Why I Am a Continuationist

So, why am I a continuationist? My reasons follow. (Please note that I’ve written several articles that provide more extensive evidence for the points I make, but space limitations permit me only to mention them by name. All of them are found at my website.)

Let me begin with the consistent, indeed pervasive, and altogether positive presence throughout the New Testament (NT) of all spiritual gifts. The problems that emerged in the church at Corinth were not due to spiritual gifts, but to immature people. It wasn’t the gifts of God but the childish, ambitious, and prideful distortion of gifts on the part of some that accounts for Paul’s corrective comments.

Furthermore, beginning with Pentecost and continuing throughout the book of Acts, whenever the Spirit is poured out on new believers they experience his charismata. There is nothing to indicate these phenomena were restricted to them and then. Such appear to be both widespread and common in the NT church. Christians in Rome (Rom. 12), Corinth (1 Cor. 12-14), Samaria (Acts 8), Caesarea (Acts 10), Antioch (Acts 13), Ephesus (Acts 19), Thessalonica (1 Thess. 5), and Galatia (Gal. 3) experience the miraculous and revelatory gifts. It’s difficult to imagine how the NT authors could have spoken any more clearly about what new covenant Christianity is supposed to look like. In other words, the burden of proof rests with the cessationist. If certain gifts of a special class have ceased, the responsibility is his or hers to prove it.

Extensive Evidence

I’d also point to the extensive NT evidence of so-called miraculous gifts among Christians who are not apostles. In other words, numerous non-apostolic men and women, young and old, across the breadth of the Roman Empire consistently exercised these gifts of the Spirit (and Stephen and Philip ministered in the power of signs and wonders). Others aside from the apostles who exercised miraculous gifts include (1) the 70 who were commissioned in Luke 10:9, 19-20; (2) at least 108 people among the 120 who were gathered in the upper room on the day of Pentecost; (3) Stephen (Acts 6-7); (4) Philip (Acts 8); (5) Ananias (Acts 9); (6) church members in Antioch (Acts 13); (7) anonymous converts in Ephesus (Acts 19:6); (8) women at Caesarea (Acts 21:8-9); (9) the unnamed brethren of Galatians 3:5; (10) believers in Rome (Rom. 12:6-8); (11) believers in Corinth (1 Cor. 12-14); and (12) Christians in Thessalonica (1 Thess. 5:19-20).

We must also give room to the explicit and oft-repeated purpose of the charismata: namely, the edification of Christ’s body (1 Cor. 12:7; 14:3, 26). Nothing I read in the NT or see in the condition of the church in any age, past or present, leads me to believe we’ve progressed beyond the need for edification—and therefore beyond the need for the contribution of the charismata. I freely admit that spiritual gifts were essential for the birth of the church, but why would they be any less important or needful for its continued growth and maturation?

There is also the fundamental continuity or spiritually organic relationship between the church in Acts and the church in subsequent centuries. No one denies there was an era or period in the early church that we might call “apostolic.” We must acknowledge the significance of the personal, physical presence of the apostles and their unique role in laying the foundation for the early church. But nowhere does the NT ever suggest that certain spiritual gifts were uniquely and exclusively tied to them or that the gifts passed with their passing. The universal church or body of Christ that was established and gifted through the ministry of the apostles is the same universal church and body of Christ today. We are together with Paul and Peter and Silas and Lydia and Priscilla and Luke members of the same one body of Christ.

Very much related to the previous point is what Peter says in Acts 2 concerning so-called miraculous gifts as characteristic of the new covenant age of the church. As D. A. Carson has said, “The coming of the Spirit is not associated merely with the dawning of the new age but with its presence, not merely with Pentecost but with the entire period from Pentecost to the return of Jesus the Messiah” (Showing the Spirit, 155). Or again, the gifts of prophecy and tongues (Acts 2) are not portrayed as merely inaugurating the new covenant age but as characterizing it (and let us not forget that the present church age = the “last days”).

We must also take note of 1 Corinthians 13:8-12. Here Paul asserts that spiritual gifts will not “pass away” (vv. 8-10) until the coming of the “perfect.” If the “perfect” is indeed the consummation of God’s redemptive purposes as expressed in the new heaven and new earth following Christ’s return, we can confidently expect him to continue blessing and empowering his church with the gifts until that time.

A similar point is made in Ephesians 4:11-13. There Paul speaks of spiritual gifts (together with the office of apostle)—and in particular the gifts of prophecy, evangelism, pastor, and teacher—as building up of the church “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (v. 13; italics mine). Since the latter most assuredly has not yet been attained by the church, we can confidently anticipate the presence and power of such gifts until that day arrives.

I’d also point to the absence of any explicit or implicit notion that we should view spiritual gifts any differently than we do other NT practices and ministries portrayed as essential for the life and wellbeing of the church. When we read the NT, it seems evident that church discipline should be practiced in our assemblies today and that we should celebrate the Lord’s Table and water baptism, and that the requirements for the office of elder as set forth in the pastoral epistles still determine how life in the church should be pursued, just to mention a few. What good exegetical or theological reasons can be given for why we should treat the presence and operation of spiritual gifts any differently?

Consistent Testimony

Contrary to popular belief, there is consistent testimony throughout most of church history concerning the operation of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. It simply isn’t the case that the gifts ceased or disappeared from early church life following the death of the last apostle. Space doesn’t permit me to cite the massive evidence in this regard, so I refer you to four articles I wrote with extensive documentation (see “Spiritual Gifts in Church History“).

Cessationists often argue that signs and wonders as well as certain spiritual gifts served only to confirm or authenticate the original company of apostles and that when the apostles passed away so also did the gifts. The fact is no biblical text (not even Heb. 2:4 or 2 Cor. 12:12, two texts I explain in articles here) ever says signs and wonders or spiritual gifts of a particular sort authenticated the apostles. Signs and wonders authenticated Jesus and the apostolic message about him. If signs and wonders were designed exclusively to authenticate apostles, we have no explanation why non-apostolic believers (such as Philip and Stephen) were empowered to perform them (see especially 1 Cor. 12:8-10, where the “gift” of “miracles,” among others, was given to average, non-apostolic believers).

Therefore, this is a good reason for being a cessationist only if you can demonstrate that authentication or attestation of the apostolic message was the sole and exclusive purpose of such displays of divine power. However, nowhere in the NT is the purpose or function of the miraculous or the charismata reduced to attestation. The miraculous, in whatever form, served several other distinct purposes: doxological (to glorify God: John 2:11; 9:3; 11:4; 11:40; and Matt. 15:29-31); evangelistic (to prepare the way for the gospel to be made known: see Acts 9:32-43); pastoral (as an expression of compassion and love and care for the sheep: Matt. 14:14; Mark 1:40-41); and edifying (to build up and strengthen believers: 1 Cor. 12:7 and the “common good”; 1 Cor. 14:3-5, 26).

