***DISCLAIMER – THIS BOOK REVIEW IS ON THE FIRST EDITION OF THIS BOOK***
I recently picked up David W. Cloud’s The Pentecostal-Charismatic Movements: The History and Error at a recent book giveaway. Because I have viewed some craziness from the charismatic movement, I read the book as soon as I could. Apparently, this book has six editions. I read the first one, for my copy was published in 2006. While I would love to read the sixth edition, I am more than content with the first edition. My book review shall explain.
For a rather long book at 336 pages, this book has arguably the simplest structure I have seen in a bit. Cloud basically has five unofficial chapters. They consist of an introduction (1), Cloud’s experience with the Pentecostal Movement (2), the history of the Pentecostal-Charismatic Movement (3), the error of the Pentecostal-Charismatic Movement (4), and a chapter on why people are deluded by charismatic error (5). The only chapter with subsections is the fourth one, and that chapter has seventeen subsections. This simple organization makes this book very easy to follow. Henceforth in this review, I refer to the Pentecostal-Charismatic Movement as the PCM for short. I was gonna run with “PC Movement”, but I think that would have created some confusion because “PC” in itself has various well-known meanings..
In the introduction, Cloud both defines the PCM and explains why it cannot be ignored (pp. 6-7). His definition of the movement is as follows:
The Pentecostal-Charismatic movements are distinguished by a belief in the continuation of apostolic sign sign gifts. The term “Pentecostal” dates to the turn of the 20th century and refers to a desire to recapture the miraculous experience of Pentecost. Many denominations have grown out of the Pentecostal movement, including the Assemblies of God, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, Church of God in Christ, Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), Pentecostal Church of God, United Pentecostal Church, and Church of God of Prophecy. The “Charismatic” movement is of more recent origin and refers to the ecumenical tongues-speaking phenomenon that has spread through non-Pentecostal Baptist and Protestant denominations as well as the Roman Catholic Church since the 1960’s.
These “apostolic sign gifts” include healing, tongues and miracles. Cloud’s definition is a good one. While some of the information may be outdated, it is good information nonetheless.
Cloud spends the second chapter explaining his experience in the PCM (pp. 8-21). He also gives his testimony. Part of his testimony almost made me tear up; his apologizing to his dad for rebelling against him reminded me of how much of a disrespectful, moralistic rebel I was as a child. Thankfully, God delivered me from that.
Cloud also explains how much he has studied the PCM (p. 17). One thing Cloud found from those in the PCM is that these people do not do the following (p. 18):
- ask hard doctrinal questions
- carefully test their experiences with Scripture
- allow others to test their experiences with Scripture
Cloud details some of the experiences he had when asking questions. Specifically, he details times he was attacked and marked as a troublemaker/dangerous man (pp. 18-21). This eerily reminds me of the seeker-driven movement. I’ll get to more parallels between the PCM and the seeker-driven movement later in the review.
Cloud next spends almost two hundred pages on the history of the PCM (pp. 22-218). He gives some outstanding information. Moreover, he starts basically from the beginning of A.D. time. He appeals to both church history and Scripture in explaining why the sign gifts have ceased. For Scripture, he cites such passages as Romans 12:3-8, Ephesians 2:20 and 2 Corinthians 12:12 (p. 24). For church history, he cites quotes from John Chrysostom, Augustine, John Calvin, John Owen, Thomas Watson, Matthew Henry, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, James Buchanan, Robert L. Dabney, Charles Haddon Spurgeon and Benjamin B. Warfield (pp. 24-26). While I wonder why he did not cite any quotes from those who lived during the years of 431 A.D. through 1508 A.D., the numbers of quotes he uses in addition to the Scriptures he uses makes for a convincing argument that the apostolic sign gifts have indeed ceased.
After discussing Montanism and Catholic Mystics, Cloud turns his his attention to the 18th and 19th centuries (pp. 27-36). The “four prominent examples of alleged Pentecostal phenomena” Cloud covers include the Cemetery of St. Medard, the Cevennol (or Camisards of French) Prophets, the Irvingites and the Shakers (pp. 33-36). What impresses me in this book is Cloud’s source citation. He appeals to a variety of sources over a variety of years. For example, apparently the Cevennol Prophets featured prophesying 14-month-old babies (p. 34). Cloud appealed to a source from 1708 in explaining the information. That is very deep research.
