


2.      Truth and error are distinguished by the word of God.

Mt. 7:24-29. Wise men build on the rock by hearing and obeying.  Foolish do not.

Jn. 8:47. He that is of God hears God's words.                    

1Jn. 4:6; 3:24. God's Spirit distinguished by obedience to the word.

2Tim. 3:14-17. The word makes us wise and thoroughly furnished to every good work.       

Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12.  The word is the “sword of the Spirit.”

Heb. 4:12. The word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword.

1Jn. 5:13. It was written so we might know and believe.          

Jn. 8:31-32.  Abide in it and know the truth to be free.  (Jn. 17:17 “Thy word is truth”)                                  

Is. 8:20. No light is in those who do not walk according to the word.


3.      The word of God is the basis upon which all shall be judged.

Jn. 12:48.  By it we shall be judged in the last day (cf. Mt. 7:21-23).

James 1:21. The word of God is able to save our souls.           

Rom. 10:13-17. We are saved through hearing the word.  Faith comes by hearing. We walk by faith. 2 Cor. 5:7.              


4.      The word of God is the final authority.

Rom. 3:3-4. Let God be found true and every man a Liar.   

2Tim. 2:13. God cannot contradict himself.              

Jn. 10:35. The Scriptures cannot be broken.               




If they walk not according to this word there is no light in them.” -Isaiah 8:20


The Greek word, “Charisma,” (Strongs # 5486) is in the New Testament translated “gift.”  In 1Cor. 12 this word is used to refer to the miraculous gifts given by the Holy Spirit (or, “Holy Ghost”).  Therefore, in this study we use it to include all claims to exercise the powers listed in 1Cor. 12:4-10.  The basic issues are the same, whether Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventists, Four Square, Assemblies Of God, Pentecostal, United Pentecostal, The Metropolitan Church, Children of God, or “Moonies.”  They diverge in many respects but they all claim to have the “charisma” or “gifts” of the Holy Spirit.




We want to make it clear that we do not question either God's power or the fact that He works among His people today.  The issue is not what God CAN do but what He WILLS to do.  God answers prayer but that does not mean He gives these people power to do miracles.  God CAN raise up seed unto Abraham from the very stones of the earth (Lk. 3:8) but if some group claims that people who come to their meetings can have stones turned to babies, we have every right to challenge them.  Questioning the claims of men is in no way denying the power of God.  God Himself charged us to make careful evaluation (Rev. 2:2).


Insisting on evidence is not the same as “seeking a sign.”  We need no sign to convince us that Jesus is the Messiah or to know he is coming again (Mt. 16:1-4).  We accept the scriptures and “sign of Jonah” (the resurrection). (Mat. 12:39-41)  For us, ample evidence has been provided. We walk by faith, not by sight. (2Cor. 5:7).


With God, all things are possible” (Mk. 10:27).  The claims of men often prove impossible.  They make claims but fail to show the true manifestations of the Spirit.  We are told to “prove all things” (I Thes.  5:21; 2Cor. 13:5).  Many false prophets have gone out into the world (1Jn. 4:1; Rev. 2:2; 2 Co. 11:13-15; Mt. 7:21-27).


Those who run here and there after people who claim miraculous powers are ignoring Jesus' warning against seeking signs (Matt. 12:39; 16:4). 


Matt 7:21-23 Jesus said:

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?  and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (cf. Lk. 6:46-49). 


The pattern for comparison is the word of God provided by the Holy Spirit (Heb. 8:5).  We want to know if they speak according to His word (Isa. 8:20) and if they do what He says (John 2:3-6; 3:7-10). 


Mt. 7:16, 20. “By their fruits ye shall know them”. 


A sheepskin coat may look like the real thing but it does not make one a sheep. Gorgeous blossoms in May do not guarantee nourishing fruit in September.




1.      The Pattern Of Pentecost


On the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:) the Holy Spirit was poured out to guide them into all truth (Jn. 16:13). This was necessary because they as yet had no New Testament scriptures.  Through the centuries many have claimed to have those powers (Ac. 8:18-19).  If they really had what was given on Pentecost they would manifest what took place on Pentecost.  Unfortunately, time and again, their claims have been weighed and found wanting.


They fail to show a single manifestation of Pentecost but they provide an abundance of excuses.


a.       No sound from heaven “as of a mighty rushing wind fills the whole house and attracts thousands of people (Ac. 2:2, 6).              


b.      The Holy Spirit does not come visibly “upon” them.  There is neither the form of a dove nor tongues like as of fire (Ac. 2:2-3, 17-18, 33; 8:16, 18; 10:44-45; 11:15; 15:8-9; 19:6; 1:32-33; Lk. 3:22).


c.       Their signs are not openly manifested in the presence of unbelievers (Ac. 2:5-13.  cf. Mt. 9:2-6; 12:10-13; Mk. 2:5-12; 3:1-6; Lk. 5:21-26; 6:6-11; 8:34, 36; 13:14-17; 14:1-6; 22:51; 1Co. 14:22).


d.      They cannot speak in EVERY language under heaven, (Ac. 2:5-11 cf. 1Co. 14:22) but, other than what they learn by normal means, they cannot speak in ANY language under heaven.


They claim that somewhere, someone, was heard to say that he heard someone talking in some language, but none of these are ever able to be documented.  In one case with which I am acquainted, (Ben Alexan­der) the man was told he was talking in Hebrew.  However, since Ben was Jewish and learned Hebrew as a child, he knew better.


In a case here in Seattle a girl was told, by a woman who had supposedly studied French, that she was talking, “perfect French.” We recorded a French lady reading some passages from the Psalms and played the tape for the woman who made the claim.  She was unable to translate it.  How could she know the girl was speaking “perfect French” if she could not even understand the language?


e.       In a number of cases, (mentioned even in “Glossolalia,” by Don Barnett), in order to test them, people intentionally spoke gibberish, or some language known by them, and the so-called “interpreter” gave a false translation.


