Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Speaking in Tongues: Cessationism vs. Continuationism

Because cessationism can mean more than one thing, my conviction resembles John MacArthur’s in that I am a Classical Cessationist (while the sign gifts have ceased with the office of Apostle and the closing of the canon, I do not limit God’s ability to perform independent miracles today). The other cessationist positions are Full (no more miracles at all), Concentric (while miracles [sign gifts] have ceased, they appear in unreached areas to further the Gospel), and Consistent (both sign gifts and the ministries listed in Ephesians 4 have ceased; i.e. not just apostles, but pastors, teachers, and evangelists). Looking to Scripture, Ephesians 2:20 affirms the foundation of the faith being built upon the Prophets and Apostles with Christ as the Chief Cornerstone. Because that foundation has been completed, and because 1 Corinthians 13:8 demonstrates that tongues will cease, there is no reason to believe that the Holy Spirit continues to give sign gifts today as He did to establish the first century Church with its new and completing doctrine. While many continuationists argue their case from Romans 11:29, the context shows that Paul is speaking of the eventual salvation of Israel in accordance with God’s promise to the Patriarchs after He has fulfilled His plan in the salvation of the gentiles. Finally, in order to make their interpretation work, continuationists must disregard what God is saying of His Church in Ephesians 2:20 and by also continuing to award the “ministry” of Prophet and Apostle (Luke 6:13, Acts 1:26, and 1 Corinthians 9:2 demonstrate that only 14 men have ever held the office of Apostle).

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