From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia
“In Christianity, Cessationism is the doctrine that spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, prophecy and healing ceased with the original twelve apostles. This is generally opposed to continuationism, which teaches that the Holy Spirit may bestow the spiritual gifts on persons other than the original twelve apostles at any time.”
Tom Pennington spoke at the Strange Fire conference and said:
“The label “Cessationism” is negative, but the real problem is that it has been easily caricatured as believing that the Spirit has ceased his work. But the fact is that we who are Cessationists believe the Holy Spirit has continued his work. Nothing eternal happens in a person apart from the Holy Spirit. Temporal things can happen, but nothing eternal. We only believe the Spirit has ceased in one function: the miraculous gifts, such as tongues, prophecy, and healing.”
They also argue that Prophecy cannot create new scripture or doctrine and that there are no more apostles and probably no more prophets today so that they negate two of the five-fold ministries.
I quote Wikipedia a lot because they have said it better than I can.
Two of Satan’s master plans for crippling the witness of the Church are Cessationism and Modern Bible translations.
Cessationism stops the church demonstrating the superiority of The Kingdom of God and its Children over the religions of Satan so levels the evangelistic field by making Christianity just another religion which is why it loses ground to the religions of Satan that demonstrate (supposedly) spiritual activities superior to that of Christianity.
People seek the miraculous which Satan offers but the church does not if they are Cessationists which is why the new age is so popular and people leave churches for other religions that appear t o show spiritual expression in the supernatural..
The other master plan is to so with modern bible translations which are really Gnostic, belittling the divinity of Jesus and doing all they can to ensue it is not represented in theses translations. One blatant way it does this is not using capitals for the titles of God but using them for the names of Satan.
When these two belief systems are shown for what they really are - devices of Satan to cripple the witness of Christianity- you then realise you need to know all you can about these two plans of Satan and be able to fight them anyway you can so Jesus and The Kingdom of God Will be correctly seen for the superiority they have over Satan and any religion he manufactures and offers to people.
Because of these two plans of Satan the church no longer is what it was and is falling rapidly away from true Christianity into a Gnostic religion that all other religions can identify with and fellowship with in some way.
Who can withdraw a gift or say it ceases
The first question to ask is who can say that the gifts have been recalled along with miracles, prophets and apostles.
Only a person who gives the gifts or commands something can say the gift has ended or the command no longer is in force. They also are the ones who say when they are no longer to be used.
God has not withdrawn His gifts or His command to do miracles or the five-fold offices in His Bible through any Scripture and neither has stated any of these will end at any definite time.
Man as the recipient of these has no right to say whether they are still in force or have been withdrawn or to assume this from interpreting a Bible verse in a certain way. If God h ad withdrawn them He would have told us as it is something important which we need to know (Duet 29:29).
God has not withdrawn them or finalised their usage in scripture and to say He has adds to scripture by modifying it with something God has not indicated or commanded.
So, in a sense, Cessationists are guilty of the very thing they accuse prophets of being in danger of doing - modifying Scripture in some way through their pronunciations and reasonings about what God has said without any specific Bible Scripture backing up what they say.
To say these things no longer are given or used is to reject them and God which they have done without God giving them any basis in Scripture to do so because he has not withdrawn them or given an actual end date. To assume they are ended or withdrawn is incorrect and also modifies Scripture.
So Cessationists actually modify what The Bible states by their reasoned attitude and reject what God has given them without a real basis for doing so, all based on the reasonings of men who interpret The Bible in the way they want to. The fact there are different interpretations shows they are not from God because God always allows only one way to interpret something and if He wants us to know something He will tell us (Duet 29:29).
So Satan has used this Cessationist argument to sidetrack the church and stop it demonstrating The Kingdom and God’s Glory and that alone should make a person wary of Cessationism.
The original purpose of Miracles, gifts and prophecy
In Christian theology cessationism is the view that the spiritual gifts spoken of in the New Testament were given to the church for three reasons:
Cessationists teach that their primary purpose was to authenticate the Apostles' message as being of divine origin and, therefore, authoritative (Hebrews 2:3-4). However, since the completion of the Canon, the Church can test the veracity (or lack thereof) of any message claiming to represent God, against his written revelation having now been completed, rendering any supernatural sign as unnecessary (2 Peter 1:19; see also 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Cessationists believe that, given that the authority of the early church has been established and the New Testament is complete, Christians do not require charismatic gifts to guide them. As a result, cessationists believe that the spiritual gifts ceased to operate with the passing of the last of the twelve apostles and are no longer in effect today.
