Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 7, 1971
NUMBER 34, PAGE 8b-9

A Spirit-Filled Shopper And A Donkey-Led Preacher

Tom R. Roberts

The recent rash of people claiming to have the personal, miraculous measure of the Holy Spirit has become almost epidemic in proportion. It seems everyone wants to get in on a good thing and it is not unusual to hear of yet another misguided soul claiming to have received the Holy Spirit. He has supposedly led people to talk in tongues, prophesy, heal and do other things set forth as gifts peculiar to the first century. Various preachers (including Pat Boone) have stated that the Holy Spirit has "led" them to a particular person, in a particular house, at a particular time to discuss their soul's salvation. Such claims as this remind me of a true incident which happened to my wife which pointedly fixes the misleading character of these subjective cases.

Before we moved from Crockett, Texas, Pauline worked in a ladies' ready-to-wear shop on a part time basis. Usually, she worked during special "sales" when extra help was needed. On one of these occasions, a Negro shopper (who was also a preacher) came into the shoe department where a half-price sale was in progress. Find-a pair of shoes that pleased her tremendously and discovering that they fit very well, the lady exclaimed to the effect that "the Holy Spirit had guided her to that very store on that day and to that very pair of shoes." How wonderful to have such guidance from God in these important affairs.

You can imagine the shopper's chargin when she started to pay for this same pair of shoes at the register only to find out that they were not among those included in the "sale." The poor preacher lady didn't have enough money, promptly decided that they were too high-priced, and returned them to the counter! Now, who goofed — the shopper or the Holy Spirit? This raises some interesting questions.

(1) Did the Holy Spirit actually lead her to a certain pair of shoes?

(2) If so, did the woman sin in not purchasing them?

(3) If so, why did the Holy Spirit not see to it that the woman had enough money to pay for the shoes of the Spirit's choice?

(4) If the Spirit did, indeed, guide her to a certain pair of shoes, why did He not make it clear whether or not they were on sale?

(5) If not, we must conclude that the woman lied and ascribed action to the Holy Spirit which He did not perform.

This introduces another incident which also is true. A number of years ago, a young man in the Free Will Baptist Church in Newport, N. C., decided he was called by God (through the Holy Spirit) to preach. In due course, his parents sent him to the seminary to be made into a Free Will Baptist preacher. However, when he finished his education and went before the licensing board to receive his license to preach in that denomination, the board denied him his permit. He had failed the test. Again, this raises some questions.

(1) Did the Holy Spirit actually call the young man to preach?

(2) If so, why must the one called go to college to learn about the Bible? (John 14-16; Gal. 1:11-12).

(3) If so, why did He not supply the one called with enough revelation to pass the test?

(4) If so, did the board sin in refusing the young man his preaching license, in direct contradiction of the will of God?

(5) If not, the one "called" was either self-deceived or a liar.

Both of these incidents, which are true, as well as all other similar cases have one thing in common. The call of the Spirit is entirely subjective, being evidenced only by the word of the one called. You must accept his word that God called him — even if the Bible speaks to the contrary. No scripture is appealed to for proof... no authority from the word of God is used. . . each man "does that which is right in his own eyes." Personal testimony thus replaces the Bible as the court of appeals and each man becomes his own high court to hand down verdicts as to what God is doing. One more example, recalled from the times of T. B. Larimore, should point out the dubious value of such "calls" and miraculous visits from the Spirit.

"In early days they had many preachers in that country. My father was one of the first settlers, and he remembers that there were thirteen preachers in the sparsely settled neighborhood of perhaps twenty families. Every body preached who believed himself called of God to the ministry, and the crude religion of that day recognized a mysterious 'call to preach' in almost every thing that happened out of the usual course of things. To one man the fact that he could not sleep well at night was evidence that God wanted him to preach, while to another the death of a favorite child was God's clear call to the ministry. One incident of those days, often related and generally believed to be true, will serve to illustrate how so many men were called to preach. A man named Walker heard a powerful voice in the distance which seemed to say very distinctly — Walker - go preach - go preach - go preach!' Now Walker had been greatly troubled in spirit many days to decide whether God had really called him to preach, and was just discussing the evidences of his call with Jesse Stanford, a notorious sinner, when that voice, clear and distinct, awakened the echoes in the stillness of the night. Jesse said, 'Do you hear that? God is calling you now.' No longer doubting his call, good Bro. Walker began at once to preach and continued in the ministry to the day of his death. The value of such calls to the ministry may be inferred from the fact that Jesse Stanford always contended that Walker's call was simply the braying of John Taylor's donkey!" (Larimore and His Boys, by F. D. Srygley, page 24).

Brethren, the word of God still leads and guides the child of God and those who would become such. We must reject all claims of those who would set aside the Spirit-filled word and replace it with personal experiences which only serve to confuse and mislead and which have about as much value as the braying of John Taylor's donkey. "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." John 8:32.

— Drawer I, Newport, North Carolina 28570