The Mail Room
Letters from Volume 26
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!
How I appreciate a publication such as yours! South Africa is being inundated by neo-Pentecostalism, and we are in constant contact with people who seem to prefer committing spiritual suicide rather than to base their experiences on the objective truth of the objective gospel of the grace of Christ.
I was recently handed a book by a zealous member of a local neo-Pentecostal church as part of that church's "outreach" program. You may be aware of the publication, but I wish to quote one excerpt which sums up the whole movement and which to me is terrifying in the light of the fact that vast numbers are being swept along by this movement, not only in other countries, but also increasingly here in South Africa. The writer states:
"Pentecostal preachers have little difficulty in communicating spiritual truth in meaningful terms, well-suited to the particular level of understanding of their people. Their sermons may seem to a casual observer to be rather thin, but if so the standard of judgment might not reflect the preacher's own purpose. Pentecostal preaching is not intellectual, but emotional; it is not rational, but experiential; it is not exegetical, but allegorical; it is not doctrinal, but practical; it is not directed as much to the head as to the heart. The result of hearing Pentecostal preaching is not that you learn more, but rather that you feel better." —C. P. Wagner, Look Out! The Pentecostals Are Coming (London: Coverdale, 1973).
The author of this book states that he himself is not a member of a Pentecostal church, but the contents of his book show him to be decidedly sympathetic or downright in favor.
May you be strengthened and encouraged in the work you are doing. Your publications indeed fulfill to a large measure a great need.
Believe It or Not
Sir If you never have experienced the "tongues," then you cannot understand it. If you really knew the value of the experience, then you would desire it. I pray that God will soften your heart and that you will yield yourself and seek for this marvelous experience yourself.
I feel that this is what Joel spoke of when he said, "In the last days I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh." Why don't you praise God for the souls that have been saved through this move of God instead of "ripping" it apart?
What does God see in us? is the real question. There's a song in the charismatic movement, which originated in the Catholic Church, believe it or not: "They'll know we are Christians—by our love!" I never knew or felt this Bible love and warmth until I mingled with people who had experienced the Pentecostal experience. At first I resisted it because I felt I had the Holy Spirit dwelling in me. (I did have Him in a measure, but I soon realized that I hadn't been filled to overflowing with His Spirit and power, as the Scripture says in John 7:38, 39: "Out of your innermost being shall flow rivers of living water." There had been no rivers in my life up to this time.
The next day after receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit, I was just so full of the Lord and rejoicing in His presence I could hardly contain myself for the joy (bubbling-over joy) that I was experiencing! I had no desire for physical food whatever and ate nothing until that evening. It was just so wonderful! No one could ever explain this away from me; it was too real and glorious. It really made a good change in my life. It was the "gift" of the Holy Spirit which the Lord handed down to me because I was ready and yielded to receive it—to receive Him!
Mrs. Kathryn C. Landis
Here in Brazil, where the mentality is profoundly Catholic and where the Pentecostal church grows the most rapidly of any of the churches, one can see daily in real life what you write about—that is, the similarity of the subjectivism of Catholicism (Romanism) and that of Pentecostalism. Present Truth is a clear and constant reminder of the pristine New Testament truths of which I find myself always in need.
William H. Jennings, Presbyterian Missionary
Clutter and Confusion
Since my recent introduction to Present Truth I have felt a glorious gust of fresh air sweeping through the clutter and confusion of modern religious thought. In South Africa the search for the "charisms" has become highly respectable. Sadly, popular thought goes after the spectacular.
I sincerely believe and constantly preach that the Holy Spirit's highest activity is not found in the abnormal or the exceptional but in the presence of a Christian grace or temper in the ordinary life and in the performance of our commonplace moral duties. This is a charism to be sought after with diligence.
J. Wesley Mitchell, Methodist Minister
Likes Drawings, But . . .
If your knowledge and exegesis of the Scripture throughout your publications is as faulty as your scholarship and logic, you are in bad shape indeed. For your conclusions can be no better than your logic—which is terrible!
It is almost pathetic to see you, in issue after issue, attacking Pentecostals who have led millions of souls to the Lord when there are so many devils and, if you must attack religious groups, liberals to be castigated.