Moving to the late 19th century, Cloud gives information on the Holiness Movement, the Fire-Baptized Holiness Church, Frank Sandford and Shiloh (the latter a religious community), John Dowie and Zion City (pp. 37-46). Cloud gave two different quotes showing a belief in the restoration (key word) in either the speaking of tongues or Apostolic Christianity (pp. 40, 45). Pastor Chris Rosebrough of Fighting For The Faith has an excellent video detailing that Pentecostals are indeed restorationists. When I saw that word “restoration” pop up a couple times in Cloud’s book, I immediately thought of Rosebrough’s outstanding video on the concept of Pentecostals as restorationists.
Cloud spends the rest of the chapter giving information on the birth of the Pentecostal movement at the turn of the 20th century through about 2006 (pp. 46-217). During this long chunk of time, Cloud details various movements, people, events and the like. These include but are not limited to the following movements, people, events and other things in the table below:
|Movements||People||Events||Other (Books, denominations, etc.)|
|The Apostolic Faith|
The New Order of the Latter Rain
The Sharon Movement
Maria Beulah Woodworth-Etter
David Wesley Myland
Aimee Semple McPherson
T.L. & Daisy Osborn
Charles & Francis Hunter
John Robert Stevens
Kenneth Hagin Sr.
David Yonggi Cho
C. Peter Wagner
|The Azuza Street Mission||The Latter Rain Covenant|
Assemblies of God
International Church of the Foursquare Gospel
Church of God of Prophecy
United Pentecostal Church
Manifest Sons of God
Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN)
Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International (FGBMFI)
The Three Sisters
The Kansas City Prophets
Vineyard Association of Churches
Cloud certainly names a lot of names. He also uses a lot of sources as he discusses all the above things. I could easily spend a lot of time citing some of the many excellent sources Cloud uses. Unfortunately, I will not do that. What I do instead is point out three highlights (out of many) in this chapter that jumped out to me.
First, I could not help but notice some information on David Yonggi Cho’s book The Fourth Dimension. This was not the first time I have reviewed a book that pointed to this specific work by Cho. In my book review on Warren Smith’s Deceived On Purpose, I noted how Smith briefly described this work by Cho that Smith came across as a new Christian. On pages 56-57 of that book, Smith writes the following pertaining to Cho’s work (bolding done by me):
The book was filled with everything I had just left behind in the New Age. Cloaked in Christian language, it encouraged the reader to use guided visualization (now often called “vision casting”) and other metaphysical techniques to gain whatever it was they wanted. Pastors were encouraged to “visualize and dream bigger churches,” or “a new mission field,” or whatever else they thought would improve their church and ministry. The introduction to the book was written by Robert Schuller. In his endorsement of the book, which included these New Age visualization techniques, Schuller had written, “Don’t try to understand it. Just start to enjoy it! It’s true. It works. I tried it.”
Here is some stuff Cloud wrote in his section on Cho (pp. 148-149; bolding done by me):
Cho’s book The Fourth Dimension sets out his strange doctrine, and in typical Pentecostal fashion he claims that he received it directly from God. According to Cho, the “third dimension” is the material world, while the “fourth dimension” is the spiritual world. Through concentrating the effect of visions and dreams in their imagination, people can influence the third dimension by the power of the Spirit similar to what happened on the first day of creation when the Holy Spirit set to work on the earth. Cho teaches that effective prayer requires visualizing the thing desired exactly in your mind before God and “incubating” that very image in your heart by faith until you receive it. “Through visualization and dreaming you can incubate your future and hatch the results” (The Fourth Dimension, p. 44). He describes how that God allegedly taught him this doctrine through personal revelation when he was a young preacher. He was praying for a desk, a chair, and a bicycle and was discouraged because his prayer was not answered when God allegedly said: “Don’t you know that there are dozens of desks, chairs and bicycles? But you’ve simply asked Me for a desk, chair and bicycle. You never ordered a specific desk, chair and bicycle.” Learning his lesson well, Cho ordered up a certain mahogany desk, a specific chair with rollers on the tips “so he could push himself around like a big shot,” and a “bicycle made in the USA, with gears on the side,” and he has allegedly been operating in fourth dimensional power ever since.