All the gifts of the Spirit, whether tongues or teaching, prophecy or mercy, healing or helping, were given (among other reasons) for the edification, building up, encouraging, instructing, consoling, and sanctifying of the body of Christ. Therefore, even if the ministry of the miraculous gifts to attest and authenticate has ceased, a point I concede only for the sake of argument, such gifts would continue to function in the church for the other reasons cited.

Still Final and Sufficient

Perhaps the most frequently heard objection from cessationists is that acknowledging the validity of revelatory gifts such as prophecy and word of knowledge would necessarily undermine the finality and sufficiency of Holy Scripture. But this argument is based on the false assumption that these gifts provide us with infallible truths equal in authority to the biblical text itself (see my article “Why NT Prophecy Does NOT Result in ‘Scripture-Quality’ Revelatory Words“).

One also hears the cessationist appeal to Ephesians 2:20, as if this text describes all possible prophetic ministry. The argument is that revelatory gifts such as prophecy were uniquely linked to the apostles and therefore designed to function only during the so-called foundational period in the early church. I address this fundamentally misguided view at length here. A close examination of the biblical evidence concerning both the nature of the prophetic gift as well as its widespread distribution among Christians indicates there was far more to this gift than simply the apostles laying the foundation of the church. Therefore, neither the passing of the apostles nor the movement of the church beyond its foundational years has any bearing whatsoever on the validity of prophecy today. One also hears often of the so-called cluster argument, according to which supernatural and miraculous phenomena were supposedly concentrated or clustered at unique periods in redemptive history. I’ve addressed this argument elsewhere and demonstrated that it’s altogether false.

Finally, although it’s technically not a reason or argument for being a continuationist, I cannot ignore experience. The fact is I’ve seen all spiritual gifts in operation, tested and confirmed them, and experienced them firsthand on countless occasions. As stated, this is less a reason to become a continuationist and more a confirmation (although not an infallible one) of the validity of that decision. Experience, in isolation from the biblical text, proves little. But experience must be noted, especially if it illustrates or embodies what we see in God’s Word.

Editors’ note: See also Thomas Schreiner’s companion article,”Why I Am a Cessationist.”

  • Hamish Blair

    At this stage I am a cessationist which might be a reaction to continuationalists.

    My issues are as follows:

    – some people say speaking in tongues is a mandatory experience of conversion ie. if you haven’t spoken in tongues then you aren’t a Christian

    – if I just have enough faith or pray the right way (because it depends on me right!) then I will recieve whatever I ask from God (e.g. the prayer of Jabez book)

    – my impression that “healing” ministries done under the guise of “mission” don’t actually result in repentance and faith (e.g. Heidi Baker)

    – my impression that some continuationlists use these views to almost as it were manipulate God using a formula

    Be interested in responses to these concerns – some of which as I say are more impressions than well researched and considered views.

    • Justin

      Hamish there is plenty of reason to be a cessationist based on the things many continuationlists say and do. However this isn’t a good reason to be one, nor is this type of reaction a good reason to believe one way or the other on all “controversial” topics of faith. What do you see in the scriptures? I consider myself closely aligned with southern baptist theology, however I’ve been a member of an Assemblies of God church for over half of my Christian life (been Christian for almost 7 years). I can tell you that all of the issues you listed are very valid and they do exist. However they do not exist in my Pentecostal church. And they do not exist in the majority of faithful Pentecostal churches. Just like we cannot let Baptists that are wrong determine what we believe, we cannot let Pentecostals that are wrong determine what we believe.

    • Charles Allen

      Hamish Blair, the points you bring up seem to reference charismania and the Word of Faith, which truly is not a continuationist view.

      I don’t know many who say you are not a real Christian if you can’t speak in tongues and those that do are the ones who follow the false teachings of TBN evangelists, as well as the other views you brought up.

    • Derrick

      As a Continuantionalist myself, I have a problem with all those things you listed. No where do we actually claim those things, you are reacting to the extremes.

      God is not a formula, and we receive whatever we ask for in his name, if we are praying according to his will. Sometimes, it isn’t his will.

      Tongues are not for everyone, and it’s often abused and faked. Yet, Paul told us not to forbid the speaking of tongues, which many Churches today sadly disobey. He also told us not to despise prophecy, which sadly many people today also do. Prophecy in the NT is a spontaneous revelation from God of encouragement to be spoken to the Church body for their edification. It’s not predicting the future, nor is it a “thus saith the Lord” type of communication. Paul urged everyone in the church to prophesy! Does that mean everyone of them had the ability to speak for God infallibly? No, it means that we should test what people say and hold fast to what is good, as Paul instructed.

      Cessationism is just about the easiest position to debunk, it’s not held on account of exegesis. People take their fears and presuppositions and then twist the Scriptures. I pray that you open your heart to what the Spirit is doing today, and to heed the words of Paul when he tells us not to forbid speaking in tongues and not to despise prophesy.

      • CB

        That is just it, Charismatics hardly ever address the extremes. You can pal around with Sam Storms one minute, then warn someone against speaking against “God’s man” in reference to Benny Hinn the next. There is little discernment in a movement built on gifts of which discernment is supposed to be one.

    • nathan

      Hamish – you raised totally valid concerns that many people have with certain groups that hold continuist views. I’d argue that none of those beliefs (that you cited) are biblical. So arguing against Biblical continuism by referencing spiritual abuses and in some cases heresy is one reason why it is important to define what true Biblical continuism is and looks like and why we must call out wolves and false teachings, lest it lead others away or discourage altogether.

    • JR

      It seems every concern you listed are symptoms of the Word of Faith cult-like teachings, and nothing to do with continuationlists in general.

      • AndyM

        And yet, there is not a blanket denunciation of these cult-like teachings by other continuationalists.
        why no introspection of insiders in the movement?

        • Kenton

          Charismatics are not insiders in the Word of Faith or Pentecostal movements necessarily. So this would be like demanding that Baptists repeatedly denounce and do “introspection” about Westboro Baptist Church. To hold out such a requirement means that you really aren’t interested in examining gospel-believing continuationists. I guarantee you that continuationists have rejected the Word of Faith movement and Pentecostal movement for its excesses. Must they do it every time you interact with them? Is that the acceptable offering that grants them a hearing before you? Examine your motives regarding these preconditions.

