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Section 8B ... Controversial Issues/
Cessationism

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Cessationism... Introduction

Is God still speaking to His church through direct revelation? Do prophets still have the authority to speak on Godís behalf conveying information or instruction needed at that moment? Do miracles still occur in the church?

Carol Brooks

ALSO SEE How Do You Determine Your Spiritual Gift?
An inventory of the ministry gifts that some have found helpful.


Introduction
- Two Points of View
Although the word "miracle" is often applied to all manner of providential and often timely benefits, in this article it refers to an event which cannot be explained by anything other than God who, in causing something to happen, has supernaturally overridden all natural and scientific laws.

The Debate
When it comes to gifts of the Spirit, the church is sharply divided into Cessationism and Continuationism.

Virtually all Christians take for granted that the gifts such as teaching or helps that existed in the first-century Church have continued into the present day. The disagreement swirls around the more spectacular gifts such as prophecy and healing - not whether God is capable of working such miracles, but whether He does so in the 'church age'.

Cessationists hold that although there aren't any verses that clearly and inescapably point to the fact that most of the gifts have ceased, the combined weight of the evidence does. Continuationism is the belief  that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, specifically those often referred to as "sign gifts" (ex. tongues and prophecy), are still in use and still needed in the church. There are many sincere Christians on both sides of the fence but few seems to come to the table untainted by preconceived ideas and/or denominational bias.

There are many sincere Christians on both sides of the fence but few seems to come to the table untainted by preconceived ideas and/or denominational bias. There seems to be no middle ground between expecting to see or experience the manifestation of the gifts on a regular basis and shunning them completely.

If we wish to continue safely on the narrow path and use to the fullest whatever gifts God chooses to give us, we have to examine the arguments used by each side to see if they correspond with what the Scriptures teach.


Part I
  In Christian theology Cessationism (coined from "cessation" or "cease") refers to the belief that the extraordinary gifts such as tongues, miracles, healing and prophecy were given to confirm the message of the Gospel before the New Testament was completed. However, once the New Testament was written and the church was established they had served their purpose and were withdrawn. In other words, now that we have the Bible we do not need spiritual gifts. Note: Some Cessationists consider that miracles do sometimes occur to aid the spreading of the Gospel into unreached areas,


Part II
Continuationism is the opposite of Cessationism. Continuationists believe that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, specifically those often referred to as "sign gifts" (ex. tongues and prophecy), are still in use and still needed in the church. In fact, the ever-growing Charismatic movement (a twentieth-century phenomenon) emphasizes the baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, prophecy, miracles, healing, visions and dreams etc. To say nothing of direct communication with, and instructions from the Father. All of which are contributing factors to the movement's popularity.

The problem being that the gifts mentioned in the New Testament bear little or no resemblance to what is taught and practiced in Evangelical/Charismatic meetings all over the world. All too many people have been fooled into believing that the supernatural phenomena they have witnessed or experienced is from God, when in fact they are nothing but occult manifestations.

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