Why Cessationism is Unbiblical, Irrational and Boring

John MacArthur

John MacArthur

John MacArthur is one of the leading cessationist theologians of today (cessationist meaning someone who thinks the miraculous gifts of the Spirit have ceased), and you may remember his name from my post What if Jesus Preached what Modern Preachers are Preaching where I tried to show how stupid it would look if Jesus had said what MacArthur is saying. MacArthur’s teaching has been widely criticized by many, and one of the best rebutals is in my opinion Jack Deere’s Surprised by the Power of the Spirit, where he explains how he went from being a cessationist to a charismatic evangelical and where he basically brings up all cessationist arguments used by MacArthur and crushes them to little tiny pieces.

It seems like MacArthur has changed tactics since then. Right now he is organizing a conference called Strange Fire which isn’t arguing for cessationism so much as it is accusing the majority of the charismatic movement to be heretic, demonic and a dangerous cult. Nothing new, already G. Campbell Morgan said that Pentecostalism is “the last vomit of Satan”, so MacArthur is basically continuing an embarassing evangelical tradition of demonizing Christians who don’t agree with him.

MacArthur’s argument is of course ridiculous and its main accusation, that most charismatics offer false worship, is non-valid since even if you disagree with charismatics you have to admit that their worship to Jesus is extremely passionate compared to many other churches. But I’m not going to waste ink on arguing for the sanity of the charismatic movement but bring the discussion back to its original issue: the cessation or continuity of the gifts. In my opinion, it is cessationism that is truly “strange”, it’s an unbiblical, irrational and, quite frankly, very boring theology.

Cessationists do not argue that all gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased with the apostles, simply because knowledge, compassion and faith (Rom 12:8, 1 Cor 12:8-9) clearly are still around. Instead, they argue that the supernatural gifts of the Spirit have ceased while non-supernatural (like the ones I just mentioned) are still here. Problem is: this distinction is totally unbiblical. When Paul talks about Spiritual gifts he never categorised them in supernatural and non-supernatural, and he doesn’t label some cessational and others continual.

Or does he? 1 Cor 13:8-10 says:

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. (NIV)

Cessationists often argue that the “completeness” in verse 10 refers to the Bible, meaning that there are no longer prophecies, tongues and… knowledge, I guess. But Paul says in the same letter says that the gifts will continue to exist until the second coming of Christ (1 Cor 1:7), which is much more logical that “the completeness” refers to when looking at the context of 1 Cor 13 (“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face”, v. 11). Besides, healing, miracles and deliverance are not even mentioned in 1 Cor 13, why it is irrational to use that text to claim that those gifts have ceased as well.

And speaking of deliverance – that’s not even listed as a Spiritual gift, and yet cessationists claim that it doesn’t exist anymore. Meanwhile, most of them believe that Satan still is doing false signs and wonders and that demons still possess people (this is why MacArthur can say that parts of the charismatic movement is demonic). Now think about it, demons still possess people, but we’re unable to cast those out of there! What’s the point of that? Why would God do that?

The same is true for healing – people are still sick even in post-apostolic times! People still need healing even when we got the complete Bible. I mean, the Bible is great, but in itself it cannot heal people. Thus, it cannot sufficiently replace healing. And more importantly, it never says that it will!

Finally, cessationism is boring. John Wimber, my favourite theologian, was saved in a cessationist church. He read the Bible, saw some huge differences between it and the church, and asked his pastor “When are we gonna do the stuff?” – “What stuff?” the pastor replied. “The stuff Jesus did! You know, healing the sick, raising the dead, that sort of stuff.”

“Well, we don’t do that any more.” the pastor said. “What do we do then?” – “What we did this morning! Going to the church service and drinking coffee.” John Wimber gasped, “For this I gave up drugs?”

Seriously folks, MacArthur may accuse us to have strange fire but he himself has no fire at all. This is what the Kingdom looks like:

Receive ye the Holy Ghost!