(My comments) In otherwords they expect the church to do the work of Jesus without the gifts He and His apostles used and be shown to be of Jesus through exercising these things.
If these things were required by Jesus and the apostles to establish Christianity, how can it be maintained when the basis of its establishment is not longer believed to be there and that which was used to express it is no longer there to show the Kingdom is still there.
From Wikipedia: Types of Cessationism
Cessationism can be divided into two types. Cessationism asserts that the "sign gifts" such as prophecy, healing, and speaking in tongues, ceased with the apostles and the finishing of the canon of Scripture. They only served as launching pads for the spreading of the Gospel; as affirmations of God's revelation. However, these cessationists do believe that God still occasionally does miracles today, such as healings or divine guidance, so long as these "miracles" do not accredit new doctrine or add to the New Testament canon. Some cessationists believe that the miraculous gifts can take place where the message of salvation is being propagated to a tribe or nation which is unfamiliar with the Gospel.
(This modifies Cessationism to allows the gifts when it is used only or propagating the Gospel. Nowhere in The Bible is there authority for a partial Cessationism depending on the activity being carried out)
Full cessationism additionally asserts that no apostolic miracles are performed by God today. Thus while some cessationists allow for God's miraculous guidance, the cessationist allowance differs from the continuationist in that a cessationist contends that God's miraculous guidance is not through the operation of the Charismatic gifts.
The majority of cessationists subscribe to the total cessation of spiritual gifts. Examples of such literature are from Christians belonging to various denominations such as Conservative Baptist, Reformed Churches, etc.
This theory of cessationists denies the possibility of a reemergence of the gifts on grounds of principle; that is, the denial is on a priori grounds: a strong cessationist would deny the possibility of the existence or a reemergence of genuine God's prophets and healers in the post-Apostolic age, i.e. after the 1st century, no matter what – even if we met prophets or healers who prophesied/healed in the name of Jesus. This is supported using the principle of Sola Scriptura, insisting on three propositions:
According to traditional cessationists, a person with a gift of power is also a prophet, because healings and miracles were always signs associated with the divine confirmation of the genuineness of a prophet in the periods when God revealed new truths with respect to the doctrine. A strong cessationist might concede that prophecies might be useful in the guidance of the Church. Nevertheless, he will insist that the Church can be perfectly guided to reach the right decisions if it applies the principles, teachings and examples of the Bible.
There is not much literature on moderate cessationism, but the view is propounded by certain Brethren groups of Christians, such as Hopewell Mennonite Church of Reading, PA, Free Brethren House Churches of Christ.
This view denies the current existence of manifestations of genuine charismatic gifts in the Church. However, moderate cessationism allows for the possibility of a new charismatic period in the future, when God would powerfully guide His people. This openness to the possibility of a new charismatic period is motivated by premillennialist eschatological expectations, where it is assumed that Christ's Second Coming will occur before the establishment of Christ's millennial kingdom on Earth. Within this premillennialist conceptual framework, the Great Tribulation is seen as a future period immediately preceding Christ's Coming. This insists that the new charismatic period is possible only during the Great Tribulation, for otherwise the genuine gifts would be in operation before the Tribulation, thus, charismatic gifts could not be rejected on grounds of principle. This is also compatible with all premillennialist positions (pre-trib, post-trib, mid-trib and pre-wrath).
The understanding of the principle of Sola Scriptura is almost identical to the variation that denies all Apostolic gifts. A moderate cessationist would agree with all three propositions of strong cessationism, but with an important qualification: all three propositions are valid only in the post-Apostolic Age of the Church before the Great Tribulation, i.e. in the period after the 1st century until the days of the Great Tribulation. Thus, in practical terms, both strong and moderate cessationism are the same. They differ only in eschatological terms, whether the gifts will re-emerge in the last days immediately preceding the time of Christ's Second Coming. The strong cessationist eschatological view is not a premillennialist, therefore it does not share the premillennialist conceptual framework, such as the premillennialist view of the Great Tribulation as something belonging to the future.
