I came across an article some years ago stating that the gifts of the Holy Spirit had ceased to operate for around 1,900 years. You can imagine my surprise. So I formulated my response mentally and filed it away for future use. Well lo and behold I have come across this phenomenon again and it’s called Cessationism. This time I’ll put my thoughts down for your enrichment or perhaps your aggravation.
I was intrigued by the title of the article, “7 Biblical Arguments for Cessationism.” I expected a frenzy of scriptures and proof texting but sadly there was none. I will summarize their points and offer my counter to their arguments based on the principle of the witness of 2 or 3 scriptures. This should take a couple of days. Today I will issue my primary answer to these arguments and it will be based on Acts 2:17-21; 38-39.
Peter on the day of Pentecost started his sermon with, “And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams; Even on My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit And they shall prophesy. And I will grant wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth below, Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. ‘The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come. And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Acts 2:17–21 (NASB95)
This scripture speaks of a timeline by the use of “last days” and “in those days”. The day of Pentecost was the beginning of the last days and the end of days is the day the Lord shall come. Several prophetic signs are mentioned, “And I will grant wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth below, Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. ‘The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood”. We have yet to experience the latter signs which mark the end of the age. Which places us in that period marked by “I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind” and”everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” It is bad exegesis to separate a scripture when interpreting it. So the outpouring is connected to salvation in the name of Jesus.
The point is further driven home by Peter’s closing statement; “…Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” Acts 2:38–39 (NASB95)
Repent, be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit are the steps given by Peter. If the principle of Apostolic Authority is indeed a fact, then this statement is without error. Peter adds the qualifier, “as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” If the Lord is still calling, then the promise is still available. You cannot separate all the verses where Christians are “called” and say that these are available promises for us today and the “call” issued on Pentecost is not available.
This is my primary answer to the Cessationism question. I believe that every promise made in the New Testament is available to us today. Healing, Spiritual Gifts, Fruits of the Spirit and the promise of the Comforter and all that He provides for us.