I received this testimony from someone in an email recently. I asked them if I could share it here anonymously and they graciously agreed. Having grown up as a cessationist, God had other plans for them:
I set myself to reading all I could find on the subject, searching the Scriptures, and praying over the matter. It became more and more clear to me that the “proof text” of cessationism was completely out of context. The Lord showed me how an argument from silence in church history is not a valid theological argument, as the doctrine of justification by faith was likewise hidden for 1,000 years. Yet it is no less taught in Scripture, clearly seen to those who read those precious pages.
And, I saw that rejecting the gifts is actually a threat to the authority of Scripture, for the denial renders whole sections of Scripture inapplicable to our day. How can God change so much, that his supernatural care of the church be withdrawn? Likewise, the authority of Scripture argument used by cessationists is a straw man, because almost nobody on the charismatic side of the fence would see contemporary prophecy as anything near authoritative. All prophecy, says Paul and the charismatic church, should be tested to see if it is in accord with Scripture. If not, throw the words out because prophecy is subservient to Scripture. Suddenly I found that the cessationism of my youth had no leg to stand on!
Slowly but surely, the Holy Spirit peeled away the layers of resistance which had been on my heart from various sources. In addition to my theological training, some of my resistance came from dislike of the culture of charismatic Christianity as portrayed on TV, and also from the treatment I had received from others. Add to this a fear of emotionalism and lost control, and you have a pretty big wall to tear down. Nonetheless, the Holy Spirit went full force to convince me, and about three months into my inquiry I finally admitted it—the cessationist was now a continuationist. There were other questions though. For one thing, how far did I want to take this? Was there, in fact, an experience we call the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? Did one have to speak in tongues to have the fullness of the Spirit? How on earth was I to live these things out without giving way to the fanaticism I was seeing on TV?
In mid-August of the same year, my family decided to spend the day at a local park having fun. Just as we were getting ready to leave, I took the dog out. My dog, however, had a different plan than usual, and started running out of control. Trying to regain control of him, I sprained my ankle. After limping back to the house I knew I had to stay home. I could have been bitter about this, and for a few hours I was. But God had another plan because I spent the whole day studying the issues which were remaining. Tongues, I decided, were not as much the be all and end all of spiritual experiences. That notion I rejected. But what I did know was that I needed more of the power of the Spirit in my life, whatever the fullness of the Spirit was, I did not have it. Still reticent to speak in tongues though, I started asking the Lord what he wanted. Of course his continual refrain was, “I want to fill you up and let you speak in tongues.” Slowly over the next few days I began to be willing to accept that gift, then to desire it. Finally about Wednesday or so I prayed and asked the Lord for that precious gift.
The next day, I woke up to a new dawn for the Lord held me several hours just enjoying his sweet presence. In the early afternoon, I felt irresistibly drawn into his presence so that I could not do anything but start praying to him. Then it happened: I felt a breath of wind, and it started gathering in the very center of my being. The love which I had felt from the Lord earlier today started rapidly growing, and I also felt his power, his joy, his pleasure. I was caught up in him and began to praise his beauty as one who is deeply in love.
The experience of this love kept growing and growing, until I could no longer contain it and I felt like my whole soul was going to explode or be caught up into heaven itself. Then it happened: the language of praise in English gave way to silence, and then I started hearing some strange syllables in my head. As I felt compelled to repeat those syllables, I realized that I was speaking in tongues! Quickly I found myself then speaking in tongues without the auditory prompts, and I was caught up even higher into his love, joy, excellence. Not only my soul but my whole being was in an emotional high so that I didn’t think there was any greater. If I could have been any happier, I think my frame would have been overcome and I swept up into heaven itself. After a few minutes—how long I don’t know exactly—I finally stopped speaking in tongues. But the heart warming effects of it endured.
Several more times that day I would sneak off to a quiet corner to speak in tongues for a few minutes. And my heart still felt like it wanted to burst with joy, a feeling which lasted for several weeks afterwards. Immediately I started wondering: why, oh why, did I wait so long to let Jesus lavish this gift on me? I thank my Jesus for how good he is, for exercising so much patience and love in dealing with my stubbornness. This good gift, and many others, he was glad to give me once I was willing to receive them. Hallelujah.