25 responses to “Why Cessationism is Unbiblical, Irrational and Boring

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  7. Just came across your blog by accident… I used to be a Charismatic until I woke up and smelled the coffee that much of what was being taught in that movement was unbiblical. Many people, including myself were deceived into believing that I could hear God apart from Scripture by some subjective means. Many of my friends were led into error, were bullied and intimidated by leaders trying to confront their errors, and many of my friends were extremely disappointed by the many false claims about apparent hearings that never happened, or being led astray by alleged prophetic words from self-proclaimed prophets (many of the them were leaders and elders in the church) that proved to be untrue. One of the major deviations from the truth of Scripture in the Charismatic movement, is the limited focus upon the need for the gospel and expositional teaching, so that people get a biblical view of God and Christ, and their need to to turn to Christ alone for the salvation of their souls. I cannot think of anything more important or serious than the need for the gospel that is the power of God to save sinners from the wrath of God and bring people into the wonderful blessing of adoption and ALL the promises of God in Christ… the Charismatic movement does not major on this most important subject. I used to work away from home and travelling around the country in my car, I began listening to long extracts of the bible. It became obvious to me that the God of the Charismatic movement and the worldview it purported bore no resemblance to the God of Scripture. I realised that God was in charge and is providentially ruling all of His creation by His own divine power and will. I have spent the past seven years reviewing and comparing the Charismatic movement to what Scripture teaches and had already drawn the same conclusions about that movement long before the “Strange Fire” conference was aired. Suffice to say, I left the Charismatic movement a number of years ago and have encouraged anyone who will listen to simply read and study the Scriptures and they will see (like I did) the many errors in that movement. And before you suggest that I was hurt or angry or suffering some kind of trauma, I was not. I left the Charismatic movement because the Holy Spirit opened my mind to understand and believe the plain truth of Scripture, which revealed the erroneous teaching of that movement, but the wonderfully saving truth about what Christ has done, which I now possess by faith in Him alone. I don’t want to take Scripture out of context, but the implications of this biblical text when applied to errors of the Charismatic movement says it all: “Your prophets have seen for you false and foolish visions; and have not exposed your iniquity so as to restore you from captivity, but have seen for you false and misleading oracles” (Lamentations 2:14 (NAS)… Selah…!

    • Hello Earl!

      Actually, hearing the voice of God outside Scripture by subjective means is what you find throughout the entire Bible. So the Biblical worldview was defenitely charismatic. There are abuses, yes, but also a lot of blessings. I’ve seen several healings, I’ve met people who have been raised from the dead, I’ve cast out demons and I’ve heard the voice of God and seen Jesus in a vision. Our times is Bible times, fortunately. :)

      Blessings!

  8. Hello Michael,

    I appreciate that you have taken the time to read and respond to my response. I would also like to thank you for acknowledging that there are abuses… I’m aware that abuses can occur anywhere in the body of Christ, but in this case, I’m specifically referring to abuses in the Charismatic movement because of the specific worldview of that movement. Can I also say, I have some wonderful Charismatic friends who don’t share my views but we share the love of Christ together. Obviously, my “beef” is not about the people, but the Charismatic worldview… This leads me onto my main point:

    Satan is the open and declared enemy of God, of all human beings, and in particular, of all true believers in Jesus Christ. Satan constantly tries to undermine the authority, inerrancy, clarity, reliability and sufficiency of Scripture as the final rule for Christian faith and practice. As you know, Satan employs philosophies, evil schemes, unbiblical world-views and false systems of belief that promote a lofty view of self, a low view or denial of sin or the sin nature, he promotes self-reliance and rebellion against God, and a denial of the truth of Scripture.

    Who’s to say that just because a person believes they are “hearing the voice of God outside Scripture by subjective means”, and that what was conveyed to them was accurate, how do we know that it wasn’t Satan conveying this information to them, in order to seduce them into believing that hearing from God by some subjective means is legitimate, when in fact, Satan has deceived them into trusting in a false system of belief? Are they now prime candidates to do Satan’s bidding?

    Is it possible for Satan to work through the subjective lifestyles of those who purport hear and speak words from God? Is it possible that such a false system of belief feeds fleshly attitudes rather than honouring God?

    I cannot deny that God can miraculously heal people… of course God can miraculously heal, He’s God. However, I’m also aware from Scripture that Satan can counterfeit apparent miraculous events for nefarious reasons. With such a subjective approach that you advocate, how do we tell the difference between a God-ordained miraculous occurrence and a Satanically inspired one? Is the ability to discern the difference a matter of subjectivity reasoning or an objective and external evaluation based upon the biblical text?

    Someone being raised from the dead is a significant event. It’s interesting that we very rarely hear anything in the secular news about such hearing! I presume such an event would make headline news!

    Now, I do believe that God can raise someone from the dead… Why? coz He’s God. However, many in the Charismatic movement make such bold claims, and when closely examined, unfortunately many such claims fall short of the original claim made. I’m not suggesting this in your case, but even in Scripture, such events were uncommon and very unusual. Today, we hear of a Charismatic claiming that they have raised someone from the dead almost every week… please forgive me if I sound skeptical about such claims!

