I affirm a strict Cessationism. I have based my view primarily on The Westminster Confession of Faith and the Cessationism of Special Revelation by Garnet Howard Milne (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2007)
Definition of Terms
Scriptural and Theological Basis for Strong Cessationism
Acts 2:17-18-Joel 2:28 Opened
Definition of Terms
Strong Cessationism: Miracles and miraculous gifts are confined to the apostolic era because the purpose of these miracles, namely, attestation to new revelation and attestation of the divine mission or credentials of the person performing miracles. Since the canon is now closed and no new revelation is possible, miracles and prophecy are also impossible.
Charles Hodge says,
“The sacred writers under both dispensations appealed to these wonders as proofs that they were the messengers of God. In the New Testament it is said that God confirmed the testimony of his Apostles by signs and wonders and divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost. Even our Lord himself, in whom the fulness of the Godhead dwelt bodily, was approved by miracles, signs, and wonders which God did by Him. (Acts ii. 22.) (3.) Christ constantly appealed to his miracles as a decisive proof of his divine mission…What a man teaches may be true, although not divine as to its origin. But when a man presents himself as a messenger of God, whether he is to be received as such or not depends first on the doctrines which he teaches, and, secondly, upon the works which he performs. If he not only teaches doctrines conformed to the nature of God and consistent with the laws of our own constitution, but also performs works which evince divine power, then we know not only that the doctrines are true, but also that the teacher is sent of God.” (Pg. 636, Systematic Theology Vol. 1)
Weak Cessationism: God is not the one who has stopped doing miracles but God’s people have stopped doing miracles. This group is divided into two groups: 1. Miracles were given to the early church to flourish during persecution, and these miracles ceased at about the time of Constantine. 2. Miracles were unique to the Apostles.
Continuationism: (There are a number of positions to take here but I am only dealing with the Continuationist viewpoint of the Third Wave.) Third Wave: “the Baptism of the Holy Spirit happens to all Christians when they are converted, but stresses that miraculous signs and wonders should be concomitant with the proclamation of the gospel.” (Milne, pg. 3) This position is popular among young “Calvinists” and attempts to synchronize fundamental aspects of the Reformation with the Charismatic movement. This group believes in the supremacy of Scripture but de-emphasizes the sufficiency of Scripture.
Scriptural and Theological Basis for Strong Cessationism
Dan 9:24 “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.
Heb 1:1-2 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
Act 2:17 ‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says, ‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS Act 2:18 EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT And they shall prophesy. (Compared with Heb 1:2 “Last days”; Heb 9:26 “Consummation of the ages”; 1 Cor 10:11 “ends of the ages” 1Cor. 13:8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 1Co 13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 1Co 13:10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. (kjv)
John Calvin, Institutes 4.19.6,
“Did this ministry, which the apostles then performed, still remain in the Church, it would also behove us to observe the laying on of hands: but since that gift has l ceased to be conferred, to what end is the laying on of hands? Assuredly the Holy Spirit is still present with the people of God; without his guidance and direction the Church of God cannot subsist. For we have a promise of perpetual duration, by which Christ invites the thirsty to come to him, that they may drink living water (John 7:37). But those miraculous powers and manifest operations, which were distributed by the laying on of hands, have ceased. They were only for a time. For it was right that the new preaching of the gospel, the new kingdom of Christ, should be signalised and magnified by unwonted and unheard-of miracles. When the Lord ceased from these, he did not forthwith abandon his Church, but intimated that the magnificence of his kingdom, and the dignity of his word, had been sufficiently manifested.” (John Calvin, Institutes 4.19.6, Christian Classics Ethereal Library Site)
William Whitaker, Disputation pg. 521
“In the first place, the Scriptures contain that necessary doctrine without which we cannot be saved, that is to say, the teaching of the law and the gospel: therefore they are necessary. As to the law, the apostle tells us, Rom. vii.: “I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” Therefore, the doctrine of the law is learned from the Scriptures, and indeed only from the Scriptures, when rightly and solidly understood. Still less can we understand the doctrine of the gospel without the Scriptures, because it is still more foreign and remote from our minds than the doctrine of the law, and our nature recoils from it still more than from the law. Besides, God does not teach us now by visions, dreams, revelations, oracles, as of old, but by the Scriptures alone; and therefore, if we will be saved we must of necessity know the Scriptures.”
Before any rational person can even consider believing the Third Wave view of prophecy these items must be demonstrated: 1. It must be demonstrated from Scripture that there is any such thing as a lower form of divine revelation. 2. The necessity for such a revelation. 3. Why is the office of prophet not mentioned in the Pauline epistles as is the office of Deacon and Pastor/Bishop? 1 Tim. 3 and Tit. 1 give us a list of qualifications for these offices. Where is the list for the Prophet and if there is no list, why not? 4. What then are the qualifications for a prophet and how do you know? 5. Are these lower prophecies mediate or immediate?
There is no scriptural warrant for a lower form of revelation. It is either divine revelation or it is not. The Protestant doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture (2 Tim 3:16-17) leaves no room for the necessity of any lower form of revelation.
