God Told Me that the Bible Does NOT Teach Cessationism

I have an ugly secret to admit. I used to be a cessationist. Don’t judge me. Back then, many (perhaps most) Baptists were cessationists. I couldn’t help it. I was born that way!

I was a cessationist because that is what I wanted to be. I found charismatics weird and annoying and I wanted the Bible to prove they were all wet. Plus, the school I attended taught cessationism as settled doctrine.  And that was fine with me.  I accepted cessationism by faith without needing evidence. Then, I began to read and study the Bible and I found out an uncomfortable truth.

The Bible does not support cessationist doctrine.

The cessationism debate has shifted a little bit in the last 25 years. Back in my younger and thinner days, the issue was tongues. Were tongues still valid? Was it God’s will that all believers speak in tongues? But that is no longer the key issue. Even many in the charismatic movement have moved on to other emphases. It’s no longer about tongues, but the whole realm of manifestations of the presence of the Holy Spirit talked about in 1 Corinthians 12. In the Baptist and Evangelical worlds, the issue has an even narrower focus. Does God still talk to us? Does God speak directly to human hearts, or does he only speak through the Word?

When cessationists frame this doctrine, they paint themselves as the defenders of the Bible. They affirm “the sufficiency of Scripture” (as if continuationists don’t) and claim that the Bible is all we need. We just read the Bible and hear its words and that is all the voice of God that any of us should want or expect.  Just read the Bible and obey it.  That sounds noble and all – a complete reliance on the Bible. I wanted it to be that way. I really did. But something got in the way of me continuing to believe that.

I read that sufficient Bible!

As I began to study the Bible, and especially as I went through a decade or so where I read the Bible through every year, I came to believe that cessationism is simply not a biblical teaching. It is hermeneutical wishful thinking. I tried to find it. I’ve seen rational and theological arguments for it, but the exegetical arguments for cessationism came up empty. We affirm the absolute authority of God’s Word and so passionate appeals to the sufficiency of Scripture or ridicule of the excesses of some who believe the subjective voice of God are not enough. Someone needs to show exegetically that the God who spoke continually throughout Scripture in various forms has stopped doing that today. I share the desire to honor Scripture and the disdain for abuses of this concept, but I had to abandon the cessationist position because I just do not find biblical support for it.

Basically, cessationists teach that the God who spoke personally and directly to people all through the Bible stopped after the Bible was finished. Some have taught that it was at the destruction of the Temple (some obscure verses in 1 Corinthians), others have taught it was at the completion of the canon of Scripture and the end of the Apostolic era. When we had the full Bible, God stopped talking directly to people and spoke only through the Word.

If we have his Word, what more do we need, right? That argument makes some sense, and is noble in its defense of the power of the Word, but it is a change from the way God worked during biblical times.

I think there are two reasons that cessationism gained such widespread popularity. First, we saw that there were things happening regularly in the Bible that were not happening today and we had to explain it. In the Bible, there were miracles. People were healed. The blind saw and the lame walked. Demons came out of people. The OT miracles and the things that happened in the times of Jesus and the Apostles were not happening, so there must be a reason. Voila! Cessationism. And, on the other hand, when people started claiming to be experiencing some of the manifestations of the Spirit that were talked about in 1 Corinthians 12, many of us were suspicious (and rightly so) of the manner and methods of these expressions and the bizarre and unbiblical doctrines that accompanied them.  Cessationism was a convenient answer. These manifestations passed away and so when someone has a miraculous manifestation you know it is false and when someone claims to have heard God’s voice you can know for certain they are either deceived or a deceiver.

Let me lay out some of what I have come to believe and why I rejected cessationism.

1) God talked to people from Adam to Revelation

There is something that just about every story in the Bible has in common. God talked to someone. He revealed great truths to them – his ways, his character and his purposes. But he would then give them specific details about what he wanted them to do in the light of what he was doing.

When God spoke to Noah, he revealed his purpose – to judge the world with a flood. Then, he spoke the details. Noah was to build a boat according to the exact dimensions and specifications God gave. Revelation first, then details.

Moses – well that was pretty much a running conversation, wasn’t it? But think of the Burning Bush. God revealed his purposes (to save the Israelites) and then he revealed his specific plan to Moses (to go to Israel).

The Tabernacle and later, the Temple, were built to fulfill God’s purposes, and according to very detailed plans that he revealed directly to human beings.

God told Israel he was giving them the Land, then he gave Joshua specific battles plans (such as for Jericho).

This pattern continues on. He didn’t just tell Israel to follow his law and go wherever they felt was best. He gave them a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night to give them specific guidance.

Israel’s leaders and kings would go to God and ask whether they should go to battle and often received specific plans in return. Again, this pattern might not have been universal, but it was consistent enough to be important. God revealed his purposes and ways, but then would also reveal details about an individual’s personal participation in those purposes.

You say that this was an Old Testament pattern?  Let’s check it out in Acts. Did a pattern similar to this continue? It did.

Of course, the “Apostle’s teaching” about God, Christ and the gospel was the basis of all things in the church. But God spoke and revealed individual details of his work on a regular basis. There was Acts 13, when God spoke to the church in Antioch to tell them to begin God’s program of worldwide missions. But he did not just give them a reminder of Acts 1:8 and tell them to figure it out. He said, “Set apart Barnabas and Saul.” Details. Specifics. Two people. And he led them on their trips from place to place.

Perhaps Acts 16 is the clearest example of this process. Paul headed through Phrygia and Galatia because he had been “forbidden by the Holy Spirit” to go to Asia and preach the gospel. Here, Paul was told not to go to Ephesus and preach. There was no teaching of Scripture that could have indicated that Asia Minor was not yet ready for the gospel. The Spirit revealed it directly to him. So, Paul thought he might go to Bithynia, but the Spirit also said no to that. In the middle of the night, the Spirit gave him a vision telling him to go to Macedonia and preach the gospel.

You can read the Bible all day long and not get those kinds of details. Don’t go there. Don’t go there. Go here instead. The truth came from God’s revelation, but the Spirit gave the details.

      The Pattern

No pattern is universal, but this one seems consistent, at the least.

God revealed himself, his purposes, his ways and his will in the Word of God. All that we know about God is found there. Every truth, every doctrine must be drawn from it. It is our sufficient guide and standard of truth.

But God also gave us his Spirit to indwell us and to communicate to us the specifics of his will . Go here, not there. Do this, not that. He speaks to us, leading and guiding us in the details of life that are not covered in the doctrine and teaching of God’s Word.

We should not look to that subjective and inner work of the Spirit for truth or doctrine, but for details.

2) There is NO clear indication anywhere in Scripture that the pattern would change.

If God was planning, when the biblical canon was completed, to stop the various manifestations of the Spirit that we might call the “subjective voice of God,” shouldn’t he have warned us? Isn’t that kind of a big thing? If God is going to change the way he relates to human beings, shouldn’t he reveal that pretty clearly in that sufficient revelation? I’d expect a verse that said something like this:

Whithersoever cometh the full revelation of scripture, thou shalt expect that never again cometh the voice of the Spirit unto us. Only the scripture shalt thou have to guide thee.

Of course, arguments from silence are regarded as weak. But this is not just an argument of silence. It is an argument from the entirety of the Bible in which God speaks. If there is a biblical pattern there is a natural assumption that such pattern will continue until it is contravened clearly by the teachings of God’s Word. The question is why the Bible doesn’t tell us clearly that the pattern of God’s revelation and guidance would drastically change at some point in the future.

 3) Why does the Bible give us so many warnings about discerning “false spirits” if the true Spirit is no longer speaking?

Why not just say that it is all fake? If someone says they have a message from God, don’t believe them. God doesn’t speak. Just read the parchments Paul sent you and the OT scrolls. Ignore those who say they have a word from God.  It isn’t real (or, won’t be after the Apostles are gone).

But that is not what the Bible does. It gives guidance (in 1 Corinthians 12, in 1 John 4 and other places) on how to distinguish a true message from God from a false one.

Look at the manifestations of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10.

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

There are nine specific manifestations listed here. At least five of these nine are specifically related to the Spirit speaking outside of the revelation  or inspiration that attaches to scripture. God’s Spirit would give a word of wisdom. Wisdom is practical knowledge to make good decisions. God would give wisdom to us through the Spirit. God gives knowledge – an understanding of what is goingM on in the world. Prophecy  – a message from God. Tongues – a message from God in a language I haven’t learned. Interpretation – the ability to understand someone else’s message of tongues. The God of 1 Corinthians 12 was a talking God!

And, of course, there is a “discernment of spirits” manifestation that helps us realize when something isof God or is of the devil. Again, why would that one even be necessary if all you needed were some sound hermeneutical principles to discern truth?

4) There is a difference between OT prophecy and NT manifestation of the Spirit and guidance. 

The OT prophets revealed God’s Word authoritatively and were to be obeyed. Thus, God placed a heavy burden on them. One mistake and they were through! But the subjective voice of the Spirit is not the same as the “Thus saith the Lord revelation of the Prophets. I have sensed, at times, what is sometimes called a “word from the Lord” (small w). But when I sense something is such a “word” I do not announce it as the authoritative Word of God or expect others to obey just because I said it.

In the OT, the only response to prophecy was to obey. Today, the proper response to a subjective message from God is to test and approve it. Check it by Scripture. Test it biblically and spiritually to make sure it is from God.

5) Just because the subjective voice of the Spirit is abused is no reason it should be abandoned. 

There is little question that the subjective voice of the Spirit is badly abused. God is blamed for a lot of things that we know he really did not say. This is one of the cessationist’s primary arguments, to “condemnation by the extreme.” Show a clip of Benny Hinn or some other televangelist or relate a story of some misguided soul who heard God tell them to wear macaroni in their hair or sell everything and move to the mountains to await the Apocalypse.

But does the extreme disprove the doctrine? This is all too common a tactic when we deal with charismania. We examine the most extreme elements and use them to cast aspersions on the whole movement. It is an unfair tactic. The doctrine of God’s salvation by grace can be abused. Paul dealt with those abuses in Romans 6 and 7. But the abuses of grace do not negate grace. Eternal security can be twisted, but its abuse does not negate its truth.

The condemnation of the extreme is lazy argument and unworthy in a scriptural debate. The abuse of the practice does not negate its truth.

Undoubtedly, the subjective voice of God is open to abuse. That is why there are warnings about testing and approving and discerning spirits and such things. But just because it is abused doesn’t mean that a truth must be abandoned. It must be safe-guarded from extremes and abuses, but the subjective voice of the Spirit, properly governed, is a wonderful blessing to be cherished.

Do not be afraid of the powerful work of the Holy Spirit. Yes, God gave us his Word and it is powerful and it is perfect and our duty is to proclaim its truth. But he also gave us his Spirit to help us understand that word, to empower us to walk in righteousness, and also to lead us specifically and personally.

Rejoice! The Living God speaks through his Word and by his Holy Spirit to his children.

 

 

Extra Points:

Here’s a few thoughts I couldn’t work into the post, but I didn’t want to let them go.

1) I think Mark Driscoll put it best. Many (especially, as he pointed out, in the Reformed community), are uncomfortable with the workings of the Holy Spirit. He said, jokingly, that some have replaced the biblical Trinity with a new one, “Father, Son and Holy Bible.” Obviously, cessationists don’t really deny the Trinity, but I think sometimes that this is not far from the truth in effect if not in intent. The Spirit is a wind – unseen, wild, uncontrollable. And uncontrollable sometimes makes us uncomfortable.

2) I think that some in the cessationist movement have adopted what I call biblical deism. Deism believed in an impersonal God, one who created the world then stood back and let it operate according to certain principles. Biblical deism creates a somewhat impersonal God today. He does not walk with me and talk with me. He gave me his word and stands back while I read and determine the details on my own.  Our God is personal. He speaks and listens and enters into relationship with us.

3) I knew some folks who were uncomfortable with Henry Blackaby’s formula, “a personal love relationship with Christ.”  I simply cannot imagine why that would bother anyone. Look at the metaphors used in the NT for salvation. Adopted as sons. My dad and I talk (not as much as we should, but we talk!). We are described as the Bride of Christ – how could that be any more personal, intimate or loving. I know this teaching, too, is abused, but Christianity really is a personal love relationship with Christ!

4) It would seem that the cessationist’s challenge is two-fold. Either they have to argue that the “speaking” of God directly to humans to give details of the outworking of his will is not really a biblical pattern. God spoke by dreams, visions, direct voices, through prophets, and in various ways to humans. But the cessationist needs to show that this was unique even among the times of the Bible.

Or, their other option is to show somehow that God stopped talking. They need to do that exegetically. Appeals to “the sufficiency of Scripture” are not enough. They need to show that the Bible teaches that doctrine. Where does the Bible give us reason to believe that the manifestations of 1 Corinthians 12 were only temporary?

5) I hope you cessationists out there take my ribbing in the spirit it was intended. It was intended playfully, not in a belittling way. I just look forward to the rapture when your theological errors will be corrected.

Comments

  1. says

    Maybe we’ll see a follow up post about how to evaluate what someone says they believe God is leading them to do?

    I recently read about a girl around 23 years old who up and moved to Africa for a year or two, adopted a little boy whose mother died of AIDS, and then moved back to the States, all because she felt God was calling her to do this. She eventually married and had more children and everything appears to have worked out fine for her, but the whole story struck me as kind of odd. What would you say if a jobless 23 year-old in your church told you she sincerely felt God was leading her to adopt a child whose mother had just died?

    • says

      The reason I ask this is because I knew someone who believed God wanted him to go to a specific college, racked up a bunch of debt from paying out-of-state tuition, and then didn’t even graduate. I don’t think we can say something was or was not God’s leading just because it worked out fine (first example) or didn’t work out at all (second example). I believe God can and does lead people in certain directions, but I’m always cautious about affixing the Holy Spirit’s stamp of approval on someone’s decisions, even my own.

    • says

      That is the hard part, Andrew. Obviously, 1) a lot of people claim that “God told them” a lot of things and we are left to doubt. 2) The Bible shows God speaking to people but never tells how he did that or how people knew it was him.

      I may write such a follow-up post, though.

      • says

        The authors article was based on a question of exegesis: that there was no exegetical support for cessationism. I fully agree. And that is actually how this issue, the arguments, the abberance, and the practice are to be dealt with if we are ever to get anywhere.
        does anyone else notice how the majority of posts (i stopped after about 40) for or against are basically anecdotal?
        very typical of this discussion.
        let’s listen to ourselves. the pattern for discussing this needs to be less “i know this guy…” “have you ever seen…”
        and more exegesis.

      • Dee says

        Pastor….you may not know my original story…I think it has bearing on the previous question of how to know God’s voice…and how it can get mixed up with misconceptions and emotion and tradition and other’s ideas for you.
        I once thought I was supposed to be a missionary a la Elisabeth Elliott, learning an unwritten tribal language, giving it life with ink on paper, developing a grammar, teaching the writing system to the people, translating the Bible and teaching it to them. What else could an unmarried SBC woman do with a ‘call of God’ on her life? I wanted to do things ‘right’ and, of course, that meant the SBC way. If God did not lead a pastor to find and marry me, of course I would have to go to college, seminary and proceed on my own. So, I majored in Linguistics taking Chinese and Greek along the way, working and paying as I went…so no debt, struggled with minor depression all throughout… so school just seemed to drone on, amended my goals as the original ones began to seem unattainable. So maybe I would just teach English in China as ministry??? Gave up on my goals at age 30…looking back I note a particularly distressing conversation with my father which made me feel so alone in my hopes and dreams that I soon gave up completely and just continued to work in the family business. I guess I desired to finally just try to please my father instead of struggling against his seemingly mundane existence. I had wanted my life to mean something eternal…What does that mean really???

        Lonely, I chose to marry a man who was so diametrically opposed to my former dreams of ministry…yet I did not realize the reason or what had happened to me. I blocked it all out and threw myself into being the best wife I knew how to be…clearly imperfect, but what other reason did I now have for living if I could not fulfill the high purpose of wife and mother?

        Later, God sent, miraculously, a 13 year old boy into our home whom we, then I, raised till he was 18. ‘God told me’ one morning (my 3rd shift bedtime) as I drifted into sleep, that if Stephen needed a home, to open our home to him. I woke, hours later to my ‘then husband’ saying, ‘Dee, wake up, I have to talk to you about something.’ Still half asleep, I said’ ‘If it’s about Stephen living with us, God already told me.’ His jaw dropped open speechless. There had never been any hint of this prior, so it was clearly God who spoke. It wasn’t even my desire, yet it became my desire immediately. Stephen was in our home that night sleeping on the sofa and we promptly began to clean out and paint the spare room. The following morning as we waited for his school ride…I prophesied to him… ‘God has his hand on your life. Otherwise you would not have come to our home.’ I read scripture to him each night at bedtime and prophesied to him how that scripture related to him and his future. I was still SBC. Not sure where all that came from. It just seemed to well up from withing me. But I knew if it was in line with scripture and it was encouraging or exhorting, it was worth speaking. So many miraculous things happened during this marriage, yet this husband chose to abandon us. But, thinking back, my disappointment in myself for failing likely drove me to be pushy so that I would not fail in this. But I did.