    Even though you claim to have heard the voice of God and have seen Jesus in a vision, unfortunately, you have no way of verifying that it was the God of Scripture that you heard or Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture that you saw…. Why? because you are the source… and you are not divine or infallible…! Who’s to say it wasn’t a demon revealing himself to you? Who’s to say that because you are open to believing that God speaks and reveals Himself in subjective ways that you have not been deceived by Satan to believe that it is God doing these things?

    For me, these are significant questions that our Charismatic brethren fail to answer adequately. Unfortunately, experience seems to trump Scripture as the final authority for Charismatics… surely, this cannot be a safe or sensible way of developing a deeper and biblically sound understanding and relationship with God… As you can probably guess, that’s why I’m no longer a Charismatic!

    It seems to me that believers must use the means that God provides to resist Satan and his evil intentions. Ephesians 6:10-18 commands true believers to submit to God and use the divine means that He provides to resist Satan and his evil intentions. The primary means of protection and offensive action is Scripture, prayer and trusting in the finished work of Christ.

    In Christ!

    • Earl, I would love to see some of your 7 years of scripture study on this subject. . . Would you be willing to share? I agree with all of your comments and have become pretty close friends with a charismatic sister. . . We can fellowship in Christ , but discussion is upon me and I am seeking wise counsel. . . Meditating on the whole counsel of God, believing the Spirit has made me friends with her during this season for His reason, asking the Lord to equip me, for His glory. Prayers would be appreciated.

  9. Hi Charlene,

    It’s good to hear from you…

    The past 7 years have been a joy and a challenge. My wife and I have grown at a different pace, so we have not always grasped the truth together… However, I thank God that the gospel, continually preached and believed has transformed us both. So, I do understand the challenge you face with your Charismatic sister… Please, please, please persevere, it will be worth it in the end. How can I be so sure? Well, firstly, you will certainly grow in grace and love through the process, and secondly, God may grant your charismatic sister “eyes to see the truth”. That is worth more than any amount of money can buy!

    The areas of study that I have covered over the years have been numerous, so, it’s difficult to know where to start…

    Daily reading of my bible and being a Berean (Acts 17), examining the Scriptures (which incidentally is my final authority on all things) has been the approach that I have taken. When studying the scriptures, proper exegesis of the biblical text is vital. This allows us to draw out proper implications from the text, which are binding. Only then can we draw forth trustworthy applications for our lives that can be relied upon. A good church will make expositional preaching and teaching of Scripture central to all they do – it is the means by which God speaks to His people.

    A good starting point might to review the Critical Issues Commentaries website (see attached link http://cicministry.org).

    This website features articles and radio broadcasts by a great bible teacher. Bob Dewaay is a pastor who came out of the charismatic movement in the 1970s. He has written numerous articles that ‘debunk’ false doctrine and teaching that is central to charismatic, emergent, mystical and post-modern worldviews. The articles and radio broadcasts were extremely helpful to me. They helped me ‘detangle’ the mass of myths and old wives tales that had clouded my mind and helped clarifying the true meaning of Scripture in many areas that I was trapped in as a charismatic.

    I would also recommend this website (see attached link http://www.monergism.com). It was a life-saver for me. There are many great sermons, articles, free ebooks and links to other useful websites that helped me to ‘join-the-dots’ together of the historic Christian faith that Scriptures commands that I must believe as a Christian. It helped me to build a clear picture in my mind of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ and the ‘rich stream of biblical truth’ that has been preserved throughout the church age by faithful men and women to this present day. It helped me to identify many of the heresies and false teachings that have dogged the church over that past 2 thousand years. You will find that many of the false teachings are ‘rehashed’ heresies that have been dealt with by the church over the centuries… Once you start to study church history, you will find that you don’t need to keep fighting the same battles over and over again… many of the false and dubious teachings today are just old heresies that have resurfaced.

    Let me encourage you…

    Alongside the Scriptures (the OT and NT writings), try and read some of the historical documents written by some of those that have gone before us – for example: Jonathan Edwards’ ‘Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God'; John Owen’s classic article on ‘The Freedom Of The Will'; Martin Luther’s excellent treatise entitled: ‘The Bondage Of The Will'; The ‘Canons of Dordt'; The Heidelberg Catechism'; The ‘Westminster Confession Of Faith'; The ‘Westminster Larger Catechism'; The ‘Apostles Creed'; The ‘Athanasian Creed’ and the Nicene Creed’. These are just few historic documents that will give you a sense that our Christian faith is an historic faith. Those who have gone before us have been defended and preserved our wonderful body of truth throughout the centuries. It will help build a sense of wonder of the sovereignty and power of God in building and preserving His church. It will help to realise that God is not absent from His creation or redundant from the lives of His people. It help to realise that throughout the generations, God is with His people and that He raises people up to bring His extraordinary message of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ to needy world.

