Monday, June 30, 2008

Cessationism - My Take

I think that this issue will become more and more important in today's church. With that said, I must say, many of the most Godliest Christians I know are in fact Charismatic and that this is most definitely not a litmus test for orthodoxy, however, b/c of its growing influence and recent happenings in my life I feel that I must address this issue again.

What is really at stake here is glory and honor of God's name and for His people to give Him the worship He deserves. Jesus said we are to worship God in spirit and in truth, what better way to do that than to find out about the spirit and the truth about it.

I wrote this post to establish what I believe and the biblical and theological basis of it. In my discussions with my charismatic brethren, I noticed that I was merely reacting to their arguments and not giving the positive case for cessationism. Here we go...

I. What is a spiritual gift? (From Now that's the Spirit)

Samuel Dawson (of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary), a cessationist, provides helpful
definitions in this regard:

Miracle—For our purposes, a miracle is a supernatural act, directly or indirectly, affected by God with or without the use of human agency, that results in supernatural phenomena.

Miraculous gift—For our purposes, a miraculous gift is a gift given by God to an
intermediary human agent who uses the gift through God’s power so that miraculous phenomena are effected, which are not capable of being duplicated by human agency alone. Miraculous gifts may include among others: healings, prophecy, tongues, interpretation of tongues. Thus, miraculous gifts must have a human agent whom God gifts to carry out an act that results in supernatural phenomena.

“I am not denying by all this that there are miracles in the world today in the broader sense of supernatural occurrences and extraordinary providences. I am only saying that there are no miracles in the stricter sense. There are no miracle-workers performing miraculous signs to attest the redemptive revelation they bring from God. Though God has never locked Himself out of His world and is still at liberty to do as He pleases, when He pleases, how He pleases, and where He pleases, He has made it clear that the progress of redemptive revelation attested by miraculous signs done by miracle-workers has been brought to conclusion in the revelation embodied in our New Testaments” (Waldron, To Be Continued?, 102).

The distinction here between God performing miracles and the continued existence of sign gifts has to do with the empowerment of the individual. Those who argue that the sign gifts have ceased do not argue that miracles have ceased. But they do argue that God is no longer granting individuals special powers to perform such miracles at will. (From Two Views on the "Sign Gifts": Continuity Vs. Discontinuity)

So, if we pray for someone and they were to be cured of cancer, AIDS, limbs healed, even raised from the dead through our prayers - that is the power of prayer NOT someone with the gift of miracles or healing and is perfectly compatible with cessationist theology. Remember, cessationist believe in the power of prayer, just not that people have the spiritual gift of healing or miracles! I hope you can see the difference b/c it is SO OFTEN misunderstood.

II. What are the spiritual gifts?

The listings come from Romans 12:6-8, I Corinthians 12:8-10, I Corinthians 12:28-30, and Ephesians 4:11.

I have put the gifts in 2 columns, one column that is not in question b/c for the most part whether you are charismatic or a cessationist, we don't doubt the existence of the permanent gifts, only the miraculous or "sign gifts" (from now on when I say "the gifts have ceased" I am referring only to the "sign gifts").

Courtesy of Thisblogchoseyou
Permanent Gifts
Ministry
Pastor-Teacher
Evangelism
Helps/Ministering
Administration
Exhortation
Giving
Mercy
Faith













Gifts in Question/"Sign Gifts"
Apostles
Prophets
Miracles
Healing
Tongues
Interpretation
Discerning of Spirits
Wisdom
Knowledge
(Okay, so there is some talk of whether or not Apostleship is a gift or an office and if wisdom and knowledge properly belongs in the sign gifts box, but that is beyond the scope of the current discussion.)

Furthermore, Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 clearly gives us the purpose of these gifts as he states in v1 "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware." He goes on to say that there are variety of things, but that its purpose is for the common good, not of the individual:

"4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good."
Paul goes onto say not everyone has the same spiritual gift:

"29All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? 30All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? "
I mention this under my "definition" section, b/c the use of such gifts should reflect their purpose, if not only to see if they are genuine. And what do we see? More often than not tongues are used to edify oneself and everyone has the gift of tongues or everyone has the gift of prophesy.

There are also certain properties and purposes given to some of the gifts:

1 Corinthians 14:22 "So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe...27If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; 28but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. 29Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. 30But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. 31For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted"

Acts 2:6 "And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language."

So we know that there should at least SOMETIMES we see tongues and prophesy done one by one, tongues followed by interpretation, and tongues in another language, yet we seldom IF EVER see this.

III. More Definitions

These are courtesy of Pyromaniacs:

Both sides generally agree to these definitions:

If you believe any of the miraculous spiritual gifts were operative in the apostolic era only, and that some or all of those gifts gradually ceased before the end of the first century, you are a cessationist.

If you believe all the spiritual gifts described in the New Testament have continued unabated, unchanged, and unaltered since the initial outpouring of tongues at Pentecost, you are a continuationist.

IV. Last of the definitions!

Types of Cessationists: Courtesy of Theological Dictionary

1. Concentric Cessationists believe that the miraculous gifts have indeed ceased in the mainstream church and evangelized areas, but appear in unreached areas as an aid to spreading the Gospel (Luther and Calvin, though they were somewhat inconsistent in this position. Daniel B. Wallace is now the most prominent scholar to hold this view).