2.      Their “signs” fail to be such as to confound unbelievers.

a.       They should so “manifest” the Holy Spirit's presence (1Co. 12:7) as to confirm the inspired source (Mk. 16:20; Heb. 2:3-4).

b.      Skeptics should be confounded (Ac. 2:7; 1Cor. 14:22).

c.       The evidence should be indisputable (Ac. 4:16).

d.      Lame men should be instantly healed (Ac. 4:16  cf. 3:1-11; Jn. 3:2).

e.       A man born blind was healed (Jn. 9:16, 18) and later believed (9:36).

f.        Lazarus was raised on third day in the presence of all (Jn. 22:44, 47; 12:10-11).


3.      Unlike the biblical powers, they must advertise their miracles to get a following

Matt. 8:4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man;

Matt. 9:30 And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it. 31 But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country

Matt. 14:35-36   35 And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased;  36 And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.

Mk. 1:44 And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man 45 But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city,

Mk 5:43. And he charged them straitly that no man should know it

Mark 7:36 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it;

Lk. 5:14. And he charged him to tell no man: 15 But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities.

Ac. 2:6. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together

Acts 5:15   15 Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.


Jesus told people NOT to tell.  If modern Pentecostal people had the powers of Pentecost they would get the results of Pentecost. 


4.      They do not manifest ALL of the miraculous powers.


They claim the powers are for today yet they make excuses for failing to show them all.  I do not mean to say that any single individ­ual must have all of the powers, but if they were meant for today then they should all be present today.  I have yet to see any indication of men walking on water, stilling storms, turning water to wine, multiplying loaves and fishes, drinking poison without being hurt or raising the dead, plus multitudes of other Biblical miracles.


Not only the magnitude, but the variety of New Testament manifesta­tions helped verify that God was behind them.  Inability to do this casts serious doubt upon their claims.


One of the most characteristic features of modern “Pentecostalism” is the discrepancy between performance and what is revealed in the New Testament.  Marvelous claims are made, but sound criteria for evaluation is rejected.  When pressed, their claims lead only to dead ends with no similarity to what they profess.  Instead, we are met with an endless series of “explanations,” excuses, and abuse.


5.   Some of the things they practice match paganism rather than what is found in the Bible.


Where, in the New Testament, do we find the “swoons,” “slain in the Spirit,” “shakes,” “quakes,” “barks,” “jerks,” “holy rolling,” “holy laughter” and other such things? 


Where did any Christian come back time after time to get rid of this or that “demon” as modern charismatic teachers do? When we become Christians Jesus binds Satan (Matt. 12:29; 1Jn. 4:4). How can the Holy Spirit dwell in a temple with demons? (2Cor. 6:15-16)


a.      Claims of being “slain in the Spirit.”


Matt. 12:29.  A boy who had a demon fell down when the demon went out.  He certainly was not receiving the Holy Spirit. 


2Chron. 5:13-14.

“The house of the Lord was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house


This is “evidence” that the Holy Spirit causes people in the church to pass out all over the place? 


Acts 9:4.  Paul fell upon the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?


Nothing is said here about this being any “overpowering of the Spirit.” Not only Paul, but all of those who were traveling with Paul fell to earth (Acts 26:11).  Were all of these receiving the “overpowering of the Spirit”?  


Paul was certainly not receiving the power of the Holy Spirit.  He did not receive it until he reached Damascus and had prayed there for three days (Acts 9:17).


1Cor 14:24-25.  Nor was the fact that the unbeliever fell down and worshipped God when the thoughts of his heart were made manifest by the prophets any “precedent” for Christians to be “slain in the spirit.”  This was a natural response.  The other prophets were to be “judging,” not passed out on the floor.


Rev. 1:7.  John, in a vision saw Jesus in a glorified form and fell down as one dead.


Nothing is said of the Spirit making him fall down.  It was a natural response to an awesome situation. Certainly none of the Apostles or Jesus went around making people fall down by blowing on them or pushing on their foreheads –much less having someone stand behind them as a “catcher.”  It looks more like a side-show than anything else.


In the Bible, people sometimes fell down but not one of them appears to be anything like the modern claims of being “slain in the Spirit.”


·        Rev. 19:8; 22:8.  John fell down to worship angels.  Did the Holy Spirit cause him to do that or was it his natural response to the awesome sight?

·        Acts 10:25. When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. Was he being “overpowered by the Spirit”?

·        Acts 5:5, 10.  Ananias and Sapphira fell down and died. God caused it, but I see no precedent in this for what is to take place in the church service.

·        John 11:32.  Mary, the sister of Lazarus fell at the feet of Jesus.

·        John 18:6.  Those who came to take Jesus in the garden went backwards and fell down.

·        Mat. 27:65. The guards at the tomb of Jesus “became as dead men.”

·        Gen. 17:17. Abraham fell upon his face  and laughed when he heard that he was to father Isaac.

·        Lev. 9:24. When fire consumed the burnt-offering the people fell on their faces.

·        1Kings 1:39. When the fire of Jehovah fell and consumed the burnt offering the people fell on their faces.


So what?  Where is any indication God intended for the Holy Spirit to knock a bunch of people down in the gatherings of the church?


What does all this have in common with Benny Hinn or some other Pentecostal preacher blowing a whole audience over?  Where do we see Jesus, the apostles, or even the prophets doing such a thing? Where was it ever advocated or practiced?


People passing out from such mass hypnotic influences are nothing new or surprising. People faint from hysteria in pagan cults.  Kids in a classroom have been known to do it.  When I was a kid, it was a common game.  I can make myself pass out any time I please. 


