Cessationalism, a Dying Fashion

Cessationalism, the belief that the gifts of the Holy Spirit have ceased, is quickly fading out of fashion.

And for the sake of God’s kingdom, I am glad for it.

The gifts of the Spirit were so that we could do God’s work. If you want to dig a hole without a shovel, be my guest. If you want to build God’s full kingdom you’ll need his Spirit and his all his gifts. God’s church grows when God’s church uses the tools that God has given us!

Here’s more theological reflection on why I am a Pentecostal:

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6

I come from a background that does not teach that the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit or is open but does not practice. And if you are in the position that I once once, allow me to lovingly suggest to you three reasons why I believe in the existence and the operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit today:

  1. The totality of Christendom has been affirming and acknowledging them for 2000 years
    In my recent research paper, there were some things that people have said that have really stuck out to me. Here’s one of them: Harold D Hunter, a Pentecostal scholar, in his groundbreaking dissertation writes, “An exhaustive research for records of tongues-speech suggests that there may not be a century without this phenomenon occurring among Christians“.Since the birth of Pentecost movement in the early 20th century, people have begun researching the validity of the experience that charismatic Christians have been experiencing and some may be surprised to find that most of Christian experience for all its existence has been operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

    So if you want an opinion on whether they are in operation or not, it’s not just me who is advocating for them, it’s the millions that have gone before me.

  2. The global Church is currently operating in them
    My professor Veli-Matti Karkkainen, a scholar in systematic and global theology, brought up a comment that I thought was very insightful. He mentioned that cessationalism (the belief that the gifts are not in operation) is only really existent in the United States. Everywhere else (Asia, Africa, South America, Australia, Europe…) has already been operating in them.After all, who can help, when an African kid comes to Christ and starts prophesying and speaking in tongues? For them, it’s a non-debate of whether the gifts are in operation or not. It’s because they are naturally experiencing and walking in them. So when I finally stuck my head out of my small American context, it became obvious to me that we’re the ones not on the boat.
  3. There is a clear testimony of scripture advocating for them
    This is probably the most important of all reasons. If you read the New Testament, it will be hard to find anywhere in the scriptures that describes the gifts of the Spirit being stopped in operation after the the original Apostles were gone. In fact, you’ll be faced with quite the opposite: an array of biblical authors who are all advocating, teaching, and suggesting the gifts of the Holy Spirit.Jesus in Mark 16, “These signs will accompany those who believe, they will speak in tongues,…they will lay their hands on the sick,…”

    Paul in 1 Cor 12, “Now concerning spiritual gifts brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed….To each is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, to another the utterance of knowledge, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another ability to distinguish between spirits…”

    Paul in 1 Cor 14:1, “earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy…”

    Those are just a few. I think in reading them, they are sufficient enough to describe the New Testament’s attitudes towards them.

So those are the some of the main reasons why I believe in the gifts of the Spirit today. And I hope that these are helpful, if you are weighing whether they are in operation today, in seeing that there is strong credibility to show that they are.

 

edit: read comments below for good discussion, apology, and clarification

Phillip Chan

Phil has been writing for 10 years. His passion is to grow in his love for Jesus to obey his purposes in our generation.

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