The Third Wave - Part 1
THE THIRD WAVE
The First Wave
This lesson is an attempt to understand the Pentecostal Movement. The claim that there is a "third wave" must mean there were two previous waves. The first Pentecostal movement (first wave) has its own American story. The first wave started with a revival being held in a tumble down shack on Azusa Street in Los Angeles. Charles Parham had laid his hands on a young woman named Agnes Ozman, and she allegedly began to speak Chinese. He was utterly convinced that her experience was a prelude to global revival. He said that one need only to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and one could go to the farthest corners of the world and preach to the natives in languages unknown to the speaker. "Pentecostal historian Vinson Synnan candidly documents that a missionary named A.G. Garr put Parham’s theory to the test. He moved to India and attempted to preach to the natives in their own language. The result was a fiasco"(Counterfeit Revival, Hank Hanegraaff, p. 155).
- In the New Testament, speaking in tongues was the miraculous ability to speak in a language which you had never learned (Acts 2:6-11). We never read about people being taught how to speak in tongues, neither does the Bible teach that during the age of miraculous gifts that every faithful Christian was supposed to speak in tongues (1 Corinthians 12:28-31). Some have tried to argue that speaking in tongues is the proof that one is really a Christian. Note that tongues were operational when all the other gifts were operational (1 Corinthians 13:8; 12:28).
This view was preached by Charles Parham and today is being advocated by the Vineyard Church Fellowship. In the 1980’s a man by the name of Jack Wimber taught a class as Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He, with the help of C. Peter Wagner (church growth expert), taught a class entitled "Signs and Wonders", in which students were told that their teachers were reliving the days of the apostles and that they too could perform miracle healing, exorcise evil spirits, and raise the dead as did Jesus and the apostles. Endtime Restorationism is the belief that at the end of the age God will restore supernatural signs. In fact, it is argued that God is presently raising up super apostles and prophets, and that this final "Pentecost" will be greater than the miracles that we find in the first century. They are saying that the apostles and prophets God is presently raising up will have greater powers than Elijah, Peter or Paul.
- For one to be an apostle, one had to meet the requirement of seeing the resurrected Jesus (Acts 1:21-22). In recording the chronological appearances of Jesus after He was raised from the dead, Paul clearly says, "and last of all, as it were to one untimely born, He appeared to me also" (1 Corinthians 15:8). This effectively closes the apostolic office and tells us that the apostles had no successors. The concept of people claiming to be "apostles" is nothing new. There were false apostles in the first century (Revelation 2:2). Such claims have even entered groups professing to be the Church of Christ. The preacher for the Belmont Church of Christ in Nashville, Don Finto, has appointed himself an apostle. He claimed that he saw an apparition in the desert near Roswell, New Mexico, and this involved creatures with huge eye sockets, pea-green in color, and with antennae protruding from their skulls. When they spoke it sounded like, "Ga da fa ka sock ah mock ah". Finto claims that God was speaking to him. (Firm Foundation, August 1997, p. 5).
"Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away" (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).
- When the spiritual gifts ceased, they ceased. Nothing in the passage or the Bible talks about a renewal of the gifts, or the gifts ceasing for a while and then coming back into existence. The gifts would all cease at the same time, tongue speaking wouldn’t be the only gift still in existence after the others had ceased, and neither would the others exist when tongue speaking had ceased. The gifts are a package deal, it’s either all or nothing.
- The "perfect" in the passage isn’t Jesus, for His return isn’t even in the context. Rather, the "perfect" is in contrast to "in part". The "perfect" applies to the fulfillment or completion of whatever is "in part". Clearly, "in part" applies to revelation. In the first century Paul said that Christians knew in part, that is they had the Old Testament and some New Testament letters, but until the other letters were written, spiritual gifts such as prophecy, miraculous knowledge, and tongue speaking (gifts which all revealed God’s truth), filled the gaps in their knowledge. Once all truth was revealed through the apostles and written down (John 16:13), there wasn’t a need for the spiritual gifts which revealed truth and the gifts such as miracles and healings which confirmed to those listening that the speaker revealing such truth was truly speaking on behalf of God (John 3:2; Acts 2:22; Hebrews 2:1-4).Therefore, all these gifts ceased when the New Testament was completed.