Remember the Girls that used to pass out when "Frankeee Snotra" sang?  Women even passed out when President Clinton showed up.  Big deal!




People in trances in the Bible are cited for justification of the practice.  The fact that individuals were sometimes given special messages in trances, dreams or visions is no “precedent” for the modern practice of masses of people getting “slain in the Spirit” at public gatherings.  If that is what they claim, where is the evidence of their visions being prophetic?  I would just as well accept the visions of Mrs. Eddy of the Christian Scientists, the moronic visions of Joseph Smith, or those of Mrs. White of the Seventh-day Adventists. 


The fact is that God teaches that the prophetic gift was to pass away. (1Cor. 13). 


Neither the term “slain in the Spirit” nor anything resembling it is found in Scripture.


This thing is no different than what took place among the Mormons, the Shakers, or the Moonies.


If we are to believe their claims, it is remarkable that neither Jesus, the Apostles nor anyone in the Bible had “Spirit empowered preaching accompanied by hundreds of listeners fainting, shouting, and dropping to the ground as if felled by a giant cannon shot.” 


b.      Claims of “Holy Laughter” (“The Toronto Blessing”).


This thing has been known in pagan and “Christian” cults before.  Recently it was revived in the Vineyard Churches.  The Holy Spirit supposedly sends them into hysterical laughter.  Druggies do it.


Scriptures in the Bible about laughter.

·        Gen. 17:17.  Abraham fell on his face laughing when God told him that Sarah was to bear Isaac.

·        Gen. 18:12.  Sarah laughed at the idea that she would have a child at her age.

·        Ecc. 3:4.  There is a time to laugh. 

·        James 4:9. Let your laughter be turned to mourning…


Nothing here about the Holy Spirit causing whole congregations convulsed in laughter.


B.     The Teaching Fruit


Are Charismatic teachings consistent with the words of the Spirit?


True prophets were guided into ALL truth (Jn. 14:26; 16:13).  Those who do not speak in harmony with the scriptures cannot be speaking by the Spirit (Is. 8:20). If anyone perverts the gospel, or brings a different one, he is to be rejected (Gal. 1:6-10; 2 Jn. 9-11; Deut. 12:32--13:3).


Among those who claim miraculous powers we find a babble of conflicting teachings.  Mormons claim that Joseph Smith and their “apostles” prophecy.  Seventh-day Adventists contend that Mrs. White was inspired to guide God's people.  The “Jesus Only,” people repudiate others who make similar claims. The Four Square church contends for Aimee McPherson’s claims of revelation.  The Assemblies of God churches disagree with the rest while claiming the same powers.  On and on it goes in utter confusion, yet each contends that we should not question their claims.  In turn, all of them are in conflict with the Holy Spirit’s teaching and work.


1.      They teach contrary to what God reveals concerning salvation.

a.       They deny that we are, “baptized into Christ.” (Rom. 6:3-7, 17-18, 22  cf. Col. 2:12-13; Gal. 3:26-27 cf. 2 Co. 5:17; Mt. 28:19; Ac. 8:16; 19:2-5 cf. Rom. 8:1; 1Cor. 12:12-13; 10:1-2, 6, 11 cf. Ex. 14:29-30)

b.      They deny that when we are baptized our sins are “washed away,” we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and we are, “saved.” (Ac. 22:16; 2:38; 1Pe. 3:21; Mark. 16:16; Rom. 6:3-7, 17-18, 22; Col. 2:12-13)

c.       They deny what God teaches concerning being “born of water and Spirit” (John 3:3-5 --cf. “water” in 3:23; 1Jn. 5:6, 8; Heb. 10:22; Ac. 8:36-39; Eph. 5:26;)


2.      They don't have the Lord's supper each first day of the week as set forth in the New Testament

(Acts 2:42; 1Cor. 11:17-18, 20, 24- 26, 33-34; cf. 16:2; Heb. 10:25).


3.      Many of them teach that all Christians are to speak in tongues.

The Scriptures teach that all do NOT speak with tongues (1Cor. 12:30). All do not have the same gifts.


Paul’s statement that he would be glad if they all spoke with tongues is often cited (1Cor. 14:5).  However, the statement proves exactly the opposite.  Paul was telling them that unless the tongues were interpreted, it was better to prophecy than to speak in tongues.  Tongues edified the individual but prophecy edified the whole congregation.  He does not say that all would or could do so.  To the contrary, he had shown in chapter 12 that each had dif­ferent gifts and not all had the same.  No one member can be the whole body.


4.      They disregard God's regulations on the use of spiritual gifts in the church (1Cor. 14:27-35).


a.       Rather than limiting the messages to three in a service, they encour­age many to speak in tongues (14:27 -cf. 14:29).


b.      They permit many to speak at the same time (14:23, 27, 30-31).


This is excused on the basis that when the Spirit gives a message in tongues they must give the message or it would be resisting the Spirit.  However, God says they are to keep quiet, and that the Spirits of the Proph­ets are subject to the prophets (14:32).  “God is not a god of confu­sion” (14:33).


c.       They Speak without an interpreter.  God says that without one they must keep silent. (1Cor. 14:27-28)


5.      Their women speak in the public assembly, contrary to scriptural teaching (1Cor. 14:34-36).


“Mother” Ann Lee (Shakers), Ellen G. White (Seventh-day Adventists), Aimee McPherson (Four Square), and Kathryn Kuhlman (Assemblies of God), are only a few of the more notorious violators of this scriptural teaching.


6.      They make a false distinction between the “gift of tongues” and the “sign of tongues.”


This is to avoid the plain scriptural teaching that all do not speak with tongues (1Cor. 12:30) and the restrictions God gave for its use (1Cor. 14:27-28). They claim these scriptures apply only to the “gift” or “message” in tongues, not to the “sign,” or “prayer” tongue. No such distinction is made in scripture. 


a.       The restrictions in 1Cor. 14, clearly apply to tongues in general, whether in prayer (14:12-20) or in a message (14:21-23).


b.      The term, “sign,” is specifically applied to tongues in only two places in the New Testament. 