        But I did not give up on God, just on my ability to achieve that calling. So I read a lot, such as ‘The Mind of Christ’ by TW Hunt and Blackaby’s ‘Experiencing God’. I strove to implement them in my life, because I still wanted my life to mean something eternal even though I no longer thought I could be great in the kingdom. I looked for where God was working and I listened for His voice to show me where I could work with Him in other’s lives. I learned I could impact individuals even though my personal life was not one to look up to, I would make the best of it. My coworkers were challenged to look face to face with God. I would not follow the norm…4 spiritual laws, etc. I would look at what God showed me about them and tell them what God said would make them be amazed with Him.

        At some point I began to study and bounce off ideas with a coworker that was my prayer partner and my good cop/bad cop partner in this amazing witness at work. We later started studying Hebraic perspectives of scripture and I found others who shared our desire to learn more, plus some who were ahead of us and would teach us. My Greek and linguistic preparations for Bible translation which I thought would prepare me for a tribe had actually prepared me for this moment. I began to study Hebrew and later Paleo Hebrew pictographs and the Bible came alive for me and layers of meaning began to emerge confirming some doctrines and clarifying others. The Gospel over and over again in the creation story if you know how to find it in the Hebrew. Just yesterday, I found the correlation between Adam’s sleep and Abraham’s sleep. Both are the same covenant being cut if you know the keys in the Hebrew language that I don’t think they teach in seminaries. Tell me if I am wrong.

        God also sent me to Wind and Fire Ministries where I learned about the Spirit. I was kept by God from stepping into the Spirit fully till Ric Lumbard could teach me the wisdom of these gifts. He truly has a school of the prophets here that I would recommend to anyone. But no matter where you go, keep your discernment up. Everyone can make mistakes.

        My call has become clear to me, but only after I learned about how to worship God in Spirit and in Truth (Torah/Scripture). It takes both to be complete in my experience.

        Joh 4:23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.

        Joh 4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

        Eph 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

        As for me, I always wonder what I could have done differently. Did God give me some direction I failed to pick up on or follow? No matter. I believe this is a journey and God already had one Elisabeth Elliott. Maybe he did not need another. What if He just needed a fallible, pliable Dee on a journey with Him? I learned so much during that 1st marriage that was impossible if I had married a man who listened to God. God did so much through that fallible man I chose and was released from. I learned that you can submit to a man who wants to go against God’s ways and still be protected from danger and God can use him in your life. I learned that God can bring me full circle and use those gifts in my life for His purposes even after you think you have failed miserably. Look at Moses, a murderer, not used till he was a complete and utter failure and at the end of his own efforts to do what he thought he was born for.

  2. says

    Good stuff.

    I think some of this stems from the self-centered thought that ‘If it hasn’t happened to me, it doesn’t happen”. Since the Bible makes it plain that the Spirit manifests gifts as He wills, that’s obviously baloney.

    The BF&M even got its own subtle shot at this. the 1963 said the Bible was the record of God’s revelation to man, whereas the 2000 says the Bible IS God’s revelation to man … like he doesn’t do that any more.

    I can tell you: tongues are real, and so is healing. They are manifestations of the Holy Spirit, happening when and as He wishes, not tools in our little bag of tricks. Some day I’ll tell you how I know for sure that’s true.

    On the matter of fakery, like some say tongues are. I ask those if they’ve ever heard a sermon or lesson from someone whose gift of preaching or teaching they doubted. No gift isn’t subject to “imitation”.

  3. volfan007 says

    Dave,

    Have you ever seen anyone truly raised from the dead?

    Have you ever seen anyone truly healed of Aids? Leprosy? not Benny Hinn stuff…but real?

    Do you think that people can hear God actually talk out loud and tell them to do things like….throw the hymn books out, make the carpet green instead of blue in the sanctuary, or to move to the next town without a job?

    Are there any Apostles around today?

    David

    • says

      My two cents on that is that the issue isn’t the the gifts have ceased, but we have ceased to give God the glory due when the gifts are seen. When something like a miracle or a display of God’s power comes, we too often worship the vessel and not God. We take the glory for God, give it to the pastor, preacher, teaching or healer and God has stopped pouring His power out because we take it and become idolitors. That is my personal opinion.

    • says

      The doctor on this video clip, who prayed for a dead man who came back to life, is the father of my son’s roommate when he was at Palm Beach Atlantic University a couple of years ago. I have personally met him. He is a well-known and respected medical doctor.

      http://youtu.be/CKCF8sJJSk4

    • says

      No, I have not seen the dead raised.
      I have known of (within my family) direct healings.
      I did not say that God spoke outloud for all to see, that he told people to throw out hymnbooks or any of the other reductio ad absurdum examples you gave.

      I do know of one guy that God told to leave town without a job, or even a place to live.

      His name was Abraham and things worked out okay for him.

      • says

        God manifested himself in a fairly dramatic and compelling way to Abraham, and continued to do so throughout Abraham’s life. I’ve never heard anyone today claim a similar experience with God – at least not anyone I was inclined to take seriously (ie, the paranoid schizophrenic in my church was less than reliable when he offered such a claim).

      • volfan007 says

        Dave,

        The absurd examples I gave were a sample of real things which I’ve heard people say that “God told them.” I heard a Pastor tell his Church that God would heal his sinus trouble if the Deacons would come forward to pray for him….he said that God told him this that morning. I also heard a Pastor tell the Church that God told him to throw out the hymnbooks. I also know of people, who will tell you all kinds of wild and crazy things….all in the name of “God told them.”

        David

        • Dave Miller says

          And as I said several times in the post, this doctrine is abused by Christians.

          I have an idea. There are people who counterfeit $20 and $100 bills. Since people counterfeit them, they must all be false. Send me all your 20s and 100s (and fifties too). They are all fake because a few are.

          • Dave Miller says

            Really, send them. 4301 Old Lakeport, SC, IA 51106.

            c/o Dave Miller Evangelistic Association

        • volfan007 says

          If anyone has the ability to raise the dead, please come to my town the next time someone dies, and I want to see them raise the dead. THEN, I will believe that that power still exists today. And, if someone really does have the gift of healing, then please come to Memphis. I will meet you at the St. Jude Hospital, and I will personally pay all of your expenses for the 3 days that you’ll be there…and I want to see you empty that hospital of all of the sick chidlren in there, who have real diseases.

          If you cant heal them, then you’ll have to pay your own expenses for the 3 days.

          David

          • says

            David,

            Only God has the power to raise the dead. Whenever He uses someone else to do it, it is still Him and Him alone who does it. The Bible also teaches that He sovereignly distributes gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His will (Heb. 2:4). Also, the NT doesn’t talk about “the gift of healing,” but rather “gifts of healings” (both plural in the Greek. I think the implication here is that we are not to expect any one gifted individual to be able to choose whomever they choose, when and wherever they choose to do it. But, at certain times, God communicates to someone He wants to use them, through prayer, to bring His healing in the life of someone else. I believe a true, authentic practice a spiritual gift of healing is responding in faith, on a case by case basis, to this prompting of the Holy Spirit.

          • Frank L. says

            Sounds s lot like the Pharisees (Mk 8)

            I’ve heard atheists make that same argument more than once.

            Sounds a lot like the “head-daggers” around the cross

            I’m not impressed

          • volfan007 says

            The Apostles could heal people wherever they went. They could raise the dead. There are no more Apostles.

            I have never, ever heard anyone speak in true tongues….ever. I have heard the gibberish kind of stuff, but I’ve never heard anyone, who could really speak in tongues.

            Once again, I’ll say this….if anyone had the gift of being able to raise the dead, or heal the sick; then please let me know. My offer still stands. I will buy your food, pay for you plane ticket, and I will pay for you to stay in the Peabody Hotel in Memphis for 3 days…..I will personally take you to the St. Jude Hospital, so that all of those truly sick, sick, sick children can be set free from the horrible, real diseases that they have. And, I will take you to the Memphis Funeral Home, and we’ll watch you raise the dead.

            Anyone?

            David

          • says

            If the apostles could heal people and raise people from the dead anytime they wanted to, why has that entire generation lived and died and is no longer with us? Did they decide they didn’t want to keep healing or raising people from the dead? Why didn’t they raise James from the dead after he was killed?

          • volfan007 says

            They died. There is even some evidence that they were losing these abilities even before death. We see this in the writings of Paul.

            David

    • Jake Barker says

      David,
      Yes to 3 of your questions, in 2005 a young man raised from the dead. 2 other times a word from God with specific instructions on moving, both times I moved with no job or promise of one except that He would provide. Both times within 24 hours of arriving I had offers of jobs without even applying for the jobs, this happened in 1978 and again in 2007. And David, God could care less what color the carpet is, why do you mock Him?

  4. says

    Dave,

    Come on, admit it. The real reason you wrote this post is your giant sized man-crush on Henry Blackaby. That’s really why you’re a continuationist; Don’t front like that’s not it. Don’t front.

    • says

      A) I do not deny a giant, man-sized crush on Henry Blackaby.
      B) I had rejected continuationism long before I heard of Henry.

      Oh, and my man-crush does not prevent me from disagreeing with him. I think that perhaps he takes the subjective voice of God too far sometimes and gives it too much weight.

  5. Donald says

    It does seem that the genesis of the cessationist argument is in experience, at least insofar as the sign gifts are concerned. I do have to wonder, if the sign gifts are normative then why are they not present in the church? Where are the verifiable healings (e.g. amputees)? Where is the biblical gift of tongues, where one can speak a language that was never learned? Where are these biblical manifestations so abused that we must correct people not do them in an un-orderly manner?

    It seems that since the sign gifts have ceased, many questions are raised as to what needs to be done should we determine that these gifts are normative for the local church. What are you doing, Dave, to move your people closer to God in this? Are these signs appearing in your local congregation?

    Perhaps these sign gifts are still available, but not normative. Would a sign to the unbeliever be more practical on the mission field? Is there any more Biblical support for this than for the cessation of the sign gifts.

    If some cessationist Pastors believe that God no longer speaks to individuals, how do they claim to be called to the Ministry or to larger, better paying churches?

    • says

      “If some cessationist Pastors believe that God no longer speaks to individuals, how do they claim to be called to the Ministry or to larger, better paying churches?”

      Simple – most of the ways we spiritualize the “call to the ministry” is not biblical to begin with, so why would I seek a comparable experience?

      • vicki says

        Thru the bible we are made aware of false teachers but doe anyone really realize what that means. If the call did not actually come from God (who does do the calling) and it was something someone thought would be a good vocation, then would that not be a false teacher. If you are not directed and taught by God how can you teach truth?

    • says

      You bring up an interesting conundrum, Donald. In defense of the “sufficiency of Scripture” cessationists assert a doctrine based on experience and the appeal to the absurd, but seldom provide biblical support.

  6. says

    With fear and trembling, I offer the following rather scathing response. I say a few harsh things in this, but I say it as a brother deeply concerned with how the belief of the subjective leading of the Spirit has gripped many believers, despite the absolute lack of biblical justification. With that, I wade into the waters of stirring up trouble.

    I describe myself as a theological continuationist but a functioning cessationist. I have not seen a compelling biblical theological argument to lead me to conclude with certainty that the charismatic gifts have ceased. Nonetheless, I have never either seen them in action nor heard what I thought was a reasonable account of the gifts in action. I have heard of dramatic answers to prayer, but that isn’t the same thing.

    On the other hand, I am solidly, completely, 110% convinced that 99% of what we talk about when we speak of God leading us, speaking to us, moving us, etc, is unbiblical nonsense that has more to do with pagan superstition and new age encroachments than with faithful, biblical Christianity.

    Harsh words, I know. But I believe them.

    Just as I have never seen a compelling case that the charismatic gifts have ceased, I have never seen a clear biblical case that the way we speak of “God leading me” is actually the way God operates. There are some possible small hints, but one usually has to do with those hints what Presbyterians have to do with baptism: infer things not present in the text in order to arrive at practices not clearly demonstrated.

    A few points to explain what I mean.

    1. When God speaks to people in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, such words are almost always met with terror and are always met with the clear knowledge that someone has spoken. When God speaks, people know God has spoken to them. The closest exception is Samuel, but even Samuel clearly knew someone was speaking to him.

    I challenge you to find one place in the Bible that says people are responding to some sense of God’s leading, to some nebulous tugging of the heart, mind, or will. Samuel heard a voice. Moses was confronted by a burning bush. The Babylonians saw the finger of God writing on the wall. Philip talked with an angel at the foot of his bed. Paul and others had clear visions.

    When we talk about God leading us, it is always in terms of subjective feelings and experiences. Where do we ever find this in the Bible? It isn’t there. It is completely absent. God always reveals himself clearly to his people. In our day, we are left wondering, “Did I hear from God, or was that the pizza I ate last night?” The apostles were never faced with such nonsense. When God spoke, when the Spirit led, they knew it.

    On the Spirit’s leading, there are a few times when the Bible speaks of the Spirit’s leading the apostles without telling us how the Spirit led. Some conclude that the Spirit led through feelings and such, but this is following the error of the Presbyterians: drawing a conclusion from what the Bible does not say (Look, it says the whole household was baptized, that meant the babies too!) rather than from what the Bible says. Any time the Bible explains how God leads his people, it is through a clear voice, a clear vision, or a clear angelic visit.

    2. That God no longer speaks in this way at this time should not surprise us. There is no indication of dramatic revelation through the inter-testamental period. Nor is there indication of dramatic revelation to all of God’s people, only to a few. Moses, Joshua, David, Isaiah, John, Paul, Peter, etc – these were exceptions, not examples of normative experience. We point to them and insist their experience should be ours, but since we don’t hear God as they heard God, we determine that the way we hear God must be through subjective feelings and experiences, but this is not the way they heard God. If we want to point to them as examples, then we should not settle for less than what they had. But God never promised to speak to us the same way as he spoke to them. In fact, Hebrews 1:1-2 makes the opposite point: in past times, God spoke to specific people (not all people) in direct ways, yet now he speaks to all of us through the revelation of Christ. I’m not sure how this can be more clear: the prophets were exceptions; their experience is not the experience of everyone; through the prophets we heard God’s voice; now through Jesus the Word of God has been given to us. There is no longer any need for the prophets. The fullness of God’s revelation has been made known. Dave says there is no indication the pattern would change, yet Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us quite plainly that the pattern has certainly changed. Even if the pattern had not changed, that would not be a guarantee that God was speaking to any prophets today, just as there has been silence in other periods.

    3. Tremendous harm has been done by those claiming to act according to God’s leading. All manner of nonsense has been defended with little more than the words, “This is what God wants us to do. Either you get on board with God, or you go somewhere else.” If someone believes God has subjectively led them to do something, it makes sense that they would defend their actions with a divine stamp of approval. The problem is, there is no biblical reason to believe that God really has given a divine stamp of approval. Maybe the man’s ideas are good. Maybe it’s a good plan. Maybe it’s just what the church needs. But there is no justification to saying, “This is the path God wants us to take.” These words mislead the saints far more than they edify.

    4. This is a matter of faithfulness to God’s name. I had never thought about this before, but it’s something I recently heard from R. C. Sproul. His point is that when we claim to speak for God, we had better be absolutely certain we are actually saying what God said. If we say, “This is what God wants us to do,” when God never told us to do it, we are taking God’s name in vain and make ourselves lawbreakers. We are far too flippant and casual with the words, “I think God is leading me to…” when God never once tells us he will speak to us in this manner. We are not being faithful to his name when we claim he has said what he has not said.

    5. The Spirit leads us through the Word of God. We wonder what the Spirit does? He grows the Word in us. The Bible is the fuel that powers the Spirit’s work in our lives. One place to see this is in the armor of God, Ephesians 5:17. What is the sword of the Spirit? What is the weapon for the Spirit’s work? The word of God. Not feelings, not impressions, not subjective leadings, the Bible is the Spirit’s weapon in and through our lives.

    More could be said, but I’ve said enough to get myself into abundant hot water for the day, so I’ll cut myself off here. ? But as my words might indicate, this is a topic that gets me passionate. I went too long waiting for whisperings and leadings that never came. I know too many people struggling with faith because they never experienced the subjective hand of God. And I am too passionate about God’s Word to want people to believe God would lead them outside of his word. We need to abandon this unbiblical, non-Christian belief and practice. In my own ranking of issues of importance to the church, this one ranks well above even the Calvinism debate. We are sinking in a sea of subjective leadings, relying on things God never promised, things that we have no biblical justification for upholding.