2. Classical (or "Weak") cessationists assert that the miraculous gifts such as prophecy, healing and speaking in tongues ceased with the apostles and only served as launching pads for the spreading of the Gospel. However, these cessationists do believe that God still occasionally does miracle-like activities today, such as healings or divine guidance, so long as these "miracles" do not accredit new doctrine or add to the New Testament canon (Warfield, Gaffin). John MacArthur is perhaps the best-known classical cessationist.

3. Full Cessationists argue that along with no miraculous gifts, there are also no miracles performed by God today. This argument, of course, turns on one's understanding of the term, "miracle."

4. Consistent Cessationists believe that not only were the miraculous gifts only for the establishment of the first-century church, but the so-called five-fold ministry found in Eph 4 was also a transitional institution (i.e., There are no more apostles, prophets, but also no more pastors, teachers, or evangelists).

Types of Charismatics: From Spiritual Gifts: Definitions and Kinds

1. Classic Pentecostalism – The historic beginning of the modern tongues movement is traced to Bethel Bible School of Topeka, Kansas, founded in 1900 by Charles Parham (1873-1929). Parham encouraged his students to examine the apostolic age for a witness of the baptism of the Holy Spirit available today as an event subsequent to salvation. One of his students, Miss Agnes Ozman, requested that hands be laid on her to receive the Holy Spirit, and according to Parham, she responded by speaking only in the Chinese language, unable tospeak her native English for the next three days. Parham considered this the restoration of the Pentecostal power of the Book of Acts. Nichol points out that the significance of the Topeka event was that “for the first time the concept of being baptized (or filled) with the Holy Spirit was linked to an outward sign—speaking in tongues.” Parham began an evangelistic effort in various cities which he identified as “Pentecostal” or the “Full Gospel,” reaching as high as 25,000 Pentecostal converts in Texas alone by 1905.14 William Seymour (1870-1922) came in contact with Parham’s preaching in Houston and then was called to Los Angeles, where he lead the renowned Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909). Based at the Azusa Street M ission (312 Azusa Street), Seymour spoke intongues for the first time on April 9, 1906. Seymour’s activities associated with the Azusa Street Revival launched American Pentecostalism, and Azusa Street became a “veritable Pentecostal Mecca to which pilgrims from all over the world came and from which the news of supernatural signs and wonders was broad.

2. The Charismatic Movement/Neo-Pentecostalism - Began in the mid-1950s largely through the efforts of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International of Los Angeles, and the efforts of Assemblies of God minister David J. du Plessis (1905-1987), who promoted the Pentecostal experience to the non-Pentecostal denominations. On August 3, 1960, Episcopal priest Dennis Bennett (1917- ) of St Marks Church in Van Nuys, California, announced in his pulpit that he had been baptized of the Holy Spirit and then went on to speak in tongues. Bennett came under immediate criticism and resigned after the third of three services the same day. The matter, however, was so widely publicized that this event is often viewed as the founding the Charismatic Movement, as it spread to every major denomination and cut across all theological boundaries. Dunn observed that this new Pentecostalism “has now become a movement of world-wide importance, reckoned as a third force in Christendom (alongside Catholicism and Protestantism) by not a few leading churchmen.” In the movement, there was less concern for the nature of the new birth and great stress was placed on Spirit baptism and tongues. In the quest for expanded research and doctrinal respectability, the Society for Pentecostal Studies was formed in 1970. Important aspects include, Trinity Broadcasting Network, begun by Paul Crouch in 1973, The International Catholic Charismatic Conference in Rome, 1975, and the rise after 1980 of prominent televangelists, including Oral Roberts and son Richard, Kenneth Hagin, Pat Robertson, Rex Humbard, Jimmy Swaggart, Kenneth Copeland, Jim Bakker, and Benny Hinn.

3. Third Wave Theology - This is also known as the “Signs and Wonders” or the “Third Wave” Movement, the first wave being Pentecostalism and the second the Charismatic Renewal. This group consists of largely mainline evangelicals who did not want to be identified with the first two groups and yet believed in miraculous gifts, tongues, and healings for today. They teach that the new birth and Spirit baptism occur at the same time and give great place to the miraculous gifts, viewing them as the long-buried truth that has once again come to light, generating widespread excitement. The movement was started by C. Peter Wagner of the Fuller Theological Seminary missions department. Also part of the Third Wave are John Wimber of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Anaheim, California and founder of the Association of Vineyard Churches, and former Dallas Seminary professor, Jack Deere. Leaders of the movement are concerned with healing and the Christian response to demonic activity.

4. "Open but Cautious” Position — An expression coined by Wayne Grudem,—of noted evangelical teachers, including Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Robert Saucy, John Piper, and Wayne Grudem himself, along with Chuck Smith and his Calvary Chapel movement. Charismatics are often openly critical of “third wavers.” They are unconvinced by the cessationist arguments, but are also cautious about the emphasis given to spiritual gifts by noncessationists.

(Last sentence from "The Hermeneutics of Noncessationism")

V. The Cessationist Position

I believe Dr. Daniel Wallace puts it best here:

There are others who argue that, with reference to these gifts, there is greater discontinuity than continuity. (They are called cessationists or non-charismatics.) Part and parcel of this argument is the nature and purpose of these gifts. This view claims that these gifts were essentially poured out on select individuals for the purpose of authenticating that God was doing something new. Surely the coming of Christ and the doing away with the Law and the inclusion of uncircumcised Gentiles into the spiritual community was radical stuff. When Jesus cleansed the temple and when he taught, his religious opponents wanted a sign. They knew that he was challenging the status quo. He had better back up his message with some miracles. So he gave them one big miracle: his own resurrection. End of discussion. Something new was afoot in Israel. God authenticated his message by raising him from the dead. Jesus invested supernatural authority in his own apostles (Matt 28:16-20) to bring this good news to the world. These apostles and certain others in the early church had a measure of some of these gifts. Whether they represent all Christians of all time or whether theirs was a special time and a special gift is the question.