1)      The first is Mark 16:17.


Note that there are several different “signs” listed.  If  “tongues” is necessary for all who have the Holy Spirit then so are all of the other gifts.


It does not say tongues is “THE sign” of the Holy Spirit. In fact, it says nothing about these signs being received when one receives the Holy Spirit.  It is speaking of them following those that believe.  Must every believer have these signs?


Furthermore, there is nothing to indicate these tongues are any different from tongues mentioned elsewhere.  It says nothing about it being a “prayer language.”


2)      The second is in 1Cor. 14:21-22 where it is quoting from Is. 28:11 concerning messages given to hard-hearted people.  It was a sign, not to believers, but to unbelievers (1Cor. 14:22 cf. Acts 2:7-8).  The term, “sign,” both singular and plural, is often found in the New Testament applied to many other things than tongues.


c.       Similarly, “gift” is not speaking only of a message in tongues.  One cannot reasonably separate 1Cor. 12 from chapters 13 and 14, which apply equally to tongues in prayer (14:13-17).  In fact, 12:7 calls all the gifts, including tongues (12:10), “manifestations,” which has much the same meaning as a “sign.” 


For those who insist on such distinctions, it is very revealing to photo-copy 1Cor. 12, 13, 14 and have them try to use colored pens to highlight which statements refer to the “gifts” and which to the “sign.”  The distinctions are arbitrary and absurd. Rarely do two of them ever agree.


d.      Some appeal to Acts 2 to show that the tongues on Pentecost were different from those at Corinth.  However, neither Peter nor Joel made any distinction.  


These tongues cannot be shown to be prayers.  It says they were speaking “the mighty works of God” (Ac. 2:11).  Joel only mentions signs and prophecy and Peter says nothing to define the nature of the tongues spoken. In fact, in not one single case anywhere in Acts did it indicate it to be a prayer tongue.  In Ac. 19:6 it says they “spoke in tongues AND PROPHESIED,” and in 10:48 they spoke with tongues and “MAGNIFIED GOD,” which, as in both chapter 2 and 19, indicated prophecy. 


Any supposed difference between tongues on Pentecost and at Cor­inth is due to careless reading.  Both could be understood by the people who spoke that language.  Neither could be understood by a congregation of people who did not know the language.  On Pentecost people from all nations were gathered.  Corinth was a local assembly speaking the local language.


7.      They often deny that we can have the Holy spirit without speaking in tongues.


They teach that one first becomes a Christian and then receives the Holy Spirit with the sign of speaking in tongues.  The scriptures teach otherwise.


Every Christian has the Holy Spirit.


a.       Rom. 8:9  “If any man has not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his.”

1Pe. 1:10-12 shows the “Spirit of Christ” was the Holy Spirit which guided the prophets. 

2Pe. 1:19-21 shows that all prophecy was by the Holy Spirit (cf. Ac. 16:6-7 “The Spirit of Jesus...” - A.S.V); Philip. 1: 19; Jn. 14:18, 23; Eph. 2:22).


b.      Rom. 8:4-16, 23-27.  If one does not have the Spirit of God:

-he has a dead spiritual mind (8:6).

-He can not please God (8:8)

-He can not receive life to be raised up (8:11)

-He can not be a child of God (8:15-16)

-He can not have the spirit to make intercession for him (8:26-27). 

These things can only be through the Holy Spirit.


c.       The Church at Rome had the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5; 8:9-17), yet had “no spiritual gift” (Rom. 1:11).


      OBJECTION:  “Rom. 12:6 indicates the Romans had Spiritual gifts.”


Paul is speaking of the many diverse functions of the body in general.  The whole body of Christ was not at Rome. 


d.      Eph. 1:13-14. The Holy Spirit is the “earnest” (down payment) of our inheritance as God's own possession.  We are sealed in the Holy Spirit unto the day of redemption (Eph. 1:13; 4:30).


e.       Jn. 3:3-5. To see the kingdom, we must be born of the Spirit.


f.        1John 5:4, 7-8. Those who are begotten of God have the testimony of water, Spirit and blood, which agree in one (cf. Heb. 10:22).


g.       Ac. 2:38-39. All who are baptized for the remission of sins receive the “gift” (Greek: doorea) of the Holy Spirit, not, “gifts” (Greek: charisma).


h.       Ac. 5:32.  All who obey him receive the Holy Spirit.


i.         Titus 3:5-6. We are saved by the washing of regeneration and renew­ing of the Holy Spirit.


j.        Gal. 5:25. We live by the Spirit.  Without it we are spiritually dead (Rom. 8:6).


k.      Jn. 7:37-39. Those who “drink” of Jesus have the Holy Spirit. When one drinks of the water of life he never thirsts again (Jn. 4:10-14; Rev. 22:17).


l.         1Cor. 12:12-13.  In order to be a part of Christ's body we must be baptized and all “DRINK OF ONE SPIRIT.” (cf. Heb. 6:4; 1Cor. 10:1-2; Mt. 28:18-19; Rom. 6:1-7; Gal. 3:27).


OBJECTION:  Some contend that 1Cor. 12:12-13 is speaking of “baptism in the Holy Spirit,” not water baptism.

ANSWER: Compare 1Cor. 12:13 with other passages that speak of baptism in the Holy Spirit.


The Greek structure here is different.  It indicates the Holy Spirit is the means, rather than the element in which we are baptized.


            1Cor. 12:13.  “By one Spirit we were all baptizxed into one body.”


















were baptized


     Compare with the following passages on Holy Spirit Baptism.  They are entirely different.