Biblical grounds for moderate cessationism is the reference to two powerful prophets of God, Rev 11:3–11. According to a moderate cessationist, events described in Rev 11 are in the future, during the Great Tribulation. For this reason, a moderate cessationist has a ready answer to the question why the Bible is so vague about the cessation of the charismatic gifts: the Bible is obscure on this point precisely because the gifts will re-emerge during the Great Tribulation. A moderate cessationist concludes that they will absolutely end at the second coming of our Christ, at the end of the Great Tribulation.
The fact there are such diversities of views on Cessationism shows that The Bible does not clearly state anywhere that Cessationism is true or they would all agree and not have opinions based on their reasonings about scripture.
From Wikipedia: Theoretical basis
Two types of Cessationism can be distinguished with regard to their theoretical bases:
Both strong and moderate versions of Cessationism are on principle because they appeal to the principle of sola scriptura or in Anglicanism and Methodism prima scriptura. Their denial of the possibility of gifts is on a priori grounds, on grounds of principle.
An empirical Cessationist arrives at a ceasing of charismatic gifts on empirical evidence, not immediately discarding miracles, spiritual healings or prophecies as counterfeit, rather investigating their genuineness based on analysis of source, date, consistency with scripture and corroboratory or countervailing evidence. In this view no Christian group in modern times has genuine charismatic gifts because, if thoroughly investigated, later healings and other "miracles" would be shown to be false. In other words, an empirical cessationist denial is based on observation coupled with the probabilistic expectation that apparent miracles, healing or prophecies are mostly improbable.[
(These people only examine the western world and ignore Africa and Asia where true miracle, prophecy and gifts are expressed or reject the Charismatic/Pentecostal experience as being false and of the devil).
An example of the empirical form of Cessationism is the view propounded by biblestudying.net. They have published a series of articles about charismatic gifts, dealing with several issues concerning charismata. Their denial of the continuation of the gifts is based on their historical study of early Church practices: "the charismatic gifts did indeed decline and were eventually lost sometime between the second and fourth centuries AD". Their empirical analysis demands incontrovertible evidence of continuation which will explain its conditions. In their view the gifts could have continued until Christ's return, but instead ended "sometime between the second and fourth centuries AD". Their conclusionis: "Thus, we must discard the doctrine that the gifts were supposed to pass away before Christ's return. Instead, we must accept the fact that the gifts were supposed to continue as a confirmation of sound doctrine until Christ's return but were lost as the Church deviated from that sound doctrine given by Christ to the apostles and by the apostles to the early Church of the first few centuries".
Approach to the arguments or and against
As it is personal viewpoints that are the issue here as both side for and against Cessationism interpret the same verses differently I will examine arguments buy both sides to see exactly what they are trying to say and possible problems with their contentions.
The objective is to find out what actually is the situation in Biblical terms and not in terms that man has reasoned out from their subjective interpretation of The Bible.
If The Bible was clear on the matter there would not be oppossing sides on the issue so that it comes down to interpretation of verses that appear to refer to cessationism without actually stating this.
From Wikipedia) Arguments for and against
Tom Pennington spoke at the Strange Fire conference and said the following:
Charismatics’ chief arguments for believing the gifts have continued are:
(On this line of reasoning we would also have to accept the miracles and gifts Satan has given his followers. There are actual miracles of the catholic church so this statement is very broad and biased).
Cessationism does not mean that God no longer does anything miraculous. As a pastor I see miracles often. Every time a spiritually dead person comes to faith is a miraculous work of grace. Every time a person is healed solely in answer to the prayers of God’s people totally in contradiction to the medical science predictions, it is a divine miracle. If God so chose, he could allow someone to speak today in a language they didn’t previously know.
Cessationism means the Spirit no longer gives believers miraculous spiritual gifts as a normative Christian experience as it was for the apostles.
Here are 7 biblical arguments for Cessationism
1) The unique role of miracles. They argue that there were only three primary periods in which God worked miracles through unique men. The first was with Moses; the second was during the ministries of Elijah and Elisha; the third was with Christ and his apostles.
The primary purpose of miracles has always been to establish the credibility of one who speaks the word of God
So this implies that if you do not have these in your life you are not credibly speaking for God.
