In early 1986 I was called in to assist in the “exorcism” of a demon-possessed woman. The demon gave its name as “Mary”! Although the woman was a Hindu, she had attended a Roman Catholic convent school in her youth; and speaking through her mouth, the demon said that while there she had become possessed when a priest of Rome had scattered “holy water” at a school assembly. As soon as those of us who had gathered to try to help her began to pray, she went into a trance-like state and actually assumed the very posture of the idols of the Roman Catholic “Mary”, holding the supposed “infant Jesus”! She also fell on the floor in a swoon, and at times we thought the demon had come out of her; but it was still there. This poor woman twisted and turned and grimaced, and displayed great strength: although short of stature, she placed her fist in the stomach of one man present, and pushed him around the room. Truly we were seeing, before us, a fulfilment of that Scripture which says that Roman Catholicism, the mystical “Babylon”, is “the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird” (Rev. 18:2). This is Satan’s very seat, and powerful demonic forces are at work in this religious system. The history of Popery through the centuries is full of witchcraft, black magic, etc. It is no different today.
I relate this incident to show that evil spirits are very much at work behind the scenes of the Papal system, especially in view of the fact that there are some sovereign grace believers who seem to think that demon possession does not occur any more. It most certainly does! Perhaps they would be more inclined to believe it if they lived, as we do, in Africa. It occurs in sophisticated Europe and North America as well, but is often less spectacular in its manifestations there, and besides, far too many professing Christians there have accepted rather the explanation of modern psychology, a false science and false religion, for such things, instead of the simple truth of God’s Word. This is why I have related this incident; but sadly I cannot relate that she was delivered, the reason being that we were Pentecostals, and in our ignorance of biblical truth on this matter we were unable to help her. Pentecostals love to think that they have power over unclean spirits, but they are mistaken. We did what Pentecostals the world over do in such cases: we prayed, we “took authority over the spirit in the Name of Jesus” (or so we thought!), we commanded it to leave. But all to no avail. Little did we understand then that the miraculous gift of casting out devils was given to the apostles for the purpose of authenticating their ministry before the Scriptures were complete, but that this gift is no longer given today. How differently I would have handled that sad situation, if I had known then what I know now. Our purpose, as Christians, is to preach the Gospel to the lost, and those ordained to eternal life will be saved (Acts 13:48), including those possessed with demons, who will be delivered by the almighty power of the Lord! We do not have to ascertain who is possessed and who is not; we simply have to preach Christ, and God the Holy Spirit will work in the hearts of the elect, and they will be irresistibly drawn to Christ (Jn. 6:37).
In 1986, after an intensive study of the Word of God, the Lord graciously opened my eyes to the errors of Arminianism, and showed me the truth of the doctrines of sovereign grace. As these precious biblical doctrines dawned on my mind and in my heart, I was awestruck! The sovereignty of God; the fact that even the falling to earth of each little sparrow is divinely foreordained (Matt. 10:29); the glorious truth that the elect were ordained to eternal life from before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4); the unutterably comforting truth that once a person is in Christ, he is in Him forever (Jn. 10:28,29); all these truths, and many more, came with convicting power to my soul, and I embraced them, and rejoiced in them.
In early 1986 I married Stacey. We had known each other since our early teens and had similar spiritual journeys. On our honeymoon, as we sat in a treehouse in the African bush, I read to my new wife from a book I had discovered, which helped to answer the remaining questions we had about Pentecostalism. All the pieces of the jigsaw now came together. We saw that we had been deceived, and we were fully delivered out of the Pentecostal movement.
I informed my dear friend, the pastor of the church where I was assisting, of what had happened; that I no longer believed in either Arminianism or Pentecostal errors. It was arranged that I could explain my “new” doctrine to the advisory board of the South African Evangelistic Mission at a specially convened meeting. I agreed to this; but when the time came, I was given no opportunity to speak or to explain anything; instead, despite not having heard my doctrine from my own mouth, one pastor after another got up and for a period of five hours spoke against what I was teaching, and against me personally. They questioned my stability; they implied that I was blaspheming the Holy Spirit; one even labelled me Antichrist; etc. And well after midnight, when the meeting broke up, I now knew what so many before me had realised through the centuries: one cannot hope for “reform from within” when it comes to religious error; one must always make a clean break, for a false religious system will never be reformed. That which is false cannot, in fact, be reformed; a false religious system cannot become a true Christian church; it must only be rejected.
I was of course barred from ministering in the denomination, and our modest income was discontinued. Newly married, we faced an uncertain future, humanly speaking. We looked by faith to the Lord, and month by month He provided our needs.