      • Steve Durant

        While I think that the comments of Hamish are valid, I also agree with you that they do not address or deconstruct the specific points raised by Storms, which is relatively easy to do. Of note, the author of “Why I am a cessationist” did not do this either. He did do a good job of what he did address, however.

  • Kenton

    And it continues! I consider myself a principled continuationist (not at all in favor of the Pentecostal movement, but cautiously open to charismatics).

    Harnish, none of the above are characteristic of the NT perspective on the gifts or on faith, which is why I’m cautious about the Charismatic Movement and absolutely reject the Pentecostal Movement.

    I particularly have a huge problem with the cessationist view of the history of Scripture (and it’s purpose in relation to the gifts). The argument goes that the gifts were present and necessary only until Scripture had been written by the apostles, and because we have the Scriptures, we have everything we need. Accordingly, continuationists are denying the sufficiency of Scripture.

    This is problematic to say the least, because 1) the apostles were not primarily writers of Scripture, nor were they setting out to write Scripture as such; 2) the doctrines of the early church were settled long before Paul’s letters were penned, yet he considered many of his churches to have been fully instructed in the truth; 3) Any argument that prophecy challenges the authority of Scripture ignores the fact that prophecy has always been extra-scriptura, non-doctrinal, unrecorded, non-apostolic, and specifically applicable.

    • John S

      Can’t teaching be seen in the same light. Why do we need teachers if Scripture is sufficient? Just read the Word and let it stand. And there is not one perfect preacher or teacher. They all make errors, some egregious some minor, so why would we let them keep on teaching and preaching?

      • Kenton

        That’s what I say. Teaching predates the writing of Paul letters and the Gospels and the other letters (what we’ve compiled and preserved – by the providence of God – as the New Testament scriptures). And teaching was primary in the early church. What was authoritative in the early church wasn’t simply the Old Testament scriptures, but the teaching of the elders, which was handed down from the apostles’ oral teachings. Hence Paul can say, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2 ESV), and the author of Hebrews can say, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7 ESV)

        In fact, Paul’s primary words about Scripture itself is this: Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching (1 Timothy 4:13 ESV), and this: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17 ESV)

        Neither of these rule out the necessity of fellowship, prayer, teaching, or worship. They simply highlight the centrality of the word of God. And it should be noted that, with the exception of the pseudonymous 2 Peter (composed after Peter’s death), “the Scriptures” always refers to the Old Testament, not to the New Testament letters/books.

    • Brent


      I disagree with the claim that the doctrines of the early church were settleed before Paul’s letters were penned. Many of his letters are very early. More importantly, many of his letters are addressing doctrinal areas that were debated. A moments thought on the epistle to the Galatians confirms this as well as the Jerusalem council of Acts 15.

      Second, your claim that “prophecy has always been extra-scriptura, non-doctrinal, unrecorded, non-apostolic, and specifically applicable” is completely fallacious. The Bible is chalk full of prophecies in the OT and the NT. You should read Schreiner’s point about this in his blog post on cessationism. Some prophecies weren’t recorded in Scripture, but that does not make them any less revelatory and completely true for those who would have heard them. When we come to a topic like prophecy, we need to let the Bible define its terms and not commit eisegesis by reading in our preconceived notions back into the text.

      • Kenton

        I’ll respond in two posts. I can’t quote the text at length so chapter and verse will have to do.

        About doctrine in the early church:

        1) The earliest letter we have from Paul is 1 Thessalonians (as most scholars suppose). This letter was composed no earlier than 50 AD. That means that Paul was actively proclaiming the gospel, instructing and building churches, and passing on doctrine for at least 15 years (counting from Paul). That’s from his first letter. Are you seriously telling me that the Jewish and Gentile churches prior to that letter had NO doctrinal foundation?

        Let’s not even consider the Gospel of John, which comes long after most of the apostles are already dead (and yet presents something largely unique as it pertains to Jesus’ life and words).

        We’re keeping in mind that Paul writes specifically to Gentile churches, not Jewish ones. We’re keeping in mind that Paul’s letters are always addressing specific issues (and not EVERY possible issue), not introductory doctrinal content.

        A few examples to prove this point:

        a. Paul’s letter to Romans is explicitly NOT introductory doctrinal content. It introduces Paul, but it doesn’t introduce Christianity. Rather, look at Romans 15:14-16 ESV.

        They are already filled with “all knowledge” and “able to instruct one another”. Paul states that he is reminding them boldly on “some points”. So they’ve already heard it, but their practice hasn’t been lining up. Romans is one of Paul’s later letters.

        Now we can, I suppose, assume that the Romans were taught the basics of the Christian faith via some apostolic letter, but to do that we’d have to assume i) that letter was also Scripture, and ii) that portion of Scripture is lost to history. So we now have a doctrine that God failed to preserve all of His Scripture. I don’t think you’d say that.

        b. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-8 ESV

        So they’ve already heard the gospel. They’ve already put it into practice. They’ve already imitated the apostles and evangelists. They’ve already become examples to other believers. They themselves have sounded forth the word in Macedonia and Achaia. And this without having a word of “Scripture”.

        Then, 1 Thessalonians 5:1, 2 ESV

        They don’t need a written word about the “times and seasons”? So they don’t need a Scripture about the day of the Lord. Why? Because it has already been expounded to them before.

        c. see Acts 20:26, 27 ESV

        Can you with honesty claim that the letter to the Ephesians (whose date we don’t know) contains the “whole counsel of God” and comprises all of Paul’s words to them?

        It’s clear that the whole counsel of God, while contained in the total canon of Scripture that we have, was not the originator nor the original vessel in which His counsel was proclaimed. And that is the basis for which I make my claims about prophecy:

        • Kenton

          On prophecy:

          2) My point about prophecy stands because Schreiner’s words about the quality of prophecy don’t contradict mine. Yes, OT and NT prophecies were revelatory and completely true, though the Bible does have two types of prophetic speech.

          a. The simple fact that all of these prophecies come to us in recorded form means that they were first given to God’s people outside of the context of the writing of Scripture, and that is the only point I need to make. It wasn’t birthed in the Scriptures, but from the mouths of men, and it doesn’t constitute a threat to the authority of Scripture. So yes, prophecy is necessarily extra scriptura, by nature.

          b. Check my comments on Schreiner’s post about the nature of prophecy. By non-doctrinal I simply mean that most prophecies do not originate doctrines and theologies. Some do, such as the Torah, or Jesus’ oral teachings. But most don’t, such as Nathan’s rebuke of David, Saul’s prophesying, Agabus’ prophecies. This is rather self-evident.

          c. By unrecorded, I mean what Schreiner admits, namely that we can assume that the majority of prophecies given over the course of history are unknown to us, having never been recorded by anyone. This is also evident, and it proves the point that prophecy is by nature given outside of the writing of Scripture.

