“Jesus did not go up and down Palestine healing lower back pain, heart palpitations, headaches, and other invisible ailments. He healed the most obvious kinds of organic disease – crippled legs, withered hands, blind eyes, palsy – all healings that were undeniably miraculous. Unlike healers today, Jesus did not leave long lines of disappointed people who had to return home in their wheelchairs…[Today’s] healers rarely if ever come out of their tents…[and] television studios. They always seem to exercise their gift only in a controlled environment, staged their way, run according to their schedule. Why do we seldom hear of the gift of healing being used in hospital hallways? Why aren’t more healers using their gift on the streets in India and Bangladesh? Why aren’t they in the leper colonies and AIDS hospices where masses of people are racked by disease? It’s not happening. Why? Because those who claim the gift of healing do not really have it.” (John MacArthur)
Text: Hebrews 4:12,13
Contrary the claims of the charismatic movement that the Bible is just a dead book in desperate need of the Holy Spirit’s life, it is very much alive, powerful, energetic, dynamic and sharper than any human instrument ever made. It is always at work in human hearts whenever it is encountered.
Also discussed is a biblical understanding of “logos” and “rhema.”
Article by Nathan Busenitz (original source here)
Cessationism is not anti-supernatural, nor does it deny the possibility of miracles.
When it comes to understanding the cessationist position, the question is not: Can God still do miracles in the world today? Cessationists would be quick to acknowledge that God can act at any time in any way He chooses. Along these lines, John MacArthur explains:
Miracles in the Bible [primarily] occurred in three major periods of time. The time of Moses and Joshua, the time of Elijah and Elisha, and the time of Christ and the apostles. . . . And it is during those three brief periods of time and those alone that miracles proliferated; that miracles were the norm; that miracles were in abundance. Now God can interject Himself into the human stream supernaturally anytime He wants. We’re not limiting Him. We’re simply saying that He has chosen to limit Himself to a great degree to those three periods of time. (Source)
Cessationism then does not deny the reality that God can do whatever He wants whenever He wants (Psalm 115:3). It does not put God into a box or limit His sovereign prerogative.
But it does acknowledge that there was something unique and special about the age of miracles and miracle-workers that defined the ministries of Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, and Christ and His apostles. Moreover, it recognizes the seemingly obvious fact that those kinds of miracles (like parting the sea, stopping the rain, raising the dead, walking on water, or instantly healing the lame and the blind) are not occurring today.
Thus, cessationists conclude that:
The apostolic age was marvelously unique and it ended. And what happened then is not the normal thing for every Christian. The normal thing for every Christian is to study the Word of God, which is able to make us wise and perfect. [It] is to live by faith and not by sight. (Ibid.)
But can God still do extraordinary things in the world today?
Certainly He can, if He chooses to do so. In fact, every time a sinner’s eyes are opened to the gospel, and a new life in Christ is created, it is nothing short of a miracle.
In his helpful book, To Be Continued?, Samuel Waldron aptly expresses the cessationist position this way (on p. 102):
I am not denying by all this that there are miracles in the world today in the broader sense of supernatural occurrences and extraordinary providences. I am only saying that there are no miracles in the stricter sense [of] miracle-workers performing miraculous signs to attest the redemptive revelation they bring from God. Though God has never locked Himself out of His world and is still at liberty to do as He pleases, when He pleases, how He pleases, and where He pleases, He has made it clear that the progress of redemptive revelation attested by miraculous signs done by miracle-workers has been brought to conclusion in the revelation embodied in our New Testaments.
So, the question is not: Can God still do miracles?
Rather, the definitive question is this: Are the miraculous gifts of the New Testament still in operation in the church today–such that what was the norm in the days of Christ and the apostles ought to be expected today?
To that, all cessationists would answer “no.”
* * * * *
Cessationism is not founded on one’s interpretation of “the perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10.
For that matter, it seems there are almost as many views of “the perfect” among cessationist scholars as there are commentators who write about 1 Corinthians 13:8–13. Space in this article does not permit a full investigation into each of these, but rather a cursory explanation of the major positions.
The Different Views
(1) Some (such as F.F. Bruce) argue that love itself is the perfect. Thus when the fullness of love comes, the Corinthians will put away their childish desires.