    God, by the power of His Spirit, is with us now, glorifying Jesus Christ throughout our discussion (see John 16:14) and has providentially led us to interact on this website for the glory of His name… without having to resort to mysticism, divination or unscriptural methods.

    The next website that I can recommend is is Grace To You, in particular, a sermon series taught and a book of the same title taught and written by Dr. John MacArthur entitled: Charismatic Chaos (see attached link http://www.gty.org/products/audio-series/219). I read the book, listened to the sermon series and read the accompanying articles. They were life-savers because they helped me to see what was misleading about the Charismatic worldview.

    I’ll provide two more references (coz I don’t want to blow your mind… or enthusiasm just yet), It’s Dr. James White’s YouTube website (see attached http://www.youtube.com/user/DrOakley1689/featured). Dr. White is a great Christian apologist. He has conducted debates with Islamic scholars, Mormons, Roman Catholics, King James Onlyists etc. Dr. White is my ‘go-to-pastor’ for apologetics. The other reference is Pastor Jim McClarty (see attached link http://www.salvationbygrace.org). Pastor McClarty unpacks and explains the Scriptures so well. He’s another pastor that ‘debunks’ myths like tithing as unbiblical for the present-day church.

    Originally, I came across this particular blog by accident. Obviously, I didn’t agree with the position that was being taken and felt the need to respond. It is a bonus and blessing that God has allowed my comments to reach and encourage others (for which I give God the glory). Therefore, I would like to recommend that you go to the Grace To You website and watch the ‘Strange Fire’ conference (see attached link http://www.gty.org/strangefire) and draw your own conclusions about the Charismatic movement that they discuss. I’m sure you will find, like me, that they have raised some very interesting issues and questions that our Charismatic brethren will find both challenging, but life-changing, if they are willing to step back and honestly engage with the biblical text, treating it as the final rule for faith and practice.

    I hope these websites open up a whole new stream of biblical truth and equip you in your loving interaction with our Charismatic sister.

    My prayer for you…

    I pray that the Lord will providentially use this information and these websites to guide you into all truth. I pray that the Holy Spirit will open your mind to understand and believe the truth revealed and use this material to sanctify you and cause you to grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. I pray that the Word of God would transform you so that you become more like Christ every day; and that He would equip and enable you to be an effective witness to preach the gospel to lost souls in your circle of influence, and that through your faithful service, God would bring your Charismatic sister, and many others, to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, all for the glory of God.

    May the Lord richly bless your endeavours.

    Earl

    • Hi again Earl! I have a few comments on what you’ve written:

      You say that you realized that something was wrong with the “charismatic worldview” after visiting Grace to You, but the charismatic worldview is the Biblical worldview. The charismatic worldview acknowledges the existence of angels and demons, of the Spirit being able to heal and deliver, and equip Christians to speak in tongues and prophesy. EXACTLY what we find in the Bible! The New Testament Christians both appreciated the Scriptures AND relied on visions, healings and supernatural gifts when spreading the Gospel. It’s not either or, it’s both and more.

      Furthermore, you claim that the cessationist belief is historical and refers to the apostolic, athanasian and nicean creeds, but the early Church wa charismatic, not cessationist. They believed in miraculous Spiritual gifts and the church fathers themselves experienced miracles, see http://www.grantjeffrey.com/article/mystery.htm and http://www.truthforthelastdays.com/baptismandgifts/baptismandgifts35.html

      Blessings!

      • Hi Micael,

        It’s good to hear from you again…

        My goal in responding to this blog is to comment on the Charismatic worldview in generic terms. I have made every effort to faithfully represent my experiences as an ex-Charismatic as fairly as possible. Please forgive me if I have inadvertently misrepresented your position – that was never my intention.

        Obviously, in a response like this, it is impossible to adequately cover every point in sufficient detail to satisfy every position presented. If I have omitted any points that you feel I should have addressed, please forgive me.

        Clearly, we disagree with each other about the work of the Holy Spirit. So, I pray that the Holy Spirit will work through this interaction to reveal the truth; that we would both be enlightened by the truth of Scripture; that we would both display a spirit of love and humility that glorifies God, and that what is being addressed in this blog interaction is helpful to anyone who stumbles across it, particularly those who do not know Christ.