          That men recorded them (by the inspiration of the Spirit) doesn’t change the fact that they were spoken outside of the context of Scripture by actual men to actual people in specific circumstances. Yes, Romans 15:4 is true, but that doesn’t mean that those who originally spoke did so with the specific intent that it be written down for our encouragement. Agabus prophesied to prepare the churches and Paul. His words are recounted decades later.

          d. It shouldn’t have to be said that the apostles were not the originators of prophecy. They weren’t. That Paul says “apostles AND prophets” indicates that, if Acts wasn’t clear enough.

          In no place does the New Testament say, “Apostles are primarily writers of Scripture.” As to the Old Testament, it is highly unlikely that any of the prophets actually sat down and recorded their prophecies. Other men, unknown to us, did that. That’s not even considering the fact that the Kings and Chronicles were court records, as their texts admit. Yes, prophecy is non-apostolic.

          e. Finally, yes, most prophecies, whether the national prophecies given to Israel’s leaders or Agabus’ prophecy about Paul, are given for a specific situation and with an intended response. They aren’t parables or allegories for us to abstract into universal propositions. The Scriptures give us concrete examples of the interactions between God and His people, but they are recorded examples. They are not the events themselves, and it would be wrong for us to suppose that they only ever existed in written form (or as words to be eventually penned).

          I rest my case.

    • Kenton

      Sorry, Hamish, not Harnish.

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  • Emily

    I am glad that the Gospel Coalition is encouraging conversation in reformed circles about this very important topic. I do have some questions and perhaps some of the readers/commenters of this post can help me! I was born & raised Southern Baptist but spent a few years of my youth and college days dabbling in the Charismatic Movement. My first mission trip was with a group called Teen Mania and it would take way too long to tell all the ways that my experiences in the Movement (and groups like Teen Mania) did damage to my faith and theology. A lot of what I heard was Word of Faith and Brownsville Revival-type theology. It literally took years for my relationship with Jesus to recover. I had picked up a lot of false beliefs about who God was and it really messed me up.

    All this being said, I am not a cessationist, but I’m not sure that I would fit in as a continuationist either. The Charismatic Movement left a bad taste in my mouth and so my fear is always that if I tell people I am a continuationist, they will get the wrong impression and immediately put me in the category of Benny Hinn or the likes.
    Perhaps some education in churches on the definitions of the gifts would be helpful? I wish there was a document that perfectly laid out exactly what Reformed continuationists believed. For example, I believe in the gift of healing – I’ve seen it happen, but I’ve never met anyone who was assigned the gift of healing by the Holy Spirit. Does Sam Storms really believe that there are particular individuals who have been granted the gift of healing??? Likewise, can we please talk about tongues? I believe in the gift of tongues (actual language) – I’ve seen it happen. But it’s NOT the same as the gibberish that goes on in many charismatic churches today. Can we have a conversation about the definition of tongues? Are there REFORMED resources out there that can help with my questions?

    • AndyM

      Cessationists believe, on the whole, that God does still heal, but it is no longer a sign gift as it was in the apostolic age.

  • http://defendinghistruth.wordpress.com Nick Klein

    I’m curious about your take on 1 Cor 14:18-40 (and specifically v26) and how it fits with your view of speaking in tongues? I’ve seen/heard some examples of speaking in tongues in churches, but no emphasis on interpreting. Based on how I read this, tongues are both spoken and interpreted. Is this being faithfully applied in continuationist churches?

  • Scott

    You’ve seen and experienced all of the spiritual gifts? I am skeptical of that claim. The so called miracles that continuationists and charismatics claim to have witnessed bear little to no resemblance to the miracles recorded in the gospels and Acts. The majority of Biblical miracles we astounding, astonishing and spectacular. In our technological and media age, if those types of miracles were being done that would make the top stories on CNN and ABC News. We would see these things on 20/20 and 60 minutes. I see none of that. In fact, to the contrary, those shows typically do shows exposing the fraudulent claims of the miracle workers and healers of the day. Verification from charismatics and continuationists don’t count. Let’s see it on CNN.

    • Arline Erven

      I humbly suggest reading, “The Insanity of God.” The Book of Acts is happening still today all around the world. The Western world is sleeping too hard to notice it.

    • JR

      Let’s trust CNN to validate the works of the Lord, really? You won’t believe God has done something unless a secular agency confirms it?

      I’ve heard so many testimonies during my life of God doing amazing things. From a lady in our choir who had AIDS and is now HIV negative, to a friend healed of an inoperable brain tumor. My mother had a mass in her throat that was so bad they couldn’t biopsy it and had to re-schedule to use a pediatric scope instead. But when she went in for the second procedure, there was no trace of it. A missions trip from my church prayed over a still born baby who had been delivered the day before, and the baby came to life, resulting in the whole village professing faith in Christ.

      The problem isn’t that God isn’t doing things. It is that people refuse to accept them unless they see them first hand. Doesn’t matter what scripture, church history, or the testimonies of others in the body of Christ say. Jesus didn’t criticize Thomas for his doubts, John 20:24-29, but I don’t see how people with such doubts would ever see miracles happen since they wouldn’t ask for them in the first place (since they don’t happen), and don’t have any faith to believe God to act even if they did speak words they thought were pointless…

      • elainebitt

        JR, you misunderstood Scott. What he is saying is if the BIBLICAL gifts are still in operation, certainly CNN would be covering people being raised from the dead (as an example), right?

        This is what Mr. Storms says:
        “The fact is I’ve seen all spiritual gifts in operation, tested and confirmed them, and experienced them firsthand on countless occasions.”

        “ALL” does NOT refer to the biblical gifts since we have never seen them in operation today. What Mr. Storms calls the gifts, are not the biblical gifts. Otherwise he would not be only expecting us to believe his “experience”, he would be providing real proof that he saw someone being raised from the dead and thus putting an end to the discussion, once and for all.

        Excuse me for requiring proof of the so-called gifts of today. God gave us a brain, one that can reason and think, for a purpose. Many of those in the charismatic circles seem to like being brainless though.

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  • P Collander

    John MacArthur really explored this topic in two books, Charismatic Chaos and the recently released Strange Fire. Excellent resources in addition to his sermon series on Corinthians.


    The canon is closed, and so is prophecy and tongue speaking (and certainly the type of gibberish that is spoken in many Charismatic churches).