Matt. 3:11.












shall baptize













Luke 3:16








autou Autos











shall baptize













John 1:33
















the same


he which














Acts 11:16



















shall be baptized













Mark: 1:8.



















shall baptize













Acts 1:5



















shall be baptized






The baptism in 1Cor. 12:12-13 is that which puts us into the body of Christ (cf. Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3).  If we are in Christ we are a new creature, old things are passed away (2Cor. 5:17).  There is now no condemnation (Rom. 8:1). The Holy Spirit is very much involved in our being born again (Jn. 3:5; 1Jn. 5:8; Eph. 1:13-14; Ac. 2:38-39; etc. See above).


OBJECTION:  “In Acts 8:15 Christians did not have the Holy Spirit.”


What they had not yet received was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit UPON them. “UPON” indicates the miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit--perhaps because it was a visible sign (cf. Ac. 2:3, 17; 8:16; 10:44; 11:15; 19:6; Mark 1:10).


In contrast with Jesus, who while on earth had the Spirit without measure (Jn. 3:34), and had to go away in order for anyone else to receive it (Jn. 16:7), Christians received different measures of the Spirit (Eph. 4:7).  Just as they could be “filled with the Spirit” more than once (Ac. 4:31; Jn. 3:34-35), they could receive the spirit in different measures and different ways. 


8.      While they claim the same Spirit their teachings are in conflict.


United Pentecostals, Mormons, Assemblies of God, Moonies, etc. just do not mix, yet they all profess some or all of those claimed by others.  How can they all be guided by the same Spirit?  Since none of them seem to have any greater power than the others, it would seem that none of them have what they claim.


9.      They are often misled by false teachers.


Does the Holy Spirit teach contradictory things to different men and different groups?


If they had the gifts of either prophecy or discerning of spirits, false teachers should be detected and exposed.  True prophets would be guided “into all truth” (Jn. 16:12; 1Cor. 14:37).



a.      “Mother” Ann Lee, of the Shakers. (1776)


She purportedly was able to speak in over 72 languages and has been repeatedly cited by tongues advocates to prove they have continued through the centuries.[1]  However, Ann Lee[2] claimed to be Jesus Christ, returned in a woman's form!


b.      Joseph Smith and Mormon leaders have claimed to have the spiritual gifts.


Sherrill, who has long been touted as some authority on the works of the Holy Spirit, cited the Mormons for support (chapter 7, p.77).  How in the world can Mormons be filled with the Holy Spirit when they follow a false-prophet who participated in polygamous adultery and taught the grossly pagan concept of many Gods who had become so by progres­sion from being men?

Joseph Smith declared that on March 27, 1836, in Kirtland, Ohio: “Brother George A. Smith arose and began to prophesy, when a noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the Temple, and all the congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power; many began to speak in tongues and prophesy; others saw glorious visions; and I beheld the Temple was filled with angels, which fact I declared to the congregation. The people of the neighborhood came running together (hearing an unusual sound within, and seeing a bright light like a pillar of fire resting upon the Temple), and were astonished at what was taking place.” (History of the Church, Vol. 2, page 428)


c.        Sun Myung Moon was spawned in the charismatic movement in South Korea.


Rev. Moon teaches his followers to believe that the mission of Jesus failed and that he is the new prophet and Messiah from the East who has come to restore all things.  They teach that Jesus was the natural birth resulting from sexual relations with someone other than Mary's hus­band, Joseph (Zacharias the priest) and that the crucifixion was unplanned and unnecessary.  They also believe in concealing what they believe under the Justification of “heavenly deception.” 


There is no substantial difference between the practices of the Moonies and those of other charismatic preachers.  I went on a trip to Korea with over a hundred preachers, most of them in the tongues movement.  I took video pictures of them all together talking in “tongues.”  At the end of the trip most of them signed a document claiming that Moon was “spirit led.”  It looked a lot more like the whole kit-and-caboodle were spirit possessed!


d.      United Pentecostals.


They are at odds with the others over the nature of God and other issues.  Some Church of God groups are at odds with other charismatic groups. 


10.  They claim that being baptized in the Holy Spirit is the “baptism of fire” (Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16)



The statement about being “baptized with fire” is immediately followed, by the words, “whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” This was a continuation of the sentence.  There was no verse distinction in the original.


Note also that this is the only mention of being baptized in fire.  Mark 1:8; Acts 1:5; 11:16, nor any other passage mentions it. 


Note that these also omit the statement concerning the chaff being burned up with unquenchable fire.  Therefore, the fact that wherever one is omitted, so is the other, would further confirm that the two statements relate to each other and not to baptism in the Holy Spirit. 


The citation in Acts 1:5 has reference to what the apostles were to receive, and thus no mention is made of them being baptized with fire.


The only other thing the baptism of fire advocates have to try to bolster their case is Acts 2 where it speaks of “tongues like as of fire” sitting upon each of them.  However, this does not say they were baptized in fire, and the evidence of the other passages negates that conclusion.


C.     The Behavior Fruit


1.      They profess that they know Him but do not obey what He says.

a.       Mt. 7:20-27. Hearing and obeying is more important than miracles.

b.      Lk. 6:46. He is Lord only to those who obey (cf. Rom. 6:16-18).

c.       Jn. 8:47. He that is of God hears the words of God.

d.      Jn. 14:15, 21, 23-24. Those who do not keep his sayings do not love him.

e.       Jn. 15:14. We are His friends IF we keep His commandments.

f.        Ac. 5:32. The Holy Spirit is given to those who OBEY.

g.       1Jn. 2:3-4-5. He that says he knows him but does not obey is a liar.

h.       1Jn. 3:24. The Spirit is identified by obedience to his commands.

i.         1Jn. 4:6. The Spirit of truth or error is evaluated by whether they follow the teachings of the Apostles.

j.        1Jn. 5:2-3. Loving God requires keeping His commandments.


