The Case for Continuationism
12 Bad Reasons for Being a Cessationist(1) The first bad reason for being a Cessationist is an appeal to 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 on the assumption that the “perfect” is something other or less than the fullness of the eternal state ushered in at the second coming of Jesus Christ.
(2) Another bad or illegitimate reason for being a Cessationist is the belief 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.
(a) No biblical text ever says that 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, why were non-apostolic believers (such as Philip and Stephen) empowered to perform them?
(b) 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/function of the miraculous or the charismata reduced to that of attestation.
(3) A third bad reason for being a Cessationist is the belief that since we now have the completed canon of Scripture we no longer need the operation of so-called miraculous gifts.
(4) A fourth bad reason for being a Cessationist is the belief that to embrace the validity of all spiritual gifts today requires that one embrace classical Pentecostalism and its belief in Spirit-baptism as separate from and subsequent to conversion, as well as their doctrine that speaking in tongues is the initial physical evidence of having experienced this Spirit-baptism.
(5) Another bad reason for being a Cessationist is the idea that if one spiritual gift, such as apostleship, has ceased to be operative in the church that other, and perhaps all, miraculous gifts have ceased to be operative in the church.
(6) A sixth bad reason for being a Cessationist is the fear that to acknowledge the validity today of revelatory gifts such as prophecy and word of knowledge would necessarily undermine the finality and sufficiency of Holy Scripture.
(7) A seventh bad reason for being a Cessationist is the appeal to Ephesians 2:20 on the assumption 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.
(8) An eighth bad reason for being a Cessationist is the argument that since we typically don’t see today miracles or gifts equal in quality/intensity to those in the ministries of Jesus and the Apostles, God doesn’t intend for any miraculous gifts of a lesser quality/intensity to operate in the church among ordinary Christians (but cf. 1 Cor. 12-14; Rom. 12; 1 Thess. 5:19-22; James 5).
(9) A ninth bad reason for being a Cessationist is the so-called “cluster” argument.
(10) A tenth bad reason for being a Cessationist is the appeal to the alleged absence of miraculous gifts in church history subsequent to the first century.
(11) Eleventh, it is a bad reason to be a Cessationist because of the absence of good experiences with spiritual gifts and the often fanatical excess of certain TV evangelists and some of those involved in the Word of Faith or Prosperity Gospel movements (as well as the anti-intellectualism often found in those movements).
(12) Finally, a twelfth bad reason for being a Cessationist is fear of what embracing Continuationism might entail for your life personally and the well-being of your church corporately.
12 Good Reasons for Being a Continuationist
(1) The first good reason for being a Continuationist is the 12 bad reasons for being a Cessationist.
(2) A second good reason for being a Continuationist is the consistent, indeed pervasive, and altogether positive presence throughout the NT of all spiritual gifts.
(3) A third good reason for being a Continuationist is the extensive NT evidence of the operation 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).
(4) A fourth good reason for being a Continuationist is the explicit and oft-repeated purpose of the charismata: namely, the edification of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:7; 14:3,26).
(5) The fifth good reason for being a Continuationist is the fundamental continuity or spiritually organic relationship between the church in Acts and the church in subsequent centuries.
(6) Very much related to the fifth point, a sixth good reason for being a Continuationist is because of what Peter (Luke) says in Acts 2 concerning the operation of so-called miraculous gifts as characteristic of the New Covenant age of the Church.
(7) The seventh good reason for being a Continuationist is 1 Corinthians 13:8-12.
(8) The eighth good reason for being a Continuationist is Ephesians 4:11-13.
(9) A ninth good reason for being a Continuationist is the description in Revelation 11 of the ministry of the Two Witnesses.
(10) A tenth good reason for being a Continuationist is because the Holy Spirit in Christ is the Holy Spirit in Christians. We are indwelt, anointed, filled, and empowered by the same Spirit as was Jesus. His ministry is (with certain obvious limitations) the model for our ministry (cf. Acts 10:38).
(11) An eleventh reason to be a Continuationist is the absence of any explicit or implicit notion that we should view spiritual gifts any differently than we do other NT practices and ministries that are portrayed as essential for the life and well-being of the Church.
(12) The twelfth and final good reason for being a Continuationist is the testimony throughout most of church history concerning the operation of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit.
[Although it is technically not a reason or argument for being a Continuationist like the previous twelve, I cannot ignore personal experience. The fact is that I’ve seen all spiritual gifts in operation, tested and confirmed them, and experienced them first-hand 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 the biblical text.]
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