    • says

      Really good points on the issue of subjective faith. This was always a real problem with students and as I serve now as a pastor I see how it has filled the church with adults in vegetative states waiting on a “tug” from God. The “tug” is in His Word.

      It’s not necessarily that I minimize my emotions which are a very present part of my worship and service but we have allowed them to lead for far to long. Debbie’s comment above, “God would provide,” is very strong and probably could be the summation of this argument.

      MacArthur wrote a book on discerning the will of God. I really struggled through some of these very things as I began to serve in ministry and then later as I transitioned to pastor from serving with youth. Wade Burleson wrote a post on this that propelled me to reexamine the way I was seeking to interpret Scripture along with my “Wesleyan ideals” that I had picked up along the way. I don’t remember the name of the post but I have referred several people to it when they have said they were “waiting on God to lead” or they “didn’t feel like God was working” in their lives.

    • Donald says

      “Tremendous harm has been done by those claiming to act according to God’s leading.”

      …awkward silence….

      Chris, I agree with you…

      (I never imagined those words coming from my fingers).

      Back in Dr. Waylon Owens class (Pastoral Ministry) one assignment we had was to give a Biblical defense of our call to ministry. Dr. Owens taught that if there is no Biblical defense, then there is no defense. The paper was to take the form of demonstrating that there is a call, showing what form it took in scripture and then testifying as to how this was manifested in our lives.

      My argument was that the call consisted of:
      1. An internal compulsion to preach.
      2. Giftedness for the Gospel ministry.
      3. External confirmation by your local church.

      One rationale for this assignment was to clarify our call, else find some other career.

      Also, The vast majority of men who speak of their call do so in a very subjective manner. How, then could we pastors deal with someone who is subjectively claiming an unbiblical call on their lives when our call is purely subjective?

      Any call must have a biblical defense, or there is no defense.

      • says

        “…awkward silence…. Chris, I agree with you…”

        You’re right, that is awkward. :)

        “How, then could we pastors deal with someone who is subjectively claiming an unbiblical call on their lives when our call is purely subjective?”

        That points to a very definite challenge. If on the one hand I say that God will lead by the Spirit through these subjective experiences, and yet on the other hand I say that the Word of God is our primary source and any time we think we are being led against the Word then we know it is not God’s leading, then what does that say of the whole experience of being led? If on Monday I feel God leading me and it’s consistent with the Bible, but on Tuesday I feel God leading me and it’s not consistent with the Bible so I know it’s not really God, how can I still know that it was God on Monday? Maybe whatever gut impulse I had just happened to be right on Monday and wrong on Tuesday, etc.

      • says

        There is no question that damage is done by people who abuse the teaching of the subjective voice of God.

        Could we stop with that argument? No one is disagreeing with it.

        The question is whether it is fair to dismiss all subjective leading because it is abused by some.

    • says

      If anyone wants a course in standard, boiler-plate cessationism, Chris has ticked all the points pretty clearly.

      An appeal to the abuses of the movement (#1 argument – as if the counterfeiting of a $100 bill makes all $100s invalid)

      Reductio ad absurdum
      Appeals to silence
      Straw man arguments.

      But his comment is pretty standard stuff – very passionate without much exegesis. I would ask you to note my post and some of David Roger’s comments – they are based on what the Bible says. I wish that the Cessationists would argue exegesis more than they argue their personal disdain for the abuses of the charismatic movment.

      • says

        Dave,

        You misread me, first in being a cessationist: I’m not. Second in abuses being my #1 argument: they aren’t. I haven’t seen the gifts manifested, but I don’t believe the Bible teaches they have ceased. On the other hand, as a separate issue, I also do not believe the Bible teaches that people will experience what so many today claim to experience. I cannot give you exegesis of what the Bible does not teach. When people say, “The Spirit led me…” – where does the Bible ever teach that the Spirit will ever lead people in that way?

        You say you argue based on what the Bible says, so why not provide the examples I asked for? Where does the Bible say that Moses’ experience is normative, even though it was exceptional even in his day? Where does the Bible say that although God spoke to Moses in dramatic ways, he speaks to us through impressions? Where does the Bible ever even hint of God speaking through impressions, etc?

        I am not asking for a few instances where God spoke to people. We all agree he did that, yet that is all you offered in your original post. I am asking you to show me where the Bible says that we will have a similar experience, and that our experience will be the more subjective leadings?

        • says

          “When people say, “The Spirit led me…” – where does the Bible ever teach that the Spirit will ever lead people in that way?”

          That is what a “word of wisdom” or a “word of knowledge” is.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            Chris: Each of us has the Holy Spirit actually dwelling inside of us. That alone should be a case against cessationism. The changes is us when we become Christians should be a case against cessationism.

            But….I don’t believe the Holy Spirit inside of us just sits there and rises up when we read the Bible or go to church. What happens when we do wrong, when we feel remorse, is that just something inside of us or is that the Holy Spirit. The fact that before Christ we did not feel remorse, or if we did it was because we got caught or because we were about to pay a heavy price is not Godly remorse. Yet after Christ that changes, that should be a case against cessationism.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            And all the things I listed in my last comment are in the Bible, the passages we know already.

          • says

            Dave,

            I find the exegesis slightly lacking… The simple mentioning of those gifts is not an explanation that your understanding is correct. Where does the Bible teach that the word of wisdom or knowledge is that subjective leading?

            As far as spiritual gifts, though, certain gifts are given to certain people not all gifts to all people, and yet we are to expect that all believers will have these subjective leadings by the Spirit? Have all been gifted with a word of wisdom and knowledge?

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            And….if the Holy Spirit only rose up when we went to church or read the Bible, that would be a good case against cessationism.

            I also highly recommend listening to the link David gave. It is a good discussion of which I am listening now.

          • says

            Debbie,

            I believe the Spirit is at work in us to grow and guide us. There is conviction (though it is the means by which the Spirit convicts us of the Word). There is a growth in godly wisdom (though even this is the Spirit’s work through the Word in us). But there is not the kind of subjective leading so often taught (taught despite the fact that it is missing from the Bible).

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            And Chris: The last part of your post is where I disagree. I think Dave’s posts have covered the reasons why I disagree pretty well. :) And yes, I use smileys because I live for them, and they bug Dave. Ha

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            Chris: This is a serious question and one I would like an answer to. Sam Storms asks this in the link David Rogers gave. Is your view based on your experience?

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            So Chris, you believe the Holy Spirit does the things you describe but he(who is also God) does not go any further than that? That is where I have a problem based on scripture. He is working supernaturally just through the things you described. And changing a life radically, which is what he does albeit sometimes, most times slowly, is in my thought a case against cessationism. He is leading those without Christ to come to Christ is he not? At least those of us who are new creations because of coming to Christ.

          • says

            Okay, there are a few more things I might add, and I have a few minutes, so here goes. :)

            Debbie,

            “Is your view based on your experience?”

            My view is based on the Bible, or, more specifically, what the Bible does not say. The thing I most oppose is the mystical, subjective experience of “feeling led”. I think it is an absolutely unbiblical notion. I can’t find it anywhere. It is not a gift that has ceased, it is something that has never existed.

            On the charismatic gifts, yes, my “functional cessationism” is based on experience. Theologically and biblically, I cannot say the gifts have ceased. But in my experience, I have never seen them in operation. Perhaps they are somewhere, but I’ve not seen it.

          • vicki says

            word of knowledge is actually given to the student of God. The teaching is thorough and can be harsh in our eyes, til the lesson is learned. Last year I was given (through his voice) the word “Ecumenical”. Well, anytime you mention that word it comes right back at you. So many don’t understand what God WANTS. He wants his church back!!! He wants false teachers out. He wants truth in his church!! He wants his people in his church!!! There is only one church but we treat his church as separated. So many splits because of false teaching. HE WANTS IT TO END!!! Yes you can distinctly hear his voice. He Teaches this but so many over look it so they can seem to appear a chosen one of GOD. To Lead a community trying to find him yet never will being taught by false teachers, yet more splits happen. How many denominations are there now?? This last spring his teachings to me were in regards to Constantine (How God was not happy with him) and the Byzantine Era. How in the beginning there was life in the Church, but thru that era the Church lost its life…. What a controversy? TRUTH! Given through words of wisdom. He/God wanted me to have the Septuagint. Why? Research it. Research what has this day been given. For it was freely given to me. Seek. There are many ways of man that seems right in his own eyes. So true. this morning I was told to “Govern my people”. Maybe this is a start…Maybe everyone should drop everything they think they know and Let God Teach. When he does the teaching, scripture is thoroughly understood. Then you can teach. Nothing can be subjective.

    • Rick says

      Thanks for the thorough response Chris. I heard a pastor say once that we often desire a degree of certainty in making daily decisions that the Bible simply does not offer. Thus we need God to “tell us” what job to take, what color car to buy, etc.

    • Traci says

      Really good response. Thought it was even better than Jared Moore’s post (which was also good).
      I know many girls in college who used the “God told me we should break up” card. Sure, let God do your dirty work. Kind of like the pastor telling his congregation that God told him to go to the bigger church. “Sorry, guys, it’s not you…it’s God.”

  7. says

    It’s kinda funny… this wasn’t what I quite expected from the title…

    I think I defy your labels, Dave (go figure). When it comes to the gifts I’m an open-but-cautious, soft-charismatic, continualist. On the one hand, I don’t think tongues are dead, I think they have a valid place (probably mostly on the primitive mission fields), and I don’t think most or all of the incoherent mumbling that goes on in churches or private prayer closets constitutes a biblically valid expression of tongues as an actual other language.

    I’ve heard too many stories from too many trustworthy sources about encountering people on the mission field who had prophetic dreams of a Jesus telling them messengers were coming to speak to them about him… I think God works in that way…

    I think the more “miraculous” gifts were/are meant to be validation signs to the veracity of the Gospel message and will therefore mostly be seen in a mission field context as opposed to a local-established-church context…

    All of this, yet I’m not a big fan of the idea of a normative subjective leading apart from Scripture, and never really considered it an aspect of the continualist/cessationist divide. My main reason there, whenever you’re talking about either OT or NT, whenever we have the description of God speaking to someone or a group of someones, it’s more the exception and not the norm. And indeed there were times where God spoke in such a way to someone, yet everyone else heard thunder or whatever.

    I think through the Spirit, God does shape the desires of our heart. So if we are seeking to follow Jesus and we come to a decision where the answer is not clearly spelled out in Scripture, we will want to choose according to God’s will… but I don’t think God actually speaks to us when it comes time to make the decision do I take that job in Missouri or Iowa? (of course, we already know that God’s will would be Missouri… :) )

  8. says

    Dave,

    Well, get ready.

    I too formed many of my early perspectives on cessassionism and didn’t even know it. I knew I was not charismatic, nor someone who has spoken in tongues (still haven’t, don’t expect to–unless He deems it necessary, don’t seek to, don’t think my salvation and walk with Christ is any less).

    I agree that too often we have judged the idea based on the extremes and abuses (and there are many to choose from!)

    But swinging from one extreme to another is just as wrong. The problem with extremes is that they tend to shun and outcast anyone who doesn’t fully embrace their position (see recent mission appointments and ppl at IMB).

    I have understood cessassionism much as you have characterized it. That these types of manifestations have completely stopped.

    It makes me wonder how salvation occurs at all anymore since the entire exchange is dependent of the Holy Spirit speaking and drawing someone to repentance. It makes me wonder how anyone receives a call into the ministry at all if the Spirit no longer speaks. It makes me wonder how we receive any empowerment to fulfill the mission of the Gospel.

    Perhaps too many of our churches believe in cessassionism and they are trying to fulfill the mission purely on our human ability alone. Perhaps that is why so many of our churches are weak and stagnant.

    I definitely do not believe the expressions of the gifts of the Spirit to be as normative or everyday as many charasmatics claim. I have never seen a charasmatic service even attempt to follow Paul’s rules of one at a time and interpretation, though I have spoken to a couple of ministers who insist on it (they get in trouble with their own for “hindering” the Spirit).

    This does not mean that such events cannot happen at all. My wife went to her SBC pastor and asked to follow James instruction about prayer and anointing with oil. She was healed of an incurable spinal condition and has the before and after tests to prove it. It prevents her from getting insurance b/c they don’t believe she no longer has it.

    I’ve read over and over 1 Corinthians and can no longer justify the interpretation of ch. 13 of “when perfection comes” referring to the closing of the Canon of Scripture. But Scripture is nowhere in that passage, that is an insertion. The passage interprets itself as the perfection referred to is the seeing face to face and the knowing fully as I am fully known (vs. 12) when the love of God makes all things perfect.

    Last time I checked, none of us see things face to face, we still see things in the mirror darkly, we still know in part–so this passage could not have been fulfilled in the closing of the Canon.

    Dave, thanks for raising this issue as I’ve been reading over the Bible in a year and just recently read through 1 Corinthians again.

    I do believe God still speaks and leads. I do believe He empowers, I do believe He gifts in order that the Body of Christ may be built up and equipped to fulfill the mission. He gives as He pleases and does not need our permission.

    I expect you’ll take a lot of heat from your position.

    • says

      I agree with your perspective, by and large.

      I still think a lot of what goes on in the charismatic world is fleshly and not spiritual, or perhaps even driven by the wrong kind of spiritual influence – from the other side.

      My point is not that all charismatic practices today are valid, but that the abuses do not negate the real.

    • Frank L. says

      “”””I expect you’ll take a lot of heat from your position”””

      If I’m not mistaken LifeWay did a survey, or maybe someone else, that recorded the fact that 50% of SB pastors do NOT identify as “cessationist.”

  9. says

    When this topic comes up locally from time to time, I point people to Grudem and Robertson for background reading:
    Wayne Grudem defends some versions of the non-cessationist view in his “Systematic Theology” (the brick version, not the abridged version or the abridged abridged version. See chapter 52, Gifts of the Holy Spirit, pp. 1031ff.

    O. Palmer Robertson has a good defense of cessationism in “The Final Word: A Biblical Response to the Case for Tongues and Prophecy Today.” See Chapter 4 “Current Advocacy of the Continuation of Revelation”, pp.85ff.

    From O. Palmer Robertson’s conclusion:
    “And why not both? Why not the illumination of Scripture coupled with new revelations of the Spirit? Simply because if you declare a need for both, you have implied the insufficiency of one. You have placed yourself back in the framework of the old covenant, in a time when new revelations were required because of the incompleteness of the old. But Christ is the final word. No further word for the redemption of man in the present age is needed. In Scripture is found all the truth that is needed for life and godliness.” – O. Palmer Roberton, The Final Word, p. 135.
    Tim Tuggle

    • says

      Robertson’s article is the boilerplate argument, that subjective voice somehow denigrates the Word.

      But, the problem is, first, that’s not what the Bible teaches.

      Second problem is the use of the word “revelation.” Revelation of truth is given through the Word. What I am talking about is guidance on details.

      • Stephen Beck says

        Dave, you pointed out two examples in Acts of when the church and the most prolific apostle was led on sorta ‘minor’ details (whom to send, where to go) – do you contend that you have from that a solid exegetical footing to claim every modern believer should be expecting regular, subtle guidance from the Holy Spirit on details?

  10. dean says

    I am alive today because of a miracle that God preformed in my life. 13 years ago I was given 2 years to live because of cancer that had spread through my body. I was sent home to die. M D Anderson, UAB, my local cancer clinic said it was the end of the line. UAB offered an experimental surgery that offered some hope of extending my life a few years. Being a young man I signed up. 13 tumors were in my two lungs. One lung had already been partially removed and one of my kidneys. When the surgeon did the surgery on my left lung he said all the tumors had disappeared and he closed me up. We have before and after cat-scans to show where the tumors were and how they vanished. Doctors call it spontaneous remission. For 13 years I have been cancer free through no treatment but God working supernaturally.

    Now you need to know that I am a cessationalist. No shadow fell on me to heal me. No apostle showed and laid hands on me. Someone offered the prayer of faith but no one knows who. I believe God still does miracles every day. I see three two foot long scars on my body to remind me that God took over when doctors had to quit. However the sign gifts were given to identify the apostles. There are no apostles today. If they are then my town has four huge hospitals full of sick people, give me the apostles names so we can line the sick up. I believe an honest reading of I Corinthians 13 in light of chapters 12 and 14 teaches that when the cannon is given these gifts will cease. The reason is simple I do not need an apostle to speak to me for God any longer He has spoken through His written Word. As to how I was called to preach it was crystal clear I was reading God’s Word in a prayerful attitude and the Holy Spirit clearly burdened my heart when I read Romans 10 that I was to preach. I have someone far better than another human being to tell me God’s will for my life. I have the third person of the Godhead dwelling inside of me and He teaches me God’s will for my life through the Word. That is better by far!