I belong to the latter group. That is, I believe in a sufficient amount of discontinuity to warrant speaking of the sign gifts as having ceased. I will argue, in fact, that every true Christian has to belong to this latter category to some degree. I will offer two theses below, followed by several specific arguments backing them up.

Thesis One: To the extent that we see discontinuity between the first century and the twentieth in terms of the sign gifts, to that extent we are cessationists.

Thesis Two: The more we see discontinuity, the more we affirm that the purpose of the sign gifts was authentication rather than a display of normative Christianity.

All Christians hold to some measure of discontinuity, just as all Christians hold to some measure of continuity. But that there is any discontinuity at all is most significant: it indicates the Spirit of God is not working in exactly the same way today as he was in the first century. If so, then we must immediately ask: How normative is the book of Acts? Indeed, how normative are the sign gifts?
Furthermore from Phil Johnson:


Dan's right; every major point brought up in the flood of charismatic comments lately added to this thread has been answered before.

I've repeatedly explained why it's facile, self-contradictory, and inadequate for charismatics on the one hand to acknowledge that the gifts supposedly operating today are not apostolic-quality manifestations (a point conceded by everyone but the rank charlatans in the charismatic movement), while on the other hand rejecting every argument for cessationism other than air-tight proof-texts. Because there is no airtight proof-text saying that the apostolic-quality gifts would cease and be replaced by lesser gifts, either.As I've suggested many times before, that belief makes charismatics de facto cessationists (albeit cessationists of a different kind) anyway. So they have already conceded the cessationist argument in principle, and when it comes to exegetical support for their position, they face the very same hurdle they claim is insurmountable for full-fledged cessationists. In other words, the position refutes itself.It's also irrational and inconsistent for charismatics to insist on exclusively exegetical proofs for cessationism, while they are insisting that cessationists must exegete the charismatics' anecdotal accounts of private, subjective experiences.

Note: the miracles, dreams, and visions recorded in Scripture are comparatively rare and never trivial. They always signalled something important that God was doing. If charismatics were producing miracles of that sort, we wouldn't be having this debate.As it is, the anecdotal, trifling, hit-and-miss (mostly miss) phenomena charismatics are pointing to and demanding explanations for strike me as the exact parallel of a file drawer full of material I used to keep when I was acquisitions editor at Moody Press. The drawer held a sheaf of manuscripts sent to me by people who insisted these were verbally-inspired messages they got directly from God—i.e., new Scripture.But I'm a cessationist for exactly the same reason I believe the canon is closed. It's not because I can cite chapter and verse saying how and when the NT would be complete, but because for roughly two thousand years there simply have not been any credible claimants who could do the things Jesus and the apostles did.
_________

Main points:

The sign gifts were for given by God for the founding of the church (cf. Ephesians 2:20) and was used to confirm the Apostolic movement (cf. Hebrews 2:3-4). With the full revelation of God in the Bible (cf. Jude 3) and the closing of the canon (cf. Revelation 22:18-19), the gifts in their confirmatory and foundational capacity ceased (c.f 1 Corinthians 13;8). [For fuller treatment of these verses see below]

This way in cessationism, no one can add to the Bible, b/c the God no longer gives verbal, auditory, or visual revelations b/c those things ended with the Apostles and prophets in the first century and we no longer need those revelations b/c we have God's full revelation to us in the completed canon of the Bible that promises us "that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:17). We have everything we need to have a relationship with God and do His work simply with the Bible, prayer, and the church and do not need miraculous gifts.

Cessationism is also consistent b/c we are able to account for the lack of gifts (remember we believe in miracles) throughout church history at least from the 200 - 1900 A.D. Charismatics must account for the nonexistence of gifts for 1700 years and than their sudden appearance BIBILICALLY, not experientially. They also must biblically account for the fact the quality, character, and power of the gifts are so much different than before. Finally, they must show biblically that God will only stop the apostleship and adding on to the Bible (almost every one in Evangelical Christianity agrees that the apostleship and the adding on to the Bible has stopped and only fringe groups believe otherwise). As mentioned above, if you did have such miraculous gifts, would their really be any doubt amongst fellow Christians...? Also, let's not forget that the gifts were given for the purpose of building each other up, but we usually see people edifying themselvs. There are supposed to be a variety of gifts allocated to everyone, but we usually see everyone speaking tongues and/or prophesying and NEVER see the other gifts of interpretations, people with the gift of miracles, knowledge, wisdom, or apostles. There are specific things that gifts are for that we never see (i.e. tongues being interpreted or in another language). Finally, please realize we never see these things being done at the same level as we see in the Bible or in the public places.

I encourage charismatics to look deeply into the Bible and to see if your view is really just from your experience and not the Bible. Our experiences should be subjected under the authority of the Bible, and not vice versa, besides the church's overwhelming experience as well as a cessationist's experience would point to cessationism. In my personal experience, I have met many people who have had incredible events happen to them or seen incredible things only on the mission field, this is compatible with cessationism! Remember the crux of the question is if certain people are gifted within the church in general and in settings for everyday worship and life. So technically, if you believe you have spoken in tongues just once or had just one prophecy (though I would contest that) and believe these things are rare instances, you are really closer to cessationist than charismatic theology b/c you do not think certain people are given those gifts on a more permanent basis! Cessationist say that people do not have those gifts in an on going fashion, but that miraculous experiences do happen.