2.      What they claim as “fruit” does not prove Scripturally good under examination and over time.


Zeal, enthusiasm and “love” among charismatic believers are often cited as “fruit of the Spirit.”  However, since such contradictory groups as “Moonies,” Mormons, Children of God and Assemblies of God make similar claims and the same “fruits,” we see that someth­ing is wrong with this reasoning.  Do not Mormons as well as Pentecostals manifest love?  The scriptures clearly show that such superficial conclu­sions are invalid. 


a.       Matt. 7:20-23. Jesus specifically warned against accepting what appeared to be clothing of sheep, even if they profess to prophesy, cast out demons and do many mighty works in his name.

b.      2Cor. 11:13-15.  Those who serve Satan may appear to be ministers of righteousness. 

c.       Matt. 6:2, 5, 16. Fasting, giving alms, and making long prayers are done by hypocrites (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16). 

d.      1Cor. 13:1-3. Speaking in tongues of men and angels, prophesying, knowing all mysteries, bestowing all one's goods to feed the poor, and even giving one's body to be burned, may still profit nothing.

e.       Matt. 5:46.  Heathens have love, but godly love includes obedience to what God says (Jn. 14:15, 21, 23-24; Mt. 7:21, 24). 

f.         2Thes. 2:11. Do they do what God says, or are they only following a delu­sion of their own heart?

g.       1Ki. 18:28-29. The 450 prophets of Baal certainly had a lot of enthusiasm.  Elijah put them to the test.  They leaped about the altar and cried aloud, but no fire came. 

h.       Rom. 10:2. Paul acknowledged that the Jews had a zeal but, “not according to knowledge.”


I do not wish to paint all charismatic people black.  Many are very sincere.  My own wife came from the “holy rollers,” as they were then called.  However, that does not mean they are not deceived.  “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 16:25).


3.      It is not true that those who speak in tongues have superior spirituality.


Even when tongues were present in the times of the Apostles, the gifts did not make them spiritual.  The church at Corinth was one of the most divided and troubled churches recorded.  Paul indicates that without love, they were nothing (1Cor. 13:1-3)


They often have serious problems that no power they claim resolves.  Biblical authority teaches that we must not assume that some appearances of righteousness necessarily validates their claims.  Evil fruit properly and necessarily raises questions about their claims.  I have had considerable experience with charismatic people over the last 50 years and there is a pattern of tendencies which is very disturbing. 


The first congregation I served was almost half Pentecostal.  Some years before, two women had come and held a “revival meeting.”  They gained a significant following and split the church.  They then moved to a hall in town and started a separate congregation.  In time they got into a fight among themselves and split again.  One of the factions returned and in time again became embroiled in conflict with the other members. The preacher tried to deal with the problem but finally decided it was more than he could handle. I was called and being young and inexperienced, accepted with little idea of what I was getting into.


I worked hard trying to develop communication.  All I got for my trouble was thrown physically off the property of their leader and a deaf ear from his followers. However, in time we pulled the church together and the charismatic people pulled out.  That experience introduced me to several characteristic problems that seem almost inherent with them.


a.       They were impossible to placate. 

b.      No scriptural teaching that raised any question about their practice would be considered. 

c.       They regarded no one as spiritual that did not accept their claims without question and adopt their loud demonstrative behavior.

d.      If they could not have things their way you could count on trouble. 

e.       If they could not turn the congregation on to tongues they would tear it up.

f.        If they could not have things their way they would pull out and take as many as possible with them.  I don't consider that “fruit of the Spirit.”


4.      Some charismatic groups have even sent “missionaries” into other churches to proselytize, resulting in strife and division.


 All across this land, churches that have accepted charismatic people have been riddled with strife and division.  Indeed, a church within a few miles of us has been split twice.


5.      Shallow in the knowledge of the word of God.


Feeling becomes the final authority and the Bible forced to fit.  A thorough, balanced knowledge of the Bible is lacking.  Any attempt to seek a careful examination of scripture is disdainfully called, “head religion.” 


6.      Unstable and insecure


Rather than trust in the lord and walk by faith, they must rely upon miraculous manifestations to keep them pumped.  This appears to result from a combination of low self-image and a feeling of insecurity, which translates into a need for something bigger than God's ordinary provi­dence to keep them reassured and feeling important.  The result is a roller coaster of highs and lows and the need for another “fix” to keep them pumped.


7.      Inclined to Exaggeration  


Claims of miraculous manifestations are grossly distorted with little or no foundation in fact.  They will dogmatically insist, often with grand embellishments, on claims of the miraculous, with no attempt at verification.  It is almost as if they were playing a game of, “Can you top this”! Some stories I have heard right from the pulpit would take top honors in a Liar’s Club.  The result is inflated ego and a considerable gullibility.  I say this not only from my own observation.  Numerous people among them have confided their own embarrassment at this tendency.


8.      Dependence on some great person seems essential.


The Jim Jones’, Joseph Smiths, Sun Young Moons, Aimee McPhersons, Ann Lees, Herbert Armstrongs, David Bergs, A. A. Alans, Oral Roberts, Jim Bakkers, and Jimmy Swaggarts seem crucial to their emotional dependency.  Like flocks of starlings they fly from one healer or “prophet” to another.  On their buildings and advertisements the most prominent feature of praise is not Jesus, but the name of the Evangelist.  Example: “ORAL L. ROBERTS UNIVERSITY”


Here in Seattle we have gone through the “Jesus People Movement,” the Community Chapel movement, and lately, Casey Treat who expounds a “Prosperity Gospel” in which he unblushingly tells people that God wants him rich --and expects his followers to make him that way.  Of course, there are numerous lesser lights, all trying to compete for the spoils or prestige (cf. Rom. 6:18).


