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‘Your Doctrine of Cessation Is in Error!’: What Is Cessationism and Is It Scriptural?

Cessationism is the view that the “miracle gifts” of tongues and healing have ceased—that the end of the apostolic age brought about a cessation of the miracles associated with that age. Most cessationists believe that, while God can and still does perform miracles today, the Holy Spirit no longer uses individuals to perform miraculous signs. (GotQuestions.com)

A couple years ago, I wrote briefly on the “Strange Fire” book and conference authored and hosted by Pastor John MacArthur. Yes, the same Pastor MacArthur who was confronted by a young Scottish prophet--and laughed off his sincere warning. You may read about that confrontation here and the fallout afterward here.

Pastor John MacArthur, propagator of the erroneous "Strange Fire" doctrine.

My concern in Pastor MacArthur’s erroneous teaching--in this one area (to my knowledge, he is a sound biblical teacher, laudable in every other respect, only ever heard good things about him...until Strange Fire)--is that he is not saying, “Hey, I’ve noticed some abuses in the Charismatic, etc. movement over the years. Let’s address them, separate the authentic from the counterfeit, so we can move forward as the unified Body of Christ.” No no, it’s been slander after slander, mockery and heckling, and slandering some more.

Honestly, I believed that he’d blasphemed the Holy Spirit (the unpardonable sin)--hence my original article, but when I heard the warning delivered by the young prophet, I realised that while close and most certainly toeing the line, he has not--as of yet--actually crossed it. It was the unmerited, beautiful grace of God that sent the prophet to warn John MacArthur. We can only pray that the Spirit of Truth works on his heart, softens it, and that he comes to true repentance for his heretical teachings before it’s too late.

In case you missed it, here is the word the young prophet delivered to Pastor MacArthur. 

“You have grieved the Holy Spirit of God! Your doctrine of cessation is in error. He has been grieved, John MacArthur. I have been sent here to tell you, you are sharpening the sword and they are cutting each other. You do not believe in prophets, you are looking at one! God have mercy on you and teach you the truth. Your doctrine of cessation is in error, John MacArthur! It’s in error! I have been sent to tell you it’s in error! For the unbeliever: repent of your sin! [Unintelligible…] You don’t have time! Jesus Christ is coming back soon! God bless you, people of God! God bless you people!”

His message absolutely, 150% bore witness with the Holy Spirit in me. I was overwhelmed with the fear of the Lord (which is sorely lacking in our modern-day society, even in the Church).

Now, using the definition of cessationism posted above, we’ll break down according to Scripture, why exactly this doctrine is in error.

Cessationism is the view that the “miracle gifts” of tongues and healing have ceased…

According to Scripture, the gifts of God are without repentance.

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29)

The gifts of the Spirit, including the working of miracles and prophecy, have in no way ceased.

Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. (I Corinthians 14:1)

In fact, miracles are a requirement for the discipling of the nations, per the Great Commission.

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant…. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. (I Corinthians 12:1, 4-11)
Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. (I Corinthians 12:27-31)
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:15-18)

Often, cessationist refer to this passage as their foundation for being anti-modern-day prophets:

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. (I Corinthians 13:8-10)

Many believe the Word of God is the “perfect” that has come. To them I would say, why then would the Bible tell us to desire to prophesy if the prophetic ministry is no more? God’s spoken word will never contradict His written word. But Perry Stone refutes this better than I ever could, so here you go.

...that the end of the apostolic age…

This is an easy one. The apostolic age never ended. We’re in it now. Again, echoing the last point, the gifts of the Spirit are irrevocable. They are not going ANYWHERE. Not until the New Heaven and New Earth (and really, we don’t know too much about how things will operate from that point onward). And in fact, the apostles--those who bring governmental order to the Church--were specifically given to the Body of Christ as a gift to battle deceptions such as that which we are discussing.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. (I Corinthians 12:28)

To remove the office of the apostle from the Church would be the equivalent of removing the father from the home and we know what Scripture says about the danger of fatherlessness.

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 4:5-6)

...the end of the apostolic age brought about a cessation of the miracles associated with that age.

Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds. (II Corinthians 12:12)
Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. (Acts 2:43)
And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. (Acts 5:12)
Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. (Acts 14:3)
Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you,does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? (Galatians 3:5)
God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will? (Hebrews 2:4)

As mentioned in my first point as well as here, the gift of working miracles in no way ceased. In fact, the working of signs, wonders, and miracles goes hand-in-hand with the office of the apostle although it is not restricted to that office.

Why would God give a gift only to take it away? Why would God say “you need this to have order in the Church” and then change His mind? The Great Commission--which requires miracles as its seal--is only meant to end when time ends so both versions of the Commission work together, are relevant, until time ends.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:15-18)

Most cessationists believe that, while God can and still does perform miracles today, the Holy Spirit no longer uses individuals to perform miraculous signs.

This reminds me of something my spiritual father said in his book, The Kingdom of Power:

Many Christians of various denominations are fixed in a historical, traditional gospel that lacks the presence and power of God. They believe in a God of history but not in a God who is with us today–in a God whose name is in the present tense: “I Am Who I Am” (Exodus 3:14). For example, they believe in the God who parted the Red Sea and delivered his people from bondage in Egypt. They believe in the God who listened to Joshua and stopped the sun, who confirmed His name by making fire descend from heaven to consume Elijah’s sacrifice, and who did many other wonders, as recorded in the Bible. However, they don’t believe God will act today. They believe that Jesus walked the earth over 2,000 years ago, healing all kinds of sickness, delivering people from demon possession, forgiving sins, raising the dead, and much more, but they don’t believe that He will do the same today.
There are some people who do believe that God still does these things today, but they have no idea how to bring the power of Jesus’ resurrection in the here and now.

You can read my post entitled "5 False Gospels & How to Identify Them," an excerpt from The Kingdom of Power, here.

God doesn’t stop being God. Ever. He changes not. He is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore.

“For I am the Lord, I do not change…” (Malachi 3:6)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Gospel singer, Tye Tribbett said it best: “If He did it before, He’d do it again! Same God right now, same back then!”

The God of Scripture, the Tri-Part Being we owe our every breath to, is a supernatural, miraculous, wonder-working God from Genesis to Revelation, Alpha to Omega, beginning to the end. And let’s remember, we are created in His image and His likeness to be His representatives on the earth.

Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. (Luke 9:1)
Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19)

Love-showing, tongue-talking, devil-stomping, miracle working “little Christs” busy turning the world upside down--even if it’s with a pen in your hand.

Don’t let anyone convince you that the Word of God is not true. There is no expiration date on its truth nor on its many promises. The gifts are available to us all if we would just believe. The same Spirit and same power resides in and is available to EVERY.SINGLE.BELIEVER--if you would only appropriate it for yourself.

May the Spirit of Truth be with you and with us all!

Here's a wonderful sermon by Perry Stone that, with all of the haterade going on, I think wholly relevant to understanding what our conduct toward other believers should be. Enjoy!