        Let me make an observation…

        Having read your blog, I believe you are misrepresenting the cessationist position. Cessationists do believe in a charismatic church, but do not believe that some of the charismatics gifts continue today… such as the people gifted with the gift of languages (tongues), the gift of healing, the gift of miracles, apostles and prophets (which will be addressed later in my response). Having misrepresented that position, creating a ‘straw man’ position, you attempt to refute the ‘straw man’ position you have created.

        MacArthur does claim that some of the people in the Charismatic movement are unsaved, and condemns some of the practices in that movement as “unbiblical”, “worldly” and in some cases “demonic”. However, Scripture does teach that we will have “wheat and tares” in the church, that false prophets, false apostles, false converts will be among us, and that any unbiblical practice can be traced back to Satan as its source. So, it is unfair to condemn MacArthur for pointing these things out when it has occurred in the Charismatic movement… Unless you are suggesting that the Charismatic movement is free from any of these falsehoods, errors and demonic influences that MacArthur addresses? And whether it is wrong or unbiblical to warn people about false teaching and demonic practices when they occur?

        Even if you disagree with MacArthur’s position, it is clear that he has made every effort in the ‘Strange Fire’ book and conference to faithfully exegete the biblical text to support his position and to fairly present the argument he is making using Scripture to examine numerous examples of dubious Charismatic doctrine and practices. It may be uncomfortable for Charismatic believers to watch and hear, but MacArthur has supported his position biblically. I think it is only fair if opponents of MacArthur engage with his book and use biblical text to refute his claims.

        It would be useful if people read the ‘Strange Fire’ book or watched the ‘Strange Fire’ conference on the Grace To You website to see the point that I am making here.

        Unfortunately, in my experience and my observation of the Charismatic worldview, many events labelled as miraculous have been found to be unverified or false. For example, Todd Bentley at the Lakeland Outpouring made numerous claims about divine healings, dead people being raised to life, apparent angelic encounters, prophetic words claimed to have come directly from God, which have been proved to be false. Unfortunately, this kind of behaviour does no good for the Charismatic position, or present it as being biblically sound.

        I am a cessationist and DO believe in the miraculous and supernatural work of God. I DO believe that God performs miraculous things today, such as supernatural healing, by the power of His Spirit, in response to the prayers of His people (in fact, any healing is the grace of God working in someone’s life and should be acknowledged and celebrated as such). I DO believe that God can DO unexplained things deemed to be miraculous. However, as a cessationist, I believe that Scripture teaches that God is sovereign, and as such, He is free to act as He wills, whenever He wills, wherever He wills, and through whomever He wills.

        However, now that we have God’s Word in Scripture, which is sufficient for all we need (2Tim 3:16-17), and which the church must adhere to (Acts 2:42), we need the Holy Spirit’s power to illuminate the truth of Scripture to us so that we can hear His voice in the Scripture, understand what His word says, empower us for service and enable us to believe and obey it. The difference is, as a cessationist, I believe Scripture demonstrates that because we now have the completed Canon of Scripture (OT and NT), superintended to his Apostles, Prophets and chosen servants, there is no longer any need for God to have people specifically gifted with miraculous abilities to carry out such things as miraculous healings, which was the way in which God attested to the church that they were God’s messengers and revealer of Scripture. There is no longer any requirement for additional revelation to be given by God to present-day apostles and prophets because we now have the foundation laid by the Apostles and Prophets (Eph 2:20), the revelation of God written down for us in the Scripture (Acts 2:42; Heb 1:1-2).

        Scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus Christ (John 16:14); regenerates dead sinners to life (John 3:5,6,8); baptises His children into the family of God (1Cor 12:13); seals His believers 2Cor1:22); indwells (Rom 8:9-11), empowers (Acts 1:8), fills Eph 5:18), guards (2Tim 1:14) and sanctifies the saints (rom 15:16). The Holy Spirit illuminates the truth of Scripture (1Cor 2:10-13) and teaches the truth to His people (John 14:26; 1John 2:20,27). The Holy Spirit intercedes (Rom 8:26,27), restrains and brings conviction of sin (Gen 6:3; John 16:8-10; Acts 7:51). The Holy Spirit provides spiritual character (Gal 5:16,18,25) and produces spiritual fruit (Gal 5:22-23). The Holy Spirit is the source of liberty (2Cor 3:17-18), power (Eph 3:16), fellowship (2Cor 13:14; Php 2:1) and unity in the church (Eph 4:3-4). The Holy Spirit is the source of all spiritual gifts and dispenses His gifts to whomever He chooses for His own sovereign purposes and for His own glory (1Cor 12:4-11).

