Tim Challies in my comments section was outraged at my claim that cessationism does not rest on a single verse of scripture. I am sorry to be quite so provokative but in however many weeks of asking in public on my blog, not ONE blogger that I am aware of has been able to offer ONE argument that even mentioned a bible verse to support cessationism. Perhaps I have just missed it, but I havent seen any biblical support for such a view. There is nowhere that says gifts will stop before heaven. There is nowhere that says NT prophecy is authoritative and much that implies it isnt, and most of all Peter quotes Joel who says in the last days the Spirit is to be poured out on all flesh. All flesh seems a bit excessive if all that the Spirit was needed for really was to write the bible. We could have got by without the gifts being tantilisingly offered then withdrawn. If the Spirit was for the last days as Joel and Peter say, then what does that make 2005, sometime AFTER the last days?
Acts 2:16ff “…..these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy………..
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do? And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.
Peter didnt add at the end of that paragraph “except anyone born after the cannon of scripture is complete”!
One commentator couldnt quite believe that I was both reformed and charismatic and started quoting chapters of the Westminster Confession at me, well let me cite some lines from that confession and state quite clearly that I believe these lines totally:
1. VI. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.1. IX. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.
1. X. The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.
18. I. Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favor of God, and estate of salvation (which hope of theirs shall perish): yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before Him, may, in this life, be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed.
18.2 II. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope; but an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God, which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.
Now it seems patently obvious to me that the Westminster Divines had in mind a conscious, experiential role for the Holy Spirit in the believers life. Tell me, just how does the Holy Spirit inwardly bear witness to Gods work for the extreme cessationist?
Perhaps there are some out there who long for more of the Holy Spirit. Maybe you fear asking and getting the wrong thing. Well I want to close with the very words of Jesus to you. Given that there are many millions of people alive who have asked Jesus for the Holy Spirit and believe they have received him I cannot see any form of true cessationism that can be consistent with these words of Jesus.
If Christ said it, it settles it for me. What cruel words these would be for Jesus to have said if a horrible deception can be visited on a Christian for no other sin than that he dared to take these words literally and asked God for the gift of the Holy Spirit:
Lk 11:13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!