Despite all of the discussion I’ve seen recently related to the issue of cessationism, mostly arising from John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference and book of the same name, I’ve still been given no BIBLICAL evidence that could sway me to accept the cessationist case.

There’s a reason for that. The evidence does not exist because none of the gifts of the Spirit have been withdrawn from the church. They are essential elements of the Christian life.

The Holy Spirit and His gifts weren’t temporary extras that God gave but then took away. They are an essential aspect of Christian life and ministry. They are important enough for Satan to attack from as many sides as possible, either by making them objects of ridicule through charismanic excesses or by denying their continuing validity as per cessationists. He is very capable of catering for a variety of theological tastes when he tries to undermine God’s purposes.


16 thoughts on “Essential!

  1. The enemy’s renewed attack on the charismata, in itself, verifies your point.

    ESSENTIAL ! Well put.

    In Jesus, Steve

  2. Why did Paul speak in tongues more than the people did to whom he was writing? He was out evangelizing the nations. What else did he want everyone to do? To remain unencumbered by the concerns of having a spouse (again, like him). Nevertheless, he didn’t go so far as to say a person did wrong to take a wife or marry a man.

  3. There is no sin in not desiring celibacy (or other forms of abstinence even if they might be gifting at times or for some people) while it probably is wrong to tell everyone they should get married, which not only ignores the possibility of being a eunich — whether or not we are to take that as a good thing — but also can denigrate the patience of waiting for a good match and the respect of choice on the part of the people who would be doing the relating. We do know Paul was not calling people to rationalize neglecting their responsibilities (let alone would Jesus be doing so); nor creating an excuse to be sexual without responsibility (nor lascivious).

  4. Hi Marleen, I’d like to keep all comments relevant to the topic of the thread. This thread is about the essentiual nature of Spiritual gifts within the church.

  5. Hi Steve, I see the enemy’s attack on the charismata is part of a bigger picture – an attack on the Holy Spirit Himself. I’ve been noting how much importance that the NT gives to the role of the Holy Spirit within the believer, and yet that importance is barely recognised.

    It seems significant that one of the first things said about the adult Jesus was John the Baptist’s statement:

    “I have baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit”

    The fact that that simple statement is referenced so many times (in Matt 3, Mark 1, Luke 3, John 1, Acts 1, and Acts 11) and linked with the events at Pentecost and what happened to Cornelius, should encourage us to think about the relevance to believers today. And also make us wonder why the majority of the church ignores or tries to repudiate what is described.

  6. Are you saying the Bible doesn’t refer to celibacy as a gift? And I am saying a person is not in rebellion or sin to not seek all gifts or to be content with the gift(s) one has or to take them as God gives them (or doesn’t).

  7. I can only deduct the topic isn’t everything the Bible says about gifting (through/of the Holy Spirit).

  8. The topic is addressing the claims made by some that (miraculous) Spiritual gifts are no longer valid, and their inability to support that claim with scripture.

  9. Celibacy (being “even as I myself am”) is definitely called a Spiritual gift (“charisma”) in I Corinthians 7:7. It’s probably also “miraculous” in the sense of being contrary to, or beyond the power of, human flesh. (Personally, I’ve only ever met two people, one man and one woman, who considered they had that gift. Both seemed to have a scriptural understanding of it, and used it as scripture teaches, to enable singleminded devotion to the things of God.)

    But I’m understanding Tim’s “miraculous” (correct me if I’m wrong) as meaning more overtly-PUBLIC manifestations of the Spirit. And indeed, “cessationism’s” proof-texts (I Corinthians 13:1-2, 8-10) require that it primarily attack tongues and prophecy. (At least, I’ve never heard “cessationists” argue that the charismata of celibacy has ceased. LOL.) Not coincidentally, those seem to be the charismata most distasteful to the fleshly church and its traditional ways.

    That seems to highlight an additional problem of “cessationism” (if lack of scriptural attestation were not enough). It’s essence is that human beings (especially the leading scribes and Pharisees) may pick and choose among gifts which are the Spirit’s sovereign choice (I Corinthians 12:11), rejecting some and accepting others. The hubris is unmistakeable: the same mindset that accepts human experience as an operative criteria superior to scripture.

    This picking-and-choosing goes counter to the fact that Paul’s entire context in teaching about charismata is UNITY (I Corinthians 12:4-27): that the charismata are manifestations of God’s unity (vv. 4-6, 12), and that their operation works unity in Christ’s Body (vv. 11-14). “Miraculous” indeed: Who but our God could make DIFFERENCES the agent of unity ?!?!

