Theological Word of the Week: Cessationism/Continuationism

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According to Theopedia, Cessationism, in Christian theology, is the view that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, such as healing, tongues, and prophetic revelation, pertained to the apostolic era only, served a purpose that was unique to establishing the early church, and passed away before the canon of Scripture was closed (comp. 1 Cor. 13:8-12 with Heb. 2:3-4). It is contrasted with continuationism, which is the view that the miraculous gifts are normative, have not ceased, and are available for the believer today.

Contrary to what many today believe, cessationists, such as I, do not believe that there are no more Spiritual gifts in practice today, or that God does not still do miracles. This is a common misconception. God can and does work miracles today, the biggest of all being the salvation of souls. Miracles just do not come anymore by the work of God through people, such as hands-on healings, raising the dead, and casting out demons. And of course there are Spiritual gifts being used in the Church in this present age. There are those bestowed by God with the gifts of teaching, preaching, evangelism, encouragement, and hospitality, among other gifts. In fact, if you are follower of Christ, you have been given at least one Spiritual gift! However, our belief is that the miraculous gifts, or “sign” gifts passed away with the Apostles, even before their deaths. In fact, there is no mention of miraculous gifts after the writings in the book of Acts or the epistles written during the time of the book of Acts. Paul doesn’t address signs, tongues, healing, or any other miracles in any of the pastoral or prison epistles. It seems if they were still in operation, it would have been an important subject to cover in his writings to Timothy and Titus. But he doesn’t speak of it at all. The Berean Bible Society has a great article which lays out the timeline for the cessation of the sign gifts.

For further reading:

Got Questions: Is Cessationism Biblical?
Justin Peters: FAQ’s
Justin Peters & Costi Hinn Video: Cessationism
Tim Challies: Why I am Not A Continuationist

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