  • Scott

    jr, and arline…let me try and explain my comment another way. The miracles in the NT were so extraordinary and spectacular that practically half the known world had heard of them. And, there was no tv or media coverage. But, they were so spectacular that it was unavoidable to have knowledge of them. If today, those born blind could suddenly see, a paraplegic for 38 years got up and carried his mat, if the dead(truly dead) were raised…CNN and other outside outlets would surely have captured video of these spectacular events. They would have done extensive background checks and stories on the people involved. It would be unavoidable and visible to the whole world.
    The only stories that I have seen are ones that expose the fraudulent faith healers.
    I do think God can heal. The removal of cancer, a work of God…praise Him. That is not the supposed gift of healing.
    My point is that the miracles described in scripture were of such a nature that the world took notice.

    If that were occurring today, there wouldn’t even be a need for this post by Mr. Storms

    • Kenton

      No sources outside of the New Testament record such occurrences, but, again, in our day you’d expect more coverage. While I’m not claiming the validity of something like Benny Hinn’s ministry, I’ll say that there are numerous claims of healing and the like events all over the world. 1) Media doesn’t focus on them, and 2) in the first century, everyone believed in divine beings that could heal. It’s not surprising that there isn’t media coverage even of the false claims. But you are right; the New Testament gifts were truly miraculous.

  • Lee M

    “But nowhere does the NT ever suggest that certain spiritual gifts were uniquely and exclusively tied to them or that the gifts passed with their passing.”

    Interesting comment. Can I assume therefore that you believe that any modern manifestation of the filling of the Holy Spirit and gift of tongues must therefore also include “a sound like a mighty rushing wind” and also “divided tongues as of fire” descending and “resting upon” each paritipant? Acts chapter 2 clearly indicates this was so with them. If therefore, according to continuationist argument on this point, since it is not specifically stated (or suggested)that they ceased, it must therefore continue as was first experienced in the early church at Pentecost. If you claim otherwise, you make the cessationist argument.

    I’ve been in many churches where people allegedly were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in (alleged)tongues, yet I’ve never heard the great wind or seen tongues descending on anyone, alas, not even on TBN. If continuationists insists that the current manifestations continue as in the early church, then the manifestations accompanying it must logically follow as necessarily accompanying them as well. Unless of course, something did in fact change…

    Ultimately I believe the whole crux of the argument comes down to what do you use as the ground of your Christian belief? Ultimately it must come down to either you filter experience by God’s word, or you filter God’s word by experience.

    Knowing via experience just how fallible my experiences have been, I’ll rest on the solid foundation of the Scriptures which cannot fail because they are the word of God, and our God does not lie nor make mistakes.

  • CB

    Lee M, with all due respect, your reasoning is nonsensical. Your assumption is erroneous and your use of this particular argument makes it appear as though you have not thoroughly investigated the Continuationist position. You confuse extraordinary manifestations with spiritual gifts given to individual believers, and incorrectly assume that Continuationists believe that because all the gifts continue, they must be given by God in exactly the same way as they were given in the book of Acts (accompanied by the exact same miraculous signs). The Continuationist position does not even necessitate such conclusion. Regarding the gifts, 1 Cor.12:11 sums it up: “All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” Those last three words are key. The Spirit does what He wants, whenever He wants. He is completely and absolutely sovereign in regards to distributing the gifts. The principle here would, of course, apply to extraordinary and miraculous manifestations (which, though certainly not as common and frequent as in Acts, have occurred throughout Church history, as many Cessationists could even testify to).

  • serge

    Touchy issue…Avoid both extremes. Afraid to become entangled in word of faith teaching but God is able to do what is written in His Word to complete His rexemption plan.

  • Kenton

    Keep in mind that “Continuationism” isn’t monolithic.

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  • Matt G

    RE: prophecy, Storms writes, “But this argument is based on the false assumption that these gifts provide us with infallible truths equal in authority to the biblical text itself”. If you’re speaking “for” God or speaking by the “power of the Holy Spirit”, is it really a false assumption to think that you will speak truth and nothing but infallible truth? And if it’s from God and by the Holy Spirit, how could it not be of equal authority of Scripture? Many have claimed to speak for God, that’s how we’ve come to have Mormonism, Christian Science, etc. That’s not really a good argument supporting continuationism. cf. Ps 31:5, IS 65:16.

  • Samaria

    Can we all just take a moment and appreciate what an awesome name “Sam Storms” is?

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  • Giles Beynon

    I believe the gifts are still here with us today. Not only are the arguments above good but also from personal experience. For a example back in 2007-08 I was working in central London. To my knowledge I was the only believer who was involved in a conversation about certain things going on with the world at that time. Now to those who believe prophecy will not correspond with word should think about this. I started talking about Christ and how he was the solution to the problems in the world. The response was terse. I reached out saying they were sinners and going to hell. Terse response in fact it was getting very heated and more people were getting involved. I stated that Greece would fall and be at the mercy of other nations. There were other things said as well. Now this doesn’t sound very spectacular and it’s not meant to. I’m not asking for a gold star or a hand shake but recently for the first time I read the book of Daniel. It states something very similar. Greece in fact as in what has happened is at the mercy of other nations. I said more but I’ll leave that for this particular point. Back in 2011 I was a volunteer with a mental health organisation in the town I live in (Bromley, London). I was attending some training and an conversation started about various aspects of life. I defended our faith and also started to argue against various aspects of psychology and how only a true Christian world view can make someone understand the reality we live in. My, my did that ruffle few feathers in the nest!! Now I stated that our nation (UK) would have a time of great distress. Violence would be on the streets, social disorder would be common and that the police for a time wouldn’t be able to stop it. What happened? The UK had the worst riots and looting for years! Think what you want to think Brothers and Sisters, but I’ve also had brief experiences of speaking in tongues (I was actually told to stop by the person holding the meeting but a lady of African descent smiled and was totally in engaged). Anyway that my 2 pence worth (or cents for US).
    God Bless you all.

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  • Ben

    “Finally”… and for the exact opposite reasons I want nothing to do with these gifts as practiced in the present charismatic way: I’ve seen them operated, tested and invalidated as mere zeal and emotionalism serving to distract Christians who desire “more” from actually experiencing depth based in God’s written word and real life feet on the ground spirituality.

  • Luke Johnson

    Thanks so much for the article!

