Cessation and Continuation

<<ceasing and carrying on>>

When the Holy Spirit came as Jesus had promised, He filled the believers and gave them supernatural gifts including healings, tongues and miracles (Rom 12:6-8; 1 Cor 12:7-11,28; Eph 4:11). Throughout the book of Acts, the miraculous demonstration of God’s healing and deliverance was very evident resulting in many conversions to Christianity (Act 1:8, 2:1-4,43, 3:7, 4:29,30, 5:12-16, 6:8, 8:6,7, 10:46…). These gifts varied from person to person, being given as the Spirit saw best and the various gifts dovetailed together to bring divine guidance and blessing (1 Cor 12:4-6,11,29,30; Heb 2:4; 1 Pet 4:10).

There are two differing views about whether the spiritual gifts given for the benefit of believers are still in operation today.  

The cessation view is that the use of these gifts ceased at the end of the apostolic age, having been given primarily to validate the apostles’ authority. Cessationists, while believing God can and does perform miracles today, teach that the Holy Spirit no longer uses individuals to perform miraculous

Don't let Satan rob you 

signs. Their observation is that only the earlier writings of Paul mention these gifts while the later ones don’t. The counter claim is that in the later epistles (eg. Ephesians) the gifts were no longer causing disruption within the church (as they had been in Corinth) and Paul addressed other matters in his instructions to the various churches.

The continuation view is these gifts were also practiced by people other than the apostles and were also included in Paul’s instructions to the whole church many years after the initial impartation at Pentecost (Act 19:6,11,12;

Utilize what is your right as a child of God

1 Cor 12:28, 14:1,5,39; Gal 3:5). Their belief is God remains the same and still communicates to and through His people as they utilize the means and empowerment He makes available and these valid expressions of the Holy Spirit should be a hallmark of the church today. Yet in the sophisticated western world that has explained away God and relies on human ingenuity to solve problems, the manifestation of His miraculous power is not evidenced as it was in the early church. As believers, we have generally adopted the humanistic approach and allowed the devil to deceive us, cheating us out of so much of the divine resources that are our legal right (Mk 16:17,18). Yet if the Holy Spirit and His power has not changed, neither have the gifts. We believers need to “stir up the gift [both the Holy Spirit and His manifestations] that is within us”, with each believer functioning, as they should for the overall good of the body of believers as a whole (1 Cor 12:12). The emphasis should always be on Jesus Christ and not any manifestation, gift or person exercising them.

The Bible instructs, “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts…” (1 Cor 14:1). Balance is needed to see beyond the emotionally inspired sensationalism for, as with any doctrine, there are extremes on each side, with abuse, misuse and no use. Be wary of those who try to impress with their spirituality by saying, ‘God told me…’  Boundaries and guidelines are given, especially with tongues.

Regardless of our persuasion we should be united in our love and devotion to Christ, together with love for our fellow believer even if we hold differing convictions. Whatever our opinion we should never be content with anything less than what God has made available to help us live effectively for Him, instead understand our position in Christ and avail ourselves of every divine enablement to make Him known as we grow deeper in our relationship with Him (Jn 17:22,23; 1 Cor 1:10, 12:27).

See also: apostolic age, balance, controversial issues, healing, manifestations, miracles, position in Christ,  spiritual gifts, tongues.