        Psalm 103:19 says: “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.” God, by His own sovereign power and divine will, decrees and brings about whatever He wills for His own glory and is free to determine whether He wants to dispense or cease using any particular grace or gift, like tongues, or prophesy or the gift of healing according to His own sovereign will and purposes. Many biblical commentators present an excellent view of the cessation of such gifts, which I am persuaded Scripture teaches.

        As a cessationist, I hold unswervingly to the belief that God can and does work sovereignly, providentially and supernaturally today. How else can anyone be saved, empowered for service, or the church exist or function if the Holy Spirit was not doing His work in and through the lives of His people? The Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost and birthed the church and sustains it throughout all generations. The Holy Spirit is the revealer of Christ and the One who applies the truth of Christ and His finished work to all true believers at salvation.

        One of the greatest miracles is the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation, because only God can save sinners! It is the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit that regenerates a dead sinner to life and applies the finished work of Christ to them. This is truly miraculous and why Scripture teaches that no one should boast.

        My response to Charlene D was to point out that a study of church history would help her to see where the battles have been fought and won in the past on important matters of doctrine and biblical truth, and that there is no need to keep fighting over the same ground today. A review of church history will open up a whole new world, and like me, they will find that some of the practices and teaching that we see today, even in the Charismatic movement, were deemed to be misleading, false, and in some cases, heretical.

        There is a belief, particularly in the Charismatic movement, that God has devolved His sovereign rule to human beings and that He acts only in response to man’s directives (many famous Charismatic leaders hold to this view). This position is man-centred rather than a Christ-centred view of God. Many who adhere to a Charismatic worldview may agree that God is sovereign, but in practice, man is sovereign.

        Unfortunately, many of my Charismatic friends have been left devastated by this approach and belief system. When God the Holy Spirit has not moved in the way they wanted Him to move or in the way they have tried to direct Him, they are left feeling that God doesn’t hear them, or He has abandoned them, or that their faith isn’t strong enough to achieve the outcome they want, or that some besetting sin prevents the Holy Spirit from responding to them in the way they want… The adverse is also true. Many Charismatic friends base their right standing with God on their own spiritual giftedness and performance rather than on the finished work of Christ alone. This too is devastating! In short, God is not sovereign to act according to His own sovereign will and purposes, but dependent upon the believer having enough faith to move God. This is a form of ‘works-righteousness’, which relies more upon the ability of fallen human beings to move God, rather than trusting in God to do what He wills for their good.

        God may not bring about what we want, but only a sovereign God can be relied upon to do whatever is right and good for His children… and whatever He wills is ALWAYS right and good…! “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28).

        Given your response, I’m not sure we will ever agree on this particular subject. However, I believe that an honest study of Scripture, allowing the biblical text to speak for itself in context, will I believe, allow you to draw a different conclusion, like I did. Until then, let us continue to love one another in Christian love, but let us also agree to disagree.

        In Christ!

  10. My beliefs are somewhere in the middle. I do believe that Christians can be gifted for a purpose with any of the NT mentioned spiritual gifts. I do not believe spiritual gifts are permanent and under the control of the believer. I do not believe that all believers must speak in “tongues” nor babble in a so called “heavenly language” to show they have the Holy Spirit. There are modern examples of believers speaking in a language they did not know but another person has recieved the message in their own language and understood it (not just babble). I do not believe in any of the “… blessing” movements eg. Totonto blessing. It’s not about the correct phrases to say and waving of hands that are more like pagen witchcraft then Chrisitianity. Jesus did not like the big crowds and often tried to have some quiet time and limit the hype. Don’t tell everyone of a miracle and never asked for money. Contrast that to the modern BIG evangalists and “healers” that demand celebrity, money and wealth while asking others to be poor and forego wealth. A prosperity gospel is false. There motives need to be honesty, humility, love, glory to God and building of His church. I do not place limits on God nor believe that the Holy Spirit cannot do now what it has done in the past. May God bless all who read this.

  11. With much interest I feel I should contribute to this discussion.I’m a Charismatic Christian born again and circumcised by the Holy Ghost.The problem with Ceasationists is one as far add I’m concerned, They are the modern day Pharisees who like their predecessors persecuted Jesus.They labelled the Lord Prince of demons Beelzebub then because he was casting out demons and his message had authority unlike theirs.Then the people saw the difference between His doctrine and theirs and in drives thru left their synagogues to follow Jesus.From him they found healing, deliverance, peace, hope and all things became new.Scripture is from Jehovah but scripture without the Holy Spirit is dead.The problem with the doctors of theology is that done of them are bankrupt of the Source who is the Holy Ghost and merely use their carnal minds to interpret scripture like as what the Pharisees did.