(2) Some (such as B.B. Warfield) contend that the completed canon of Scripture is the perfect. Scripture is described as “perfect” in James 1:25, a text in which the same word for “mirror” (as in v. 12) is found (in James 1:23). Thus partial revelation is done away when the full revelation of Scripture comes. Continue reading
(original source here)
Dr. Michael Brown and Dr. Sam Waldron had a very cordial debate on the question, “Have the New Testament Charismatic Gifts Ceased?” Dr. Brown’s rebuttal arguments did not appear to me to reflect an understanding of Dr. Waldron’s primary argument, the so-called Cascade Argument.
I strongly believe that it is important to a dialog that both sides understand the other. Thus, my hope is that by spelling out this argument in writing, I can clarify the argument to Dr. Brown, to those who agree with him, and more broadly to those considering the question of the gifts.
The Cascade Argument can be summarized thus:
1) There are no apostles of Christ on earth today.
2) Because there are no apostles of Christ, there are no prophets.
3) Because there are no prophets, there are no tonguespeakers.
4) In view of 1-3, there are no miracle workers on earth today.
1. There are No Apostles of Christ on Earth Today
A) To be an Apostle of Christ was itself a gift to the church, and the foremost of the gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:28-31 Ephesians 4:8-11 – Christ gave gifts to men, among them apostles.
B) The term “apostles of Christ” is to be distinguished from missionaries, aka “apostles of the churches,” which is a different office. Only “apostles of Christ” are no longer among us.
C) To be an apostle of Christ, there were three distinguishing marks:
i) Directly appointed by Christ (Mark 3, Luke 6, Acts 1:2, Acts 10:41, Galatians 1:1). That’s why the lot was used.
ii) Physical eyewitnesses of the Resurrected Jesus (Acts 1:22, Acts 10:39, 1 Corinthians 9:1)
iii) They are able to confirm their apostlate by doing miracles (2 Corinthians 12:12).
D) The apostles of Christ spoke authoritatively for Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 14:37).
E) There are five reasons we know from Scripture that the Apostlate ceased:
i) Ephesians 2:20 The church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, which alludes to Revelation 21:14. The analogy implies that the apostles and prophets were confined to the foundational period of church history.
ii) 1 Corinthians 15:8 Paul “last of all” was the last one to see the risen Christ. And since being a physical eyewitness to the risen Christ is one of the marks of an apostle, Paul is the last apostle.
iii) 1 Corinthians 12:31 and 14:1 indicate that Christians cannot seek the gift of Apostle of Christ – the greatest gift they could seek was prophecy, even though apostleship was identified as a gift.
iv) Galatians 2:7-9 Paul received the right hand of fellowship from the 12 apostles, but no one can today.
v) Ephesians 2:20 This passage describes the form of the New Testament as “apostles and prophets.” If there were apostles and prophets today, the canon would be open, as those apostles/prophets continued to speak authoritatively. But Charismatics (nearly all) recognize that the canon is closed, therefore they ought to recognize that the apostlate is also closed.
F. Apostolic Gift is Linked to Impartation of Other Gifts (Acts 8)
This suggests the cessation of the miraculous gifts.
2. There are No Prophets Today
A) The cessation of the apostolate creates the presumption or at least possibility of cessation of other gifts.
B) NT Prophets like the Apostles were foundational to the New Testament church. (Ephesians 2:20)
C) Definition of Prophet in Deuteronomy 13 & 18 was never rescinded, and this requires infallibility.
D) Just as the OT’s authority is summarized as “the prophetic word” (2 Peter 1:19-21) and its form is also described in about a dozen NT references to “the law and the prophets” or “Moses and the prophets”, so also the NT’s canon is summarized in Ephesians 2:20 as “apostles and prophets” (the prophets in question are NT prophets as seen in Ephesians 3:5; 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:28).
3. There are No Tongue-Speakers Today because Tongues was a form of prophecy.
A) Acts 2 tongue speaking is explained by reference to Joel 2, where it is described as prophecy.
B) 1 Corinthians 14:5 asserts the equivalence of the two gifts, if tongues is interpreted.
C) In both tongues and prophecy, the speaker is uttering mysteries, which refers to prophetic revelation (1 Corinthians 13:2, Revelation 1:3, 1:20, and 10:7).
4. There are No Miracle-Workers Today
There may be miracles today, but there is a difference between miracles and miracle workers.
The Cascade Argument was augmented by a dilemma as to the first point: if they accept the point, then they are at least cessationists in some form, since the first and greatest gift no longer exists; whereas if charismatics want to assert that there are living apostles of Christ today, then they are denying a clear New Testament teaching. Additionally, if such apostles exist today, then they have the same authority/infallibility that the original apostles had.