VI. Verses that support cessationism:
1. Ephesians 2:20 - having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone

a. Eph. 2:20—Paul makes it clear that the apostles and the prophets (contextually and grammatically he can only be speaking of New Testament prophets here, contra Grudem, cf. O’Brien and others) were for the foundation of the church. Now that the foundation stage has been laid, neither of the two groups is needed. Ephesians 2:20 could not be more clear. The verse contains no difficult words, nor any difficult or unusual grammatical constructions. The grammatical construction of one article preceding two nouns joined by “and” is a familiar and well-known construction. Any alleged complexities in interpreting this verse arise not from the verse itself but from the presuppositions of the interpreter (Edgar, Satisfied by the Promise of the Spirit, 78–79). (From Now that's the Spirit)

b. Ephesians 2:20 clearly refers to the universal church, not to some local church or mission field. Paul's predominant usage of ejkklhsiva elsewhere in Ephesians demonstrates this. In 3:5 he wrote that the apostles and prophets were closely related to the foundational revelation that Gentiles as well as Jews would be united in the one universal body of Christ (cf. v. 10). He also used this universal sense in 3:21. In 5:23-27 the illustration of the husband and wife shows Christ's relationship to the universal church. This universal church is described as "His body" (v. 30) and also as a mystery (v. 32), referring back to 3:5. Paul's words therefore cannot be properly applied to local or national churches throughout this age, inasmuch as Paul's representation of the church throughout this passage and elsewhere describes the church in the most universal and pervasive of terms (e.g., "God's people" and "God's household" in 2:19). Therefore Paul was referring to the foundation of the universal church in Ephesians 2:20. This foundation, by implication and by its very nature, can be laid only once since foundations are necessarily laid only once at the beginning of any structure. (From When Will the Gift of Prophesy Cease?)

c. Ephesians 2:20 has been the “thorn in the flesh” for all noncessationists. No one has successfully countered the verse’s supp ort for cessationism. Since the gift of prophecy is paired with the gift of apostleship as the foundation for the “holy temple”—the church—and since apostleship is a temporary gift, prophecy is obviously a temporary revelatory gift just like apostleship. Noncessationist Jon Ruthven acknowledges that “Pentecostal or charismatic scholars generally have failed to treat this cessationist argum ent [i.e., the support for cessationism from Eph 2:20] to any significant or adequate degree.” He agrees with cessationists that Grudem’s explanation is unconvincing, and offers his own rebuttal to the verse’s proof of cessationism. He rejects the idea that apostles and prophets were repositories for Scriptural revelation and contends that apostleship along with prophecy continues functioning until the second coming of Christ. Ruthven’s case falters, however, in light of the clearly delineated NT teaching about apostolic authority in the NT and early church and how that authority played a part in delivering and preserving the body of truth that is contained in the NT books.
2. Hebrews 2:3-4 - how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.

a. The argument that this text refers to the cessation of certain gifts is based on an inference in the text, viz., that since the first generation of Christians were explicitly eyewitnesses to certain sign gifts, the second generation of Christians was not...All in all, Hebrews 2:3-4 seems to involve some solid inferences that the sign gifts had for the most part ceased. Further, it offers equally inferential evidence of the purpose of the sign gifts: to confirm that God was doing something new. The whole argument of Hebrews rests on this assumption: there is a new and final revelation in Jesus Christ (cf. 1:1-2). He is the one to whom the whole OT points; he is the one who is superior to the Aaronic priesthood, to prophets, and to angels. He is indeed God in the flesh. Is it not remarkable that in this exquisitely argued epistle, the argument turns on Scripture over against experience? The strongest appeal the author makes to the audience’s experience is to what they were witnesses to in the past. If the sign gifts continued, shouldn’t we expect this author (like Paul in Gal 3:5) to have employed such an argument? (From Hebrews 2:3-4 and the Sign Gifts)

3. Jude 3 - Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

a. Jude 3 is a crucial passage on the completeness of our Bibles. This statement, penned by Jude before the NT was complete, nevertheless looked forward to the completion of the entire canon... In the Greek text the definite article preceding “faith” points to the one and only faith. There is no other. Such passages as Gal 1:23 (“He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith”) and 1 Tim 4:1 (“In latter times some will fall away from the faith”) indicate this objective use of the expression “the faith” was common in apostolic times. Greek scholar Henry Alford wrote that the faith is “objective here: the sum of that which Christians believe.” Note also the crucial phrase “once for all” in Jude 3 (KJV). The Greek word here is hapax, which refers to something done for all time, with lasting results, never needing repetition. Nothing needs to be added to the faith that has been delivered “once for all.” George Lawlor, who has written an excellent work on Jude, made the following comment:

The Christian faith is unchangeable, which is not to say that men and women of every generation do not need to find it, experience it, and live it; but it does mean that every new doctrine that arises, even though its legitimacy may be plausibly asserted, is a false doctrine. All claims to convey some additional revelation to that which has been given by God in this body of truth are false claims and must be rejected.