    Why would Jesus promise the gift of the Holy Spirit only to the 12 apostles to be empowered by Him yet the gospel was to be preached even well after the era of the apostles? Does it mean that today’s ministers do not need to be empowered and that they have to
    go in their own strength without the supernatural
    power from on high.Is the Holy Spirit only for preaching and teaching? To some they have now substituted the gift of healing with faith in hospitals.I’ve nothing against hospitals but God’s healing power and other supernatural gifts are available to those who believe until the Son comes.

    Earl my brother, the same scripture that you study reveal at least to me that skeptics and cowards will not enter the kingdom of heaven.According to you’re faith you receive from Jesus.Who told Paul to pray for pieces of cloth to heal the sick and demon possessed with them.Somewhere in scripture it says no eye has seen neither has ear heard what God had prepared.The possibilities of what the Holy Ghost can do are beyond your imagination.What does the word mean when it talks of extraordinary miracles performed by Apostles Paul and Barnabas? Were they enumerated or described? It’s clear by implication that either they were too many or too complex to describe that the best human words that could be used were “signs and wonders.”

    God is still using Man as he did before even beyond that at first for these are the last days of the outpouring of the spirit on all flesh.

    Deep calls unto deep and those who believe shall do more than what he did.

  12. Dear Amon,

    Thank you for your response to my comments.

    Amon, in reading your response, it’s clear that you have chosen not respond to any of my statements about the Person and work of the Holy Spirit and it would appear that you’re not actually engaging with the central issue we are debating: Does SCRIPTURE reveal whether certain gifts of the Holy Spirit have now ceased in the Apostolic church age?

    My understanding from your first paragraph is that you’re position (and accusation) is that those who hold to the Cessationist position are “…modern day Pharisees…”.

    Secondly, I’m unclear what you mean when you say: “…skeptics and cowards will not enter the kingdom of heaven…” I can only presume that this reference is intended to be directed at those who hold to the Cessationist position.

    All you appear to be doing is allegorising the biblical text to vent your anger about Cessationists.

    Amon, I hope you won’t be offended, but I won’t be making no further comment about your response. I think it would be unhelpful to the current debate.

    In Christ

    Earl

    • Thanks Earl for your response.I’m sorry if sounded emotional in my earlier comment.From looking at scripture it looks to me like Ceasationists views are in error concerning the the gifts of the Holy Spirit.1 Cor 13:8-12 which most who believe the gifts have ended is taken out of contex t.The primary purpose of gifts is to edify the church and equip the body of Christ for works of righteousness andfor both spiritual and physical benefits even as Christ himself did during his days on earth.He evangelized, taught, healed, have wisdom prophesied, decerned spirits and cast them out.Then before he went to the father he promised the Holy Spirit to his disciples and all who believed thereafter including us.Because he is now in heaven we have not been left like orphanes but under the Cate of the Holy Spirit who ever since he came has been working through men the works that Jesus did (the works of God-healings etc)
      Hence for as long as the church is in existence before the fullness of time when the Lord shall come back and establish his earthly kingdom at the end of this age, the gifts shall continue in the church of those who eagerly desire them.That is when imperfection in knowledge and prophecy shall cease.Because there shall be perfection of health and all things when tears shall be wiped , no death not evil in the new earth there shall be no need for three gifts then.Another point is even the prophet Joel foretold about the outpouring of the Spirit upon all flesh in the last days which wasfulfilled from the day of Pentecost when those waiting for the promised power spoke in other tongues when He came upon them.That was three beginning and the end is still to come as I alluded above.
      Another thing is if the gifts ceased, why are we still experiencing them now.If what we see is the manifestation of counterfeit spirits why can’t somebody help by casting out the devils?

      Stay blessed

  13. Love this calling out of truth by your post, Micael! You might appreciate a personal anecdote about my experience of the absence of Christ-centered joy in the MacArthur mega-church where I saw and felt lots of pretending, lots of forced smiles, lots of sadness behind the masks — because MacArthur scares people about hell but walls against their opening hearts to the Holy Spirit Who would point them to heaven and a changed earth here and now.

    Some years ago I lived in LA-area southern CA briefly as a house mate of a sad woman and homeowner/landlord who as sadly was enthralled by the Grand Expositor John MacArthur. As a result I visited (after she drove us) in MacArthur’s male-dominant, dry-as-dust mega-church dedicated mainly it seemed to equipping more men to behave like MacArthur as fellow cessationists.