  11. says

    I have no problem with believing that God still speaks to people. My problem is that so much of the time what He tells them is utter foolishness. Often it is out of character with His revelation in His Son. And most times it has no support from His written revelation.
    Most of the time what God tells them is simply supporting what they want to do or how they want to live their lives with no regard for Who He has shown Himself to be in the past. This is problematic. Seems that God has changed His mind about stuff and we only know He changed His mind because that’s what He told them to do.
    I’m not a cessationist, but I do believe that any continuationism we practice has to be aligned with the reality and trustworthiness of past revelation.

  12. says

    I think that God is more than capable of speaking to His people, or anyone else He desires to speak to.

    But does He?

    Outside of His Word, it can be a little dicey to know for sure. Outside of His Word I would say that we cannot be sure.

    St. Paul tells us that “the Devil can come all dressed up as an angel of light.”

    He is (the Devil) a lot more crafty and devious than I think we often give him credit for.

    I think we can have our suspicions, usually in hindsight, but to know for sure…that’s another story.

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      Steve: You had said or alluded to the devil twice now, so I think I get the point you are making. 1. I think you give the devil too much credit and 2. The devil will not ever cause us to do something that glorifies God, brings someone to Christ or jives with the Bible. I think you give the devil too much credit.

  13. says

    Here is a link to a series of 15 podcasts in which C. Michael Patton, Tim Kimberley, Sam Storms and J. J. Seid amicably discuss/debate two sides of the continuationist/cessationist issue. For anyone who truly wants to delve deeper into what Scripture teaches on these matters, taking the time to listen to this is well worth it. Both sides are presented very well.

    C. Michael Patton, Tim Kimberley, Sam Storms and J.J. Seid

  14. says

    I am a continuationist for two reasons: 1) my personal study of Scripture; 2) my first-hand observation of the Christian testimony of certain people who claim to practice supernatural spiritual gifts.

    In addition to the Scripture and argumentation Dave presents in his post, the following passages and line of reasoning helped to seal the deal for me:

    1. Hebrews 2:2–4. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

    2. 1 Corinthians 13:8–10. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

    3. 1 Corinthians 1:4–8. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    My reasoning. One of the purposes (not necessarily the only one, in my understanding) of signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to Heb. 2:2–4 is to confirm the witness of those who are giving testimony to the gospel. The direct reference in this passage is to those who were eyewitnesses, but 1 Cor. 1:4–8 appears to refer to the same function of spiritual gifts, not only as practiced by the original apostles, but by the believers in Corinth. “All speech and all knowledge” in 1 Cor. 1:6, in the context of 1 Corinthians, almost certainly refers to certain supernatural manifestations of spiritual gifts. 1 Cor. 13:8–10 specifically teaches that tongues and prophecy will pass away when ever “the perfect comes.” 1 Cor. 1:4–8 appears to shed further light on the coming of “the perfect”: God’s confirmation of the gospel through “all speech and knowledge” among common believers, who will not be “lacking in any gift,” will continue as long as we continue to wait for “the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    In other words, the inevitable conclusion I gather from all this is that “the perfect” referred to in 1 Cor. 13:8–10 is the Second Coming of Jesus. And God’s confirmation of the gospel by means of supernatural spiritual gifts will continue until “the perfect” comes.

  15. Bill Mac says

    I am a theological continualist. I don’t know if I can call myself a practical cessationist, but I have a HUGE problem with the modern evangelical fancy for “feeling led”.

    I don’t think I’m down with the “subjective voice of the Spirit”. As I say, I’m a theological continualist, but when God speaks, people hear, period. To my mind, if a person is going to say “God told me ………….” then the “subjective voice of the Spirit” doesn’t qualify.

    If God wants to give someone a message, why would He wrap it in a hunch, intuition, coincidence, or emotion? Why mask it? Why disguise it? I call this the Easter Egg theory. God hides His will and wants to to search around for it, and will hold you responsible if you don’t find it.

    I have a lot more to say about this here:

    http://www.internetmonk.com/articles/V/voicehead.html

  16. says

    I love what Luther’s father told him after Luther told his father that the Lord had used a lightning storm to get Luther to promise to serve Him as a monk.

    Luther’s father’s reply was, “Or was it the Devil?”

    That reply sent Luther into a tailspin on this topic for a year.

  17. Adam says

    Dave,

    I have always understood cessationism to refer to the view that certain gifts have ceased; most notably tounges, prophecy, direct revelation, and healing. Folks in the John MacArthur camp lump these together. Do you also believe in the ongoing work of God in these other ways on the bases that He did such things in the past and therefore, lacking a clear statement that they will stop, we should expect them to continue?

    Also, you say”God spoke to people from Adam to Revelation”. Really it should read “We have evidence that God spoke to very few people from Adam until John, in Revelation.” I think the actual pattern can only lead you to conclude that God may continue to speak to a select group of people, notably those He has put in positions of leadership, and even then, maybe every couple of hundred years. Isn’t that actually the pattern?

    Thanks,
    Adam

    • says

      Cessationism is the idea that the manifestations of the Spirit from 1 Corinthians 12 were meant for a specific time (the affirmation of the gospel, the time of the Apostles, etc). It has been used primarily to refer to tongues, or sometimes to tongues and other ‘miracle gifts.” But I think it is all a continuum.

      Cessationism is, at it root, the idea that the work of the Spirit, as we see it in the NT, “ceased” (hence, cessationism) after the NT, and we should not expect to see the Spirit working that way today.

      • Christiane says

        be aware that the Holy Spirit does not call attention to Himself . . . so the ways in which He works will not always be ‘known’ to us fully, likely we may not even be aware unless we have acquired the gift of humility before the Lord . . .

        the thing is
        that the Holy Spirit provides the power that drives the Church’s efforts to reach those who need Christ, He strengthens those who serve in the Church

        the last time you spoke to someone about Christ, and your words were surprising, even to yourself, in their expression of Who Christ is . . .

        the last time you stopped what you were doing and aided someone in a way that opened the door for them to learn about Christ . . .

        these occasions may have signaled the presence of the Holy Spirit in your ministry, but remember:

        the Holy Spirit will NOT draw attention to Himself, so you cannot ‘know’ in your mind for sure . . . chances are, though, you may experience a sense of purpose, and of peace, and a moment of deep thanksgiving

    • says

      And, Adam, the same point could be made about anything in the Bible. Over the space of thousands of years, we have only a few a stories about a few instances of God’s work.

      But in those few instances we have, God was always talking.

      • Stephen Beck says

        It seems God did a great work in Esther’s life without even making his name known. Or, consider Colossae, where the church was taught to continue in the teachings given by Paul and to discount anyone who brought a vision! Similar statements could be made of Galatians, Philippians, and most of the audiences of the general epistles – this is an argument from silence to be sure, but all we can say about the growing of the NT church is that most Christians were only given Scripture and apostolic teaching.

    • dean says

      How God spoke to Adam and Isaiah and David etc… is irrelevant in the Church age. What He spoke to them is of up most relevance. He does not speak that way today. God does not walk with us in the garden. God does not pass by as we stand in the cleft of the rock. The Holy Spirit came on certain people, for a certain purpose for a certain time in the OT. This is how God revealed Himself. Now because of Pentecost the Holy Spirit dwells in the heart of the believer. As we read the Word and study the Holy Spirit reveals God’s will. He speaks to our hearts no question but all He says must be confirmed with Scripture.

  18. Adam says

    So just to be clear, you do believe in the ongoing gift of tounges and healing, as well? I assume so, because the Bible never explicitly says they will stope. Or, are you only a continuationist when it comes to divine communication?

    You are right that God is always talking, but he is talking to specific people. Kings, prophets, leaders, apostles, judges, etc. He speaks to few people and does so seldomly. So it might be helpful to clarify that the biblical pattern is *not* the kind of God-speaking-to-everyone-on-a-daily-basis that is often the view held by charistmatic evangelicals. I think that is a very helpful distinction in line with your respect for the “biblical pattern”

  19. says

    Dave said: “We examine the most extreme elements and use them to cast aspersions on the whole movement. It is an unfair tactic.”
    No, it’s not. It shows a logical extension of certain beliefs and practices. It would be wrong to say that EVERYONE who is a continuist will, wear macaroni in their hair or other ad absurdem notions, but it shows where some concepts will lead people when we show extremes.

    But while I lean towards an imprecise continuist/cessationist middle ground, What is wrong with saying the Spirit still speaks to us through the word? Yes, the Spirit is involved! The “Spirit bears witness with our spirits…” but God has in these last times spoken through His Son… the Word. Without equating the two I do believe there is a connection between The Word Incarnate and the Spoken Word written for us.

    So I counsel people to be wary of all subjective experiences and “leadings” and depend on God to show us how to obey Him through His Word. Being informed and led by God’s voice in conjunction and agreement with God’s written voice.

  20. says

    My exposure to non=cessationists began early in life with the local Assembly of God, pastored by a woman, where they spoke in “the unknown tongue” or “tongues”. I was not a professing Christian then, but what really ruined everything she said with me was her running off with one of the deacons who had four sons. My experience with the charismatic pentecostals, etc., continued to be negative for the next 10-15 years. I did preach in one Full Gospel church (sister aimee’s group) and I had told the pastor that I would accept it, if some one interpreted. He had a woman pop up and jabber, and he was the interpreter. Most of my experiences with such were not positive…though there were some good people among them. Then I met a lady who had in the time of World War II in the Philippines, while serving in a guerilla army unit, interpreted for the pygmies who told that the Great Spirit had told them to bring food to that unit (which was on the verge of starvation). As she said, she did not know pygmy and the US Army officer in charge told her to find out what they wanted. She said with gestures and with words that she did not know or understand her self, she worked out that the Spirit had told the pygmies to bring the food which they carried in baskets on their heads. That same lady would be tortured by the Japanese for 2 months and 28 days, 8 hrs a day, 7 days a week until they tossed her lifeless body out on a pile of corpses. An involuntary movement, led a Filipino to get her to the hospital where she was saved and had a baby that night. After the war that woman would win the Japanese officer to Christ that had tortured her. She would also win Margaret Mitchell, the author of Gone With The Wind, to Christ. She and her husband, a converted Orthodox Jew, were our friends in seminary, and I recommended her husband to a pastorate near where I was serving. In any case, I can buy something like that as evidence against Cessationism, but, for the most part, I have a really hard time swallowing a lot of what the non-cessationists say. Even my Jewish friend gave a horse laugh to the Charismatic Leader who recommended that people might learn and receive the gift of tongues by beginning to go la-la-la! Ugh!

    • Frank says

      Dave has already pointed out two, maybe three times, that a counterfeit is evidence of the genuine article, not vice versa.

  21. dean says

    Dave, you say, “Cessationism is, at it root, the idea that the work of the Spirit, as we see it in the NT, “ceased” (hence, cessationism) after the NT, and we should not expect to see the Spirit working that way today.” I do not understand this to be cessationism.

    I understand that cessationism is the disappearance of the sign gifts. I honestly do not see anything resembling the book of Acts in the church today. The gifts that established the apostles have disappeared from the church.

    As for interpreting I Cor. 13:8-10 referring to second coming if you continue on in the chapter that interpretation becomes confusing.

    Is it in heaven when our revelation is complete? How does that help us today? I need to understand God’s will today while I’m living by faith. I will be of no help to an individual if I say now in heaven you will understand what God is doing now.

    Paul will be know in heaven like he is known. In heaven are we going to read Paul’s writings and know him and he read Peter’s and know Peter?
    I will not need to see clearly when Christ returns. I will be looking at Him. I will be in a city with guards at the gates!!! There will be no tears, no wars, no sickness, death, temptation, devil, no sea, no darkness. Here on this earth, living by faith I need to know God’s will because we are buffeted on each side.When the cannon was finished the writers had the complete revelation. They know longer had to look through the glass darkly they could see clearly. We have that cannon and I am so glad it reveals God’s will for our lives and we do not have to live knowing His will only in part waiting for the next revelation.

    • says

      That passage in 1 Cor 13 is certainly one of the passages that cessationists use, but I don’t think that the “perfect” that would come is the complete text of scripture, but an eschatalogical reference.

      • dean says

        Dave, I can honestly respect that and I believed that for a great portion of my ministry. However through study my interpretation completely changed for the reasons I give above. I always was troubled by Jesus being referred to as “that” and not “He.” I always wondered why God would reveal His complete revelation in Heaven and give us glimpses here when we need Him most. Anyway we can certainly agree on the first part of I Corinthians 13. I don’t want to be tinkling symbols.

  22. says

    I am going to tell a story – it happened to me. I would like you cessationists, especially the more aggressive ones like Chris, to explain what really happened here. Every word of this story is exactly as it happened and is not embellished. You have only my word on that, but it is true.

    We were doing a beach ministry in Ocean City, Maryland, and we had a last night beach bonfire. There was a guy named Joe who had hung around with us all week. He was from a Greek Orthodox background, but not a believer.

    This beach was in a state park, so there was no ambient light, except the bonfire. We sang, I preached, we ate hot dogs and smores – all the bonfire standards. We put out the bonfire and headed to the bus to go home. That is when Joe said,

    “My keys are gone. They fell in the sand.”

    It is night. We are on a beach. There is a lost set of keys. It was hopeless. We sent the kids back on the bus, and two of the counselors, Joe, and I stayed back to try to find the keys on a large beach at night. We had four flashlights and started wandering the beach looking for a set of keys buried in the sand.

    That is when something happened. I began to “hear a voice” or have a subjective feeling or however you want to describe it. Words formed in my mind. “Stop and pray.” I knew that we needed to stop the search and gather together and pray to find the keys.

    This was not just an idea that popped into my head. It was a compelling sense that God wanted us to gather together and pray to find these keys.

    So, I called the others together and said I thought we should pray. Joe obviously thought it was silly but we gathered in a circle. I led a simple prayer asking God to help us find Joe’s keys. Amen.

    I turned around, turned on my flashlight and saw the tips of two keys sticking up out of the sand. That was all that was there. The tips of two keys. The moment I said amen and pointed my flashlight.

    So, you tell me. What was that voice in my head that compelled me to stop and pray? I know that we should have prayed at the start – its the thing we do. But we were searching and suddenly I had this compelling sense that we needed to stop and pray.

    From your cessationist viewpoint, what happened that day?

    • says

      Dave,

      I’m not a cessationist, particularly since you can’t end something that never began!

      As for your story, you probably wouldn’t think much of my explanation. :)

    • says

      When I was a teenager, almost the same thing happened to me, change a few of the details. One night before going to bed, I dropped my contact lens on my shag carpet on the floor of my bedroom. The next day I was to leave for youth camp. I searched for more than an hour to no avail. I was about to give up hope. Finally, I felt an inner sense that I should pray, and ask God to help me find it. I went to bed and left it in God’s hands. The next morning, I woke up, opened my eyes, looked down at the floor, and the very first place I looked, there was the contact lens.

      Dave’s story of keys on the beach at night is even more dramatic. But having experienced myself nearly the same thing, I am inclined to believe something more than just happenstance was at work on both occasions.

      Does this prove miracles still occur? No. But it has helped me in my belief that they do.

    • says

      I had a good friend many years ago (we lost touch when I moved) who was a Harvard and Yale educated lawyer. He was also Jewish. He got saved kind of on his own and began to grow in Christ.

      Without being exposed to the charismatic movement or any teaching on the subject, he began to speak in tongues and have what is sometimes called a private prayer language.

      It was only after that that he began to study the Bible that he had any perspective on that.

      He was not the product of false teachings of the charismaniacs. He got saved and started praying and this happened.

  23. says

    One point to clarify what I said above.

    I describe myself as a theological continuationist because I do not think the Bible teaches the gifts cease. But I am a functional cessationist because I do not see the gifts in operation today.

    I absolutely believe that at one time people saw tongues and miraculous healing. I do not think (am not convinced) that the Bible teaches such gifts will absolutely cease. Nonetheless, as dean notes above, they are not active as they were in the early church. We don’t see the kind of miraculous works they saw in Acts. Whatever God might yet do, he has not been continuing to give the gifts as he did in Acts.

    However

    The other part of the discussion, and the part I focus on, has to do with how the Spirit leads us or speaks to us. This is where Dave focused, this is where I focused, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the charismatic gifts.

    Nowhere does the Bible mention “spirit leading” as a charismatic gift. It is not one of the displays of God’s power through people, it is not in the list of the gifts of the Spirit, it isn’t even a fruit of the Spirit, per se. We are called to be led by the Spirit but that calling comes with a clear picture of what that looks like, and it looks nothing like the whispering, sensing, impressing view many people have today.