9.      A superiority that borders on arrogance often seems inherent.


There is a kind of pushy, gloating, smug superiority accompa­nied with contempt and hostility to any realistic evaluation.  As one girl haughtily proclaimed, “You're doubtin' and doin' without while we're believin' and receivin'.”  A homosexual girl, gave me the put-down that we did “not have the Spirit.”  I Finally pointedly told her that whatever it was that she had, I did not want.  She was the one with the problems!


It sometimes manifests itself as outright hypocrisy.  They can gossip, undermine and be loose with the truth yet tell us that if we were just not so blind and dishonest, we could be like them!  Big deal!  What I see is that if I would be dishonest and willing to sell out my integrity and the welfare of others, I could make big bucks. Sorry, but that is not my ambition (2 Co. 11:19-20).


10.  The leaders have an almost obsessive preoccupation with money and a sorry record in using it responsibly.


If there is anything that is characteristic in charismatic preachers it is the creative and ingenious ways they can induce people to part with their money.  Witness the Oral L Roberts’ claim that if he did not raise a million dollars God would strike him dead!  Witness the claims of the health and wealth preachers like our local Casey Treat of Christian Faith Center, who claim, “God wants me rich!”  Witness the huge sums diverted to their own bank accounts by Jim and Tammy Bakker for which they went to jail. This emphasis smells of scam all the way to the bank.  Witness the refusal of Benny Hinn to account for the millions he receives and the failure to do with it what he promises.  He lives like a king on money wrung out of people by false promises (Dateline 12/27/02)


No less smelly are their lawsuits against each other and reports by people in their organizations of money received in responses to pleas for children or mission works in other countries diverted to their own use.  The amazing thing to me is how much people seem to enjoy being fooled.


11.  Consider the failure of their “prophets” and “discern­ers of spirits” to expose scoundrels so often attracted or pro­duced in the movement.


Messages straight from God are heady stuff!  The deceiver often begins a bit cautiously, claiming to be merely “following the Lord's leading.”  Success in gaining a following encourages him to begin rely­ing more and more upon “signs” or miraculous claims in leading his following.  These get progres­sively more exaggerated until he begins feeling that whatever he decides is the leading of God.  Since no one can listen to what God is telling him, he soon discovers that the more extravagant the claim the more those who follow signs give and exalt him in holy fervor.  Such power and inflation of self-importance is intoxicating in the extreme.  Eventually the distor­tion of reality carries him and his followers beyond all restraints.  In his self-delusion he becomes convinced that his thought or desire is a “message from God.”  The word of God is only used to lend credibility to his claims. No matter what he does, his words are the actual authority.  Consider the following.


a.       The “Children of God


The “Children of God” was led by David Berg, who calls himself, “Moses David”.  He was later charged in a state attorney general's report with gross sexual abuses.  I have some literature by them with poems supposedly given “in tongues” which are too obscene to publish.  One is enti­tled, “Sex Works.”  Another is filled with profanity against preach­ers.


b.      The “Jesus People” movement.


The “Jesus People” movement in the Northwest was started by Linda Meissner, a former worker with David Wilkerson who wrote “The Cross And The Switchblade.”  Later she left her husband and joined the “Children of God,” [3] resulting in a public legal wrangle over properties they had accumulated.  I met Linda at “The House of Joshua,” a male commune here in Seattle, during a confrontation with Robert Sirico, one of their representatives.  She heard of my discussion with Mr. Sirico and came over and ordered me out.


c.       Robert Sirico


Sirico later went on the radio with a “healing ministry” and got a big write-up in the newspapers.[4]  He was backed by a number of charismatic leaders in the community.  However, in time the “fruit” ripened and he hit the headlines as organizing a gay church, The Metropolitan Church of Seattle[5] (which was accepted into the Church Council of Greater Seattle)[6] and performing homosexual marriages.[7]  A year or so later he made the headlines in a police raid in Los Angeles where “slaves” were being sold for up to $75.00, complete with paddles and leather restraints for sado-masochistic relation­ships.[8] The last I heard (1976) he had joined the Roman Catholic Priesthood.[9]


d.      Troy Perry


Troy Perry, a Pentecostal preacher, founded the Metropolitan Community Church of Los Angeles, primarily for homosexuals, and wrote a book entitled, “THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD AND HE KNOWS I'M GAY.”[10]


e.       Jim Jones


Should we overlook Jim Jones and the infamous Jones Town tragedy, when over nine hundred people were seduced into murder and suicide under the claim that he held special powers from God?  Here again were homosexual and other acts of depravity.


f.        Aimee McPherson, founder of the Four Square Gospel Church


Nor are these things confined to the “fringie” elements of the Charismatic movement.  Mrs. Aimee McPherson, founder of the Four Square Gospel Church, was the sensation of the country over her meetings in a cottage by the sea and her public disputes with her mother. Read about it in “Storming Heaven,” autobiography of Milton Berle prepared by Lately Thomas, (p. 123-129).


g.      Don Barnett of Community Chapel


Locally, here in Seattle, Pastor Donald Lee Barnett of Community Chapel (3,000 members) made big headlines with his “spiritual connec­tion” doctrine in which people danced with and looked deep into the eyes of those not their mates and found something that made them get out of their marriages and into bed.  The result has been a bundle of lawsuits, splitting of the church and his ultimate firing.  However, he has started over with a few hundred loyal followers.  This illus­trates the depth of gullibility and the lack of any guidance of the Spirit.


