CHARISMA vs. Charismania

by: Chuck Smith

Copyright @ 19    


There were other things that bothered me about the church I attended.

I wondered why, if we were the most spiritual church in town and had the most power, the other churches had so many more members. I was told that most people were looking for an easy way to heaven, and that the other churches were larger because they told the people what they wanted to hear. If our church did that, it would be full too—of people bound for hell.

Another problem I had with our church was its lack of love. I knew that the fruit of the Spirit is love, so I couldn’t understand why there were so many church splits. It seemed that there were always some members who wanted to get rid of the pastor and others who supported him. People left our church so often that, if all the former members of the church returned, we would have had the largest church in town!

Somehow, leaving our church was tantamount to leaving the Lord. Those who had left had surely backslidden in their search for an easier way to heaven. However, I often found myself wishing I could go to the Community Church or the Presby terian Church. Then on Sunday night I would feel convicted for my desire to “backslide,” and I would go forward to the altar and get “saved” again.

I tried to prove that I was “normal” by excelling in school. I worked to be the smartest kid in the class, the fastest runner in the school, and the one who could hit the ball farther than anyone else. Unfortunately, most of the other kids in my Sunday school class tried to prove they were normal by smoking, drinking, and running around with the tough gangs at school. Very few of them remained in Sunday school past junior high. Through the grace of God, and with deeply committed parents, I somehow survived.

The Results of My Quest

As strange as it may seem, I am convinced today that the dead orthodoxy of many churches could be enhanced by the gifts of the Holy Spirit in operation within the body—not the unscriptural excesses I observed as a child, but in a solid, Scriptural way, with the Word of God as the final authority guiding our faith and practice.

With this in mind, I began a search of the Scriptures for a sound, balanced approach to the Holy Spirit and His work in the church today. There must be a middle position between the Pentecostals, with their overemphasis on experience, and the fundamentalists, who, in their quest to be right, in too many cases have become dead right. The results of my quest are recorded in part in this book, which I pray that God might use to lead you into the fullness of the Spirit-filled life.

Charisma is a beautiful, natural anointing of God’s Spirit upon a person’s life, enabling him or her to do the work of God. It is that special dynamic of God’s Spirit by which a person seems to radiate God’s glory and love.

 Charismania is an endeavor in the flesh to simulate charisma.

It is any effort to do the work of the Spirit in the energies or abilities of the flesh— the old, selfish nature of a person. It is a spiritual hype that substitutes perspiration for inspiration. It is the use of the genius, energy and gimmicks of man as a substitute for the wisdom and ability of God. It can be demonstrated in such widely divergent forms as planning and strategy sessions, devising programs for church growth, raising funds for the church budget, or wild and disorderly out-bursts in tongues that disrupt the Sunday-morning message. Whatever lacks a sound Biblical basis and demonstrates a lack of trust in the Holy Spirit to accomplish His purposes in the church apart from the devices and abilities of man is the work of the flesh.

The Balanced Position

This book will seek to present a Scripturally balanced position between the detractors who say “The devil makes them do it” and the fanatics who say “The Holy Spirit made me do it.” It will also show who the Holy Spirit is and will describe His proper work in the world, the church, and the life of the believer.

We do not ask you to blindly accept all the premises, but we encourage you to search the Scriptures to see if these things are so. “Prove all things and hold fast that which is good.”


Since the purpose of this book is to bring you into a full, personal, and soundly Biblical relationship with God the Holy Spirit, we need to first show that the Holy Spirit is one of the three Persons of the Godhead.

The church has accepted throughout its history that there is one God who exists in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In the Scriptures we find Them working together in total harmony for the redemption of man. Paul confessed to Timothy that the Godhead was a great mystery; for us to try to fully comprehend it is a futile expenditure of mental energy.

Many cult groups (such as Jehovah’s Witnesses) take advantage of this gulf between the finite and the infinite to attack the trinity of God by denying the deity of Jesus Christ and passing off the Holy Spirit as an essence. Other groups deny the existence of the Father and the Holy Spirit, and say that Jesus alone is God. One of the common marks of every cult is a denial of the deity of Jesus Christ and the Person of the Holy Spirit.

The Triune God.

Because this is one of the areas that the enemy constantly attacks, we must affirm not only the fact of the deity of the Holy Spirit, but also why we believe in His deity. The word “trinity” is not found in the Bible, but it is a convenient term that theologians use to describe the three Persons of the one God. Perhaps the term trinity would more accurately describe God. He is not 1 + 1 + 1 = 3, but 1 x 1 x 1 = 1. In Genesis 1:1 we read, “In the beginning God....” The Hebrew word translated “God” is Elohim, which is plural for El (God in the singular). In Hebrew there is a singular, dual, and plural tense. “God” in the singular is El, in the dual is Elah, and in the plural is Elohim. There can be no denying that the word “Elohim” at least suggests the trinity of God.

Continuing in Genesis 1:2 we read, “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” The Holy Spirit is the first Person of the Godhead to be identified separately in the Bible. In Genesis 1:26 we read, “And Elohim said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” He did not say, “I will make man after my image.” In other words, the three Persons of the Godhead were speaking jointly.

The Attributes of the Spirit

To establish that the Holy Spirit is God, we will first show that attributes which can be ascribed to God alone are ascribed to the Holy Spirit. One of the divine attributes is the eternal nature of God. He has always existed. In Hebrews 9:14 we read that Christ through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God. If the Spirit is eternal, and this is an attribute that can only be ascribed to deity, then the Spirit is God. Notice also how the three Persons of the Trinity are linked in the verse.