To a woman who was concerned because her prayers for a husband were not answered after ten years Cho replied, “Until you see your husband clearly in your imagination you can’t order, because God will never answer. You must see him clearly before you begin to pray.”
Cho admits that he borrowed some of his teaching from Buddhist sects that allegedly operate in miracles in Korea and Japan.
Ignoring the Bible’s emphasis on faith and the fact that most who witnessed Christ’s mighty miracles did not believe, Cho claims that “without seeing miracles, people cannot be satisfied that God is powerful. It is you [Christians] who are responsible to supply miracles for these people.”
There is a bit of overlap between what Smith cited and what Cloud cited. Moreover, it is clear that Cho is a blasphemer who claims direct revelation from God. One can easily conclude that this dangerous practice that is vision-casting (which is absolutely unbiblical) involves getting direct revelation from God. It is also possible that vision-casting’s roots perhaps are in Buddhist sects. That is quite eye-opening. Sadly, I’m not shocked that heretics like Rick Warren and Bill Hybels (in addition to Elmer Towns and the late C. Peter Wagner) have promoted Cho (p. 147).
A second highlight in this section was information on the late John Wimber (pp. 173-188). A pragmatist who was influenced by the late C. Peter Wagner (a heretic who was a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary), Wimber (1934-1997) was a keyboardist for the rock group “The Righteous Brothers” prior to his conversion in 1962 (p. 173). In 1982, Wimber, a pastor at a Calvary Chapel in southern California at the time, merged his church with another (p. 174). This merged church was now a part of the Vineyard Association, an association that basically denied the sufficiency of Scripture, over-emphasized miracles, engaged in much mysticism and warned against biblical discernment (pp. 174-180). Wimber also used rock music and “sensual practices of worship” (pp. 181-183).
I attended a seeker-driven church for about a decade. It used a band that featured a guitarist (sometimes more than one), a bass player, a drummer, a keyboardist and several singers. I do not have problems with bands in church if they are singing doctrinally rich songs (should be Gospel-rich hymns and/or hymns/songs loaded with sound Christian doctrine). Over time, I learned that this church began/had been playing music by cults such as Hillsong, Bethel, Jesus Culture (which is associated with Bethel) and Elevation “Worship” (whom I refer to as the Heretical Quartet). That thing, in addition to many other things I began to learn (even to this day, things more important than the music issue), led to my going to another church (a church that would not dare play “Shallow” by Lady Gaga during an Easter service). Perhaps this type of thing had its roots in Wimber’s practices. As shown, Cloud’s information about this rock music in relationship to Wimber is interesting and eye-opening (pp. 181-182):
Instead of rejecting the music by which he served the flesh and the devil prior to his conversion, Wimber merely changed the words and incorporate the same carnal rock music for the worship of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Worship services, after the Vineyard fashion, are occasions during which a congregation comes under the sway of rock and other sensual music. A typical Vineyard music group is built around the same components one finds in a secular rock group: drums, bass guitar, lead guitar, electronic keyboard. The make up of such a music group is overwhelmingly tilted to the backbeat. It is all about rhythm. Repetition, a big part of secular rock, is also incorporated into the Vineyard worship experience, thus creating a hypnotic environment.
This worship-equals-rock-music phenomenon has swept through most of the Pentecostal-Charismatic world. Pentecostalism has always been characterized by jazzy music, but it has become even worldlier in recent decades. I have attended many large conferences and smaller meetings in various parts of the world, and the rock and roll worship has always been evident. The music is sensual, fleshly. It appeals to the body. It does not create a holy atmosphere, an atmosphere separate from this present wicked world, wherein the holy God of the Bible can be worshipped in spirit and truth. It creates a carnal atmosphere whereby the flesh exhibits itself and demonic delusions are easily promoted. The music used to create a sensual, immoral atmosphere of a bar or nightclub cannot be sanctified unto the Lord. The attempt to do so is a great spiritual blindness and delusion. After 32 years of prayer and Bible study and meditation on this topic, I am convinced that the Contemporary Christian Music, or “Christian” rock music, is one of the devil’s chief tools for building the end-time apostate Christianity.