Also important in Jude 3 is the word “delivered.” In the Greek it is an aorist passive participle, which in this context indicates an act completed in the past with no continuing element. In this instance the passive voice means the faith was not discovered by men, but given to men by God. And so through the Scriptures God has given us a body of teaching that is final and complete. Our Christian faith rests on historical, objective revelation. That rules out all prophecies, seers, and other forms of new revelation until God speaks again at the return of Christ (cf. Acts 2:16-21; Rev 1:1-13). In the meantime, Scripture warns us to be wary of false prophets. Jesus said that in our age “false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matt 24:24). Signs and wonders are no proof that a person speaks for God. John wrote, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

Ultimately, Scripture is the test of everything; it is the Christian’s standard. In fact, the word canon means “a rule, standard, or measuring rod.” The canon of Scripture is the measuring rod of the Christian faith, and it is complete.
4. Revelation 22:18-19 - I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

From James Lee - Candidate for MDiv at the Master's Seminary:

An understanding of the historical background of John’s apocalyptic writing will disclose the motivation for the warning of verse 22:18. In the late A.D. 90’s, false teaching and prophecies ran amuck within the church (cf. Rev. 2:2.) The church of Thyatira had tolerated the teachings of the false prophetess Jezebel (Rev. 2:20,) and some in the church of Pergamum adopted the teaching of the Nicolaitans (Rev. 2:15) and of Balaam (Rev. 2:14). Also, “John’s commendation of others in Thyatira who had not known “the deep things” (τὰ βαθέα) of Satan (2:24) may indicate prophetic activity whose source was satanic.”[1] The epistles of John, which were written not too long before the book of Revelation, also reveal the threat of false teaching and prophecy. In 1 John 4:1-6, the Apostle commands the readers to test the spirits. John is most likely referring to the secessionist deceivers who were deceiving the church.[2] Because of all the threats of false prophecy, John knew it was necessary to pen the warnings of Revelation 22:18-19. He was not just concerned with the addition and subtraction to the specific book of Revelation, but false teaching in general. Since false prophets claimed divine authority, they challenged God’s true messenger, Apostle John, in disclosing divine truths. Therefore, the warning in Revelation may be seen as a way of ending any confusion over prophetic authority – it anticipated the completion of revelation after the closure of the book. [3]
The expectancy of prophetic cessation is not only demonstrated in John’s motivation for writing Revelation 22:18-19, but the warning itself gives reason to believe that divine revelation has ceased. In John’s Apocalypse, revelatory elements extend from the lifetime of John until eternity future. Therefore “[a]ny type of prophetic utterance would intrude into the domain of this coverage and constitute either an addition to or subtraction from Revelation’s content. So the final book of the Bible is also the concluding product of the NT prophecy.” [4]

[1] David Farnell, “Is the Gift of Prophecy for Today? Part 1: The Current Debate about New Testament Prophecy,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 149:595 (Jul 92): 283.
[2] Ibid, 282-283.
[3] Ibid, 284.
[4] Thomas, Robert L. Revelation 8-22: An Exegetical Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), 517.
____________


5. 1 Corinthians 13:8 - Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
Many scholars believe that the section here talks about gift ceasing with either the closing of the canon or the maturation of the church.

