I’m starting a series on cessationism. Cessationism is the belief that the miraculous spiritual gifts detailed in Scripture have ceased and are no longer operational in the church. Cessationists believe God can and does still work miracles (in answer to prayer, for example). We, however, believe the miraculous spiritual gifts (healing, tongues, prophetic foretelling, etc.) possessed and exercised by individual Christians have ceased. Here is part 1.
The reason I’m a cessationist is because I believe the purpose of the miraculous spiritual gifts has been fulfilled. My belief is not wishful thinking. I was raised Pentecostal. Scripture identifies the purpose of the miraculous spiritual gifts as for the encouragement of the church so that early Christians could trust the truth being presented as coming from God. Christ, the apostles, and the early church used miraculous spiritual gifts to validate their ministries and the truth they presented, but the truth is what encourages the church:
- See where Christ healed one person out of a multitude in John 5:2-9 to validate His identity. Also see Acts 2:22-23.
- Paul speaks of the miraculous signs of an apostle as proof for his apostleship in 2 Cor. 12:12.
- Miracles were random in Scripture and spiritual gifts were given to individual Christians to encourage and build up other Christians (the church) in 1 Cor. 12:7 (and the context of the chapter). Also see Rom. 12:1-8 and 1 Pet. 4:10-11.
The miraculous spiritual gifts serve to validate the message and the message builds up the church. Thus, the question is if this purpose is still needed today. Does the message of Christ and the apostles need to be re-validated with each generation? No. The truth is the emphasis not the gifts. The gospel spread for hundreds of years in Church History without the use of miraculous spiritual gifts to re-validate the truth. The church today simply must preach the gospel that Christ and the apostles preached and validated through their use of miraculous spiritual gifts.
Furthermore, a wicked generation seeks a sign beyond the signs that have already been provided (Matt. 12:39). The person who says, “I’ll only believe the gospel if God . . .” reveals his or her unrepentant heart. If he or she will not hear Scripture, he or she will not hear the message accompanied by miracles either; such as someone rising from the dead and preaching the gospel (Luke 16:31).
What are your thoughts?