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Comment By Torchlight

A World in travail

The increasing turmoil on the African continent, the failure to end the war in Vietnam, and festering sores in other parts of the world, are the cause of renewed apprehension among world statesmen. There is continuing fear lest any one of these trouble spots erupts into a third world war. The anxiety which haunts the nations is reflected in the build-up of armaments and the crippling economic burden this brings. Add to this the strong tide of violence and crime which is sweeping over the world, and the poverty and hunger which exists in many of the under-privileged nations, and you get a picture of a world which is very sick. Modern man with all his knowledge and culture is baffled by the problems he has created.

This all cries out for divine intervention, and this is surely coming. God intervened in human history by sending His Son to be the Saviour of the world. He will intervene once more by sending His Son to reign in this world. Much Scripture prophecy points to this glorious event and to the fearful judgements which will precede it.

For ourselves, we must pursue the divine purpose for our time. Apathy and despondency are equally inexcusable in the light of the sure word of God. Paul's inspired words need emphasis today:

"I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men; for kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who willeth that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2.14).

Spurious enthusiasm

Among the many pitfalls to be avoided by the earnest Christian is the danger of spurious enthusiasm. We need spiritual discernment to distinguish the Spirit's "calm excess" from the counterfeit which is sometimes mistaken for it. Spiritual power is never manifested in hysteria or fleshly excitement. This is one of the dangers of mass evangelism with its choirs and other stimuli. Here is a word of caution from the writings of John Wesley: "Beware of that daughter of pride, enthusiasm. Sometimes likewise it is the parent of pride. 0, keep at the utmost distance from it! Give no place to an heated imagination. Do not ascribe to God what is not of God. Do not easily suppose dreams, voices, impressions, visions or revelations to be from God, without sufficient evidence. They may be purely natural: they may be diabolical. Therefore remember the caution of the apostle, 'Beloved believe not every spirit but try the spirits whether they be of God' (1 John 4.1). Try all things by the written word and let all bow down before it."

The "New Pentecostalism"

Last month we commented here on certain features of what has now been termed the "new Pentecostalism". We thought it advisable to alert our readers to the claims which are being made by the exponents of this new teaching. There is increasing discussion about it in the religious press; and many booklets and pamphlets, some of which are attractively written and produced, are being widely circulated.

A few days after the March edition of Needed Truth went to press we received from our co-worker G. Prasher, Jr., the paper entitled, "New Claimants to Spiritual Gifts" which appears in pages 59-63 of our present issue. Our brother is at present labouring in Nigeria. In spite of the burdens he has borne in these last critical months and the many calls on his time, he has been impelled to write on this subject because he is deeply concerned about it. In his paper he examines some of the claims made in a series of booklets which expound the teachings of the "new Pentecostalism". We commend to our readers his thoughtful treatment of these matters against the background of New Testament teaching.

Last month we referred here to one theory which is being propounded by leading exponents of the "new Pentecostalism". Certain alleged spiritual manifestations, in particular "speaking with tongues", are said to be a vital ingredient in the present ecumenical movement. The theory is argued like this: within the church (the "church" being defined as, "The great churches of the Catholic and Protestant traditions"), there are three streams of life and thought. The first is Catholic, the second is Protestant (or Evangelical), and the third is Pentecostal. This Pentecostal stream is now being designated, "The third force in the Body of Christ". It is said that this third stream will mingle with the other two streams, it will remove the tension between the Catholic and Protestant elements, and advance the progress of the ecumenical movement. Such error needs only to be stated to be exposed. Yet the claim is boldly made that this is "a work of the Holy Spirit"!

Many enlightened students of New Testament prophecy discern in the present ecumenical trends the shaping of the great apostate church of the end-time. If this "new Pentecostalism" is to be a vital element in the formation of the "Great Harlot" (Revelation 17.1), then we must apply the Lord's own test, "By their fruits ye shall know them". Alleged miracles are not necessarily the evidence of divine approval. In these perilous days we need above all else spiritual discernment lest we be side-tracked and deceived. Faith does not hanker after the sensational; it rests on the bare word of God. In a day of great perplexity a spiritual giant of the past declared: "I would sooner obey God than work miracles!"

"Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of His servant? though he walketh in darkness, and bath no light, let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God" (Isaiah 50.10, R.V.M.).