For treatments on this text go to Cessationism in 1 Corinthians 13:8-12

VII. The Testimony of History
The greatest persons in church history after the early overwhelming agree on cessationism. In fact, all the greatest events in church history happened without spiritual gifts and miracles ie the Reformation, the Great Awakening, etc.
John Chrysostom (c. 344–407):
This whole place [speaking about 1 Corinthians 12] is very obscure: but the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to and by their cessation, being such as then used to occur but now no longer take place. [1]
*****
Augustine (354–430):
In the earliest times, “the Holy Ghost fell upon them that believed: and they spake with tongues,” which they had not learned, “as the Spirit gave them utterance.” These were signs adapted to the time. For there behooved to be that betokening of the Holy Spirit in all tongues, to shew that the Gospel of God was to run through all tongues over the whole earth. That thing was done for a betokening, and it passed away. [2]
*****
Theodoret of Cyrus (c. 393–c. 466):
In former times those who accepted the divine preaching and who were baptized for their salvation were given visible signs of the grace of the Holy Spirit at work in them. Some spoke in tongues which they did not know and which nobody had taught them, while others performed miracles or prophesied. The Corinthians also did these things, but they did not use the gifts as they should have done. They were more interested in showing off than in using them for the edification of the church. . . . Even in our time grace is given to those who are deemed worthy of holy baptism, but it may not take the same form as it did in those days. [3]
*****
Martin Luther (1483–1546):
[Rather than acknowledging the availability of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, as the spiritual enthusiasts of his time did, Luther (in his Large Catechism) defined the Holy Spirit’s gifts as:]
· the holy Christian Church,· the communion of saints,· the forgiveness of sins,· the resurrection of the body, and· the life everlasting[Thus in the Large Catechism, he writes:]
Learn this article, then, as clearly as possible. If you are asked, What do you mean by the words, “I believe in the Holy Spirit”? you can answer, “I believe that the Holy Spirit makes me holy, as his name implies.” How does he do this? By what means? Answer: “Through the Christian church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.” In the first place, he has a unique community in the world. It is the mother that begets and bears every Christian through the Word of God. The Holy Spirit reveals and preaches that Word, and by it he illumines and kindles hearts so that they grasp and accept it, cling to it, and persevere in it” [4]
[As The Encyclopedia of Religion concludes: “Both Luther and Calvin wrote that the age of miracles was over and that their occurrence should not be expected.”]
*****
John Calvin (1509–1564):
Though Christ does not expressly state whether he intends this gift [of miracles] to be temporary, or to remain perpetually in the Church, yet it is more probable that miracles were promised only for a time, in order to give lustre to the gospel while it was new or in a state of obscurity. [5]
“…the gift of healing, like the rest of the miracles, which the Lord willed to be brought forth for a time, has vanished away in order to make the preaching of the Gospel marvellous for ever.” [6]
*****
John Owen (1616–1683):
“Gifts which in their own nature exceed the whole power of all our faculties, that dispensation of the Spirit is long since ceased and where it is now pretended unto by any, it may justly be suspected as an enthusiastic delusion.” [7]
*****
Thomas Watson (c 1620–1686):
“Sure, there is as much need of ordination now as in Christ’s time and in the time of the apostles, there being then extraordinary gifts in the church which are now ceased.” [8]
*****
Matthew Henry (1662–1714):
What these gifts were is at large told us in the body of the chapter [1 Corinthians 12]; namely, extraordinary offices and powers, bestowed on ministers and Christians in the first ages, for conviction of unbelievers, and propagation of the gospel. [9]
The gift of tongues was one new product of the spirit of prophecy and given for a particular reason, that, the Jewish pale being taken down, all nations might be brought into the church. These and other gifts of prophecy, being a sign, have long since ceased and been laid aside, and we have no encouragement to expect the revival of them; but, on the contrary, are directed to call the scriptures the more sure word of prophecy, more sure than voices from heaven; and to them we are directed to take heed, to search them, and to hold them fast, 2 Peter 1:29. [10]
*****
Conyers Middleton (1683–1750):
We have no sufficient reason to believe, upon the authority of the primitive fathers, that any such powers were continued to the church, after the days of the Apostles.[11]
*****
John Gill (1697–1771):
[Commenting on 1 Corinthians 12:9 and 30:]
Now these gifts were bestowed in common, by the Spirit, on apostles, prophets, and pastors, or elders of the church, in those early times: the Alexandrian copy, and the Vulgate Latin version, read, “by one Spirit”. [12]
No; when these gifts were in being, all had them not. When anointing with oil, in order to heal the sick, was in use, it was only performed by the elders of the church, not by the common members of it, who were to be sent for by the sick on this occasion. [13]
*****
Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758):
In the days of his [Jesus’] flesh, his disciples had a measure of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, being enabled thus to teach and to work miracles. But after the resurrection and ascension, was the most full and remarkable effusion of the Spirit in his miraculous gifts that ever took place, beginning with the day of Pentecost, after Christ had risen and ascended to heaven. And in consequence of this, not only here and there an extraordinary person was endowed with these extraordinary gifts, but they were common in the church, and so continued during the lifetime of the apostles, or till the death of the last of them, even the apostle John, which took place about a hundred years from the birth of Christ; so that the first hundred years of the Christian era, or the first century, was the era of miracles. But soon after that, the canon of Scripture being completed when the apostle John had written the book of Revelation, which he wrote not long before his death, these miraculous gifts were no longer continued in the church. For there was now completed an established written revelation of the mind and will of God, wherein God had fully recorded a standing and all-sufficient rule for his church in all ages. And the Jewish church and nation being overthrown, and the Christian church and the last dispensation of the church of God being established, the miraculous gifts of the Spirit were no longer needed, and therefore they ceased; for though they had been continued in the church for so many ages, yet then they failed, and God caused them to fail because there was no further occasion for them. And so was fulfilled the saying of the text, “Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” And now there seems to be an end to all such fruits of the Spirit as these, and we have no reason to expect them any more. [14]
Of the extraordinary gifts, they were given in order to the founding and establishing of the church in the world. But since the canon of Scriptures has been completed, and the Christian church fully founded and established, these extraordinary gifts have ceased. [15]
*****
George Whitefield (1714-1770):
[After being accused of practicing the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, said:]
I never did pretend to these extraordinary operations of working miracles, or speaking with tongues [since] the karismata, the miraculous gifts conferred on the primitive church . . . have long since ceased. [16]
*****
James Buchanan (1804-1870):
The miraculous gifts of the Spirit have long since been withdrawn. They were used for a temporary purpose. They were the scaffolding with God employed for the erection of a spiritual temple. When it was no longer needed the scaffolding was taken down, but the temple still stands, and is occupied by his indwelling Spirit; for, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you” (I Cor. 3:16). [17]
*****
Robert L. Dabney (1820–1898):
After the early church had been established, the same necessity for supernatural signs now no longer existed, and God, Who is never wasteful in His expedients, withdrew them. . . . Miracles, if they became ordinary, would cease to be miracles, and would be referred by men to customary law. [18]
*****
Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892):
[The believers mentioned in the book of Hebrews] had attained the summit of piety. They had received “the powers of the world to come.” Not miraculous gifts, which are denied us in these days, but all those powers with which the Holy Ghost endows a Christian. And what are they? Why, there is the power of faith, which commands even the heavens themselves to rain, and they rain, or stops the bottles of heaven, that they rain not. There is the power of prayer, which puts a ladder between earth and heaven, and bids angels walk up and down, to convey our wants to God, and bring down blessings from above. There is the power with which God girds his servant when he speaks by inspiration, which enables him to instruct others, and lead them to Jesus; and whatever other power there may be—the power of holding communion with God, or the power of patient waiting for the Son of Man—they were possessed by these individuals. [19]
The works of the Holy Spirit which are at this time vouchsafed to the Church of God are every way as valuable as those earlier miraculous gifts which have departed from us. The work of the Holy Spirit, by which men are quickened from their death in sin, is not inferior to the power which made men speak with tongues. [20]
[Speaking of the office of the apostles,] an office which necessarily dies out, and properly so, because the miraculous power also is withdrawn. [21]
*****
George Smeaton (1814–1889):
The supernatural or extraordinary gifts were temporary, and intended to disappear when the Church should be founded and the inspired canon of Scripture closed; for they were an external proof of an internal inspiration. [22]
*****
Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920):
Many of the charismata, given to the apostolic church, are not of service to the church of the present day. [23]
*****
William G. T. Shedd (1820–1894):
The supernatural gifts of inspiration and miracles which the apostles possessed were not continued to their ministerial successors, because they were no longer necessary. All the doctrines of Christianity had been revealed to the apostles, and had been delivered to the church in a written form. There was no further need of an infallible inspiration. And the credentials and authority give to the first preachers of Christianity in miraculous acts, did not need continual repetition from age to age. One age of miracles well authenticated is sufficient to establish the divine origin of the gospel. In a human court, an indefinite series of witnesses is not required. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses,” the facts are established. The case once decided is not reopened. [24]
*****
Benjamin B. Warfield (1887–1921):
These gifts were not the possession of the primitive Christian as such; nor for that matter of the Apostolic Church or the Apostolic age for themselves; they were distinctively the authentication of the Apostles. They were part of the credentials of the Apostles as the authoritative agents of God in founding the church. Their function thus confined them to distinctively the Apostolic Church and they necessarily passed away with it. [25]
*****
Arthur W. Pink (1886–1952):
As there were offices extraordinary (apostles and prophets) at the beginning of our dispensation, so there were gifts extraordinary; and as successors were not appointed for the former, so a continuance was never intended for the latter. The gifts were dependent upon the officers. We no longer have the apostles with us and therefore the supernatural gifts (the communication of which was an essential part of “the signs of an apostle,” II Cor. 12:12) are absent. [26]