This is what a minister supposedly does every Sunday in a sermon or when a person speaks and teaches about Christianity because they express what they believe God is saying and desiring to teach so to say they require miracles to confirm they are speaking what God desires said means a Cessationists cannot say with credibility they are saying in their teachings or counselling what God wants them to say to a person.
2) The end of the gift of apostleship. In two places in the New Testament Paul refers to the apostles as one of the gifts Christ gave his church (1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4). Although not all spiritual gifts are offices, all offices are gifts to the church.
They also say Prophets are not around today.
The problem with this is that The Bible says God does not withdraw His gifts and Apostles and Prophets are gifts to the church. So to say that these are no longer available to the church is to call God a liar.
3) The foundational nature of the New Testament apostles and prophets. The New Testament identifies the apostles and prophets as the foundation of the church (Ephesians 2:20-22). In the context, it is clear that Paul is referring here not to Old Testament prophets but to New Testament prophets. Once the apostles and prophets finished their role in laying the foundation of the church, their gifts were completed.
Once again we have the problem that the church is to maintain itself without the gifts it needed to get where it is so that it now relies on man’s efforts and reasonings as God no longer gives these to guide the church.
It also raises a callous God who tells us what He wants us to do then no longer leaves anyone around to explain it or help guide the church as these were given to help the church maintain its status quo. Perhaps the lack of these is why the church is declining so much these days in the Western world as they do not have the supernatural in their system to fight the supernatural Satan gives his followers so that following Satan is more interesting than following Jesus.
4) The nature of the New Testament miraculous gifts. If the Spirit was still moving as he was in the first century, then you would expect that the gifts would be of the same type.
The fact that modern day expression of these things is different to what it was in the days of Jesus can be explained as follows:
5) The testimony of church history. The practice of apostolic gifts declines even during the lifetimes of the apostles. Even in the written books of the New Testament, the miraculous gifts are mentioned less as the date of their writing gets later.
This is an error as there is evidence of these things occurring for hundreds of years after the apostles and even today they are occurring in areas where the western church does not influence the Christians so the Christianity of Jesus is practised and not that of the Western world.
6) The sufficiency of Scripture. The Spirit speaks only in and through the inspired Word. He doesn’t call and direct his people through subjective messages and modern day bestsellers. His word is external to us and objective. Steve Lawson will have more to say about this.
Then why were the five-fold given if it was not to speak to the church? And what do you do when The Bible is silent about a matter? Reason can only eventually lead to error!
Besides we have Jn 16:13 Where The Spirit is given to guide us into all truth not just Biblical truths.
7) The New Testament governed the miraculous gifts. Whenever the New Testament gifts of tongues was to be practised, there were specific rules that were to be followed. There was to be order and structure, as well as an interpreter. Paul also lays down rules for prophets and prophecy. Tragically most charismatic practice today clearly disregards these commands. The result is not a work of the spirit but of the flesh.
This implies God is not original in what He does and must be bound to a set of rules. This is wrong as God is original but there are basic principles that must be observed regardless of how He carries out something:
There must be two witnesses to what is said or taught that are spirit filled.
Arguments for continuity
A Continuitist argues against 10 reasons Cessationists have for their view point.
1. There will be no more prophesying when perfection comes
(1 Cor 13:10) “But when what is complete comes, then what is incomplete will be done away with”.
The world “completeness” means perfection and man will only be perfect in heaven. There we will not need prophecy as God will speak to us directly.
And only in heaven will anything else be perfect as on earth it is defiled by the environment around it controlled by Satan and if it is perfect it is only for a short time unlike what it ill be like in heaven where there is no corruption of things.
The argument that his has already happened cannot be true
2. The miraculous gifts ended with the apostles.
History shows this is incorrect and the evidence is there if you look for it.
Usually, most famous Christians have the miraculous as part of their life in some way and a good example is John Lake whose town was free of illness because of the healing gift that was expressed in it.
In fact, even today in Africa there are miracles occurring on a regular basis. The problem is that Cessationists judge things from a Western church perspective. A church which denies miracles so naturally is not going to try and express them so will naturally not find any today or even look for them.
3. The expressions of prophecy and similar things undermine the sufficiency of scripture. This means that prophecy implies Scripture has not said all it needs too.