    The leading of the Spirit is a completely separate issue from the charismatic gifts. I believe those gifts once actively functioned among the apostles, and that they *could* (though they *aren’t*) be found among believers today. But I do not believe anyone has ever heard from God or been led by God in the way people talk about Spirit-leading today. It has never happened. It is an external notion imposed on the Bible, not one that is found in and taught by the Bible. This kind of subjective Spirit-leading has not ceased; it has never existed.

    • says

      I’ll come back and read other comments to Dave’s post, but I’ll back out here. :) Have some meetings coming up, and there probably isn’t much more I could add to what I’ve said in the context of this discussion.

      Dave, we disagree, but I still appreciate you and your ministry. :)

    • Frank L. says

      “”””I describe myself as a theological continuationist because I do not think the Bible teaches the gifts cease. But I am a functional cessationist because I do not see the gifts in operation today. “”””

      This seems to be a very honest admission. My reaction to this statement may not be what Chris would expect, but in the spirit of brotherly discussion, I’ll add a comment.

      Personally, if I made a statement to the affect: “I believe God is powerful and works in the same way as I plainly read in the book of Acts (and elsewhere), BUT, I am not seeing this manifest in my life–that admission would certainly cause great concern for me.

      This seems to beg the question: “Why not me?”

      I’m preaching through the Book of Mark. It would be hard for me to conclude (I’m in chapter 8) that when God walks among men–supernatural manifestation (including miracles) would seem to be at least as normative as they were in any other period of interaction between God and man.

      Perhaps, moreso we would expect miracles “after” Pentecost.

      I would add to Chris honest and straightforward admission, that in my experience 95% or more of Southern Baptists are “functional cessationists–or worse, “functional atheists.”

      Again, I want to stress that I don’t wish to cast aspersion upon Chris’ faith or point of view when he offered it so freely and honestly. I, personally, would not be comfortable living in such a condition as he describes.

      • says

        “My reaction to this statement may not be what Chris would expect…”

        On the contrary, I wondered if someone would bring this up as almost a test of the faith, your desire not to “cast aspersion” aside, that’s essentially what you are offering. If people have not had these experiences, then something must be lacking in their faith! Forget the fact that subjective or charismatic experiences are never lifted up in the Bible as ways of evaluating one’s salvation and sanctification, we esteem these experiences so highly, we insist they must be normative and we look with suspicion on those who do not claim them.

        I know people who think I am not a Christian because I cannot name a time and place. I know people who think I should not be a pastor because I did not hear the still, small voice or the burning in my gut. I know people who would question many, if not most, of my life decision because I based them on biblical wisdom rather than subjective impressions. To all of that I say: Nonsense. Give me what the Bible says, that’s what I’ll live by. And when the Bible does not say one word about phenomena as a demonstration of valid faith, nor of God leading through subjective experience, then I will not be concerned with them, even if people insist they are essential.

        • Frank says

          Sorry, for offending you, Chris. That was not my intent, as I stated. However, I also disagree that “nowhere in SCripture are gifts lifted up as a way of evaluating one’s salvation.”

          Though there are various opinions on this matter, I would argue that everytime in the Book of Acts that one particular gift–tongues–was manifest it was as a “sign.”

          I won’t debate this further because it has been debated ad infinitum. I would simply say, gifts are a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Let me qualify by saying: one can have the Holy Spirit (be saved) and not manifest the gifts available for a number of reasons; but, one cannot manifest the gifts of the Holy Spirit without being saved.

          The Holy Spirit IS salvation, not just associated with salvation.

          To use pejorative terms like “subjective and charismatic, or experience” does not change the truth.

          The word, “normative,” is also a bit clumbsy because it can connote “commonplace.” Miracles by definition are not “normative” it would seem to me. And, spiritual gifts are not “normative” humanly speaking. So, I don’t like to use that word.

          I would say that spiritual gifts while not “commonplace,” are not “out-of-place” in the life of a believer.

          Again, I specifically disavowed your statement in regard to “thinking you are not a Christian.” I was clear to say I don’t believe that based upon what I said above.

          Also, an experience is not “subjective” simply because it is private. I’ve had visions (two, maybe three) and they were as objective as my image in the mirror in the morning.

          The fact that I was the “subject,” does not make it “subjective” in the sense you and others use this term pejoratively.

          If we use your definition of subjective as “suspect, or not real,” then what does that say about your salvation or mine. I’m thinking that one minute after you were saved you looked pretty much like you did before you were saved. I’m pretty sure no operation would reveal your “salvation” to the surgeon.

          One of the reasons this conversation with crash and burn is: 1) people use terms pejoratively that do not require any such meaning; and 2) spiritual phenomena are hard to describe, much less “prove,” and 3) some people have their minds made up and do not want to be bothered with facts–subjective or otherwise.

          • says

            “3) some people have their minds made up and do not want to be bothered with facts–subjective or otherwise.”

            In my case, I don’t care about subjective, experiential “facts”. I can hear account after account of what people have seen and experienced, and what they think those experiences mean, but if the Bible doesn’t teach it, I’ll not be convinced of it.

          • Frank says

            So, Chris,

            Are you saying you know whether or not God wants you to be a missionary or not? Exactly what verse is that?

            Also, do you not believe the Bible when it says in the Last Days God will speak to people in “dreams and visions?” Is a “dream or vision” subjective “fact” or “objective?”

            But, you prove my point: the only truth you will except is, “what?”
            You can’t answer Scripture because Scripture is not “objective.” It requires a “subject” to: 1) discover it; 2) translate it; 3) interpret it.

            It is not the “printed page” that is inspired (Tim 3:16). It is the message. It was oral before it was printed and it was not printed in a leather-bound book. So, I don’t know how you are getting around “your” definition of subjective–which is not my definition nor that of most philsophers I’ve studied.

            It seems you use “subjective” as and “antonym” for “true, or real.” It is conceivable then, that you must come to the conclusion about “visions, spiritual phenomena, gifts, etc.” because you come with an a priori definition that precludes the same.

            And, I can be just as “harsh and sharp as you are being” and simply stomp my feet and say, “I don’t care about your empiricism. I can listen to skeptic after skeptic, but if you are going to refuse what clearly the Scripture teaches, I’ll not be convinced by your argument.”

            Where exactly in the Scripture does it say that a “subjective” experience cannot be true? Where exactly in Scripture does it say, “there are no apostles today?” Where exactly in Scripture does it say God does not speak in dreams and visions (by definition a subjective phenomenon)? Where exactly in Scripture does it say that the spiritual gifts enumerated in Romans, Corinthians and other texts will end with the death of the last apostle?

            OK: by your rules you say you only believe what Scripture says. I don’t see any Scriptures that answer the above questions from a cessationist perspective. Am I missing something?

            But, if you are just going to stomp your feet and say, “I don’t care what your perspective is,” then you are proving my point #3: “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my minds made up.”

            End of story. End of conversation. Is that your intent? If so, simply say so and I’ll be on my way.

          • says

            Frank,

            Where in the Bible does it say that we can’t all have pink unicorns? It doesn’t? Then we must have them! That the Bible doesn’t say something is not itself determinative. On the other hand, if you want to tell me that God wants a certain experience for his people, that needs to be located in the text. If you want to tell me that God has promised something to all believers, I need to see where he has made that promise. If you want to tell me to expect a certain experience, I need to know why I should expect it – and your word is not enough for me. Unless God has spoken it in an authoritative source – a source he has clearly made authoritative – I am not likely to trust it. Sola Scriptura and all that.

          • Stephen Beck says

            Frank, you said

            “Are you saying you know whether or not God wants you to be a missionary or not? Exactly what verse is that?”

            As an aside (I think I am going to be summing up the gist of Kevin DeYoung’s book, though I have not read it), one of the emotional and practical benefits of the position that I think Chris and I are both espousing is that we do in fact have a verse calling us to missions – Matthew 28:19 and Acts 1:8, among others. An explicit, objective vocational calling is mostly absent for most believers: Paul was called to apostleship, but did Timothy receive a similar call to pastorship? It seems that Timothy was ordained for ministry merely because “Paul wanted Timothy to go with him” (Acts 16:3). Fortunately, assuming the exegesis of all Baptists is correct, we all have explicit, objective ministry callings: to make disciples of all nations, to proclaim the gospel, to work as to support ourselves and not lean on others, to be sober-minded, to be like-minded, to be filled with the Spirit, to be in communion with other saints, to be joyful, to teach and encourage each other in Scripture, etc. etc.

            Now, did God give me a call to teach math? Probably not, but He did give me the Holy Spirit to guide me in righteousness. He also gave me a clear call to spread the gospel.

    • Dee says

      Chris, our friends hold frequent healing events in very rural Nagaland near India and Nepal. They would not be allowed to hold preaching services by the authorities. But healing is allowed. Tumors fall off people to the ground, the deaf hear, the blind see. The local Christian pastor is ‘wanted’ by the authorities and his assistant was murdered by Hindus last year. Their buses drive through raging rivers and they are not harmed. These people go through check points and are not arrested. One of the couples traveled as one of Brother Andrews Bible smugglers in the past and authorities were blind to the contraband. These are the people we walk with in ministry and are close friends. We believe their testimonies. They say that Western society trusts in doctors and Western ideals and are not as open to the supernatural. You would be take away if you spent time praying for raising of the dead like David Hogan does. So you chose to give up. But one day…you will see miracles again. Persecution breeds miracles.

  24. Bill Mac says

    Experiences are always interesting, and even sometimes true! But they aren’t teachable. I’ve had pastors say to me that strong “impressions” are the primary way God speaks today. ??? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “I feel led”. What does feeling led feel like?

    If you think God is telling you to do something, by all means go ahead, but I wonder what the practical upshot of these experiences is. We can’t teach them. We can’t teach people what feeling led feels like. We can’t teach people how to hear God’s voice. (other than teaching them to read). We can’t teach people how to “find God’s will”. (other than teaching them to read). I’m not a cessationist. I think the argument for cessationism is almost laughable. But I am dead against subjective mysticism, and that is what a lot of evangelicals flirt with.

    I’ve spoken to groups of students who expect me to give them some kind of formula for discerning “God’s will for their life.” I have two questions: Why do you think God will tell you His will for your life? and How do you know you aren’t living it now? Then I ask them two more: What do you like? and What are you good at? That is as good a rubric as any to decide what you want to do with your life. Pray for wisdom and do what you want. God has ways of turning you around if you aren’t going in the right direction.

    • Frank says

      Bill Mac,

      “”””But they aren’t teachable””””

      I agree 100%. But, this is part of the problem. Scripture is not verified by experience but verifies the experience. That’s the whole idea of “testing the spirits.”

      The “teaching” aspect comes before the verification of the experience, hence your statement:

      “”””Experiences are always interesting, and even sometimes true!””””

      The Bible is not “true” because I have an experience, but my “experience” is true (or false) based upon whether it conforms to the teaching of God’s Word.

      • Bill Mac says

        Frank: My point is that we have a difficult time verifying experience. Who is to say that your choice to buy the red car over the blue was the Spirit leading or one too many chili dogs?

        But even if you have some kind of genuine “experience”, you cannot now go out and say “This is how God works…”

        And still the question remains unanswered: What does feeling led feel like? For the most part: “feeling led” = “I want to”.

        • Frank L. says

          Bill Mac,

          Ok. I’m with you. I cannot go out and say “this is how God works.” But, is it not also equally true you cannot say, “This is NOT how God works?”

          Plus, “red car vs. blue car” type of arguments are simply reducing the conversation to absurdity.

          I don’t think you have any evidence to support your view: “feeling led = I want to.” I think that is disrespectful to fellow believers. I think that makes a mockery of sincere prayer.

          Most of the arguments against a “Spirit-led Life” are nothing more than caricatures and cartoons. It is not what I mean in any stretch of the imagination.

          I’ve given numerous Scriptural references upon which I base my view. I’ve seen none–zero, zip, nada–for those who are arguing for cessation.

          I’ve said, “I’m open.” I’m willing to learn.

          • Bill Mac says

            Frank: I am not a cessationist. But I’m not a mystic either, and I fear a lot of what goes on in evangelical circles is repackaged mysticism. People used to throw the bones or read the entrails of animals. We are more sophisticated in our augury but in my opinion if often amounts to the same thing.

            I believe God can and does speak. But he doesn’t speak in riddles, and hidden messages. I find no scripture to support that he “speaks” through feelings. The biblical pattern is very clear, when God speaks, it is clear and unequivocal.

            I’m a little strong on this I know, but I also know from personal experience the damage that we do to young Christians when we constantly give the impression that God is speaking to us and telling us what to do. A great deal of my problem with it is the use of the word “speak.”

          • John Wylie says

            Frank L.

            You said, “I’ve given numerous Scriptural references upon which I base my view. I’ve seen none–zero, zip, nada–for those who are arguing for cessation.”

            Actually I’ve used scripture several times but have been largely ignored by the continuationists.

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      Bill: You say experiences are not teachable. I disagree. They are very teachable, if God leads to tell them. :) (a little pun in there), but…sometimes and most times God doesn’t want the experience told at least right away, and for the reasons given by you and Chris. They are not believed and it sometimes points to the person, although that is not the person’s intention. It never means the person is greater than another person who has not had the experience. And…there is always a purpose when God does something extra miraculous such as a private prayer language or a healing or name the miracle.

      Chris: It is not given or happens to every Christian. It’s one of those things that there is no earthly reason why the person was chosen to receive this miracle. It’s not because they have been good, it’s not because they are better than someone else. But sometimes it is to affirm their salvation or to confirm a decision or to confirm that the doctrine they are believing is correct, not always, but sometimes. Sometimes it is for another reason we are not aware of. It always brings Glory to God and not to ourselves. It is totally different than a Benny Hinn type of teaching.

      • Bill Mac says

        Debbie: I didn’t say experiences shouldn’t be shared. They just shouldn’t be the basis for doctrine. Where is the exegetical support for “feeling led”? How do you teach people to “feel led”? What does “feeling led” feel like?

        There is no support for the idea that God’s voice is somehow jumbled, mysterious, and hard to discern from the babble of our own thoughts.

  25. Bruce McGovern says

    The pastor of the non-denominational church a few miles north of Dave’s church in Cedar Rapids, who retired in the early 90’s, was a very slow reader. He asked me to read a book and mark key passages for him.

    One thing which shocked me was the reporting of a study by a national evangelical association. They asked a lot of evangelicals if they truly believed the articles of faith in the churches they attended. They expected a small percentage would say they did not.

    Instead it was something like 70 or 80% who did not believe. Pretty much anything. Including the resurrection. Anything.

    So, they went back and asked why they went to a church where they believed nothing. Well, I like being around those holy people. It’s what I want for my kids, etc.

    Guess who sits in the front row and shuts, “Amen, brother!”

  26. says

    Some influential books on this and the Charismatic issue include:

    The Charismatic Movement by John R. Rice.
    Charismatic Chaos by John F. MacArthur, Jr.
    The Spirit Book by Jerry Vines.

    By the way, John R. Rice was not a cessationist.
    David R. Brumbelow

    • Dave Miller says

      I’ve read Johnny Mac on this one. But I think he is guilty of condemnation by the extreme, and I think that is one of his weakest books.

      • Zack says

        “But I think he is guilty of condemnation by the extreme, and I think that is one of his weakest books.

        +1. When dealing with this topic, it’s much easier to work in the extremes than it is to sort out the subtle, nuanced issues.

      • says

        David: I do have to say that the non-cessationists have produced their extremes, too, and it is enough to make one want to up-chuck. Admittedly, even the best of writers can produce a cropper now and then. Here is a place for a bit of humor…told while I was in seminary. Suppsoedly, a woman popped up during a staid church service in Greensboro, NC back in the 70s and started rattling in tongues. The pastor, a cool customer, said, “Is there any one here, who can interpret?” Waiting for a response, he finally said, “I think the interpretation of what the lady said is this:’The Lord said, you will give me $5000.'” The woman screeched, and took of, leaving the service.
        Now for a more serious note. A Southern Baptist missionary was in line ahead of me to receive his Doctor of Ministry. I happened to know he had a private prayer language, but we never discussed it. My experiences with this have always suggested caution, hesitation, if not rejection (especially in view of the many cases of falsification). I remember my professor of Bible at East Texas Baptist College in either the Fall of ’58 or Spring of ’59 , Mr. C.E. Roark, telling about being in a service where a lady got up and spoke in another language. No one offered to interpret, but Brother Roark spoke up and said he would and he gave the translation of the woman’s Spanish rendering of the Model Prayer. And then there is the story of the Southern Baptist Missionary in the Philippines who was seized by a native who spoke in a language the missionary did not know and the missionary replied in the same language. Consequently, the missionary preserved his own life. But I have never been able to document this case.