  • Stephen

    Boy did John Macarthur stir the pot. And Mike Brown wants in too.
    Can I hold to the Cross of Christ and the gospel without a deer in the head lights look? Isn’t a soul saved a miracle at all?
    Is it ok if I think Benny Hinn is a good example of why I avoid meetings like that; without someone feeling sorry for me.
    I sort of hear, you poor thing if you come to my church and sit by me you’ll see the real signs and wonders.” Am I to think God only does that in a few select “elite” secret churches?
    For get the whole thing. Here’s the deal, get real be honest.
    Seek the Lord with a desire to understand the Cross of Christ.
    I say that with true and kind regards.

  • http://www.thinkpoint.wordpress.com Steve Cornelll

    We might find even more common ground if we agreed on the following six standards for spiritual gifts

    1. Source and Power: The Holy Spirit – I Corinthians 12:11 “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines” (cf. Ephesians 5:18-21).

    2. Perspective and Attitude: Sober humility – Romans 12:3 – “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

    3. Goal and Motive: Praise to God – I Peter 4:11 “…so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (cf. Matthew 6:1).

    4. Measurement and Boundary: Scriptural authority and Love – The final measurement for defining and guiding all professed gifts is the written Word of God. The parameters for the function of gifts is love (see: II Timothy 3:16-17 and I Corinthians 12:31-13:8; 16:14)

    5. Outcome and Means: Edifying and Orderly – “Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.” “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.” (I Corinthians 14:26,33).

    6. Service and Gifts: General and specialized – Don’t limit ministry to gifts. All believers have a responsibility to be involved in many areas covered by spiritual gifts. We are all to be involved in evangelism (Acts 1:8) and giving (1 Corinthians 16:1-2), serving (Galatians 5:13; 6:10) and encouraging others (Hebrews 10:25). Spiritual gifts are related to emphasized areas of ministry based on God-given gifts in a believer’s life.

    (From: http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/spiritual-gifts/)

    • http://www.thinkpoint.wordpress.com Steve Cornelll

      Include a seventh in the list above:

      7. Character and gifts: Fruit and service – The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) in the life of a believer should be evident in the use of all spiritual gifts. We should use whatever gift or gifts we have been given lovingly, joyfully, peacefully, patiently, kindly, considerately, faithfully, gently and with self control.

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  • http://Firesidenook.com Jason strange

    I’m a cessationist, but open (learning).

    Three text which prove cessationism.
    1) 2 Cor. 12:12- 12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.”
    —If apostles are normative then I concede these would be as well. But the foundation of the Church has been laid…you do not continue to lay foundations as the Church (body of Christ) is being built. This text highlights that ONLY apostles can perform these and that such power was reserved from them big A, and little a if we want to make that distinction as the NT does.
    2) Hebrews 1-1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…
    —This text speaks of the finality of revelation/prophecy (thus prophets) and it speaks in the past tense. Many continuationist like to quote Hebrews 13:8, but this text proves, that though God does not change in His character, he has changed in the way by which revelation is being communicated/conveyed…Jesus being the final revelation from God. And because of this in-breaking of the Kingdom Jesus came with Kingdom power unlike anyone else and this normative nature did not continue past the early Church from what I can tell…and experientially we see this not happening throughout Church history as a normative thing. If it was normative it should be happening all over and this we just do not observe. If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (in the continuationist sense) why has this not been the ongoing consistent commentary of church history. It was indeed normative in the early church, but not normative shortly thereafter.
    3) 2 Peter 1: 19-21…19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
    —also speaks in the past tense as the prophetic word was confirmed…no new revelation no new prophecy. There is a ceasing of prophecy here as Peter confirms, just as 1 Cor. 13 points out that prophecy will cease…so if this is the time of the ceasing then it is plausible to conclude that the other sign gifts ceased as well within that context.

    Acts 2 passage is interesting…“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
    that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
    and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams;

    I see the whole of this text and the following passage pointing forward to the same time in redemptive history, “the end times” which were inaugurated with Christ coming, but I see 2 possibly 3 horizons in this text as to when these may take place. The first half is definitely Pentecost (early church) the last half is definitely the second half right before the Great Day. So it very well could be that these things Peter sees happening and makes the OT connection (via the Spirit) but this period also connects v.20 ” the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood,
    before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.” And that is not normative within the context of Redemptive Hx. but positioned for a latter time within the “end of days.”
    Does that make sense?

    • Kenton

      I’ll address the first two texts:

      1) If 2 Cor 12:12 signified that only the apostles possessed the gifts, we wouldn’t have 1 Cor 12-13. The church is normative, therefore edifying the church is normative, therefore the gifts are normative, setting aside for the moment whether or not history demonstrates this.

      2) Eph 2:19-21 has long been cited by cessationists. But I think you’re reading these verses wrongly, and therefore drawing wrong conclusions from them. So let’s look at it:

      So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. (Ephesians 2:19-21 ESV)

      a. Paul is talking to Ephesians. They are the “you” in these verses. “You are fellow citizens with the saints”.

      b. who or what is built? Either the Ephesians or the household. But note, they have already been built. They aren’t waiting for the canon to be completed.

      c. What is the foundation? The apostles and prophets. They ARE the foundation. Which means that they are upholding the structure. That’s how foundations work. Further, Paul is still alive at this point, and the canon hasn’t been arbitrarily closed. Yet the foundation is already laid (since it has been built upon), and Paul’s role continues. So if they are the foundation itself, who laid it? Jesus.

      d. Jesus is not merely the one who laid the foundation, but he is himself it’s cornerstone. Jesus remains the cornerstone.

      e. It should be noted here that the New Testament cannot be this foundation. i) Only a few apostles wrote the NT. ii) Many writers weren’t apostles at all (despite tradition). iii) None of the “prophets” wrote Scripture (unless the John of Revelation is not the apostle). iv) any “closing of the canon” is arbitrarily dated and can’t be determined via these very situational letters. v) This foundation clearly predates the last NT letter by at least 30 years, yet Paul can speak of an established foundation.

      f. That said, this household grows into a holy temple. how? Because this household isn’t a building. It’s a people in whom God intends to dwell.

      g. The only thing that is being built are “you”, into a dwelling place for God, by the Spirit. It is this building that is ongoing, and which the gifts supplement, according to Ephesians 4:11-16.