- Remember, the spiritual gifts told the audience that the truth being revealed, the truth which would later be our New Testament was from God and hence it wasn’t an addition to the Word of God (Deuteronomy 4:2). Rather, it was the fulfillment of God’s promise concerning a New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
The Second and Third Wave
The second major wave of Pentecostal claims happened in the 1960's, which brings to mind Pat Boone and the "Flower Children". The Third Wave has been identified with the Vineyard Christian Fellowship. John Wimber’s Vineyard church has now grown to include more than 600 churches world wide who hold membership in the Association of the Vineyard Churches which was formed in 1986. The reason we need to be up on this issue is because various voices in liberal churches Christ are enamored with this movement. C. Peter Wagner wrote the book, The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit, and he is a reputed expert in the theories of church growth. Herein lies the primary interest of the liberals, for it seems that "church growth" at any cost has become far more important to them than God’s truth. Many liberal churches are primed to head in this direction, for they have already placed a greater emphasis on subjective feelings than on God’s truth. One preacher whose congregation became infected with this false doctrine finally woke up and noted, "One of my earliest mentors had taught, ‘When you’re not sure what God is saying, go back to what God has already said", "The adoption of subjectivity as the primary source of guidance had reduced us to complete ineptitude…What had happened? Why were these Christian men and women ‘hearing’ so many contradictory messages from God?" (Counterfeit Revival, pp. Xiii,Xvi).
Love Not Doctrine
Any informed Christian knows that the above heading is a contradiction. For all true doctrine is a manifestation of God’s love for us and conformity to true doctrine is a manifestation of our love for God (John 14:15). Yet notice what leaders in the Third Wave Movement are saying about Bible study. One writer warned that anyone who resists this new ‘tide of unity’ based on love rather than doctrine will be disqualified and removed from leadership. "Counter Revival historian DeArteaga goes even further. He denounces those who make essential Christian doctrine a prerequisite for unity. According to DeArteaga, such people are guilty of Pharisasim" (Counterfeit Revival, p. 96). One writer sees no need for absolute, external, objective standard of Scripture by which to test his endtime visions. "Counterfeit Revival leader John Wimber, in a message on supernatural healing, expressed concern that evangelical Christians today are placing far too much emphasis on Scripture: ‘Evangelicals all over the country are worshipping the book’…Wimber expressed particular concern for the Calvary Chapel movement, well known for teaching people verse-by-verse through the Scriptures. ‘Calvaryites are sometimes a little too heavily oriented to the written Word. I know that sounds a little dangerous, but frankly they’re very pharisaical in their allegiance to the Bible. They have very little life and growth and spontaneity in their innards. Sometimes they’re very rigid and can’t receive much of the things of the Lord’" (p. 109).
- The reason for this dislike of people who study Scripture carefully (2 Timothy 2:15) is because false prophets can’t fool people who listen to the Word. In addition, these are the people who expose such false teachers (1 Timothy 1:3). The written Word is the standard by which all claimed revelations from God must be tested. If the doctrine is wrong, then the prophet is a false prophet (1 Corinthians 14:37-38; 1 John 4:1 "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits…"; 2 John 10 "If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching"; "If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sounds words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Timothy 6:3); "… a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:9). We now that leaders of the Third Wave ridicule careful Bible study and resent the fact that people are testing their claims with the Scriptures. In contrast notice how God feels:
"Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11).
"When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken".
"Vineyard prophet David Ravenhill says that seers should not be tested by the accuracy of their predictions but by the character of their lives: ‘I believe the test of a prophet is not whether his word comes to pass, it’s his lifestyle. It’s the character of the individual. That is how you test a prophet… It’s not a matter of whether the word comes to pass or not, it’s the nature of that person’s life’…Counterfeit Revival prophet Bob Jones says, ‘I figure if I hit two-thirds, I’m doing pretty good’" (p. 75). Revival leader Jack Deere recounts the story of a prophet, who, in front of 800 peers of a 19-year-old, falsely accused the young man of having a problem with pornography. He was publicly humiliated and they had to go back to his congregation, and apologize. Despite the mess, Deere concludes, "But you know what? God is in the process of offending our minds in order to reveal our hearts. And I don’t know any place where He’s going to give us a pure ministry…There’s going to be stumbling blocks in every ministry that the Holy Spirit is really responsible for" (p. 76). This sounds more like blasphemy of the Holy Spirit rather than inspiration from the Holy Spirit.
Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/ (503) 644-9017