During my first year as a Christian and while I was a member at Trinity Baptist Church [TBC] in Livermore, California, I sought out those who would be interested in street witnessing and was unable to find anyone. I was told about a Christian lady who did street witnessing and it was in making contact with her that I was introduced to the charismatic movement.
For about a year I was involved in street witnessing and attended various charismatic and pentecostal churches in California while I was still a member at TBC. I was “guided” in the speaking of tongues and on one occasion while working with SOS Hollywood, I claimed a miraculous healing of my spinal injury that had resulted in my medical discharge from the U.S. Army. I had been wearing a back brace and it was about time for it to be removed anyway, but in removing it I began to experience discomfort. I was told to not doubt that I had been healed of my injury. Upon seeing a doctor who X-rayed my chest, because of flu symptoms, I received external evidence that I had not been healed of the spinal injury when the doctor commented on the state of my spine!
It was in my becoming a Calvinist that my ties with those of the charismatic movement came to an end. I nevertheless have gained an appreciation for the zeal and love of those Christians who hold to the use of those gifts that I now consider to have ceased. Unfortunately, in turning to Calvinism my zeal for witnessing was somewhat diminished, as I was being taught that I had been about promoting a ‘man-centered’ gospel. I am thankful to God for those experiences I had in street witnessing, though it came with an association of an incorrect understanding of certain gifts.
The speaking of tongues is said by Paul to be a sign to unbelievers, which refers to those Jews who were not believing in Jesus. Quoting Isaiah 28:11, Paul uses this text to show that the prophet Isaiah said that tongues would be a sign to the Jews. If one has a think about it, it is particularly interesting that those who were entrusted with the oracles of God were hearing the truth of God’s Word given to them in languages that were not their own. What Jew would ever think to hear the truth of God’s Word spoken to them in languages other than in Hebrew and Aramaic? It was a particular sign to a people who were supposed to be speaking God’s Word to the nations, but instead were hearing God’s Word spoken to them by the nations!
If there is one major concern that I have for the charismatic movement it is in an over emphasis on getting rid of problems, instead of getting help by the Holy Spirit to deal with life’s problems. A brother or sister in a charismatic setting is often taught to just believe that their problem will just go away with faith, when the reality of life is something quite different. Consequently, the believer is subject to being tossed to and fro from hope to disillusionment. Coming under the ministry every Sunday for many is about getting another “drug hit” that only results in a crash landing of reality during the week and then the misled believer is blamed for his or her weak faith! How many times are Charismatics healed for the same problem over and over again, if only they will have the right faith this time!
I am not interested in answers to my problems that say that my problems will never come again, but rather, that I might be strengthened in how to deal with my problems as I stand upon the promises of God’s Word by faith.