If the miraculous, prophecy gifts etc are exercised properly they will bring Glory to God and reinforce Scripture. Where these things are not exercised properly then this argument can be true. Otherwise they are condemning that which will back up Scripture and bring Glory to God.
It appears Cessationists tar and feather all with the same brush whether or not they are exercising these things properly in the way God desires them to be done.
4. Cessationists argue that church history shows these things are no longer in practice. See point 2 above.
5. These things were only given in three periods of Revelation so are not given today because we are not in a period of Revelation.
John MacArthur states this view:
Most biblical miracles happened in three relatively brief periods of Bible history: in the days of Moses and Joshua, during the miracles of Elijah and Elisha, and in the time of Christ and the apostles...All three periods of miracles were given in times when God gave his written revelation-Scripture, in substantial quantities.
So we remove psalms and its prophecies, Isiah, Genesis the minor prophets and anyone else outside of these three periods. In other words they imply most of The Bible cannot have expressed these things.
6. Looking for signs implies you are a wicked generation:
Jesus said “A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign" (Matt. 16:4). So they say that this means that we should not pray for the miraculous in our ministries today.
This was said by Jesus to those who did not believe in Him. Also in The Bible people asked for signs from God (e.g. the fleece) so that in the Bible there is a principle of asking God for a sign. He also tells us He gives us signs and so not to look for them is to deny this statement of His and call Him a liar.
7. They argue that the seeking miraculous gifts, especially in evangelism, devalues the primacy of the Word of God.
The purpose of these gifts is to demonstrate the authority of The Kingdom of God and any use of it to affect Scripture is wrong and is not a consideration for their purpose in Christianity. So to say that any correct use of them affect Scripture is incorrect. If used incorrectly they can be used to try and modify Scriptures meaning but that is an abuse of these things and not a proper use of them.
8. Cessation Argue that Jesus warns us that in the end times false prophets will work miracles and deceive the elect.
This has happened all through history as Satan has tried to use these things for his purposes. It is not that they well occur only in the end time but that it will be more prevalent in the end days. You cannot isolate the end times from the previous centuries as the use of these things to influence Christianity has always occurred because their misuse is one of Satan’s methods of attacking the church.
9. Cessation Argues that the epistles rarely speak of the miraculous gifts. This proves that these gifts passed away.
What was common practice was not mentioned as it was not necessary too and paper was to precious to write the obvious. This is also the reason Jesus did not need to tell the apostles to preach The Kingdom as it was understood and Paul’s last words in the book of Acts were that He preached The Kingdom to remind them that is was necessary for a Christian to do th is as a natural part of their lifestyle.
10. The Miracles worked by the apostles were always instantaneous and complete.
We are only told some of the miracles and their timing but there are examples when miracles took time to occur such as the healing of Namaan bathing in the river seven times before He was healed.
So it can be seen all miracles were not instantaneous. Beside only a few were mentioned of the many the apostles did so we do not know if others were not completed instantaneously.
And remember that Jesus could not do miracles in some places because of the unbelief of the people there.
Can prophecy create doctrine or scripture?
Prophecy never created Scripture or Doctrine. It only guided and declared what God was going to do. Teachers tell us about God and what He has said in Scripture and not prophets. Prophets tell us what God is going to do and teachers explain it to us. In a sense every prophet should also have the ministry of teaching about what is prophesied so it is interpreted correctly.
In Deuteronomy 29:29 we are told God tells us all we need to know and with The Bible all we needed to know about doctrine and scripture was completed so any new doctrine or scripture has to viewed with suspicion.
If it agrees with Scripture then it is not new doctrine. But if it is not then we can suspect it is from Satan trying to sidetrack or modify the beliefs of people as He has done through the Modern Bible translations.
Do miracles, prophecy and Apostle/prophets still exist?
Good has not withdrawn these or stated their period of existence has ended. Man has assumed this. This means they are still in existence and to reject their ministry is to reject God and what He has given them.
Like all things we are to test their fruit by two or three witnesses and not accept what one man says or does that is original.
The fruit of both these approaches
When we look at the two different approaches to the gifts we look at the results of the reasonings of people so we must judge them by their fruit as Scripture is quoted by both to back up their stance on the issue.