Wimber’s Vineyard churches have been in the forefront of spreading rock music into churches. This music and the sensual “worship” experience associated with it create an atmosphere in which error such as “the drunken spirit” or “spirit slaying” and “unintelligible mutterings” and “holy laughter” and “holy shaking” can arise.
Thankfully, while in the seeker-driven movement, I did not see any of the five quoted things above in the last paragraph. Instead, people in that movement did make mention of experiences and presence (but that’s for another day). Perhaps people can credit John Wimber for the Heretical Quartet that has perhaps become a byproduct of the Vineyard churches.
The third thing (among many) in this chapter that jumped out is the disgust for discernment. In my movie review of The Submerging Church and my book review of Warren Smith’s A Wonderful Deception, I noted how the disgust for discernment by heretics Rick Warren and the late Robert Schuller have done great damage to the church. Perhaps that disgust for discernment can be pinned to the PCM (which emerged before Schuller and Warren hit the scene, if I am not mistaken). After all, Vineyard music emphasizes both ecumenical unity and a desire to “break dividing walls” between Baptists, Methodists, Charismatics, Pentecostals, etc. (pp. 182-183). When Phil Johnson of Grace To You visited the Anaheim Vineyard in 1994, he observed some terrifying things (p. 175). Cloud cites this article in his book. Here is the quote with a little more context (bolding done by me):
Because of John Wimber’s failing health, another pastor gave the message that evening. This was the gist of his appeal to the congregation:
In a moment I’m going to call down the Holy Spirit. Things like you’ve never seen will begin to happen. People will laugh. Some will shake and quiver. Others may make strange animal noises. Don’t be alarmed by anything you see; it’s just the Holy Spirit working in His own special way. We don’t put limits on how God can and cannot work. He may even surprise us with something new tonight. So no matter what you see happen, don’t be alarmed.
And above all, don’t try to rationally evaluate the things you will see. God isn’t trying to reach your mind; He wants to reach your heart. Analyzing spiritual phenomena through the grid of human logic or religious presuppositions is the quickest way to quench what the Spirit is doing. Subjecting the revival to doctrinal tests is the surest way to put out the fire. Don’t try to find reasonable explanations for what is happening; just turn your heart loose and let the Spirit flow through your emotions. Only then can the Spirit have His way in your life.
The Bible calls Christians to test all things (Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1). The PCM seems to want to drive the Christian away from that biblical practice. Sadly, that above quote is not an isolated quote in this book; Cloud provided plenty of evidence showing that the PCM does not value discernment (pp. 101, 131, 160, 174-177, 203, 207, 220-231).
After a long-winded (but very outstanding) chapter on the history of the PCM, Cloud devotes a long-winded (but once again very outstanding) chapter on the error of the PCM (pp. 218-326). The specific errors of the PCM he tackles pertain to the miraculous, the Holy Spirit, baptism, tongues, sinless perfectionism, guaranteed healing in the Atonement, spirit slaying, spirit drunkenness, visions of Jesus, trips to heaven, women preachers, ecumenism and exalting experience over Scripture. Each chapter basically follows a three-pronged model:
- A statement stating, “We reject the Pentecostal-Charismatic Movement because of the false doctrine of X” (where X equals the error being refuted)
- An outline of the false doctrine
- Scriptures to refute the false doctrine
Cloud once again does an exemplary job. For example, when discussing the PCM practice of exalting experience over Scripture, Cloud uses a plethora of quotes to show that this exaltation of experience over Scripture is absolutely everywhere in the PCM (pp. 220-231). Earlier, I showed a long quote from Phil Johnson that detailed his experience at Anaheim Vineyard in 1994. Cloud appeals to this same quote again in this section. Here are some noteworthy paragraphs that follow this second instance of the 1994 Anaheim Vineyard citation (p. 223; bolding done by me):
At the same meeting a woman church staff member led in public prayer with these appalling words:
“We refuse to critique with our minds the work that You want to do in our hearts. WE REFUSE TO SUBJECT YOUR WORK TO OUR LITTLE DOCTRINAL TESTS.”