  27. Bruce McGovern says

    Dave, this might even be better than your seminary thesis. I hope it’s okay to print and store in my filing cabinet. I managed to lose my copy of your thesis when we moved to Texas/Mexico after retirement.

    You other guys are funny. Oh, wait a minute, you are serious. Now, that IS funny.

    Dave’s posting is important to me because it helps me deal with something that happened to me many years ago.

    I was wrestling with my own spiritual condition. Everyone, that is, the Great and Wise Everyones, said when you are saved, you must run around with a bullhorn, sarcasm intended, telling the whole world you are saved. I was not able to do so, thus questioned if I were really saved.

    As usual, I was providing counseling to divorced (God’s Appointed Leaders) including suicide counseling, several times a week, and felt as if I should withdraw from that function. I mean, could The Great and Wise Everyones be wrong when they said I was wrong?

    I was in church, and I guarantee you if God speaks (or an angel or?) yes, you will know. It will not be a feeling in your stomach, or an intuitive burst, or letting the Bible fall open to a random verse, which decides the rest of your life for you.

    Ezekiel was unable to adequately describe the aircraft which carried him high into the sky, because there was nothing in his knowledge to describe it accurately.

    Just so I have no experience to describe what happened to me. It was not audible voices at all. The best I can do, based on my own experience, was my mind became a printer for the words that came, and those words appeared in my mind as if printed on a paper. I asked questions, and they were answered in like fashion.

    I even asked who was ‘speaking’ and how I could be sure that is who was speaking, and all was answered.

    All my doubts were answered, and I received instructions as to my future activities.

    I went home and wrote all this down, and put it in a sealed envelope in my fire safe. I also questioned my own sanity, since that church was cessationist and I had been told such things simply do not happen in NT days. Why would God speak to me, out of billions of people on the planet?

    Does God talk to me all the time? Of course not. There is no reason to suspect it will ever happen again. In the entire OT, God or angels talking to prophets was very rare, and in most cases, except for the Idiot Prophet, only once in their life. And, the experience was so sharp and clear they spent the rest of their lives in obedience to that instruction.

    One of the sure signs, IMO, of a false prophet is their insistence God talks to them all the time.

    I also agree with the statement that for most of us, most of the time, and that includes me, our knowledge of what we should be doing comes from culture-free reading of the Bible. And, prayer for straight thoughts.

  28. Nate says

    Dave,

    How then do you interpret 1 Cor 14. It appears that Paul is speaking of the use of tongues and prophesying in the church, and he tells the Corinthians that it is more desirable for them to prophesy. Furthermore, unless there is someone to interpret, speaking in tongues should be refrained. Anyway, the issue for full-cessationists, or almost cessasionists, and almost all evangelicals I know, is that they would say that prophesying (speaking the words of God) no longer occurs. I haven’t seen (perhaps I missed it) your stance on whether prophecy (hearing the word of God and then speaking those words with the authority of God) continues today?

    If you do believe this, then a whole host of issues come into play, the bible not being in a final form being the most radical. Also, how can we tell the Pope he doesn’t speak for God. How would we deny others who maintain they “heard” from God and declare us to follow.

    However, my point on this is, how can you (I’m going to assume you will) say that additions to Scripture cannot take place anymore, but say tongues can continue. I’m not sure your hermenuetic of 1 Cor 14 could exclude one and continue the other. I could bring this same argument to 1 Cor 12 and Rom 12.

    I might be too broad in my assertations, but I am not following people who claim to prophesy in the name of the Lord. Now, if they prophesy Scripture (which really isn’t prophecy) then why can’t I read the bible for myself?

    I believe in a miraculous God. I believe that miracles can take place (even you finding a set of keys). What I don’t believe is that people (miracle men) are endowed with the gift(s) on a continuous basis. In other words, there are no Peter’s and Paul’s who can perform a miracle at will anymore.

    • Dave Miller says

      My post was nearly 3000 words as it was, so I couldn’t deal with everything. Maybe in the future. Short story now. I believe prophecy still exists, but that NT prophecy is different (based on how it is treated) than OT prophecy.

      OT prophecy was authoritative and to be obeyed. NT prophecy was to be tested and approved.

      Too complicated to deal with right now. I’ve got a few things to do today other than blog. But that is what I believe without the WHY.

      • Nate says

        Thanks Dave! Perhaps that could be the substance of a future post, should evangelicals still gather and have councils to determine the veracity of new prophecy, etc.

    • says

      In the NT (in particular), “prophecy” does not equal “Scripture.” The daughters of Philip were described as “prophetesses,” but not a single word from them is recorded in Scripture. Paul explicitly declares that prophesying was occurring in Corinth, and should continue to be practiced there. Not a single word from the worship in Corinth is recorded in Scriptures. This seems to support Dave’s position, to me.

      • Nate says

        There are letters of Paul that aren’t in Scripture either. So, Mt 13:14 is not speaking about prophecy, or your hermenuetic is that only the epistles that use the word prophecy doesn’t mean “speaking the word of God”? Of course, you have to deal with 2 Peter 1:20-21 then. The context of 1 Cor 14 is speaking the word of God to the people of God.

        • says

          I’m not sure what Mt. 13:14 has to do with this discussion, but my hermeneutic is that it is clear from (at least) the two examples I gave that not everything that the NT describes as “prophecy” ended up as Scripture. Therefore, it is disingenuous to propose the what the NT describes as “prophecy” can no longer happen because the Scriptures are completed.

          • Nate says

            My point about Mt 13:14 is that it is the exact same Greek word as 1 Cor 14, 2 Peter 1:20-21 and elsewhere in the NT. Your one example (Philip’s daughter’s) is irrelevant as I pointed out that we also have letter’s of Paul’s that aren’t in Scripture. Furthermore, I’m sure you would agree that the other Apostles had prophetic authority as they went and shared the gospel, but because we don’t have their written words in Scripture doesn’t mean they weren’t speaking with the authority of prophets. So, while I agree that there are those who believe “prophecy” can continue, my point is that we can’t simply say 1 Cor 14 is “speaking a good word for the Lord.” I don’t personally believe prophecy can continue today, but I don’t see hermeneutically how you can change its meaning in 1 Cor 14 and not have to change it everywhere in the NT. (See Acts 13:1 where Luke distinguishes between prophets and teachers)

          • Stephen Beck says

            Nate, you should have said this in the thread starter, you would have been more clear.

            Be careful not to fall into an exegetical fallacy of only allowing one possible definition for a single word in all uses. Even in English we can use the same word with multiple meanings, even meanings that are subtly different.

            I agree with you that a major problem for Holy-Spirit-leadings-as-prophecy continuationists is finding support in Scripture for a redefining of what prophecy is. I think most can concede that God gave direct revelation in biblical times that did not end up in Scripture, but it is difficult for me to concede that there are cases where God gave prophetic revelation that was not clear and binding towards those who received it. If it is prophecy and it is from the Lord, then you must do it! If it you are not sure it is from the Lord…well then it’s probably not prophecy, don’t you think?

  29. Donald says

    “Cessationism is the idea that the manifestations of the Spirit from 1 Corinthians 12 were meant for a specific time…”

    Dave,

    Taking a look at 1 Cor 12, these verses certainly have nothing that would bring a reader to think that these gifts would cease.

    It would seem that a rather simple explanation is available by reading 1 Cor 12:7 & 12:11.

    “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all”

    “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”

    The Holy Spirit confers on each one as he pleases. He confers on each one that which he sees to be best and most wise and proper for all. If there is no strictly Biblical argument that these gifts are forever ceased, then we cannot call them ceased based on our personal experience. If we do not see them manifested, it would seem that the Holy Spirit doesn’t consider it best, wise, or proper that we have them in our local church. We may never personally experience these particular gifts, nor can one say that these specific named gifts should be normative for the local church.

    • Donald says

      Dave,

      How do you view 1 Cor 13:8-10 in relation to this subject?

      “But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.”

  30. Max says

    “I came to believe that cessationism is simply not a biblical teaching. It is hermeneutical wishful thinking.” Amen, Dave!

    I have found that most Christians operate on the premise that “Truth” is only that which they have personally experienced in their journey: “If it ain’t happened to me, it ain’t true!” Thus, there is a great deal of mistrust in the personal experience of others in regard to belief and practice. Certainly, there is a lot of abuse in this area; thus, we should position our lives in dependence on the Holy Spirit to sort out false teachings/teachers … to test and try the spirits about us.

    With all the labels floating around in SBC ranks these days, I suppose I could be labeled as “Bapticostal” when it comes to spiritual gifts. If you need another label, I am a continuationist. I’ve experienced too much in my life in the form of deliverance, healing, and discernment to adopt a cessationist position. Those who desire to adhere to cessationism in the 21st century effectively receive that wish by grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit. They are left to “do church” largely in the flesh and don’t have enough spiritual power to blow the dust off a peanut!

    You can be darn sure that evil spirits have not ceased their operations during the last 2000 years! Turn on the news!! As the world catapults in moral chaos toward the second coming of Christ, we better not rest in the teaching and traditions of men in this regard, but pray for and depend on Christ to continue to send gifts to the Church and for the Holy Spirit to manifest those in our presence in whatever form we need.

    “When He ascended on high, He … gave gifts to his people … UNTIL we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4: 7-16)

    • says

      Max,

      “You can be darn sure that evil spirits have not ceased their operations during the last 2000 years! Turn on the news!!”

      While I don’t deny the work of demons (Ephesians 6 makes their presence and work fairly apparent), it is worth noting that we don’t need evil spirits for there to be evil in the world. I suspect that if Satan and the demons went on vacation for a while, we wouldn’t find the world in much better shape.

      • Max says

        If demons decide to take a break, I’ll still put on the full of armor of God (just in case).

  31. volfan007 says

    I’m a cautious cessationist. I do believe that God can do whatever He wants to do, whenever He wants to do it. And, if the Lord wants someone to speak French, while in France, whenever they dont know a lick of French(true tongues, BTW); then God can make it happen. I also pray for God to heal people, and I believe firmly that He can heal…..when He so sovereignly chooses to do so.

    But, I do not believe that there are any Apostles around today, and I do believe that tongues have ceased(but could happen in very rare situations), and that no one has the gift of healing today; and no one has the power to raise the dead, like the Apostles had.

    I love you, folks, who are continuists; but I do not agree with you. And, I think we see a lot of crazy, stupid things done all in the name of “God told me” and “God still does…..”

    Now, about the Spirit leading. I most certainly do believe that the Spirit can lead us, and I hold to a view very closely to John MacArthur. He leads us by giving us wisdom in our minds, and by giving us the desire in our heart; as we pray about matters.

    Well, anyway, that’s where I come down on this issue.

    David

    • says

      “I’m a cautious cessationist. I do believe that God can do whatever He wants to do, whenever He wants to do it…”

      Well put. This describes my position fairly well, even on the issue of subjective impressions. God can do, and will do, what he will do. The problem for us is how we teach God’s actions. My big issue with many in the church today is we teach people to expect God to do things he never said he would do, so someone like Blackaby is misleading many, many Christians by telling them to look for things God never promised, resulting in far too many Christians relying on feelings and impressions that originate from their own sinful flesh rather than the Spirit of God.

      There is a reason God has told us to pray for wisdom, and it’s not because we wouldn’t need it. We are to seek wisdom as we make decisions, not subjective impressions.

      • volfan007 says

        My experience is that subjective impressions and feelings lead to all kinds of confusion, doubt, and double mindedness.

        David

      • Dave Miller says

        The God of the Bible is more personal than that, Chris. He speaks to us, he doesn’t just give impersonal impressions and such.

        • Debbie Kaufman says

          Much more personal than that.

          David: At times this is true, that is when we do nothing and prayerfully wait. When it is right and we are being led, there are no doubts. It’s strong and not able to be explained. But it feels something like when one knows right from wrong without a doubt. I don’t know how to explain it better than that. Sometimes it’s almost a strong compulsion or desire. You just know. Like when Paul knew to go into the city because the Holy Spirit told him not to in the book of Acts even though other Christians told him not to go. (Acts 21:4)

      • Dee says

        Chris,
        Scripture tells us that Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel and Knowledge are four of the 7 Spirits of Elohim, not just dry thought processes. That implies to me that they are living within a believer along with the other three for direction and strength. One may utilize scripture in this process, but the Spirit is alive within us flowing in these manners.

        Isaiah 11:2 reads, “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.”

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      Now, about the Spirit leading. I most certainly do believe that the Spirit can lead us, and I hold to a view very closely to John MacArthur. He leads us by giving us wisdom in our minds, and by giving us the desire in our heart; as we pray about matters.

      Agreed.

  32. volfan007 says

    I also want to make this offer. If anyone truly has the gift of tongues, today; then I will pick out a country….which speaks a language that you do not know…I will pick it…..and I will pay your way for us to go to that country; and I wanna see you speak to those people in thier own language, which you have no idea about how to speak thier language. I wanna see you preach the Gospel to those people, in their native tongues, and you NOT know how to speak that language….except by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.

    David

    • Bennett Willis says

      David,
      I hope you get some rain out of the hurricane. I know you need it because we need it west of Rutherford. Maybe it will help unclog the Mississippi too.

      Do you pray for healing? I know that when we pray for healing, we expect God to do the work, but when I do it I certainly believe that healing still takes place. And I believe this even though I don’t see it happen regularly.

      • volfan007 says

        Yes, we need the rain from the hurricane in the worst kind of way, although we’re getting a little shower right now. Thank the Lord.

        And, of course, I pray for healing. And, I believe that God can heal…if He sovereignly chooses to do so. I do not have the ability to heal people, though. And, I dont believe in the Benny Hinn’s and the PTL crowd, though.

        David

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      David: Dr. George Ella who is Southern Baptist and a great historian, experienced tongues in just that way. He found when in a country he could speak the language when preaching although never having had a lesson in that language.

  33. Dave Miller says

    One of the nice things about exposing the errors of cessationism is driving Calvinists and anti-Calvinists to support each other!

  34. John Wylie says

    I just want to throw this out for discussion. Have you ever notice that it seems that times of revelation were accompanied by miracles and signs? Moses came with signs as his credentials. There were miracles during the times of the prophets. And there were signs during the ministry of Chirst and the apostles and the early church.

    Regardless of our differences in respect to timing concerning the sign gifts, 1 Corinthians 13 makes it abundantly clear that the sign gifts were partial, temporary and for a time of immaturity. (1 Corinthians 13:8-11) “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (ESV)

  35. Doug Hibbard says

    I haven’t taken the time to peruse everything, and a funeral has kept me from re-checking everything Scriptural on this, but the question I have about “God told me” statements is this: If whatever God tells me now has to be in agreement with Scripture and I can’t know for sure if it’s from God if it’s not in line with Scripture, how do I know He said it?

    I know that’s a functional/logical question rather than straight on hermeneutics, but it’s still there. Alongside this question: God speaks extraordinarily clearly in the cited incidents in Scripture. Why did He switch from speaking clearly to speaking vaguely?

    I have not spent enough time on this one to be firm in my view: I don’t think I see this in Scripture, but I also know that God does not answer to me or my opinions.

    • Dave Miller says

      To oversimplify – I believe that truth is revealed in Scripture. God’s revelation of himself, of the gospel, of doctrine and truth is in the Word.

      It is the details. I did, in fact, sense a call to ministry as a young teen. I sensed the call of God to move from Dallas to an SBC seminary, to stay within the SBC. I have felt that direction, that inner voice, that subjective voice – whatever you want to call it – on such things as marrying my wife, moving from church to church, once on building a building – things like that.

      I don’t look to dreams and visions for the revelation of truth, but I do get some of the guidance for life (that is not gained in Scriptural exposition) in a more direct way.

      • Frank says

        Dave,

        I’ve been in the ministry going on 37 years now.

        I grew up around a Baptist church, but hooked up with charismatics on my submarine.

        I felt my call to preach in the middle of the jungle on the island of Guam. It was attended by a “vision” as real as the sunset that day. I got out, went to an SBC college and became a “fire-breathing anti-charismatic.”

        I simply dismissed the vision as–well, I don’t really know as what.

        I’m now an ardent Charismatic cessationist. I ardently do NOT believe the gifts and operations of the Holy Spirit have ceased. I have ceased from my “narrow view of how God SHOULD be.”

        I was also 53 years old when the ambulance driver kept telling the hospital, “I’m having trouble getting a pulse.” I had been having a heart attack for 12 hours! I had no blood pressure to speak of. Yet, I was fully awake.

        People began praying for me. My heart should have been destroyed but my enzymes indicated only about 2% damage. They could not put me to sleep while they worked on my heart through my groin. So, I simply prayed. And, my doctor who is a believer said, “keep praying its working.”

        My point is: there is NOT one Scripture that clearly indicates cessationism (as you pointed out). The doctrine is strung together like sausage.