      • http://firesidenook.com Jason

        Thank you for the good response…I’m weighing these things carefully…
        Before I move to rebuttal there is one text which I notice charismatics like to gloss over or quickly dismiss as a issue dealing primarily with the Corinthian church and its disorderliness. 1 Cor. 14:33-35 “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.
        —The text is clear, “as in all the churches…” So if these gifts are being addressed, and are operable (I’m not denying all gifts just sign gifts) and still ongoing should this command not be normative today? Actually among Charismatics you see women having a dominate role in the churches pulpit ministry. Should this text not be seen Contextually within the framework of the Spirits ongoing work among the churches…Are charismatics cherry-picking here? Let us move forward fully convinced in the sign-gifts, but let us ignore the universal imperative for the church that woman should be silent. Now we do utilize the rule of faith and look elsewhere where this may be supported or clarified…and we do find texts that indicate woman in primary roles within the church…teaching the younger women, helps ministries, etc…With that said we do not see the rule of faith applied with other text (sign gifts)throughout scripture because very little is said outside of Acts/1 Cor.. We do notice that in Paul’s later epistles that these sign gifts become increasingly infrequent or they are just not mentioned…(either the gifts are functioning accordingly or I know that is an argument from silence, but silence on the side of the biblical text, not until you get to revelation (the end) do these things come to a heightened state.
        Plus, if I may use Romans 1:16 the Gospel itself is the POWER of GOD unto salvation for those who believe…It’s the Gospel where Gods power lay, not in the miraculous, not in a tongue, not in a dream or vision…Can God do these things?…sure, he did this in the early Church…But what happened to these churches which we now speak of…gone..Corinth/..Ephesus (Rev 3). They did not hold fast to the Gospel. Plus Corinth had already given itself over to a overly sensationalized Christianity focusing on all kinds of abuses and ecstatic experiences…
        1 Corinthians written around 55 AD
        Acts 62 AD
        All of the latter writings are virtually silent especially in the Pauline epistles when Paul is addressing Timothy. Peter is silent on this, even Hebrews is as well and there are some who have the conviction that Hebrews is a first century sermon (Michael Horton if I am not mistaken.
        I think love was the thing that was to be pursued, and this was the most excellent way. This was how the church became a force in the Roman world through loving people and Gospel proclamation…this was the power of God on display…We forget that Jesus said an evil generation seeks after signs and wonders and I have known many a charismatics who, if they are not experiencing these weekly feel like they have lost something from God. Macarthur said that they are not really operating by faith at this point, but are in doubt and are seeking the miraculous. People that followed Christ then followed Him for the very same reasons, and some still ride the bandwagon seeking a show.
        I understand there is a knee-jerk reaction to the abuses (charismatic-televangelist) and its easy for me to right it all off because I see that as a false gospel. And because of the prosperity preachers which sickens me, I have a hard time using that label..”Charismatic” like Sam Storms, but I know he would be using it in the accurate and biblical sense.
        Obviously our strongest case must come from the text, history is also a witness. Above in the article Sam says that throughout church history there have been reported cases, but they are far and few in between. Grant it the cessastionist can make the argument from silence, but nowhere in church history do we see outside the early church do hear or have documentation that these were normative and ongoing in the same way and with the same sort of miraculous power. We know that the Church exploded throughout the Roman world, but it was not a circus show, and apart from Tacitus I do not see any Roman historian making comment about the miraculous nature of the Way movement. What I do hear is that they cared for the orphans and the widows, the outcast, the homeless etc…
        I have not read extensive enough but in my limited reading this is what I have encountered.

        • Kenton

          To address your points briefly:

          A. I’m not a Charismatic. Nor am I a Pentecostal. Though the Charismatic Movement is diverse, I don’t consider myself among them. Among Charismatics there is too great an emphasis on personal experience, and cross over into emotionalism. With Pentecostals, the corrosive view of faith is shared with prosperity gospel adherents, so that even if money and health aren’t idolized, any gift is pursued in the same way.

          B. The gospel certainly is the power of God for salvation, because it does reveal God’s righteous action in saving His people, whether Jew or Gentile as based on their faith. None of that rules out the gifts, because the gifts are intended to support the proclamation of the gospel in building up the church. Even the use of the gifts must be gospel-centered.

          C. As to whether or not the desire for spiritual gifts constitutes a lack of faith, Paul certainly considered them to be normative in the Corinthian church, and encouraged their use. The key here is that those who sought after signs, namely the Jews, were hardened and refused to believe the gospel. When Paul advocates desiring spiritual gifts, he tells them to desire to build up the church. So he intended that such desires be motivated by love, generated in faith, and sustained with hope.

          D. Arguments from silence are the weakest. One could possibly argue that the gifts, outside of 1 Corinthians and 1 Thessalonians (his first letter), don’t really factor into the other letters, and that indicates that they weren’t normative for the church as a whole, and became increasingly less so (for whatever reason). That Corinthians contains the only detailed treatment of the gifts might indicate that it was the only church that practiced the wide breadth of gifts regularly. Thessalonians’ mention of prophecy might simply confirm Acts’ account of prophets being in the New Testament church.

          What we cannot do is argue that the gifts were given because the NT canon had not been completed. Such a notion is absent from and foreign to the text, and we should not import our doctrines into the text, even if we think its the only way to uphold sola scriptura.

          • http://firesidenook.com Jason

            Well said Kenton…I agree with much of what you said, the only statement that I found to be a bit odd to me was what you mentioned here…
            “That Corinthians contains the only detailed treatment of the gifts might indicate that it was the only church that practiced the wide breadth of gifts regularly.”
            Surely this could be a plausible deduction, but from what I gather in the text is that Corinth was not a model church…it was really messed up…it strikes me as a curious thing that the gifts would be in full operation amidst such division and sin within the Church. Paul wrote, “The severe letter” which was not inscripturated, but this points to the reality that the church of Corinth was not functioning in a way that was pleasing to the Lord and Paul sent a letter of rebuke and much correction.
            This is typical today among Charismatics and the churches I use to attend as a young Christian. There was rampant immorality (even the 40+people in the youth gatherings were wiped out because of it) and yet the Spirit was supposedly in full operation and moving in power. I just read a Spurgeon sermon the other day and he mentioned that if God is to move among his people in Power, the people must be consecrated unto the Lord (used Judges/Sampson as his main illustration)…the consecration was not there.
            7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
            +Now the last part says as the Spirit wills. So why is Paul telling people to eagerly desire the higher gifts when it is the Spirit who apportions the gift as He sees fit? Does this not transition to the higher gift of love? I see. As you exercise the gifting love should temper all that you do.
            Thanks Kenton good conversation, and thanks for the work you put into those responses.

