Modern Reformation: a contrary but friendly appeal on Gifts of the Holy Spirit

A few months ago the new editor of The Modern Reformation wrote to ask me to consider contributing an article to what is now their current issue.

The issue approaches the work of the Holy Spirit (and the sign gifts of the Spirit) from a cessationist view point, but we believe that an article from a non-cessationist would be a valuable addition to the issue. Specifically, we’re hoping for a sort of personal appeal to fellow evangelicals that to believe in the continuing ministry of the Holy Spirit does not necessarily lead to the more outrageous examples of charismatic practice that are often invoked by non-charismatics as a kind of scare tactic during debates and discussions about the gifts.

How could I refuse such an invitation? Here is the introduction to my article, I encourage you to read the whole article, and yes the contrary opinions expressed in the rest of the magazine!

2015-2-medAt the heart of the Reformation was the call to go back to the Bible as our sole authority. The Bible contains clear commands to pursue spiritual gifts that were never rescinded. I would therefore argue that the charismatics are most consistent with Reformed principles. I contend that the idea that prophecy and other gifts have ceased simply cannot be argued from Scripture, and so this cannot be true.

The Reformation itself is believed to be have been predicted by prophecy one hundred years before it began. Huss is reported to have said to his executioner, “You are now going to burn a goose, but in a century you will have a swan whom you can neither roast nor boil.” (1) Remarkably, the name “Huss” means “goose” and Luther had a swan as his coat of arms. If most evangelicals can accept the idea that Huss prophesied, why shouldn’t others accept it too?

Other leading Reformed Christians had similar experiences; for example, when Spurgeon was a young boy it was prophesied he would preach to vast crowds. (2)

Many did not want to call these experiences spiritual gifts and were theologically cessationist, but they seem to have been functionally charismatic. Why should it be surprising that some of the heirs of the Reformers would still be open to such phenomena? Call us simple-minded, but we Reformed charismatics want to call these phenomena by biblical names. We feel as obligated to obey the following New Testament instructions as we are to follow all the others:

  • Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. (1 Cor. 14:1)
  • Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. (1 Cor. 14:5)
  • But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all. (1 Cor. 14:24)
  • For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged.(1 Cor. 14:31)
  • So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. (1 Cor. 14:39)
  • Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. (1 Thess. 5:19-21)

I cannot think of any other set of New Testament verses so flagrantly and deliberately disobeyed today by so many believers. . .

If we want to follow the Bible, there are no grounds to reject what God himself has given and has never taken away . . .

READ THE REST at  Modern Reformation – A Friendly Appeal

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • DonaldByronJohnson

    Amen.

  • stefanstackhouse

    A lot of people seem to think that “prophesy” is all about foretelling the future, but that is actually not the case. It is really about speaking God’s truth to those who are far from it, and especially about speaking God’s truth to power. If all these cessationist preachers really believe that there neither is nor should be any of that today, then what are they doing still preaching from the pulpit?

  • Oliver_Haddo

    It’s also about making things up and fooling yourself.