        Yet, there are thousands of testimonies from all over the globe throughout all modern history that God is not a cessationist (nor a sensationalist).

        Thanks brother, for broaching this topic. I’m interested to see where this goes.

        “C”/”non-C”. deja vu.

      • says

        Dave,

        What’s the difference between one person’s “I sensed a call to…” and another person’s “I really wanted to be a…” For some reason, we spiritualize the “call” to various ministry positions, even though the Bible never does this, and we never quite explain how our subjective “sense” differs from what other people experience in their desire to pursue various vocations.

        • Dave Miller says

          The difference is God directing me and guiding me, versus me deciding for myself what I want to do.

          Chris, you seem to enjoy arguing things way more than I do. But this is what the Bible teaches as best I understand it.

          You’ve offered almost no scriptures, just passionate arguments. So, bless you, but I’m sticking with the Word, not your arguments.

          • volfan007 says

            I know that God called me to be a Pastor, as well. God began to lay the desire on my heart to do this in a very strong way. I knew that God wanted me to preach and pastor. He did not talk out loud to me. He did not speak to me thru an owl, or a dog, or at night in a dark room. God began to give me a strong, strong desire to do this ministry. I knew that I could do nothing else and be content in life.

            So, yes, I do agree with Dave that men need to be called into the ministry to pastor and preach.

            David

          • says

            Dave,

            “You’ve offered almost no scriptures, just passionate arguments. So, bless you, but I’m sticking with the Word, not your arguments.”

            Then why have you ignored almost every request of mine for the Word? I am telling you I will not agree with you because your words are not backed up by Scripture. I cannot give you Scripture to show you what is not there. All I can do is ask you to show me in Scripture where your claims are vindicated. So far, the passages you reference do not affirm what you are arguing.

            As for enjoying arguing on this, this is an issue that gets me going, even more than the Calvinism issue. This is an issue that has led Christian after Christian into disaster because they trusted things the Bible did not promise. It has led people to believe the words of prominent men like Henry Blackaby who insist and persist in teaching unbiblical superstitious mysticism. It has led to the confusion of many young people searching for the will of God. It has led many pastors to abuse their churches into doing what they want because “God has given them this vision”. On and on the list goes. I get passionate about this issue because it scandalizes the name of God and is defended by people who should know better because they are otherwise committed to God’s Word.

          • volfan007 says

            Dave,

            No. It’s really not. I said that I believe that the Holy Spirit can give us guidance on matters not in the Bible by giving us wisdom and the desires of our hearts, as we pray and seek God, which is what MacArthur teaches in his book. As we pray and seek God, delighting ourselves in the Lord, then God will give us the desires of our heart…..which He has placed there!

            So, no, this doesnt go against what I’ve been saying, at all. It goes right along with it.

            David

          • Dave Miller says

            Chris, I made my points using scripture in the post. Your response has been pretty typical. Reductio ad absurbum, condemnation by the extreme, and logical arguments, but I’ve not really seen biblical arguments.

            I just see no point in arguing with you, Chris. If you can make some exegetical arguments, fine.

            But pretty much you’ve just offered the boilerplate cessationist arguments and I’ve heard them a million times and they just aren’t any more convincing now than they were 30 years ago.

            My study of scripture convinced me they were wrong (I once believed as you do). You do not seem interested in listening to the other side or dialog, so there seems little real point in the conversation.

          • says

            Dave,

            “You do not seem interested in listening to the other side or dialog”

            Surely you realize that cuts both ways? You have basically said, “Chris, I’ve already discounted your argument.” There have been places where I’ve asked specific questions for specific texts, things not addressed in your post, yet nothing has been offered. This only reinforces my conclusion that nothing has been offered because nothing can be offered. These are not biblical ideas, this no Bible can be given to defend them. What exegetical argument do you want from me in response? I can give you the whole Bible, showing that from cover to cover, these subjective experiences are missing.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            Chris: Sam Storms brings up a great point in the link David Rogers gave. We are in a better position to evaluate these things than the First Century Christians did. We have the completed Canon. They did not have this in the First Century church. They had people who did not believe and were not only cessationists but did not believe that the Holy Spirit ever worked that way. How do you think Paul knew, how do you think Phillip knew when guided to talk to the Ethiopian? These are just a few.

    • Dave Miller says

      Yeah. But as some have observed, it is interesting to watch as the battle lines are redrawn. Some the ardent Calvinists and vocal opponents of Calvinism have joined together to oppose me! I’m doing my part to bring people together.

  36. Stephen Beck says

    Dave, this started as a well-written post. You provide a few points about how cessationism just simply is not taught in Scripture, even give a few nice examples, then you just pop this point out:

    4) There is a difference between OT prophecy and NT manifestation of the Spirit and guidance. The OT prophets revealed God’s Word authoritatively and were to be obeyed. Thus, God placed a heavy burden on them. One mistake and they were through! But the subjective voice of the Spirit is not the same as the “Thus saith the Lord revelation of the Prophets.”

    (end quote)

    Exegetical support, please??? Maybe next post you can go through the verses that teach about subjective leadings of the Spirit and where Jesus redefined prophecy with another antithesis in the Sermon on the Mount.

    Sorry for a bit of sarcasm, but you claim cessationists have only experience to back them up (the lack of verifiable sign gifts in operation) then you say you are a continuationist because of your own admittedly weak prophetic experiences!

    Jesus said that his disciples would know they are led by the Spirit, that Jesus has been made known to them, for this reason: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words. The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent Me.” (John 14:23-24) That is very matter-of-fact language: the disciples would be obedient to the direct words of God! How is this different than Moses’ teachings in Deuteronomy about obedience to the law – these are parallel statements about the nature of prophetic revelation (in the same discourse Jesus would also describe how the 12 would receive the Spirit in order to make known Jesus’ word after he departed (presumably the writing of the canon, no?)).

        • Christiane says

          the ‘secret’ of the formation of the Canon?

          Christ promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide His Apostles and the early Church was determined to pass down the Apostolic teachings as they had been received and treasured and guarded. During the time that there was no ‘Canon’, the early Christians met and celebrated ‘the Service of the Word’ followed by ‘the Thanksgiving’ (eucharist);
          and after a time, when Christ did not immediately return to them, the early Christians began to write down under the guidance of the Holy Spirit what they had been taught by Our Lord Himself (the Holy Gospels) and the epistles and these gospels were copied and sent to all parts of the Roman Empire and shared . . . much of what was written down had been a part of the prayers of Christians in community since time immemorial . . .

          when the Council met to form the Canon . . . out of respect for the Church’s great treasure of Apostolic teaching, the choices were made based on scriptures that had been in common use, over time, widely, in all the areas where the Church had formed its communities

          that is the ‘secret’ of the Canon . . . because of the Holy Spirit, the Apostolic teachings were guarded and treasured and passed down with great care . . .
          so the Church chose what it had always known, in its way of praying, in its written Gospels testifying to Our Lord, and in the epistles that were sent to ALL parts of Christendom and were in use over time . . .
          nothing was admitted into the Canon that had not been ‘handed down’ and guarded with great care by the whole Church and used by all over time.

  37. Frank says

    “””but you claim cessationists have only experience to back them up”””

    Where does Dave make this declaration. I think he clearly points out that Scripture teaches the on-going work of the Holy Spirit, and does NOT teach cessationism.

    I’m not sure David’s comparison with O.T. prophecy was fully developed. I don’t think he meant what you are trying to make him say.

    Though, I can barely speak for myself, so I’ll not attempt to speak further for Dave.

    I will say, I am a “charismatic” (though I don’t use that word except in blog posts). I base my understanding on the inerrant word of God by which my experiences have been verified. My experiences do not verify the Word, but the opposite.

    • Stephen Beck says

      I apologize, my statements were rather general (I should grant Dave the same mercy I request for not being extremely detailed in a blog post or comment). Dave said in the introduction to this piece that cessationism was constructed as a reaction to the lack of sign gifts and to the abuses of the charismatics who claimed sign gifts. I am not looking back up thread to find but I believer other commenters said as much that cessationists use as a primary argument their own experiences or lack thereof. To Dave’s explicit point, I will grant him that his theological history is probably correct; most facets of theology were formalized as a reaction to things that happened after the Bible was written.

      I am sure that Dave’s comments on OT prophecy were not fully developed and I would welcome a further explanation. I actually do think it is possible to argue that the NT has implied a different definition of prophecy than the one that Moses spoke of and the working office of prophet we see in Israel’s history (at the least, no one in the NT was stoned by Christians for false prophecy contrary to Deuteronomy…though Christians were still martyred for perceived blasphemy), but I confess that I have not done the research to see that argument made. It remains that no one in this thread has yet attempted to make that argument from scripture.

      • John Wylie says

        I think cessationism is biblical. Regardless of when a person believes they will cease 1 Corinthians 13 makes it clear that the sign gifts were partial, temporary and for a time of spiritual immaturity. So they either already have ceased or they will cease.

        I personally see basically three periods of outpourings of miracles in the Bible and all three were during periods of revelation with many periods of a long time with no miracles. The time of Moses, the time of the Prophets, and the time of Christ and the apostles during the early church.

        • Frank L. says

          “””So they either already have ceased or they will cease. “”””

          These two options are completely opposite of each other and not parts of a whole.

          So, since they will cease (something I agree with) the might have already ceased so we’ll just ignore them?

          Not an acceptable path for me.

          • John Wylie says

            Frank L.,

            The two options are not completely opposite. Both of them prove the point that sign gifts are not permanent. Regardless of anyone’s interpretation of what “that which is perfect” means. The point of the text in 1 Corinthians 13 is that sign gifts were partial, temporary and for a time of immaturity (like perhaps the infancy of the church).

            Has there ever been a point in time when sign gifts at least appeared to have ceased?

          • Frank L. says

            “”””Has there ever been a point in time when sign gifts at least appeared to have ceased?”””

            Appeared to who?

            When night falls and the sun no longer “appears” to be shining, is it still as bright?

            If a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears it, did it still make a sound?

            Are we discussing Zen, or Christianity :) (That is NOT a smiley face it only “appears” to Dave to be one).

        • Jake Barker says

          John,
          You state:
          “I personally see basically three periods of outpourings of miracles in the Bible and all three were during periods of revelation with many periods of a long time with no miracles. The time of Moses, the time of the Prophets, and the time of Christ and the apostles during the early church.”
          Cessationism is occuring, however it is not “miracles” that we should seek. Miracles are for times of emergency. It is rather “blessings” which we receive daily when we walk continually in the will of God. Some time back you asked for information on a certain church pastoral search. Was the information I gave you a blessing or a miracle? ;-)

          • John Wylie says

            Jake,

            A blessing because you obviously helped me avoid making a tremendous mistake. Thanks again.

  38. says

    Wow. I missed this post yesterday. I was actually working – doing the pastor thing. You know, meeting with people and being spiritual and what not. Not any of this silly blogging stuff. That was sooo last week for me. :)

    I kid.

    Reading this post and some of the comments, I feel like I just stepped back into 2006 or 2007. Back in 2006, I wrote a 4 part series defending a Continuationist perspective on the Holy Spirit and His gifts. David Rogers and I were big running partners on the Baptist Blogs back then and he has written some good stuff as well. Scroll down on this page and find the bottom four posts if you would like to take a look: http://www.downshoredrift.com/downshoredrift/holy_spirit/

    I have not read all of the comments and I am sure that it has been covered well back and forth. But, this is an example of an issue where Baptists must work together and respect differing views. It is possible to be a conservative Biblical inerrantist with a strong Evangelical theology and be either a cessationist or a continuationist. I fully believe that cessationists are wrong and their arguments from Scripture are an example of very poor exesgesis. Most cessationists, in my opinion, argue from experience more than continuationist do – they argue from their lack of experience, which is still an argument from experience.

    Having said all of that, I have no problem working with a cessationist in missions or as Baptist brothers together serving the Lord even though I really do disagree with them. I do not impose my views on others because I believe that this is an area that we should grant charity to one another and respect each other in. If someone is a follower of Jesus and worships Him, then this should not be an area of fatal disagreement.

    • volfan007 says

      Alan,

      Amen to your last paragraph. I am NOT a continuists, and I believe that continuists are not right. BUT, like you, this should not be something, which causes us to separate. This is another matter of disagreeing on the finer points of theology.

      But, let me say, that if Lifeway gets you, and David Rogers, and 10 other continuists to be the Advisors of a new curriculum on the Holy Spirit, which is theologically driven, then I’d bet that a lot of cessationists would be howling…….lol.

      David :)

      David

      • says

        :) David. I don’t see that happening, but if it ever did, I have no doubt that there would be quite a few cessationists on hand, even though 50% of Baptist pastors – at least, are continuationists according to Lifeway’s polling from back in 2007. If we are looking for proportionality . . .

        But, you are right, David. This should be something that we discuss vigorously – and I am fine with one side or the other promoting their view. But, this should also be an area where we can have a good discussion and then continue fellowshiping together and ministering together. Both sides need maturity for that to happen though.

        I look forward to the day that we do not have “sides” at all.

        Good to see you again in a post on “cessationism/continuationism.” Reminds one of old times, doesn’t it? :)

    • Max says

      Alan writes “Most cessationists, in my opinion, argue from experience more than continuationist do – they argue from their lack of experience, which is still an argument from experience.”

      A man with a personal experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.

  39. says

    Forgive me if I repeat something that was already said. I’m behind on my blog reading.

    Dave, You make some great points about the scriptures not giving a point at which the gifts should cease. But if the canon has not been closed then it may yet be that Rome has been right all along. Apologetically speaking, however, it’s important that the canon be understood to be closed and that it be allowed to be the standard for discerning spirit-led admonitions. That has been the pattern of scripture since God miraculously gave the law through Moses. Since we cannot follow Rome on Apostolic Succession, there is no means given by the Bible for new canon to be included after the Apostles, and the council of Nicaea affirmed the universal recognition by the churches of the finished canon. Since we believe Rome to be in error past that, we have no consensus on any new canon.

    On another front, the excesses of extreme continuationists cannot be understated, for they are many. I’m glad you mentioned them and I agree that excesses do not invalidate or weigh on the veracity of a theological consideration. However, many practices of continuationists are not biblical.

    While I believe that signs and wonders, as well as supernatural spiritual warfare, are still possible and occasionally observed today, I don’t believe they are necessarily to be normative. Certainly, I don’t believe prophetic utterances to be scripturally authoritative. Paul mentioned them a couple of times and offered guidelines to temper their place in the life of the church. However, he and the other apostles said far more about that which seems ordinary to us as that which factors into church life. The Spirit has at least as much to bear on what seems to us to be ordinary as He does on what seems to us to be fantastic.

  40. Dee says

    I have seen a few mention Apostles and how it all ended with them.

    What were/are apostles? Really. While serving on the Leadership Team a few years back at Wind and Fire Ministries we researched this topic as well as the other ‘so-called’ 5-fold gifts of ministry. We wanted to know how these were defined, how they were in effect today and where did we fit individually in this picture. We just assumed that all were still in effect and delved in. In the modern church there are only places for pastor, teacher and evangelist. But what if we have been thrust into those pigeon holes when we are really one of the other less acceptable ones?

    I found that Greek ‘apostolos’ is related to the Hebrew ‘shaliach’.
    A shalia? (Hebrew: ????????; pl. ?????????, sheli?im) or sheliah in Halakha is a Jewish legal emissary or agent. Accordingly, a shalia? performs an act of legal significance for the benefit of the sender, as opposed to him or herself. It is a comparable Hebrew term of the Greek word apostle.

    So I have found that one who regularly is sent to groups or leaders to deliver a message or perform an act on behalf of YHWH is an apostle or shaliach. They tend to have a prophetic gift which leads them in this. So prophets are only sometimes apostles but apostles are all prophetic.

    I find this is what my calling is. I don’t expect obedience to me in any way, but I felt compelled in this way long before I understood the significance. I never sought this. It just so happens that I have been placed in contact with many people groups without ever leaving my home. As a teen I felt called to ‘missions’ and attempted that route but was rerouted to this in my journey. Just a different kind of emissary. In my calling, I have found wisdom in asking questions and giving testimony and sharing scripture, rather than proclamations. My ministry tends toward bringing diverse groups to see they are not the only ones, but that God has a puzzle family He is building and He uses me to show how they might fit with others in this unity even if for now we disagree.

    What is my favorite game or job? Putting puzzle games together and troubleshooting activities. As I go about my daily life, God points out people or groups who are a corner piece or an edge or all the sky or grass pieces and he uses me to be a bridge that they can cross or not cross as they wish. That is me. I now know who I am. I chose to walk in my calling and am so glad to feel I fit in God’s plan and my part in it.