I have been told by Continuationists that this lower form of prophecy is of use for things like Church investments. Should we or should we not spend $10, 000 on a new parking lot for the Church? Oh, well Joe Lower Prophet has received a prophecy that we should. The new Continuationists will say that these lower prophecies must square with Scripture but first it must be demonstrated from Scripture that there is any such thing as a lower form of divine revelation, and second the necessity for such a revelation. Does God’s word not give us any information on economics and finance?
I maintain it does to great detail in my lectures on Economics:
- Drake, Dr. John Robbins Exposed Part 1; Christian Libertarianism Refuted
- Drake, Dr. John Robbins Exposed Part 2; Private Property, Corporate Person, Usury
- Drake, Dr. John Robbins Exposed Part 3; Fractional Reserve; Fiat Currency; Free Trade and Markets
- Drake, Dr. John Robbins Exposed Part 4; Private Property, Trinity, Collectivism, Nash Equilibrium
- Drake, Dr. John Robbins Exposed Part 5; Nationalism, Authority, Constitution, Profit, Darwin, Dominion
- Drake, Nazarene Economics Lecture 1; National Socialism
- Drake, Nazarene Economics Lecture 2; Libertarianism
- Drake, Nazarene Economics; 3; Libertarianism
- Drake, Critique of of Ayn Rand on Racism; The Virtues of Selfishness Part 1
- Drake, Critique of of Ayn Rand on Racism; The Virtues of Selfishness Part 2
The Scriptures are sufficient for all of life and here the Continuationists leave us with no reason to look for anything else. Maybe the reason that they desire new revelation is that they do not know the one they have already received. The Continuationists will quote 1 Cor 14:29 to show that here a lower prophecy is in need of judgment to discern whether or not it is true revelation. Calvin says commenting on this passage,
“Let the others judge. Lest he should give any occasion to the others to complain — as though he were desirous that the gift of God should be suppressed among them and buried, he shows in what way they may lawfully make use of it for the benefit of the Church, even by keeping silence — if they set themselves to judge of what is said by others. For it is of no small advantage, that there should be some that are skillful in judging, who will not allow sound doctrine to be perverted by the impostures of Satan, or to be otherwise corrupted by silly trifles. Paul, accordingly, teaches that the other prophets will be useful to the Church, even by keeping silence. It may seem, however, to be absurd that men should have liberty given them to judge of the doctrine of God, which ought to be placed beyond all controversy. I answer, that the doctrine of God is not subjected to the scrutiny of men, but there is simply permission given them to judge by the Spirit of God, whether it is his word that is set before them, or whether human inventions are, without any authority, set off under this pretext, as we shall have occasion to notice again ere long.”
Paul’s teaching was judged by the Bereans in Acts 17 but this in no way meant that Paul was a lower prophet. What the Continuationists are looking for is a special providence, not continued revelation. William Whitaker in his famous A Disputation on Holy Scripture which is the primary work defending the Protestant doctrine of Scripture addresses the issue of a lower revelation or a revelation beside the Scripture,
“The fourth. If the church be gathered together to consign the canon of Scripture, it must needs be so by some authority. I demand, therefore, by what authority it is so collected? If they answer, by some internal impulse or revelation of the Spirit, we entirely reject such revelations which are besides the word, as fanatical and anabaptistical and utterly heretical.” pg. 333
Calvin in his Institutes 1.9.1 says,
“Hence the office of the Spirit promised to us, is not to form new and unheard-of revelations, or to coin a new form of doctrine, by which we may be led away from the received doctrine of the gospel, but to seal on our minds the very doctrine which the gospel recommends.” (John Calvin, Institutes1.9.1, Christian Classics Ethereal Library Site)
The reason continued prophecy posits an anabaptist theology is that it puts a wedge between word and Spirit. Calvin says in his Institutes 1.9.3,
“Their cavil about our cleaving to the dead letter carries with it the punishment which they deserve for despising Scripture. It is clear that Paul is there arguing against false apostles (2 Cor. 3:6), who, by recommending the law without Christ, deprived the people of the benefit of the New Covenant, by which the Lord engages that he will write his law on the hearts of believers, and engrave it on their inward parts. The letter therefore is dead, and the law of the Lord kills its readers when it is dissevered from the grace of Christ, and only sounds in the ear without touching the heart. But if it is effectually impressed on the heart by the Spirit; if it exhibits Christ, it is the word of life converting the soul, and making wise the simple. Nay, in the very same passage, the apostle calls his own preaching the ministration of the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:8), intimating that the Holy Spirit so cleaves to his own truth, as he has expressed it in Scripture, that he then only exerts and puts forth his strength when the word is received with due honour and respect. There is nothing repugnant here to what was lately said (chap. 7) that we have no great certainty of the word itself, until it be confirmed by the testimony of the Spirit. For the Lord has so knit together the certainty of his word and his Spirit, that our minds are duly imbued with reverence for the word when the Spirit shining upon it enables us there to behold the face of God; and, on the other hand, we embrace the Spirit with no danger of delusion when we recognise him in his image, that is, in his word. Thus, indeed, it is. God did not produce his word before men for the sake of sudden display, intending to abolish it the moment the Spirit should arrive; but he employed the same Spirit, by whose agency he had administered the word, to complete his work by the efficacious confirmation of the word. In this way Christ explained to the two disciples (Luke 24:27), not that they were to reject the Scriptures and trust to their own wisdom, but that they were to understand the Scriptures. In like manner, when Paul says to the Thessalonians, “Quench not the Spirit,” he does not carry them aloft to empty speculation apart from the word; he immediately adds, “Despise not prophesying,” (1 Thess. 