In his book The Touch of God, Rodney Howard-Browne warns, “If you come in and try to analyze or try to work out what’s happening in these meetings with your mind, you’ll miss it” (p. 99). When dealing with people who come forward to receive “the anointing”, Howard-Browne repeatedly instructs them, “Don’t pray. GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE WAY!”
When Dale Brooks, pastor of an Assemblies of God congregation in Tampa, Florida, shut down his own services and urged his people to attend the Rodney Howard-Browne crusade in Lakeland in 1993, he advised: “Don’t fight it. Enjoy it. Walk in it. DON’T TRY TO FIGURE IT OUT” (Charisma, August 1993).
Colin Dye, a promoter of the Pentecostal Laughing Revival in England, says: ‘We must not dare test the work of the Spirit!” (Directions magazine, April 1995).
In a Brownsville Assembly of God service on Feb. 22, 1996, Stephen Hill said he could discern that the devil had sent analyzers to the service and warned the congregation against analyzing: “He went on to say, ‘LET YOURSELVES GO: DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING; forget about those around you and what they are doing. Release your mind; release your spirit; and let the mighty river of the Holy Ghost take you wherever He wants you to go” (Jimmy Robbins, Revival … Or Satanic Counterfeit. Feb. 1996, Southern Pines, NC: Midnight Cry Ministries, http://www.midcry.org/revival.htm).
Apparently, if you’re an analyzer, you were sent by the devil. In other words, if you’re there to test the spirits (1 John 4:1), to examine everything carefully (Acts 17:11) and to test everything (1 Thessalonians 5:21), you were sent by Satan. Is it possible that hirelings/heretics like (there are more in addition to the following) Perry Noble, Steven Furtick, James MacDonald, Mark Driscoll, Mark Beeson, Dan Southerland and Ed Young Jr. (44:20 mark) were influenced by the PCM given their overall general disdain for those who wanna go deeper in God’s Word? Was the influence of the PCM behind Perry Noble’s labeling those who wanna go deeper in God’s Word “jackasses”? Was this same influence behind Furtick’s absolutely demonic “Hey Haters” video? Was it behind Mark Driscoll’s disgusting “pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus” line? This is certainly something to think about.
Cloud also does an excellent job in refuting the false doctrine of women preachers (pp. 313-318). He appeals to the standard texts of 1 Timothy 2:11-14 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (in addition to others) in his refutation (p. 315). He also notes that there were no female priests in the Old Testament, no female rulers chosen by God over Israel during the kingdom, no female writers of the Bible, no female apostles and no female pastors in the early churches (p. 316). He also refutes pro-women-preacher arguments regarding Deborah, the daughters of Philip, and the Acts 2:18 text that states the handmaidens will prophesy (p. 318). Finally, he gives eight reasons for why the restrictions on women preachers was not limited to the first century (pp. 316-318):
First, Paul’s letter to Corinth, in which he spoke of women being in subjection to men, was for all Christians, not just those in Corinth (“with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours,” 1 Cor. 1:2). It is clear that Paul’s instructions were not intended merely for some peculiar situation at Corinth.
Second, Paul said that his instructions in 1 Corinthians 14 are the commandments of the Lord (v. 37). As such, they must be obeyed by all Christians and by every church. These were not Paul’s own opinions and prejudices. And one of these commandments was this: “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law” (1 Cor. 14:34).
Third, the apostle said that the instructions of 1 Corinthians 14 are a test of spirituality. (1 Cor. 14:37). Those who reject the teaching of 1 Corinthians 14 concerning a woman’s role in the church prove that they are unspiritual.
Fourth, 1 Timothy, which contains the rule that the woman cannot teach nor usurp authority over the man, was written to teach the proper order for churches in general. “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).