    Do I fit anywhere with any one group. Not on your life. But I have groups who know me and receive me for who I am. So I am relieved to know why this was in my early life that I felt set apart from the church I grew up in and the one I went to later in life, both SBC till I was in my 40’s. I never left on purpose, but God has had me on a wonderful journey to learn who He is and who I am in Him.

    Will you agree with my conclusions. I don’t expect it of you, bless you. But if you do, bless you. I have become accustomed to going against the grain.

  41. Bill Mac says

    If cessationism is true, then we need to face one difficult reality:

    Those who claim to have a private prayer language are, if cessationism is true: lying, deluded, or possessed. This is a much more egregious thing than simply being mistaken about a doctrine.

    • John Wylie says

      Well Bill,
      To be honest with you regardless of one’s position on whether or not the sign gifts are extant today, I can find no Biblical basis for believing that tongues were ever a private prayer language. Romans 8 is certainly not talking about that, maybe they get it from 1 Corinthians. Tongues were clearly the supernatural ability to speak in a human language that one had never learned. Romans 8 is simply talking about the intercessory ministry of the Spirit in the prayer life of ALL believers and it doesn’t involve us speaking a private prayer language.

      • Bill Mac says

        John: I see your point, and I think it is open for debate. But my point is: If cessationism is true, that means our charismatic brethren, well meaning as they might be, have a serious spiritual defect that we can’t ignore.

        • John Wylie says

          Bill,
          Well I would say that if the bible doesn’t teach a prayer language and people claim to be practising it I think you’re right. I personally don’t think most of those people are lying, but I do believe man has a tremendous ability to deceive himself.

          • Frank L. says

            Simply making a statement does not make it true.

            I respectfully disagree with your statement that the Bible does not teach a language “speaking to God and not man”

          • John Wylie says

            Frank,

            Respectfully brother I agree that someone simply saying something doesn’t make it true. The partial verse that you referred to is in the context of tongues being spoken in the church and it’s being contrasted with prophecy. It is in no way referring to a private prayer language. In the Bible we see tongues being spoken as a sign, but never do we see tongues being used in a private prayer language. We do see them used in a public prayer situation in verses 14-16 in that chapter, but they were not to be employed without an interpreter.

          • Frank L. says

            John,

            I’m not going to debate the issue with you–your mind is made up.
            I’ll simply say that whole books have been written disputing your interpretation of the Book of 1Corinthians from your cessastionist-centered eisegesis.

            Sadly, I was where you are and spent many years wasting my life serving half my God. I thank God for His graciousness in allowing me to see Him more fully.

          • John Wylie says

            Frank,

            This has nothing to do with cessationism versus continuationism, there is no basis for a private prayer language in the bible. I’m truly sorry Frank but you’re the one guilty of eisegesis, because you clearly read into the text something that’s not there.

    • says

      Bill,

      I’d say some form of self-delusion is likely in those cases. I don’t see the Bible ever talking about a private prayer language (some might appeal to Romans 8:26 hardly counts since what the Spirit does in himself is not said to be something he does through us; it does not teach a private prayer language, it teaches that the Spirit in us is praying for us – using groanings too deep for words, which seems to imply there is no audible spoken manifestation of the Spirit’s prayer; we trust by faith that the Spirit is doing what the Bible says he is doing).

      • Frank L. says

        “””I’d say some form of self-delusion is likely in those cases.”””

        That’s sort of what the crowd said about the disciples at Pentecost.

        It was wrong then, and it is still wrong, today.

        I won’t resort to the same pejorative slander as you used, but simply say that I respectfully disagree that I am “delusional” because I believe understanding God and His ways is above my pay grade.

        • says

          The disciples at Pentecost had biblical justification for what was happening, those claiming a private prayer language do not.

          “I believe understanding God and His ways is above my pay grade.”

          But surely it is not above God’s pay grade to reveal himself in his Word? And what he has told us in his Word provides no justification for believing in things like subjective leadings of the Spirit or private prayer languages.

          • Frank L. says

            You must be right, Chris, for you believe it so strongly.

            As I said to John, I’ll not debate this with you. Your mind is made up. You view the Bible from a cessationist-centered eisegesis. You have no intention of seeing it any other way.

            Again, as I said to John, I spent too many years in frustration trying to keep God in the cessastionist box. I decided to give up my cessationist hermeneutic when one day God revealed to me: He has not ceased being Who He always was.

            By the way, I am still waiting for one single verse that declares God changed after the death of the original twelve apostles. Just one verse so you can continue to harp on how your view is “Biblical” and mine is “self-delusional.”

            Whole books have been written demonstrating the Biblical basis, including books by the eminent scholar I used in my hermeneutic class at SWBTS–Dr. Gordon Fee.

            Brother, there is no use continuing this lame debate I’ve watched since the 70’s. You continue to follow your God without any supernatural manifestations of His power and presence, and I’ll continue to follow my God Who has shown me that He can do things “I cannot even imagine” (Jer. 33:3).

            Please don’t waste your fine hermeneutic skills on me. We share one thing in common in regard to this issue: “my mind is also made up.”

            I’d only ask that you try to use language that is a little more civil and a little less condescending as you seek to perpetuate your problematic theology in regard to the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

          • says

            Frank,

            Who says God has changed? I’m still waiting for just one verse that says he has ever done what too many today claim to experience. It’s unbiblical, it’s practically pagan, and it needs to be abandoned.

      • Dee says

        1Sa 1:13-15 Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee. And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.

        Act 2:13-15(and ff) Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
        But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day….

        I always look to the Old Testament to see if I can prove a doctrine from the New Testament. It will always be in OT somewhere if it is valid. It might be hidden in the Hebrew either in the pictographs or in the chaisms. But it will be there. This was obvious to me in the English. I am convinced this was Hannah’s private prayer language, albeit silent. The reference in each passage to drunkenness is a clue that the passages are related. They both took place at the temple or tabernacle. Hannah represents Ephraim or the scattered tribes. Many I know pray this silently as she did when in public.

        • says

          Dee,

          Hannah was praying silently, how does that in any way demonstrate a private prayer language? I pray silently all the time, yet never in a “private prayer language”. Eli thought Hannah was drunk because of her outward display: lips moving, yet no voice. He heard nothing. He didn’t hear a strange tongue or unusual sounds, he saw a woman praying silently. This was very unusual in that time.

          • Dee says

            Well, Hebraicly, I see connections between Acts 2 and the story of Hannah. Already in English, I see accusation of drunkenness and the fact they were both at the Temple/Tabernacle. There is more, but unless you accept Hebraic thought as a valid interpretation it does no good for me to explain it further. But it does not have to specifically say she was praying a prayer language to be alluding to it. The Akeida (Binding of Isaac) alludes to a death and resurrection without Isaac having to actually die. The Amidah includes this allusion to Isaac’s death and resurrection, yet no Rabbi would tell you he really died. The Bible is full of allusions that are just as valid as the literal facts. Otherwise how do you get from the OT that Jesus actually had to die? Or that he was to come two times rather than once? It is not there literally. The entire Gospel is embedded in these allusions and if one knows how to read them one can either prove or disprove a lot of disparate doctrines.

          • Dee says

            Another story that is a good example of allusions to Messiah’s death and resurrection is Jephthah’s daughter being given as an olah…a whole burnt offering. Really!!? I don’t think so. Because olah literally means to go up as in the whole offering going up in smoke to God. So, did he just send her ‘up’ to Temple service for the rest of her life or did he really kill her and burn her up? There is supposed to be this allusion where you do not know for certain. But Messiah went up as an olah. Was he burnt? No. But he was raised ‘up’ on the cross and yes died…but was raised. So he went up and she symbolized this in her story. We also have Romans 12:1-2 of presenting our bodies a living sacrifice. I believe this confirms. Again…willing to agree to disagree. Just letting you know this concept is available.

  42. says

    Our problem is the filters in our minds. We have certain ideas in our minds which constrain us to interpret evidence one way or the other, and it is no easy task to try to interpret the evidence another way…when you have been decidedly influenced by one set of precepts and principles or another. My thesis for the M.A. in American Social and Intellectual History on the subject, “The Baptists & Ministerial Qualifications:1750-1850,” suggested that irony is the means by which we make a change, that is, by the perceived incongruity between the expected and the actual results. When the incongruity becomes so great that our ambiguity tolerance cannot bear the strain, then we will make a change and do a flip side, moving to the other position. Interestingly enough, both sides of the coin are, so to speak, represent a polarization on one side of a truth, a truth that is actually two side and is needed to be understood as two-sided in order to receive the benefit of the actual teaching. Two-sided truths, truths that apparently contradictory (that is, cannot be reconciled by the human mind) are what set up a desirable tension in the human mind, enabling the believer to be balanced, flexible, creative, constant, and magnetic, the Lord’s best advertising of the Christian Faith. Consider the idea that both the cessationist and the non-cessationist ideas have an element of truth in them. The Lord’s disciples did not work miracles all the time; such things only occurred, when they served a higher purpose. Restraint is a necessary part of the Christian persona.

  43. Christiane says

    I have heard that the doctrine of cessationism was developed as a logical corollary of the doctrine of ‘sola scriptura’.

  44. says

    The most awkward time for me to have a conversation of this sort was when my wife was in the hospital to deliver our twins. Her nurse asked me what I do and when I told her I’m a Southern Baptist pastor she mentioned belonging to one of the area charismatic churches then proceeded to ask me what I thought about speaking in tongues… I wasn’t particularly keen on that discussion, I wasn’t too eager to make mad the lady who was going to have in her hands the lives of my wife and our twins. On that day I gave new meaning to the term evasive answer. :)

  45. John Wylie says

    Even if I did believe that tongues were extant today I wouldn’t believe in a private prayer language. What Frank was missing is that this has nothing to do with cessationism, it has to do with no Biblical support for a private prayer language.

  46. Frank L. says

    Dave,

    I just want to say again that this was an excellent post.

    It took me back to the debate in the 70’s. I went to an SBC college just a few blocks from where a young preacher inhabited a former SBC church that had died.

    I guess you could say the former SBC church was “cessationist.”

    That young preacher captivated a generation with Biblical, practical, challenging messages based on a hermeneutic of exegesis, not eisegesis.

    From that dead SBC church grew a vibrant church full of thousands of people committed to living out the gospel. In fact, from that dead church a movement arose and continues to this day.

    I thank God for Greg Laurie and what God has chosen to do through him.

    Now, 40 plus years later, the debate has come full circle. And while the character and plan of God will be debated, hundreds of SBC churches will shut their orthodox doors.

    It is the “Spirit that quickens.” Ink and paper alone is not Scripture.

        • says

          I’m just trying to clarify what you said. If ink and paper alone are not Scripture, what else is Scripture? How is Scripture defined and how do we know what it is?

          • Dee says

            I’m not the one who said it, however,…what we call scripture and try to pin down to ink and paper was before there was ink and paper or engraved stone tablets. The Word/Torah was pre-existent and became incarnate in Jesus/Y’shua. So…that is more complicated than it first appears.

          • John Wylie says

            Frank,

            I’m actually going to agree with you here, the Scriptures are more than ink and paper. More than words written on a page, it’s the message that is being conveyed that are the Scriptures. Dee correctly reminds us that the words were oral before they were written and ultimately the word came in the form of the incarnate Christ.

            But at the same time I don’t think the written Scriptures are letter that killeth but the Law. Jesus said in John 6 that His words were Spirit and they are life. I personally think that the reading and the preaching of the written word is always attended by the Holy Spirit. There are never the old dead letter, but living and powerful.

          • says

            How about a distinction between the word of God and the Scriptures? One notes that the word “Scripture” means writings… As for what we hold to as objective and authoritative and knowable, that comes down to what God has given us in written form.

          • Dee says

            When I said about the ink on the page killing… what I literally meant was if you take the letter of the law/the literal interpretation of a given command and force only that one interpretation it has no life, no love and becomes legalism and pride if you think you are keeping it and other’s aren’t to your satisfaction. But I believe Paul was saying that the principle of love in that command gives life when you are lead by the Spirit in its application in your situation. For example, you all say that the law is no longer in effect. I disagree. I believe that God does not change and his principles do not change. Right and wrong do not change. So how do I believe I should obey? I believe the Spirit gives life to the principles God laid out in Torah and a command such as to build a railing around a flat roof is love to your family and your friends because it shows you care enough that they do not become injured and fall. Even my local building codes will not allow me to build a deck with no railing. They believe the law gives life and safety for those around me. How much more should we! All the laws are for our benefit or the benefit of those around us, other than now we are under the priesthood of Melchizadek and we have no temple and these were to show us Messiah. The word Shema does not even mean rote obedience. The root is shem (character/name) with an added ayin (see/understand) . So understanding the character of who God is and who I am and who my neighbor is I will desire to walk in this love for God, self and others…these laws are written on my heart now and why would I intentionally snub my nose at them? Grace and the Spirit are not opposed to God’s loving instructions, but gives me the power to walk in them with forgiveness available for my shortcomings…or we can agree to disagree:)

          • John Wylie says

            But Dee in the 2 Corinthians 3 passage where it talks about the letter killeth but the Spirit giveth life it’s contrasting the Old and New Covenants. The Law kills, not because it is dead, it kills because it is God’s indictment against mankind. The New Testament is quite clear that when we come to Christ we are no longer under the Law, which is to say that the condemnation of Law is no longer upon us. But to take that passage and present it as though the scriptures without the sign gifts are dead is to read into it a meaning that’s not there.

          • says

            Dave,

            What do you think the New Testament means we are to walk by the Spirit, and what is the significance of contrasting walking by the Spirit rather than by the flesh, particularly considering the fruit that is borne from each kind of walk?

          • Dee says

            The scriptures and law and the gifts without the Spirit and love are lethal to relationships…part of the Spirit’s work is the gifts. So not quench the spirit by telling people it no longer is valid. If you just leave room for the Holy Spirit to move and use the instructions Paul gives to pastor it…and pray for wisdom, you will do well. To me that is just logical. Even Gamaliel, said that if the Y’shua sect is not of YHWH then it will fail on its own merit. No reason to get all worked up. Just pray against anything not of YHWH and also pray for everything YHWH has for us. That covers it. Let Him deal with it.

            For Paul’s writings on the Torah teachings and legalism vs grace I think we must be careful to figure out where he is talking about oral Talmud vs Torah. That, I think you will find an eye opening study and may just shift your views of Grace vs Torah to Torah with Grace vs Talmud legalism and man made dogma. Take it back to a Greek study and then find the Hebrew behind the Greek either in a Hebrew New Testament or Septuagint Concordance. You will find there are some phrases he had to create, but on the whole I think you will see a huge difference.

            Wow! I challenge anyone to do this and come out the same. There are so many passages from Paul and Y’shua and James and John which uphold Torah that it is just contradictory to believe the Torah was an indictment on anyone but those who intentionally rebel against God. Schoolmaster, yes, but I still value what my schoolmasters taught me. I use the principles I learned from them and take them to my heart and walk accordingly to this day. Also, if you carefully read about the law, God says it is not too difficult for you. Torah is our Ketubah betrothal agreement. I value it because it shows me how my Groom’s Kingdom operates on a spiritual level. I separate myself from those things that are not of His Kingdom because I am learning who I am to become as Queen of that Kingdom along with the collective Bride of Messiah. A loving Bride would not despise the word of her Groom. That is what that doctrine of law you believe says to me. I despise what people make that law to be either in legalism or teaching against it toward license, but I treasure the walk of learning His ways because that is the Hebraic way of learning…physically doing teaches us spiritual lessons.

            I have been making a living sourdough starter and plan to throw it out at Passover. I want to learn what this meant to them on the first Passover.

            But I can agree to disagree:)

  47. Christiane says

    The ‘Word’ is not the same as the sacred writings, no.
    The Eternal ‘Word’ is written about in the beginning of St. John’s Gospel:

    “In the beginning was the Word,
    and the Word was with God,
    and the Word was God

    2 He was in the beginning with God

    3 All things came to be through Him,
    and without Him nothing came to be

    What came to be
    4 through Him was life,
    and this life was the light of the human race;

    5 the light shines in the darkness,
    and the darkness has not overcome it.”

    Eastern Christianity often refers to Christ as the ‘Uncreated Light’.
    And the oldest hymn in Christianity extant the Bible, still sung today is called the Phos Hilaron, translated as the ‘Gentle Light':
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=US&feature=related&hl=iw&v=uFU3LojPuM4

    ‘Gentle Light of the Holy Glory
    of the Immortal and Heavenly Father
    Holy and Blessed
    O Jesus Christ

    Having come to the setting of the sun
    Beholding the Light of evening
    We sing to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
    God

    Thou art worthy at every moment
    To be praised in hymns by reverent voices
    O Son of God,
    Giver of Life
    All the world glorifies Thee’

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