A Defense of Strong Cessationism

 

41jcgdc2blll-_sx335_bo1204203200_

Acts 2: 22 Men of Israel, listen to these words: Yeshua the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know

Matt. 11: 4 Yeshua answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”

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

Required Demonstrations

 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.

portrait_of_charles_hodge2c_rembrandt_peale

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: 15 For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day;16 but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 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”

1 Cor. 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.”

Required Demonstrations  

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:

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.

Conclusion

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

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “A Defense of Strong Cessationism”

  1. Drake, while you normally lay waste to a particular point of view, this isn’t the best refutation of Cessationism. For example, the concept of “lower revelation” as in dreams or visions could easily be attributed to “seeing the future” and not revelational canon or doctrine per se. And the laying of hands has nothing whatever to do with doctrine. Please God, challenge Vincent Cheung to a debate on this issue. He addresses the same passages you do and it’s left me questioning whether to believe the gifts are still possible. (I admit I’m leaning in his direction.) But he’s focused his ministry solely on this issue recently and I know you like to challenge the best of the best. I believe he is the best on this issue right now and I’d love to hear both of you dissect each other’s positions.

    Like

    1. ” For example, the concept of “lower revelation” as in dreams or visions could easily be attributed to “seeing the future” and not revelational canon or doctrine per se.”

      >>>I’ll need an example of that.

      ” Please God, challenge Vincent Cheung to a debate on this issue. He addresses the same passages you do and it’s left me questioning whether to believe the gifts are still possible. ”

      >>>I have read quite a bit of Cheung. He’s a trinitarian and tries to work the hyposttaic union which in my book as he claims to be a Calvinist, places him in the most deplorable position possible.

      Link me to where he deals with the primary passages, primarily Dan 9 and I’ll check it out.

      Like

  2. Well, the Revelation of John would have to be false then I would think because it was given after the death and resurrection of the Messiah. Other prophecies in the NT as well.

    But the language is vague enough that it need not mean that all vision and prophecy would end at that point. It might just simply mean that the visions and the prophecies will at that time have God’s seal of approval set on them by being fulfilled in the work of the Messiah.

    It is possible that the end of Revelation might be used to support some sort of cessationism, though I’m reluctant to accept a strong cessationism, at the end when it talks about adding to and taking away from the words of the prophecy of that book, because it is not something that is common for prophecies to say, as if it might have a broader meaning than just that particular book being changed by scribes, which would always be forbidden.

    I need to look into this issue a lot more, though.

    Like

  3. Interesting and compelling:

    “Why Was it John Who Finalized the Canon?

    The Old Testament Book of Isaiah prophesied that the LORD’s disciples would bind up and seal the Bible. Notice the following:

    Bind up the testimony, Seal the law among my disciples (Isaiah 8:16).

    While other portions of this article have shown that various of Christ’s disciples were involved, the above verse suggests that there would be no additions “to the law and to the testimony” (an expression for the Bible, see Isaiah 8:20), after those disciples were gone. Isaiah is thus indicating that the original disciples would have finalized the New Testament–that would include people such as Peter, Paul, and John.

    As the longest surviving of the original apostles, John would have seen more problems with false teachers professing Christianity than possibly all the other apostles. Since John wrote the last books of the New Testament and was the longest surviving disciple, the Old Testament clearly supports that he would be the final one to bind up the testimony and seal the law.

    The New Testament also suggests that disciple John finalized the Bible through his writing of the Book of Revelation,

    For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book (Revelation 22:18-19).

    While it is possible that he is only referring to the Book of Revelation when he penned the above, as the last New Testament writer, it would seem that God had him put in the above statement to show that the Bible, and not just Revelation, was finalized. Since “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10) and Jesus is the Word (John 1:1, 19), it makes sense that Revelation 22:18-19 is, at least in a sense, referring to the fact that none were to add to the word of God (and that is consistent with other scriptures, such as Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32) . And that this was the last intended book of the canon for the Church age.

    Even some Protestant theologians understand that Revelation 22:18-19 supports the concept that the canon was then finalized. Notice what is stated in Matthew Henry’s Commentary:

    Rev 22:6-19
    It is confirmed by a most solemn sanction, condemning and cursing all who should dare to corrupt or change the word of God, either by adding to it or taking from it, v. 18, 19. He that adds to the word of God draws down upon himself all the plagues written in this book; and he who takes any thing away from it cuts himself off from all the promises and privileges of it. This sanction is like a flaming sword, to guard the canon of the scripture from profane hands. Such a fence as this God set about the law (Deut 4:2), and the whole Old Testament (Mal 4:4), and now in the most solemn manner about the whole Bible, assuring us that it is a book of the most sacred nature, divine authority, and of the last importance, and therefore the peculiar care of the great God (from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

    Interestingly, in all of his epistles John repeatedly warns about false ones who try to influence Christians (1 John 2:4; 2:18-19; 3:10; 4:1; 2 John 7; 3 John 9-19). Hence, this may be part of why God had John write the passage in Revelation 22.

    John also wrote,

    And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written (John 21:25).

    This statement, combined with his writings in Revelation 22:18-19, show that only certain things needed to be written and only certain writings accepted as scripture. Thus, it is logical to conclude that he, the last of the original apostles, finalized the NT canon (cf. Isaiah 8:16).”–http://www.cogwriter.com/canon.htm

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s