Fifth, the things contained in 1 Timothy are to be kept until Jesus returns (1 Tim. 6:13-14).
Sixth, in giving the instructions about women in the church, the Holy Spirit referred to the original order of creation — Adam was created first, then Eve (1 Tim. 2:13-14). The man was created to lead and the woman was created as his helper. Since the order of creation has not changed and since it does not change in any culture or century, we know that the instructions about the woman’s role in the church still apply to us today.
Seventh, Paul referred to the fall to support his teaching on the Christian woman’s subjection to the man (1 Tim. 2:14). Again, this shows that the apostle’s teaching about the woman transcends any one culture or time.
Eighth, Paul referred to human nature to support his teaching regarding women (“And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression,” 1 Tim. 2:14). The woman has a different makeup than the man. She was designed for a different role in life — that of a wife and mother. Her emotional, psychological, and rational makeup is geared perfectly for this, but she was not designed for leadership. In the Garden of Eden, the devil deceived her. Adam also sinned, but he was not deceived. Eve allowed herself to be thrust into a position of decision-making she was not supposed to occupy. It is no coincidence that women have been responsible for starting many of the false Christian movements and have played key roles in Spiritism, new age, mind science Colts, Seventh-day Adventism, and such. Human nature has not changed and neither has God’s restrictions against women preachers.
In concluding the section on the refutation of women preachers, Cloud makes the very important point that to “say that the woman’s ministry is restricted is not to say that women are not valuable for the ministry of Jesus Christ” (p. 318). Cloud appeals to Philippians 4:3 and four of the first five verses of Romans 16 in his statement (p. 318). Finally, he states, “Women are exceedingly valuable in the Lord’s ministry, but He has placed some restrictions upon their service” (p. 318). The eight aforementioned reasons clearly outline those restrictions.
Cloud concludes his book with a short chapter on why people are deluded by charismatic error (pp. 327-336). These are the reasons he gives (pp. 327-335):
- Not testing everything by the Bible alone; lack of discernment
- Dabbling with error
- The desire for holiness
- Leaning on fallible men instead of the infallible Bible
- Leaning on experiences rather than living strictly by faith in God’s Word
I have already shown a plethora of quotes regarding elevating experiences and despising discernment. Cloud shows some eye-opening quotes from Charles and Frances Hunter pertaining to “dabbling with error” (pp. 328-329). Perhaps the most interesting reason was the “desperation” reason. While Cloud offers solutions to all the above reasons, I’d like to contribute one to the “desperation” one. But first, let me show some paragraphs to give an idea of what Cloud means by “desperation” (pp. 331-332):
Many of those who have been deceived by Charismatic error have gotten involved out of desperation. They are undergoing some severe trial and are on the brink of an emotional and physical breakdown, and as a last resort they attend a charismatic meeting to “give it a try.”
Randy Clark, one of the fathers of the “Toronto Blessing,” testified that as a pastor of a Vineyard church he felt “empty, powerless, and so little anointed emotionally, spiritually, and physically, I knew I was burning out.” In that condition he ignored his conscience which told him that the Word-Faith movement was patently unscriptural. He did not agree with the doctrine of Kenneth Hagin and the Rhema movement, but he attended the Rodney Howard-Browne meeting at Rhema anyway, out of desperation.
Guy Chevreau, a former Baptist pastor who has become immersed in the most radical aspects of the Charismatic movement, testifies that he also first attended the meetings in Toronto as a failure in the ministry and “too desperate to be critical.”
It was the same sense of desperation that former Southern Baptist evangelist James Robinson allowed a Charismatic to lay hands on him and cast alleged demons out of him.
I have heard the same testimony from many others who have accepted the Charismatic movement.