Another attribute of God is His omniscience. God knows all things, as James said in Acts 15:18: “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world.” This attribute is also ascribed to the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 2:10,11 we read, “But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit. For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” Here the knowledge of God is attributed to the Spirit of God.

Another attribute of deity is omnipresence. God exists everywhere in the universe at once. In Psalm 139:7 David asks, “Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?” God exists in the heavens, in hell, and in the utter- most parts of the sea. The Spirit is with me now where I am, and at the same time He is with you wherever you may be reading this book right now. God is omnipotent. This is a word used to express that He is all-powerful. When Sarah laughed at the announcement that she was to have a son in her old age, the angel of the Lord asked, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14). Jesus said, “With God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). In Luke 1:37 He said, “With God nothing shall be impossible.” The angel said to Mary when she questioned him on how she, a virgin, could bear a child, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee” (Luke 1:35). Here the Holy Spirit and the power of the highest are used synonymously.

The Works of the Spirit

Not only are divine attributes ascribed to the Holy Spirit, but so are divine works. One of the divine works is that of creation. The entire Trinity was active in creation. In Genesis 1:1 we read, “In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth.” In John 1:1-3 we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” The Spirit was also an active force in crea- tion. In Genesis 1:2 the Spirit is described as moving over the face of the waters. The Spirit was in conference with the Father and the Son when God said, “Let us make man in our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). In Psalm 104:30 we read, “Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit, they are created.”


Another work of God is that of giving life. We recognize that God is the Giver and Sustainer of life. In 2 Corinthians 3:6, as Paul was referring to the letter of the law, he said, “The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.” In John 6:63 Jesus said, “It is the Spirit that maketh alive.”


The Bible was written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, yet we properly refer to the Bible as the Word of God. Second Peter 1:21 tells us, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” In 2 Timothy 3:16 Paul declares, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” Peter says that the writers were moved by the Holy Spirit and Paul says that they were inspired by God. Thus the Spirit is recognized to be God.


This is why many Scriptures in the Old Testament which declare that the Lord spoke are attributed to the Holy Spirit when quoted in the New Testament. In Isaiah 6:8,9 the prophet said, “I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I. ‘Here am I: send me.. And He said, Go tell this people, , ye hear indeed , but understand not; ye see indeed but perceive not.” . When Paul quoted this passage in Acts 28:25,26 he said, “Well spoke the Holy Spirit by Isaiah the prophet unto our fathers, saying, ‘...hearing ye shall hear and not understand; seeing ye shall see and not perceive. ‘“Isaiah said the Lord spoke; Paul said the Holy Spirit spoke. They can both be right only if the Holy Spirit and the Lord are one.




The Trinity Working Together

In Acts 5:1-11 we have an interesting account of discipline in the infant church as God was seeking to preserve its purity. Motivated by love, many Christians attempted to establish a Christian community by selling all their possessions and turning the proceeds over to the apostles, so that the Christians might have all things in common. A certain couple, Ananias and Sapphira, sold their property but together decided to hold back a share of the price for themselves. When Ananias brought his portion to Peter, Peter asked, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep part of the price of the land? While it remained was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own power? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God” (Acts 5:3,4). Peter said that Satan had filled Ananias’s heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, then declared that he had lied to Go4, thereby making the Holy Spirit and God one.


Throughout the New Testament we see the Trinity working together or coupled together. When Jesus commissioned the disciples to go out and teach all nations (Matthew 28:19,20), He told them to baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. These three names distinguish the three Persons of the one God.


In 2 Corinthians 13:14, in his apostolic benediction, Paul said, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.” Here again the three Persons of the one God are linked together. In 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 Paul says, “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God who works all in all.” In verse 4 he refers to the Spirit, in verse 5 to the Lord (Jesus), and in verse 6 to God (the Father). So, though there may be diversities in the gifts and in their operation and administration, there is a unity because God is behind it all.


 Access Through the Spirit

At this point you may be thinking, “Well, what difference does it all make whether the Spirit is God or just an essence from God?” Because the Spirit is a part of the Godhead, it is proper to worship Him, and we are correct when we sing, “Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” God has ordained that we relate to Him through the Spirit. It is in the realm of the Spirit that man can touch God. It is my spirit brought into union with the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Paul also said, “His Spirit bears witness with our spirits” (Romans 8:16). If I am to have communion with God, I must recognize the Holy Spirit and realize that He is the One that makes this fellowship possible.


Man has never had direct access to the Father; this is a common fallacy among people who forget the awesome holiness of God. When God manifested Himself on the Holy Mount to the Jewish people (Exodus 19), He had them set boundaries around the mountain so they wouldn’t get too close to the manifestation of God and be put to death. When the people saw from afar the awesome demonstration of God, they said to Moses, “You speak to us and we will hear, but don’t let God speak to us lest we die.”


The veil in the tabernacle demonstrated the separation that must exist between the Holy God and an unholy people. This veil could only be penetrated after an elaborate cleansing and sacrifices by the high priest, and this only one day in the year, and by the one man, the high priest. Jesus said, “No man comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).Jesus told the Jews that they really didn’t know the Father. He also told them that Moses would be the witness against them. They do not follow the prescribed way to God that was given to Moses by God, but today seek to approach Him on the basis of their good works without sacrifice. Sin has always been the barrier between man and God, and until something is done about man’s sin, there can be no approach to God. In Isaiah 59:1,2 we read, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy that it cannot hear; but your inequities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.” Jesus provided a way to cleanse us from our sins, thus making the approach to God possible. Through faith in Jesus Christ my spirit is made alive, and thus can be united with God’s Spirit. In this way God and man are joined in the Spirit.





by: Chuck Smith, (pgs. 8-17)

Copyright @ 1983, By: Harvest House Publishers

Eugene, Oregon 97402


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