But never let it be said that all is a loss. I can find one thing about your publications to commend. The beautiful line drawings are outstanding. Please express my compliments to your artist.
Carl G. Conner, Assembly of God Minister
I commend you for your efforts to keep "justification by grace through faith" at the heart and center of evangelical Christianity. I find many of your articles very helpful in the delicate but extremely important task of the theologian in distinguishing law and gospel.
Having said that, may I be so bold as to make a suggestion that would (in my estimation) make your publications even more beneficial? I am referring to the art work. I have found that much of the art work—which I can only describe as "grotesque medieval"—nullifies the excellent message that is being conveyed. It would seem to me that you would greatly improve your publications either by omitting the art work entirely or else putting it into some kind of contemporary idiom.
K. L. Frerking, Lutheran Minister
While I am grateful for your making available the views of the great Reformers, I have been disappointed in issue after issue. Your vehement opposition to moderate dispensational views and to all who do not espouse covenant theology is uncharitable. And your treatment of the Keswick teaching is likewise regrettable. In spite of all this, I am grateful for that which stimulates thinking and enhances such truths as justification by faith alone, the priesthood of all believers, and the sole authority of the Scriptures.
Bill Springstead, Baptist Minister
Reading Present Truth is fascinating, enlightening and challenging. Your emphasis is a real anchor in the present context of theological issues.
Roger S. Dorsett, Baptist Minister
In my opinion any attempt to reduce Jesus' good news to a set of formulas concerning salvation is to do a great disservice to Him. Christ didn't come to earth to provide us with "fire insurance" but freedom for prisoners, sight for the blind, and release for the oppressed (Luke 4:18, 19). For me Christianity is a lifestyle, not holding to doctrines.
I have greatly appreciated the ministry of your magazine in presenting such a truthful and God-centered gospel, especially in these days when so many are falling into the trap of an anemic, man-centered religion. Your ministry has helped me in seeing the importance of solid doctrine to my Christian life.
Brad J. Jones
Freed to Serve
It's wonderful to know that the only type of forgiveness God offers is total forgiveness and that there is "now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." I never realized that I was trusting in my works. God has freed me to serve Him in love because of the great love with which He has loved us and the all-sufficiency of Christ Jesus. Now I have been freed from self-condemnation and inward looking. I look outward to Christ. The Holy Spirit brings conviction, yes, but never condemnation. My righteousness is seated at the right hand of the Father.
I've really appreciated your magazine and your primary emphasis on justification by faith in Christ.
I got involved in a "revival" which brought nothing but frustration and despair. The main thrust of this "revival" was Charles Finney's autobiography. It was, in short, a type of teaching which said that as soon as you're cleaned up from your sins (and you should have seen the list after list of sins that were gone over), then God will use you, and then there'll be a "revival" like they had in Finney's day. I cannot begin to describe the guilt and despair I went through in trying to cleanse myself from my sin. The more I tried, the more I couldn't help but see how sinful I am.
Things had pretty much come to a climax, and I had decided that this just couldn't be the way to God. I had your special issue on "Sanctification" which a friend had given me, and I had been going through it. The last article, "Sanctification—Its Mainspring," helped me finally to see what had been happening. I was not looking to Christ for my justification. I was looking inward. I was up all night that night and couldn't sleep for sheer joy.
I still have trouble at times when I start looking inward again, but your articles always help me put my eyes back on my Lord.
I've been able to read a few of your pamphlets and was greatly encouraged by them. It was the first time that I've read a Christian publication which searched behind the popular false doctrines of the time and exposed what the subtle meaning behind them is.
You are making something hard out of something simple. In New Testament times they didn't sit around discussing this and that about the gospel. They just proclaimed the truth. I've had a good laugh over all this "silly talk" and vain babbling and discussion.
Mrs. Trudy Clements
Of all the religious literature that I have read, I know of none in our day that more clearly and faithfully proclaims the gospel of Christ than does Present Truth. It is a joy to read your publication. Thank you for being used of the Lord to lead this former victim of man-centered "religion" out of the shadows and into the clear light of the gospel.
Gordon W. Knight
Your magazine presents with clarity Christian doctrine, and its tone shows a perceptive knowledge as to where the battle is in fighting for and defending "the faith."