Jesus said that by their fruits you would know what a person is like so that the test of these approaches that both use scripture to justify their position is in the fruit that results from these attitudes.
Cessationism followers appears to deny Jn 16:13 and the ability to be a son of God in Rom 8:17 as well as the accreditation of evangelism as being from God by the Authority of the Kingdom expressed as it is being done through miracles and exorcism. So their evangelism is based on reason and does not demonstrate the authority of Jesus over Satan so Glory from Jesus is not given to God in evangelism and it becomes an edification of the evangelist’s ability to persuade people with their words.
Continuity followers practice miracles, guidance of The Holy Spirit and even gifts but at times do so wrongly so drive people away from these things showing God is no longer behind what they do but that Satan may have taken over their gift because of their wrong desires for expressing these things.
The well balanced Spirit-led Christian will express these things correctly and will not use them to create doctrine or scripture both for their original purpose of guiding and encouraging us in our faith.
What is the correct attitude to the Spiritual Gifts, Miracles, Exorcism and Prophecy?
The guidance of The Holy Spirit.
God promises to guide us in all things spiritual (Jn 16:13) so where The Bible is silent and He does not guide us by The Holy Spirit then He has lied to use. This means The Holy Spirit must still interact with us in our daily life so we can know the Will of God and be children of The Father, not needing to guess next what God desires us to do (Rom 8:17).
If The Spirit does not guide us this leaves reason which means we need to know what God desires us to do and God says we can never know His mind fully which means with only reason to guide us there is no chance of Jesus being complete Lord of our life or serving perfectly ion the way He desires us to serve Him because we cannot reason out all God desires us to do to obey and serve Him.
Signs and Wonders
If miracles and Exorcism no longer occur this means evangelism no longer expresses the authority of The Kingdom over Satan but becomes one of many religions based on the wisdom of man’s words because there is nothing supernatural to show it is superior to others. Could this be a reason for the decline in the western churches when it offers little in the supernatural to show it is superior to other religions and people gravitate to the new age with all its exhibition of supernatural events?
Doctrines and scripture
If prophecy causes new doctoring and/or scripture it cannot be from God. Satan will create new doctrines (through altering or modifying them as the Modern Bibles do) but is too crafty to promote these as originals using a twisting of established doctrine as a basis for his errors so that they are acceptable to t he church.
Gifts of The Spirit
If these no longer occur then God has lied as He gave these to the church and not to individuals and has recalled them even though we are told He never does that. That the gifts of God are without recall. Individuals in the church are used to express these though.
By saying they are no longer relevant you are saying God lied. But then liberal theologians advocate things that are not Biblical to suit their own theology or lack of experience of the supernatural. It is easier to deny something than to have to admit it is not part of your experience which implies you are wanting in an area.
The five-fold ministries
These are Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher.
The Cessationists argue that Apostles and prophets are no longer in the church, having died out in the first Century. But these are part of the gifts God gave to the church which He says are never recalled by Him (Rom 11:29). To say these no longer exist is say that these gifts have been recalled calling God a liar.
This cannot create new doctrine or scripture and can only used to warn, guide, correct, encourage and teach about Scripture. This is the purpose it was given for as they part of the five-fold ministries which all were given to help and guide us in our Christian life.
Having said that, the problem is not so much they are not still in the church but the excesses and people unauthorised by God tend to claim these titles.
As these are part of the five-fold and the church is given them and not the apostles of Jesus then the requirement to have seen Christ, His death and resurrection cannot be correct. If it refers to the apostles then they lacked the roles of pastor, teach and prophet as none of them were these things.
The conclusion can only be that these were given to the church and are still with us as God does not recall His gifts
This is why all the use of these gifts must pass some simple tests:
If it passes all these tests then we know it is from God and should not be opposed
Both sides of the argument use scripture to back up their viewpoint but really the above five tests should be applied to determine if something is Biblical and not man’s reasonings about it. I am not saying one or the other is wrong but that they are both approaching it from the wrong angle. God said His gifts were without recall so you cannot say they no longer apply. But they are applied in excesses by some people and that is the other end of the scale.
So really you need to examine the fruit of how they live what they declare about these things and unfortunately those who reject these things belong to churches that are dying while those who accept them as the expression of the Kingdom of God are in churches that are growing. That alone tends to say that Cessationism is wrong.