    MacArthur from a distance had seemingly hooked my sad landlord into a bizarre hero worship of his authoritarian preaching and dry-as-dust devotional books (one of which was given to me at the church for visiting). Being in his church service was something I tried a second time at my sad landlord’s urging, but I could stomach the oppressive vibe no longer after that. The sad landlord turned out (from clues as it appeared) to have unchecked alcoholism that resulted in a DUI that kept her from attending his church because she could no longer drive there on Sunday’s. She continued to seemingly worship him from an unchurched distance and devolve into more bizarre behavior, as a result of which I moved out. This is a reminder for me to pray for her and him and his church, that the truth might set them free. (Not that I’m any poster girl for a perfect person!)

    • Jan…”dry-as-dust” seems to be the thing you despise most about non- Charismatic churches. Maybe it’s not all about your entertainment value????

      • Hi, Guest. Please know that it wasn’t my intention to convey that I “despise” (your word) non-Charismatic churches. Indeed, while I write for the unchurched and seekers, I worship (sing in the choir even) in a denominational church which isn’t considered “charismatic” per se although people’s gifts are welcome on a non-racist, non-gendered basis. My concern about “expositors” like John MacArthur is that his brand of church and scriptural exegesis can act as an idolatrous stumbling block to people coming to Jesus Christ’s anointing of love, blocking them from learning how to genuinely rely on God instead of living in their sin. For me the experience of John MacArthur was not theoretical but occurred in my life through close proximity to a housemate who idolized him and his church to her detriment. This I experienced as a sad situation (dry as dust, too, instead of anointed in Jesus Christ). This was the intended context of my comment. Peace.

        • Leader-worship is common in the church today and no doubt happens in every “brand” of church. The issue I have with some people who align themselves as “charismatic” (I know…it is a very broad term and doesn’t always appropriately categorize people) is that they seem to feel entitled to entertainment. The anointing in Jesus Christ (your term) applies to ALL believers…not just those who claim “special” manifestations of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing more “special” than the regeneration that takes place through faith in Jesus Christ. THAT is the special working of the Holy Spirit.

          • Agreed that nothing is more special than the regeneration that takes place through faith in Jesus. That is essential, and precious.

            It’s on my heart to write the following for all of us who believe and observe our faith as Christians. All of the theological analyses on Christian blogs are well and good, but with the pace of Muslim (and precedent-setting illegal) immigration to the U.S., the penchant for Islamist conquest in the 21st century (militant radicals always doing the harm in any system, religious or philosophical, from Nazism to Communism to Islam), and the decline of observant Christians as a percentage in the U.S., could we observant Christians agree to argue less among ourselves and pray more?

            I’ve been guilty, too, of wanting others to see it my Christian way on non-essentials, but Jesus Christ is the way. (Essential and precious.) And only He overcomes evil by His work on the cross and His resurrection. What if we put on Ephesians 6: 10-18 today on behalf of the remaining Christians in Iraq and Syria under siege by ISIS? And on behalf of the U.S. and those remaining Christians here who deserve better protection against evil in dark spiritual places than current political leadership is providing? If human leaders fail us, God won’t, but we need to stand in the gap and pray in the name of Jesus, “Christus Victor.” Then if those who don’t repent and accept our Lord find themselves in hell, that will be God’s doing. Not that I don’t support missions to Muslims through my church. My point is that God is God, and we’re not, yet the Bible calls us to prayer even if we don’t know how it will all turn out in God’s mercy, love, judgment and justice beyond human understanding.

  14. From the lips of Charles Spurgeon himself:
    “Take care never to impute the vain imaginings of your fancy to Him. I have seen the Spirit of God shamefully dishonoured by persons—I hope they were insane—who have said that they have had this and that revealed to them. There has not, for some years, passed over my head a single week in which I have not been pestered with the revelations of hypocrites or maniacs. Semi-lunatics are very fond of coming with messages from the Lord to me and it may save them some trouble if I tell them once and for all that I will have none of their stupid messages. When my Lord and Master has any message to me He knows where I am and He will send it to me direct, and not by mad-caps!

    Never dream that events are revealed to you by Heaven, or you may come to be like those idiots who dare impute their blatant follies to the Holy Spirit. If you feel your tongue itch to talk nonsense, trace it to the devil, not to the Spirit of God! Whatever is to be revealed by the Spirit to any of us is in the Word of God already—He adds nothing to the Bible, and never will. Let persons who have revelations of this, that, and the other, go to bed and wake up in their senses.

    I only wish they would follow the advice and no longer insult the Holy Spirit by laying their nonsense at His door.”

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