I have an idea on what may be causing the desperation, the emptiness, the powerlessness and the burnout; those individuals were focusing too much on the law (which saves nobody) and not enough on the Gospel (which saves all those who would repent and believe. Modern evangelicalism is flooded by works-righteousness pharisees/heretics like Craig Groeschel, Francis Chan, Rick Warren, Andy Stanley and even Bob Goff (among many others). When I was in the seeker-driven movement, I was getting a lot of law and not a whole lot (if any) of the Gospel. That drove me to burnout a number of times. I hardly heard about repentance, faith AND the forgiveness of sins. Instead, I was getting a bunch of “how-to” sermons. May I suggest that it was the subtle messages of works-righteousness from the preachers of their day (perhaps differing from the ones I mentioned) that perhaps drove the above charismatic dabblers into desperation? Hearing too much of the heavy weight of the law without hearing the good news of Jesus Christ and what He has done so that sinners like them may be saved? It’s a possibility.
Maybe you’re one of these people being weighed down by the heavy weight of the law. I do want to remind you that by default, we are all born dead in trespasses and sins.
Ephesians 2:1-10 explains:
2 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
The Bible is clear that people are born dead in trespasses and sins (2:1-3). God’s being rich in mercy makes one alive in Christ (2:4). Furthermore, it is by grace through faith that one is saved (2:5-9). It is not based on works (2:9).
If you do not believe what Ephesians 2:1-10 states, I would ask you please look at the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17. Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever stolen something, even if it was small? Have you ever used God’s name in vain? Jesus said that whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery in the heart (Matthew 5:27-28). Jesus also said that if you ever get angry at someone, you’ve committed murder in the heart (Matthew 5:21-26). Just the mere thoughts of adultery and murder make you guilty of the very acts themselves.
Please understand that it only takes one murder to be a murderer, one lie to be a liar and so forth. David said in Psalm 51:5 that he was conceived in sin. Genesis 6:5 states that every intent of the thoughts of man’s heart is only evil continually. Clearly, man has a sin problem. Romans 3:23 states that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Man is in big trouble with God because of his sin. This is more amplified by the fact that perfection is the standard (Matthew 5:48). This is quite a heavy weight.
Now, some people try to justify their sin by trying to balance it out with the good deeds that they have done. However, if you were to try that in a court of law, the judge would throw the book at you. A good judge would not accept a bribe. He would cast you off into jail. God likewise will not accept a bribe, for there is no partiality with Him (Deuteronomy 10:17; Ephesians 6:9).
Thankfully, Jesus came to solve the sin problem 2000 years ago (Isaiah 53:1-12). You and I broke the law. Jesus paid the fine (Matthew 26:14-28:20). This means that the judge can do what’s legally right in dismissing your case. He can say, “This person has broken the law, but someone has paid his fine. He’s out of here.” This is really good news.
There are two things a person must do. He must repent. This means to turn from his sin (Mark 1:16; Luke 24:36-49; 2 Timothy 2:19-26; Acts 17:30-31). He must also put his trust in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31, 17:30-31; Romans 4:1-25, 10:1-17; Galatians 3:1-14; John 6:26-29). These gifts of repentance and faith are granted by God (Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 2:22-26). If you repent and put your trust in the Savior Jesus Christ, He will forgive you of your sins and grant you everlasting life (John 6:47). Oh may you know His mercy and grace today if you have never repented and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. You can be free from the heavy weight of the law today. If you are in a state of desperation, emptiness, burnout or powerlessness, you can find rest from those things via the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not the PCM. You can find rest and forgiveness of your sins from the Gospel (Matthew 11:20-30; 1 Corinthians 15).
When I picked up this book at a book giveaway, I was expecting to learn a lot of good information. Not only did I learn a lot of information, but I discovered that much stuff from the PCM has certainly flooded into much of modern evangelicalism (including but certainly not limited to the seeker-driven movement). For that reason, Cloud’s book is one of the most important works done this century. Cloud thoroughly outlines the errors of the PCM. Moreover, he biblically refutes them all thoroughly. Every Christian should have this book in his/her library (first edition or otherwise). It is one of the most through, well-researched books I have ever read and perhaps ever will read. No matter the edition, get this book.
NOTE: I emailed this review to the author via the public email firstname.lastname@example.org. I found this from his website https://www.wayoflife.org/reports/bro_cloud_i_have_a_question.html.
I also tweeted my review. I tagged him in it.