    “Cessationism,” by rejecting SOME charismata, is an attack on the Church’ unity in the Spirit. I Corinthians 12: 15-26 addresses that attack: that we can neither vaunt ourselves on the basis of OUR gift(s), nor reject others because of theirs. Both attitudes are offenses against what Jesus prayed for us in His High Priestly prayer (John 17): that our unity would manifest HIS Unity with The Father.

    In Jesus, Steve

  10. Thank you, Steve. Very well said.

    [ An “aside” on celibacy: As it is a gift, and miraculous at least in some sense, it matters to recognize it and do some teaching on it in churches so that people can accept it, in their bones so to speak. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone preach that “the charismata of celibacy has ceased” either. But, in practice, it is discouraged or ignored. The only exception I know of is the practice of becoming a Roman Catholic priest or nun (and, on the community side of that equation, that offering to the congregation of that way of life). I myself (not in the “Catholic” setting) decided, however, not to speak to my children as if it’s a given that everyone gets married or should (which, as I’ve indicated above, does not mean I didn’t talk to them about responsibilities and happy families). Nor did I push them to date and things like that which are in fact pushed as if there’s something wrong with a person who isn’t busy like “everybody else” showing how out and about they can be.*

    To top it all off, an aunt of mine was propositioned by an aforementioned kind of priest, who not only was acting in obvious weakness but had a ready argument (which might “land” effectively if delivered to someone ignorant of the ways of the church (traditional or to do with scripture, either one) as to his having needs! It looks to me like he was not well instructed on who/what kind of person is to be in that position (or that he still wanted the position in the sense of a job while recognizing he didn’t have the gift — if they indeed did even instruct about gifting). {Ah. Should also mention that Roman Catholic isn’t “the only exception I know of” as many Orthodox priests are ordained celibate (that is if they are not already married and are understood to be gifted or capable) so that there will be no priests looking with ulterior motives at women.} I do think teaching on all of this and accepting of gifts is essential even if seeking every gift in our own life is not.

    * I also didn’t discouarage interest in the opposite sex. We have to not be favoring this way or that. ]

  11. Hi, Tim:

    Have been musing on your observation that “cessationism” is, in a larger sense, an attack on the work of the Spirit, which I think goes to the heart of the matter. Some thoughts on one aspect of that attack.

    Not comprehensive, but first some scriptures:

    “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

    II Peter 1:20-21

    “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak…”

    John 16:13a

    “For to us God revealed them [mysteries] through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”

    I Corinthians 2:10-13

    In these (and other) scriptures, the Spirit’s work as Interpreter of scripture is highlighted. That’s probably especially relevant here in regard to “cessationism” (and not “cessationism” only) interpreting scripture to its own doctrinal tastes. Doing so, as Peter points out, sets them in opposition to the Spirit as Interpreter.

    His work as Interpreter of scripture is part of His leading us into all Truth (which Jesus defines in His prayer in John 17:17 as “Your Word”). I used to be a land-surveyor, so “benchmark” is the word that comes to mind for the Spirit’s interpretation of scripture: and benchmarks are what we measure everything else against. The Spirit’s work as Interpreter comes under attack there again, as revealing “private” interpretations don’t measure up to Truth: which fact controversialists NEVER appreciate having pointed out. LOL.

    In Jesus, Steve

  12. Hi Steve,
    One of the most important things I’ve learned in recent years, is the need to trust the Holy Spirit to give understanding. More than once He is described as teacher. And who better to give us understanding of God and His Word than God Himself?

    How easy is it to turn to others for understanding? Trying to take short cuts by relying on a “trained and ordained” church minister who has been taught church tradition in a recognised college.

    And whenever I’ve brought up the matter of trusting the Spirit there will always be someone pointing out the “dangers” of doing so. But that’s not surprising. Althought they don’t realise it, so many people are very quick to see danger in trusting God in almsot every aspect of life.

    “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the doctors… “

    James 5:14 (paraphrased to suit common Christian attitudes).

  13. “…many people are very quick to see danger in trusting God…”

    Very well put. I think that’s what C.S. Lewis pointed to in his description of Aslan, when the children were preparing to meet Him, and asked if it was safe to approach the Lion:

    ” ‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver; …’Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.’ ”

    The danger in trusting God is that we may lose our life: “…but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).

    In Jesus, Steve

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