In all the StrangeFire stink, there’s been precious little positive offerings of this blog (as has been pointed out). While I should be napping (since my children are down for 45 minutes or however long they’re down), I’ll instead blast out a infinitesimally small outline of my case for cessationism. Here’s my Biblical case for cessationism in a tiny-nutshell:
1. The pattern of frequency of signs and wonders (in general) was that of extreme scarcity. Only a handful of miraculous events occurred outside of the 70 year time frames of Moses/Joshua, Elijah/Elisha, and Jesus and the Apostles. Of all creation history, only around 200 years were marked by frequent signs and wonders.
2. The Biblical Purpose for signs and wonders (in general) was clear and consistent throughout scripture (validation of the agent of divine action/revelation). (i.e. Ex. 3-4, 1 Kings 17, etc.)
2. The Biblical Definition of “Prophet” (a person who speaks on behalf of God, as God, to people) didn’t change in the NT, regardless of what Wayne Grudem says. I address this definition here.
3. The Biblical example of healing was on of public, unchallengeable, instantaneous, complete and total healing of outwardly manifest physical ailments. You never once see an example of someone challenging the occurrence of a healing in the scripture, but rather the significance and meaning of a healing (i.e. John 9).
4. The Biblical definition of tongues (speaking previously unknown earthly dialects via the miraculous work of the Spirit) didn’t change between Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 12-14. Tongues is not, and has never been, an angelic language and 1 Cor. 13 does not suggest otherwise. Tongues is not, and has never been, a private language for prayer or personal edification and 1 Corinthians 14 does not suggest otherwise. Modern tongues has nothing to do with the Biblical definition.
5. The Biblical Purpose for tongues was to confirm the inclusion of the Gentiles into the church (i.e. Acts 2, 9, 19) and judge Israel for their unbelief in, and rejection of, their messiah (1 Cor. 14:20-22 spells this out). Modern tongues has nothing to do with this fulfilled purpose and cannot reasonably fulfill it.
6. Prophecy does continue and will so until the second coming (and Rev. 11 predicts the final 2 prophets that will walk upon the earth), but the definition doesn’t change and the punishment for false prophecy is still death (Deut. 13, 18). I await all perspective prophets with a bible in one hand and a gun in the other. I’ve yet to find a single prospective prophet willing to take the Biblical test for authenticity.
(My “2 step prophetic evaluation” drawer. Steps go from right to left… – source)
7. Miraculous healing continues until the second coming but the apostolic sign gift of healing does not. The “healing” that was evidenced in the life of Christ looks nothing like the “spiritual gift of healing” that most people claim to have have today. Apostolic healing was as mentioned in point 3 and never required prayer; Jesus and his disciples simply commanded people to get up and walk (and no “if it be your will” sort of prayers) and they got up and started walking (and leaping). In apostolic (quality) healing, Jesus allotted out a portion of his power over the physical body to people, and those people could heal or even hurt with that power (Acts 3:6-10, 13:11, etc.)
The “healing” that happens today is done at God’s discretion in response to prayer, but that’s not how Jesus did it.
8. The definition and purpose of tongues hasn’t changed, so where are the real tongues? All I see/hear about is ecstatic speech (unbiblical), self-edifying closet-prayer tongues (unbiblical), “missionary” tongues (unbiblical) and public communal chaos tongues (unbiblical). None of the modern claimants to the label “tongues” look like what I see in the scripture, or are even aware of the biblical purposes of tongues.
I won’t be responding in depth to all the questions because I have other things to do for this week that are far more pressing than any demand for personal clarification on these issues. My kids are up so my time is up. Hope this helps some of you, but it most likely angers most of you…if you want a book, go read a book and not a blog. Try this one on for starters or maybe this one.
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “I WISH I could write a book on this stuff!” Unger