The Mail Room
Letters from Volume 19
Welcome to the Mail Room for Present Truth Magazine! This is where we post some of the interesting letters which we receive from our viewers. All of our viewers are invited to E-mail us your comments and views and we will post these views for all to consider!
Mysticism or New Testament Inspiration?
I have always been a Christian, but it has been 16 years since I fully committed my life to Christ. Since then I have had heartaches, frustrations, disappointments and failures of all kinds, but have trusted in God through Christ implicitly for all things. He has been with me through them all and given me strength and courage to go on when many times I just wanted to lie down and give up. I've shed many tears.
Quite suddenly, on an impulse, I decided to go to a charismatic meeting. I prayed before I went because I wasn't sure what I was getting into, and I was frightened. I asked God not to let anything happen He didn't want to happen. Shortly after arriving I wanted to just get up and leave, but didn't. I decided to just kind of go along with whatever I saw, no matter what, participating in nearly everything. When they spoke in tongues, all I could think of was, God, what is a dyed-in-the-wool-Lutheran-lately-turned-Methodist like me doing in a place like this, and if my friends could see me now! At the close of the service we all joined hands in front of the altar to sing the Lord's prayer, and it was the most beautiful thing I've ever heard in my life—all faces turned up to God in prayer and praise. It was very touching. I trembled all the way home. I trembled a lot the next two weeks.
The meetings were scheduled for two full weeks. By the third night I became disillusioned and told myself, I am never going back. But I did, night after night, for 11 nights out of 12. There followed a series of events which I'll not bore you with. Toward the end of the first week I very timidly outstretched a hand when we were singing, and it wasn't so bad. I began to join in most of the singing, liking it. You know the kind—the old-time religion, hand clapping, toe tapping sort. By the end of two weeks both hands were reaching to God higher and higher, and I couldn't believe it. I began to feel that the words I'd been singing in church all these years were no longer just words—they took on a new meaning of praise and love. God's presence was very strong to me, and particularly that of Jesus Himself. I really was in a state of complete euphoria and just bubbled over with joy, daytime, nighttime. It's enough to sing praise all day, but when you wake up nights singing it too, for half the night—well, that's going a bit far. During this period I was particularly showered with blessings of all kinds, including for the persons in my life for whom I pray in their needs—the Outreach to everyone with whom I came in contact with, the pleasant encounters in conversation with people everywhere. What the world needs now is "gobbledygook," sweet "gobbledygook." I thought, Is this me? Joy just radiated from me. I could feel it, and knew everyone that I came in contact with felt it.
Three nights before the close of the crusade, astonished at what I was seeing, I turned away and slowly left the room. I did not leave the church, however, but stood by the door feeling very alone. Oh God, I thought, is this Your way? Do You really want people to worship like this? I waited for things to quiet down and could see the reflection in the door. Suddenly a beautiful voice sang, "He touched me," and suddenly I knew—although their ways were not my ways and my ways were not their ways—I had found something here, something real and warm and wonderful. I quickly left the church.
Something very strange happened the next evening. The lights were completely out in the church with the exception of those on the platform. People with different needs were praying, repeating after the evangelist. I followed the prayer of a single person, a career person and one with fears. We stood there silently a few moments. Suddenly I felt a strange crackling sensation inside my head and as though I received a blow on the left side of my head. I felt myself growing very faint, and suddenly I felt myself falling over to my right, the only direction I could safely fall, and crumpled right across the middle aisle. I lay there stunned, not knowing what had happened, All I could think of was, No one will see me here, and they'll trip into me, and I sensed some walking around me. Suddenly strong hands pulled me up. I later asked the evangelist what happened, and said I was bound and determined nothing would happen to me. He said very gently, "You had nothing to do with it." The healing had started, but the real test for me came on the last night. For a whole week, every time they asked for testimonies of anything really special that happened because of the crusade, I wanted to get up and tell of God's love, but fear kept interfering and I could not. The minister said, "We have time for one more testimony." The moment of truth had arrived. I slowly and deliberately stood up and said I wanted to say something from the platform and the microphone (no one else had). Then I slowly and deliberately made my way up and spoke for five minutes, telling of God's great love to me and the ability of extending it to others, and of the great joy that had come into my heart. I received a tremendous ovation. I waited, and then said, "Now I know that with God all things are possible," and very slowly and deliberately made my way back to my seat, with no trembling. If you only knew how I've been plagued nearly all my life with my abnormal fear of speaking in public! I could scarcely even give my name at times. I had many people come up to me later and say they enjoyed my testimony, including a former Lutheran.
Although my state of euphoria has since diminished, I am still very happy and still bursting with joy at times, and just maybe you can see why I want to go around shouting, It's working! My job is going especially well, and I have a very difficult job. I really am reaching out to people in a way I never did before. I would come to Australia, I think, and speak from your microphone of God's great love and what Jesus means to me. The next time I hear you speak of those "charismatics," I will just smile. Don't worry, I haven't gone into speaking in tongues and shouting Hallelujah, praise God; but I am inwardly singing, Thank God for Jesus.
