Monday, June 22, 2015

Spiritual Gifts are for Today

The Cessationalist claim that tongues, prophecy, healing and many other gifts are not for today. Here is part of their thinking:

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. Consider the speaking of tongues. At Pentecost, the languages spoken were already existing, understandable languages. The New Testament gift was speaking in a known language and dialect, not an ecstatic language like you see people speaking in today.

I’m still looking for a citation on this one (all the others too!) Some may point to 1 Corinthians 13:10 and say that the “perfect has come” in the form of the complete cannon of scripture and that “tongues will cease.” All spiritual gifts are partial. The perfect comes with the full revelation of the church under the personal and direct control of Jesus Christ. This was the belief of all the Apostolic and early church fathers that I can find who commented on that particular scripture, but they haven’t been to a John MacArthur seminar. If the canonization of the Bible was the perfect, then why does it contain irrelevant portions? So if portions of the Bible are irrelevant than the Bible is not perfect.

Scripturally speaking you cannot show that spiritual gifts have ceased to operate. If you take that tact then what other scriptures are no longer applicable for today? James 5:13-18 must be blotted out because healing, faith and miracles are not for today. 1 Corinthians chapters 12 and 14 need to be ignored. Then we have to amend 1 Peter 2:24 to remove the healing out of the atonement. We even need to discount some of the words of Jesus himself because he didn't really mean we could have power, perform miracles and ask for the impossible because the Cessationist have argued his words are not for us for the past 1,900 years. What other words did Christ speak that we should ignore?

Here is one that confuses me. 

The New Testament governed the miraculous gifts. Whenever the New Testament gifts of tongues were to be practiced, 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.

Abuses of the gifts do not invalidate the gifts. That was the purpose of 1 Corinthians to provide correction and context for their use in the church. Paul didn't shut them down but provided guidelines. Are tongues and prophecy for today?  Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. 1 Corinthians 14:39 (NASB95). Argue with St. Paul.

This is my favorite argument.

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.

The cannon is closed, yes. No other writing or word is on par with the Bible. All must be judged by the scriptures.  All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 2 Timothy 3:16 (NASB95). If it contradicts the word of God it is to be discounted. Does not matter if it is a best seller, a sermon, prophecy, tongues & interpretation or a Cessationist article all must not contradict what the word of God plainly says.

To say that the word of God is external and objective raises the question as how we can read the word and come up with different meanings. I read it and see that all members of the body of Christ are given a gift by the Holy Spirit. A Cessationalist reads the same passage and says no we are not. But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching. Romans 10:8 (NASB95). Does not sound entirely external.

The Comforter has come and stayed. He bought power with Him. The Holy Spirit teaches us, gives us words to say, is our advantage and is with us forever. I can find in no way that the Spirit was for the 12 Apostles only. Scripture in no way implies that His ministry was for a limited time only. He remains with us forever and inspires us revelation and wisdom all the time. Jesus said he would go away but then return. The Holy Spirit of promise continues to be with us just as He was with the first century church.  

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