I am confused by the different theological thoughts on whether the gifts of the Spirit are active today (cessation vs. continuation). I am among many believers who align with the cessation argument, but I am have yet to align with either. I am not able to get a clear understanding of God’s Word on this topic.
I have partially read “To Be Continued” by Samuel Waldron who states “Continuation is is the teaching that (at least some of) the miraculous gifts assumed and described in the Bible ought to continue in the church, and in fact do continue to he given to the church.” “Cessationism is the opposite of Continuationism. It teaches that all the miraculous gifts have ceased to be given to the church today.”. He goes on to defend that position.
Please help me make biblical sense of this topic.
Does Scripture say the gifts of Spirit have ceased for a time? Does Scripture support the presence of present day giftings given to one or more individuals for a long period of time( greater than one miraculous event)? Namely, can believers heal, speak in tongues, prophesy (the forth-telling rather than the foretelling), even raise from the dead(as some have claimed to do)? How do we identify the false teachers among us?
@nbkemm6 I think if we read the Bible we find a balance between these two extremes - we should not put God in a box and limit His ability to work in our lives. But we should also not become involved in emotional excesses like rolling around on the floor or holy laughter. Paul says that we should not despise prophetic utterances or forbid speaking in tongues, but that we should do everything decently and in order (so that visitors don’t think we’re crazy) and we should examine everything that is said carefully - only holding fast to that which is good.
“Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:19-21)
I Cor 14:26-40 - What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.
36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 39 So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But all things should be done decently and in order.
The general opinion of cessationist is that:
1 - God gives miraculous gifts as a sign during times he is working in powerful ways in the world or when the Gospel is shared where it has never been heard (days of Moses, Elijah, Jesus, tribes that have never heard)
2 - Most of the claims of miracles or tongues or prophecy today do not meet the test of real scrutiny - the prophecy is fallible (in the Bible a prophet was stoned if they made a false prophecy - if they prophesied it and it did not come true that was false prophecy)
The continuationist stresses that:
1 - God is the same today as He was in Bible times and therefore we should expect miraculous sign gifts to still be present
2 - There is no indication in Scripture that the sign gifts would cease
3 - Evidence for miracles and tongues today
Identifying False Teachers
First off - I do not think we should be hasty in labeling someone a false teacher - it is a very serious accusation. But we should be able, like the Bereans, to search the Word and determine if a person is aligning with Scripture or not… And even when we do identify false teaching, I think we must be wise in how we address it - depending on our sphere of influence and whether or not the Lord is leading us to be involved.
The Gospel Coalition has an article on “7 Traits of False Teachers” - it discusses having a different source (other than the Bible), a different Gospel and a different character (not teaching righteous living) as well as a few more.