I am so happy. None of my present circumstances have changed, but I have changed toward my circumstances, and that is important. You recognize the Spirit-filled life, yet you condemn receiving that if it has anything to do with charismatics. Are you going to tell me, "Well, there goes another one"? I don't understand you.
Mary Ann Buchanan
Editors Note: We have read your letter with interest, but it really illustrates what we have been saying all along. You describe an experience; I am not against an experience as such — even float up to high heaven, and we are not against that —or dance in the Spirit too, for that matter. We are not against good Christian enthusiasm. You can wave your hands around and do anything you like. The point we want to make is that your spiritual euphoria did not come to you through a revelation of the Word of God to your mind. If you had a high experience that came to you through the revelation of the Word of God and a revelation of the Person and work of Jesus Christ, then your letter would be full of your desire to share that revelation with us also.
The only thing you speak about is your experience. We submit that one who has been touched by the revelation of divine love through the Word of God is anxious only to share that revelation of the Word and not to make prominent his experience.
Your whole experience is one of the mystic, but the mystic is always burdened to describe what he felt. One who is touched with the Spirit of God in the New Testament way is burdened only to open his mouth and declare the Word of God. In mysticism something is felt— in New Testament inspiration something is said.
Please ponder these things.—Ed.
The Dynamic, Ongoing Nature of Justification
Concerning your article on "The Dynamic, Ongoing Nature of Justification by Faith" in your June issue, I find great fault. Your true colors are now finally revealing themselves. Your great fault is that you, like the Corinthians, are carnal. "I'm of Paul," "I'm of Apollos," "I'm of Christ," "I'm of Luther," "I'm of Calvin," "I'm of Spurgeon," etc. Why don't you just read the whole New Testament and find out what it says and not what man says. Please discontinue all correspondence immediately. I don't have the time to read such poor exegesis.
Mark S. Hodges,
A hasty reading of Romans 8:30 sometimes leads people to regard justification as something that occurs once and then is to be forgotten. Such hasty readers assume that the text of the golden chain of salvation reads, "Those whom God did foreknow, He also did predestinate; whom He did predestinate, them He also called; whom He called, them He also justified; whom He justified, them He also sanctified; whom He sanctified, them He also glorified." But this is not the accurate reading. Rather, it declares that "whom He called, them He also justified, whom He justified, them He also glorified." This makes justification reach all the way from calling, or conversion, to glorification—that is, it covers the life of the believer. Daily I need forgiveness, justification, for a right standing before God.
Sanctification is not mentioned in Romans 8:30 because it has just been mentioned in the previous verse. There we are told that those whom God foreknew, He also foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son. Thus justification and sanctification are conterminous. Daily—yes, and hourly—I need forgiveness, justification by the righteousness of Christ, that I may stand accepted by God. And daily I need the power of the Holy Spirit to live more in accord with the standing He has given me in Christ. This is confirmed in 1 Corinthians 1:30, where by God's act we are in Christ Jesus, who is made unto us from God wisdom, righteousness (justification), sanctification and final redemption.
Wm. Childs Robinson,
Emeritus Seminary Professor
I have appreciated your comments on evangelical subjectivism. I do believe that many Christians have made their faith "I" oriented. Often salvation is based upon how much faith "I" can muster rather than on the finished work of Christ. However, I see a danger in only stressing doctrine and not my personal relationship with Christ. In the past this has led to dry formalism.
Ever since the first issue of Present Truth Magazine came to my home, I have enjoyed every issue, have filed each, and intend to refer to statements made relative to texts from which I shall be preaching in the future. Your clear exposition of the teaching of justification by faith clears the air of much subjectivism and "be good, do good" sermons that are rife in our denomination. I only hope and pray that your influence will spread quickly before it is too late for many to lose their confusion and save their life in Christ alone.
Wilmer R. Witte,
Christian Reformed Pastor
Four Great Certainties
I think your brochure, Four Great Certainties, is terrific. As one who enjoys sharing faith in Christ, I enjoy its straightforward, God-centered approach. It's nice to offer people something other than a "wonderful life"—which is what Buddha and other satanic cults can offer as well.
Law and Gospel
Your magazine continues to be a great source of knowledge and inspiration. I have gained a new respect for God's law and His righteousness.
Filling a Need
Although I do not fully agree with many of the articles you publish, and this would be true of any publication, I must say in all fairness that I am enjoying each issue of Present Truth Magazine immensely and have not discarded a single issue since I began receiving the magazine several months ago. I constantly use them for reference. You are filling a need that is long overdue.
Eugene Holder, Pastor
I appreciate your unbiased presentation, uncoated with denominational prejudices and true to the Word of God.
Pio R. Occeno, Baptist Pastor
I am young in Christ, and the Lord knows how I've cherished the guidance of your witness in finding answers to some of the basic questions that all young Christians have — i.e., subjectivism versus objectivism, the Pentecostal movement, and justification by faith, to name but a few. I thank God that He has given a witness in this modern world which takes a mature, careful, sincere approach to the Word.
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