h.        A. A. Allen


A. A. Allen, for years was one of the best known Pentecostal travel­ing Evangelists.  His theme was, “God does not want you sick.  Come and receive healing” [And bring a full purse -ARJ].  However, he himself was beset with serious deterioration in his knees which at that time could not be healed.  Further, several years before his death from acute alcoholism, he publicly denied being arrested for drunken driving in Knoxville, Tennessee on Oct. 21, 1955, forfeiting a $1,000.00 bond, even though the court records proved beyond question that he was the man. 


i.        Marjoe Gortner


Then there was the child wonder, Marjoe Gortner who, from age three, supposedly was preaching and healing by special powers.  However, in time he publicly renounced the whole thing as a sham, saying, “It was all memorization and business, and I lied to reporters about dreams and visions from God that I never had.” Passing these off as outdated cases does not answer the question.  If the charismatic churches had what they claimed, why were they not able to detect and expose these things?


j.        Jim Bakker of the television P.T.L. Club


Again, we recently saw an abundance of fruits ripening on the Assem­blies Of God tree as Jim Bakker, head of the P.T.L (“Praise The Lord.”) Club, ripped off the “ministry” for millions, had sex with a fellow male preacher and, along with him, sexually assaulted a secretary, Jessica Haun.  He was exposed by good old Jimmy Swag­gart, another multi-million dollar Television charismatic Preacher. 


k.      Jimmy Swaggart


Ironically, Jimmy had also accused a fellow TV Evangelist, Marvin Gorman of fornication, and got him defrocked.  Then, having knocked off his chief rivals, a funny thing happened on the way to fame and fortune.


Evangelist Gorman, nursing a grudge, settled the score by taking some very incriminating photographs of  Swaggart coming out of a motel room with a known prostitute. A few interviews with the “girls” and Jimmy also was greatly embarrassed.  To top things off, Gorman sued Jimmy and won ten million dollars for lying about his sex life.  Of course, people who buy into these deceptions can stomach almost anything.  Most of these guys were soon back doing their thing, except for Gorman who lost his ministry and Bakker, who got about forty years (but is now out) for misusing the funds.  People who follow such men are certainly not being guided by the Spirit.


l.        Peter Poppoff


Finally, there was good old Peter Poppoff who told people all about themselves while “healing” them.  It sounded so convincing that people willed them­selves healed, even though they were not. --That is, until he met up with The Great Randi, who has spent his life acquainting himself with the ways people are fooled. 


Randi could not deny that Poppoff was phenomenally correct in the things he told people. It was simply too good to be true.  Randi smelled a rat.  So, he brought in a device for detecting radio waves and tuned into Poppoff's wife feeding the information to her husband through a wireless ear receiver from cards the people filled out in advance!  So, why could not the “discerners of spirits” detect the fraud? They were obviously of a kindred spirit.


In defense they cite leaders in other churches who have fallen.  True, but these other leaders are claiming no such gifts.  If they were, I would also say they were false prophets.  The key issue is their claim of the miraculous gifts.  If they had these gifts they should be able to expose the hearts of the wicked (Ac. 5:1-10; 1Cor. 12:10; 14:24-25, 29).


They will vigorously deny that such instances are representative of the charismatic movement as a whole.  A few charismatic leaders doing wrong does not prove that they are all bad.  However, it certainly shows that there are some very wolfish acting scoundrels professing to be sheep, and it is therefore both proper and necessary to question them on the basis of Matt. 7:15.  The rot is clearly there.  The only question is just how deep does it go?  Unfor­tunately, there seems to be almost no end to these kinds of problems, --too much appeal to vanity, --too much money, --too much power, --too many “suckers.” 


Where are their discerners of spirits?  (1Cor. 12:10; Ac. 5:1-14; 16:16-18; 2Ki. 5:20-27)


The issue is not the large percentage of problem people or that the leaders are so often guilty of deception, immorality and exploita­tion but that while claiming apostolic powers, they cannot detect and expose the frauds.  The apostles knew the hearts of those who were lying (Ac. 5:1-11) and the prophets exposed the hearts of unbelievers (1Cor. 14:24-25).  Modern “prophets” claim the gift of discerning spirits (1Cor. 12: 10), yet I, with no miraculous gift, can see through these impostors better than they.


What I have presented here is only a tip of the iceberg.  There are multi­tudes of lesser lights being exposed all of the time--and a lot more getting away with it.  Again, I say, the fundamental problem is not that such people do turn up but that while they claim to have the powers given by the Holy Spirit, they cannot discern and expose these people as did Peter with Ananias and Sapphira (Ac. 5:1-6).  All kinds of justifications and excuses are given but the fact is that Jesus did warn that those who had such fruits were to be rejected.


Note: see also

Tongues 2 Gifts

Tongues 3 Ceased

Tongues 4 Arguments

[1]   John Sherrill, THEY SPEAK WITH OTHER TONGUES, (chap. 7, p.77

    Donald Lee Barnett, GLOSSOLALIA, p. 28, 1969 ed.).


[3] The Seattle Times, p.B 10, Sunday, October 17, 1971. Article” “Issue of the church splits Jesus People Army in Seattle”

[4] The Seattle Times, p.A.11, Saturday, 1/23/1971. Article “Healing: A matter of faith? by Ray Ruppert, Religion Editor

[5] The Seattle Times, Saturday, August 5, 1972, Religious section, “Church for homosexuals to get charter.”

[6] Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Wed. June 11, 1975, p.A 7 “Exceptional Church Is Accepted”

[7] The Seattle Times, Thursday, May 11, 1972, p. A.7 “Pastor to perform homosexual marriages”

[8] Seattle Post Intelligencer, Monday, April 12, 1976, p.A-9 “Male Slave Mart Raid In L.A. Called A Mistake”

[9] Northwest Bible Conference, (probably 1/2/1986, based on a note that says he left this 13 years ago)

[10] The Seattle Times, Saturday, August 5, 1972, Religious section, “Church for homosexuals to get charter.”