10 comments:

Brother Marty said...

I wonder why you don't quote John Wesley, the founder of a great denomination? Regardless of that, I, unfortunately, have found myself the recipient of the gifts denied by so many cessationalists.
The gift of healing has been put on me. Not...I repeat...not of my own desire, but because God wants to work through me for His glory. Duh...what do I make of this cessationalist perspective? I cannot embrace it. I'd "intellectually" love to embrace it...but it cannot be. I'm at the disposal of Our Lord. Don't like it..and prefer to have nothing to do with it...but it is His Will.

Just a perspective.

The Predestined Blog said...

To Brother Marty,

1) I believe God can do miracles and even cure cancer from people through the power of prayer. I hope you don't think I do not believe in miracles - I do!

2) If you have the gift of healing, you are more than welcome to come to the hospital I work at and prove it. If you can't do that than you should not be too surprised if I question whether or not you do have a gift from God.

Brother Marty said...

Hello,
I like your objectivity. I appreciate reason and rationality. But, duh...isn't God all about anything but reason and rationality? He is wondrous and awesome to behold when He decides to reveal Himself where we can discern His presence. In the healing ministry, He does just that, at times, to the wonder and joy of those who administer and receive healing prayer. I would suggest that it is always God's will, rather than a healing minister's, that is done.

I've had the sorrow filled opportunity to see young people for whom prayer was said die...and witness faith fall away. On the other hand, I've witnessed others live in spite of the death sentences given by doctors for terminal cancer. What and why? I don't know. God knows, and it is His will that prevails in each and every situation.

Being a Christian isn't always easy. Being one who God chooses to use for His glory is even tougher. Those chosen fall subject to ridicule, distrust, and confusion. But maintaining a servant's heart is paramount in making oneself available for God to work through.

Some do it with gifts of healing, others with gifts of discernment, and others with the other gifts of the Holy Spirit. May we all be members of the same body...the body of Christ.

Again...like your perspective. Thank you for a clear and discernible perspective. I just have a different take on these matters.

Joseph M. Gleason said...

You seem to present a very skewed version of Church history in relation to cessationism. A great many early church fathers and Reformers were charismatics. In fact, a little more recently, Charles Spurgeon himself wrote about prophetic / word-of-knowledge gifts given to him by the Holy Spirit. Consider this study I put together on the subject:

http://www.39articles.com/samples/charismatahistory.htm

The Predestined Blog said...

Thank you for you comment Pastor Gleason. I just want to assure you that I was not intentionally skewing the entirety of church history, but going on my what I see is historically and biblically true.

1) Baptism of the Spirit in its modern formulation was not held by the early church or reformation that's for sure.

2) The belief that God connects physical actions and spiritual events can be held by continuists and cessastionist alike.

3) I don't know what Ante-Nicene fathers believed in regards to the gifts. However, they most certainly would not have approve of the abuse we see. They most likely were like Spurgeon believing in some moderate form of prophecy, something that a cessationist could easily say is mere illumination. If that is the case they are more similar to the cessationist in regard to the gifts.

4) It is def. skewed when you try to make the early church fathers and the Reformation appear to agree with modern day charismatics, that is just simply not the case. What do they mean by prophecy? What do they mean by healings? The quotes you have make it sound like they believe in the modern def. of "prophecy" or "healings."

5) The quotes I have a clear, unambiguous, and to point affirmation of the early church and Reformation saints' affirmation of cessationism. Now, they may have believed in a little of something or other going on every once in a while, but that would make them concentric cessationists, not charismatics. In regards to the aforementioned group, they most certainly believe that there was more discontinuity in regards to the gifts than continuity.