5:19, 20). By this, doubtless, he intimates that the light of the Spirit is quenched the moment prophesying fall into contempt. How is this answered by those swelling enthusiasts, in whose idea the only true illumination consists, in carelessly laying aside, and bidding adieu to the Word of God, while, with no less confidence than folly, they fasten upon any dreaming notion which may have casually sprung up in their minds?Surely a very different sobriety becomes the children of God. As they feel that without the Spirit of God they are utterly devoid of the light of truth, so they are not ignorant that the word is the instrument by which the illumination of the Spirit is dispensed. They know of no other Spirit than the one who dwelt and spake in the apostles—the Spirit by whose oracles they are daily invited to the hearing of the word.” ( John Calvin, Institutes1.9.1, Christian Classics Ethereal Library Site)
Acts 2:17-18-Joel 2:28 Opened
Act 2:17 ‘And It Shall Be In The Last Days,’ God Says, ‘That I Will Pour Forth Of My Spirit On All Mankind; And Your Sons And Your Daughters Shall Prophesy, And Your Young Men Shall See Visions, And Your Old Men Shall Dream Dreams; Act 2:18 Even On My Bondslaves, Both Men And Women, I Will In Those Days Pour Forth Of My Spirit And they shall prophesy. Compared with Heb 1:2 “Last days”; Heb 9:26 “Consummation of the ages”; 1 Cor 10:11 “ends of the ages”
The last days are comprehended by not only Puritan writers but also Patristic to begin with the Apostles and is in fact the beginning of the age of recapitulation (Postmillennialism implied) where the devil’s efforts on the earth begin to reverse toward a golden age wherein Messianism is dominate and the great commission is successful. The scriptural support for the victory aspects of Messiah’s atonement are irrefutable. This is not a treatise on the Atonement so I will quote only one verse:
Col 1:19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
The Puritans saw Acts 2 to be fulfilled in the Apostolic era [Milne pg. 133] but can be used in a typological sense in times of Reformation where gospel light shines in a dark land. [Milne, pg. 134-139] Now many will object and demand that I tell them when the sun went dark or the moon turned to blood as in verse 20. This is easy to answer. These apocalyptic phrases are also mentioned in judgment passages against Babylon many centuries ago and the fulfillment was not literal. For instance Isaiah 13:10 is virtually identical to Acts 2:20:
Isa 13:10 For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
This type of language where stars are falling and the moon going dark refers to the fall of governments and powers. In Isa. 14 which is a judgment prophesy against the King of Babylon [vs. 4] we read this:
Isa. 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [how] art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
We read much the same in Isa 34:4. So these passages concerning the moon and the sun are referring to the fall of Jerusalem and the coming fall of the pagan powers that had dominated the earth for centuries. Jamieson Fausset Brown’s commentary says regarding Heb 1:2,
“in these last days–In the oldest manuscripts the Greek is. “At the last part of these days.” The Rabbis divided the whole of time into “this age,” or “world,” and “the age to come” ( Hebrews 2:5 , 6:5 ). The days of Messiah were the transition period or “last part of these days” (in contrast to “in times past”), the close of the existing dispensation, and beginning of the final dispensation of which Christ’s second coming shall be the crowning consummation.”
Milne’s expositions point to the summary view of this phrase among the Puritans to be an end of the Old Testament economy and the end of special revelation.
As I have proven for years the modern Church is completely cucked. They are ignorant of most things I talk about. They do not know the flat earth reality they are living in and their Churches are complete chaos. You would think that if these Churches are receiving direct communication from Elohim that he might share a bit of the first principles of his religion with them hey! Roman Catholicism’s extra-scriptural revelation comprehends tradition, the Pope, and many cases of visions and signs that are often reported among arguably the most charismatic Church of all, the Roman Church. One of the most dominate of these visions was in the early part of the 20th century, though history is full of such accounts, is yet another apparition of the Virgin Mary called Our Lady of Fátima. This vision was supposedly given to three small children in Fátima in Portugal. Augustine and Aquinas taught continued prophecy, dreams, visions and miracles but Aquinas allowed no new prophetic gift for the establishment of doctrine. (Milne, pg 45) Continuationism is yet another leverage point that the Roman Church has used against the nominal Protestant in the Western world and I believe Continuationism is adding to the resurgence of the Roman Church. I exhort any Continuationist reader to abandon Continuationism for the rational religion of Protestantism