    • Kenton

      I’ll address Hebrews and Peter here:

      1) Hebrews 1:1 doesn’t rule out further speech from God.

      a.The authors point is twofold:

      i. he wants to distinguish between the Mosaic covenant and the Messianic covenant. This is just like Jesus distinguishing between the Law and the Prophets before John and the Kingdom of God after John.

      ii. he wants to point to the finality of the Messianic revelation. There is no need to go back to Sinai because we have the word of God’s own Son, the word that upholds the world and possesses the inheritance, greater than the mediators of the Sinai covenant.

      b. It’s obvious that apostles and prophets spoke after Jesus himself spoke. Acts indicates this. Acts also indicates that the Holy Spirit still spoke to the churches after Christ himself had spoken for three years. This verse doesn’t prove much.

      2) 2 Peter 1 reveals several things that should be noted:

      a. For the NT writers, “Scripture” is the Old Testament. Yes, I know what the author says about Paul, but it simply puts apostolic letters on an equal footing with the Scriptures. It does not suggest that Paul wrote with the intent that his letters be read as Scripture. They are too specific in audience and purpose to be considered generalized Scripture.

      b. Peter is very focused on the “prophecy of Scripture” – that is, the prophecy which has been preserved in Scripture (in the Old Testament). Note how such prophecy was conveyed, though: “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Before any prophecy was written down, it was spoken. Which constitutes the revelation? It’s writing down or it’s being spoken? It’s being spoken. Just as with the apostolic teaching, Scripture did not originate doctrine. It recorded it and reminded God’s people of it.

    • Kenton

      I’ll finish with Acts 2, as I think it matters most in these discussions. But to address Acts 2, and whether or not it’s normative/what is normative, I’m going to start with Numbers 11.

      I. Numbers 11:12-30, as both cessationists and continuationists have noted, is the proper starting place for understanding Acts. It is here where we find the precedent for Acts 2: in order to lead the Israelites to Canaan, the Lord sets apart seventy elders upon whom He places His Spirit. When the Spirit “rested on them”, they prophesied. And Moses later prays, “Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put His Spirit on them!”

      We should pause to evaluate this prophecy. It is clearly Spirit-compelled. Does it bring new revelation and doctrine? Does it add to or challenge Moses’ leadership? Does it add to the Torah? If not, then what is it? While Numbers doesn’t tell us, we find something similar in 1 Samuel, again connected to leadership.

      II. 1 Samuel 10:5-13 recounts Saul’s anointing as king. Following his anointing, he meets a group of prophets (note: they remain unnamed and their words unknown, yet they are prophets who don’t write Scripture). When he met these prophets, “the Spirit of God rushed upon him, and he prophesied among them.” Now this also happens in chapter 19 (to Saul and his servants), but we see Spirit-compelled prophesying again. In chapter 10 it confirms Saul’s anointing to lead, but in 19 it appears as a humiliating mockery. Regardless, Saul is clearly not in control.

      III. Now we get to Joel 2:28-32. Already it should be apparent that Joel prophesies the fulfillment of Moses’ strong desire in Numbers 11. Here, God will pour out His Spirit on “all flesh” – more than just the Jews! – and He will do so irrespective of class or gender. And again, the result is prophecy. However, it also includes visions and dreams. Now it’s clear that the cosmic signs occur after the outpouring, but nothing in the passage suggests that the former outpouring will cease.

      IV. Finally, Acts 2:1-21 is framed as the fulfillment of Joel 2 and Numbers 11, in the vein of 1 Samuel 10. The language indicates this. “Mighty rushing wind” echoes 1 Samuel 10, and “rested” clearly draws upon Numbers. But I want to focus on how PETER describes it. By quoting Joel, Peter identifies “speaking in other tongues” as prophecy. For Luke, it’s prophecy. Not of the John the Baptist sort, but of the types we’ve seen above: Spirit-compelled prophesying. The other languages serve to signify the global purposes of the gospel. All flesh means all flesh, including Gentiles. So for Luke, speaking in tongues is a historically verified type of prophesying that fulfills specific prophecies. That’s its importance.

      As I suggest, Paul has a different view of speaking in tongues (he doesn’t call it prophecy). But, what sort of prophecy is this? None of the OT passages actually detail this sort, though Acts describes it as “telling the mighty works of God.” The closest guess I can see is Luke 1, in which Zechariah’s prophesying is 2/3 praising God for fulfilling His promises, and then the latter 1/3 is specific prophecy about John the Baptist. His prophecy demonstrates our point about most prophecy in the OT and NT, though:

      Most prophecy is of a sort that does not infringe upon the place of Scripture, but rather edifies the church just as prayer and “testimonies” do. Whether it’s “telling the mighty works of God” or foretelling a coming famine so that the churches might prepare relief beforehand, neither of these challenge Scripture, and both are of obvious continuing practical benefit to the church.

  • http://Firesidenook.com Jason strange

    Also note the partial in this text…what are they?
    1)Knowledge 2)Prophecy….it is these that will PASS AWAY when the PERFECT comes. TONGUES it says ceases period, but it is not made up of the PARTIAL. So it does not cease when the PERFECT comes, it just ceases at some unknown point.
    8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

    • Kenton

      Don’t read too much into the shift in verbs. Knowledge and prophecies “pass away”. Speech stops. It doesn’t “pass away” because that’s not the verb you’d use. It’s clear that Paul includes “tongues” (languages/speech) in this because he goes on to say, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (1 Corinthians 13:11 ESV)

      Spoke, thought, reasoned <- tongues, prophecy, knowledge.

      • http://firesidenook.com Jason

        Why would Paul tell the Corinthians to pursue the gifts of the Spirit when in 1 Cor. 1 he tells them that they are not lacking in any gifts. The one gift that they should have been pursuing was LOVE. The Sign gifts given the Corinthian experience was a hot mess, and it could be that God was using Corinth as an example of a Church that because of its carnality and worldliness could not handle the full manifestation of Gods power moving in and through it until it was put in order. Just speculating, could be way off on that point.

        • Kenton

          Well, Paul does say, “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:1, 39-40 ESV) So he affirms the gifts, such that they can be practiced in an orderly way. The problem therefore wasn’t the gifts themselves, but the carnality of the Corinthians who prized human wisdom, pursued factionalism, and tolerated sexual immorality.

          And they certainly weren’t lacking in any gift. But they were abusing them.

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  • Wayne Wilson

    I’ve been in both kinds of churches. There are reasonable exegetical arguments for both sides.

    The main point I suppose is that Continuationist claims simply don’t match what happened in the “Apostolic” era. That’s what makes cessationism attractive. Think about it. Today…

    Prophets are fallible

    Tongues aren’t real languages

    Healings are not obvious or wondrous (no withered limbs restored before your eyes.) No one has the gift of healing.

    …all so inferior to what we read in the Scripture. So inferior, in fact, it plays into the unbeliever’s suspicion that Christians are gullible and will believe just about anything.

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