Cessationists and hearing the voice of God

Cessationists and hearing the voice of God May 11, 2004

Jollyblogger has replied to my post with another on the will of God: Towards the end of an interesting and long post which also does a great job of listing other material on blogs on the subject he states

“That’s a long winded response and story. My guess is that Adrian and I are extremely close on this. I think the crux of the matter is ‘what place does the subjective play in discerning the will of God?’ We both agree that it plays a role, any differences we have is probably over degree.

I would just encourage Christians to relax a little in this matter. “

I find that quote and the whole subject interesting. I have certainly come accross Christians (who I might call ‘extreme cessationists’) who completely deny the role that an impression can take in hearing from God. I remember a book which I always thought had a rather arrogant title ‘The Last word on guidance’ which tried to argue this way. If the gifts of the Spirit stopped at the completion of the bible some would say that anything that could conceivably be called ‘prophecy’ is out of line.

Jollyblogger gives a good example of a view that I believe was fairly widespread before the charismatic movement with its unfortunate excesses led to a over-reaction and hardenning of those who might be called ceassationist.

There are many examples of events which would have met the descriptions given by charismatics of words of knowledge or prophecy that have happened to those who would not have called themselves charismatic.

I guess probably one of the strongest examples of this has to be the prophecy given to the young Spurgeon as a boy which set the course of his ministry. I will quote extensively from his autobiography-

Then, in the presence of them all, Mr. Knill took me on his knee, and said, “This child will one day preach the gospel, and he will preach it to great multitudes. I am persuaded that he will preach in the chapel of Rowland Hill, where (I think he said) I am now the minister. He spoke very solemnly, and called upon all present to witness what he said. Then he gave me sixpence as a reward if I would learn the hymn, ”

God moves in a mysterious way

His wonders to perform.

I was made to promise that, when I preached in Rowland Hill’s Chapel, that hymn should be sung. Think of that as a promise from a child! Would it ever be other than an idle dream? Years flew by. After I had begun for some little time to preach in London, Dr. Alexander Fletcher was engaged to deliver the annual sermon to children in Surrey Chapel; but as he was

taken ill, I was asked in a hurry to preach to the children in his stead.

Yes, I replied, “I will, if you will allow the children to sing, “God moves in a mysterious way. I have made a promise, long ago, that so that hymn should be sung. And so it was: I preached in Rowland Hill’s Chapel, and the hymn was sung. My emotions on that occasion I cannot describe, for the word of the Lord’s servant was fulfilled. Still, I fancy that Surrey was not the chapel which Mr. Knill intended. How was I to go to the country

chapel? All unsought by me, the minister at Wotton-under-Edge, which was Mr. Hill’s summer residence, invited me to preach there. I went on the condition that the congregation should sing, “God moves in a mysterious way, which was also done.

To me it was a very wonderful thing, and I no more understood at that time how it came to pass than I understand today why the Lord should be so gracious to me. Did the words of Mr. Knill help to bring about their own fulfillment? I think so. I believed them, and looked forward to the time when I should preach the Word: I felt very powerfully that no unconverted person might dare to enter the ministry; this made me, I doubt not, all the more intent upon seeking salvation, and more hopeful of it, and when by grace enabled to cast myself upon the

Savior’s love, it was not long before my mouth began to speak of His redemption. How came that sober-minded minister to speak thus of one into whose future God alone could see? How came it that he lived to rejoice with his young brother in the truth of all that he had spoken? We think we know the answer; but each reader has a right to his own: so let it


Just how significant this event was is demonstrated by what happened when the young preacher renewed his aquaintance with Mr Knill

After that, I went to preach for Mr. Knill himself, who was then at Chester.

What a meeting we had! He was preaching in the theater, and consequently I had to take his place at the footlights. His preaching in a theater took away from me all fear about preaching in buildings of doubtful use, and set me free for the campaigns in Exeter Hall and the Surrey Music Hall. How much this had to do with other theater services many know.

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