I am somewhat familiar with Spurgeon, as his views line up close with John Piper's. I really have no prb with that view (not to say that I agree). I do want to say though that I'm not sure I would classify that as "prophecy," but I'd call it "illumination." Basically, I don't want to go to war over semantics.

God Bless your ministry!

The Predestined Blog said...

edit: To Pastor Gleason

I hope you didn't get my 2 first posts (I know blogger automatically sends emails), they a little bit more harsh in tone and I so I went back to edit that out. Forgive me if you got those, I know you are servant of the Lord.

RiverYP said...

I stumbled upon your blog while trying to find a fair treatment (concise-not 130 pages) on IHOP. I appreciated your focus on primary issues regarding, doctrine, hermeneutics, and prophecy.
I however disagree with your take on cessationism. In my opinion (my take) cessation is the position of those that are either uncomfortable with the miracluous gifts, have seen them abused, or have never witnessed them in person. I do not see it as being consistent with Paul's teaching on the gifts and the practice there of.
I do appreciate the door you leave open for God to work in and through anyone He chooses for His purpose and for His glory alone. I believe the gifts operate according to His will. Therefore your comment on Brother Marty coming down to the hospital where you work I felt was out of line. Demanding to see someone prove to you that they have a gift shows a lack of understanding of the gifts themselves. They are not toys to be played with - they are Sovereign Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
That is my take.

Thanks for your work on the IHOP blog - it will prove helpful to me.

The Predestined Blog said...

@ RiverYP

Sorry, I didn't mean to not post your comment, but I was not receiving emails regarding comments now that I have to moderate them...

I want to say that I love my charismatic brothers!

However I don't think it is out of line for someone who says they have true spiritual gifts to prove it! Not one person in the Bible who was able to do miracles were not afraid to be proved wrong.

The Bible in no way whatsoever confines the spiritual gifts to certain occasions, which is what people who have spiritual gifts do. Though it is a little harsh to call someone out to the hospital, is not this the place where the "gift of healing" should take place? It is just a strange coincidence that the great miracle workers in the Bible, rather that God chose to manifest His glorious gifts of the Spirit in public, in front of unbelievers, in major metropolitan places, yet we rarely see this today.

Patrick P said...

Your cessationist position explains your unfounded attacks on IHOP. I have seen your critique of IHOP, and I have also read on IHOP's website there explanations of things they have been accused of? I was just wonderful if your ministry has read these things that clearly show they are not guilty of many of the things CARM has accused them of? Has your ministry tried to reach out to IHOP to hear their side? Isn't this the way things should be done? Please see their discussion of these controversial issue on their website at: http://www.ihopkc.org/about/affirmations-and-denials/
At the very least hopefully it will result in your removing some of the unfounded accusations against them.

God Bless you,
Patrick Porter

The Predestined Blog said...

Patrick,

I feel bad for you. Like so many other people who visit this blog like you, you are blinded by IHOP.

What is sad is, how easily you dismiss my words, and in fact, I have to question you even reading anything I said. Like all other blind IHOP followers, you don’t critique anything I actually say and just like to air out your anger. If that is what you want to do that is fine.

It is so ironic and hypocritical that you blame me of not reading things clearly – I just have to shake my head.

First, I have many charismatic family members, so no, this is not from my cessationist position. By the way, CARM is charismatic as well…

Second, you assume, b/c I am against IHOP that I have never tried to reach out or hear their side, and that my arguments are unfounded. This is just wishful thinking on your part. Only if you knew, how much time I have spent on this and that yes I have been to the campus before and I have spoken with leaders/staff there who finished the Forerunner Seminary over there. Why do you think I have not? None of these people have been able to discount any of my views b/c IHOP is simply unbiblical. Only one had enough biblical knowledge to actually say that the IHOP dilemma I wrote about was true. So what now? Please stop hurling nonsense, unfactual, insults and lies here.

Third, what you link has very little to do with my arguments. There are only two things relevant on that link, first on Pastor Ernie Gruen. Second on prophecy.

On Pastor Gruen that document they site is from 1993. So funny b/c guess what, IHOP totally misinterprets things.

Here is a link from 2008 where Pastor Gruen says he still has much disagreement with IHOP.

http://deceptionbytes.com/exposing-the-kansas-city-prophets/

The prophecy views do not actually address anything in my blog. For sure it does not mention the tape recordings that they used to send out? Did you know that? The prayer rooms were once called prophecy rooms (yes, I have been there…) and I was asked by my friend’s mom to translate a “prophecy” tape from IHOP. You really don’t know what you are talking about when you said I have no experience. YOU ASSUME B/C I DISAGREE WITH THEM THAT I HAVE NO EXPERIENCE.

The other parts talks about the Latter rain, Dominion theology, Manifest Sons of God theology, but whitewashes them completely. I don’t even mention those things so I won’t.

I am writing this so that your eyes may be open. You think me some fool who has no experience with IHOP thus of course I disagree. I beg you to see, I am a bible knowing, Christian, who has met with IHOP people and can so plainly see it is wrong.

Final true personal experience story. My family member who came from China as a missionary, wanted to visit IHOP. I told him that I was very wary of the place and explained my view. He still wanted to go and planned to spend the night there. After 2 hour he called me and asked me to pick him up b/c it showed too many hallmarks of Eastern mysticism.

I appeal to you sir, go to someone outside of IHOP and talk to them about the Bible. IHOP biblical training is very wanting. It only makes sense inside IHOP, but not outside there.