Monday, 20 March 2017

Continuationism v Cessationism

I think many cessationists seem to have a misconception about the role spiritual gifts had in the early Church.
Spiritual gifts never were used in the first place as the original basis of New Testament doctrine.
Spiritual gifts never were the primary source of New Testament revelation.
The Apostles' doctrine didn't originate solely from spiritual gifts.
The Gospels and Epistles weren't written by the Apostles transcribing someone's prophesying or someone's interpretation of tongues.
Even in New Testament times, prophecies had to be judged (see I Corinthians 14:29).
Judged against what? Against the already-established doctrine of the Apostles.
And where did the Apostles get their doctrine from? From the Lord Jesus Christ Himself of course! Having been with Him in person, having seen Him, touched Him and heard Him (see I John 1:1).
Signs 'followed' the word and 'confirmed' the word - they never were the primary source of the apostles' word (see Mark 16:20).
Many could prophesy and see visions, including sons and daughters and household helpers (see Joel 2:28-32, Acts 2:15-21) - potentially anyone could prophesy (see I Corinthians 14:24,31) - but the doctrinal foundation of the Church was never established by depending solely on incidences of the gift of prophecy being expressed.
Prophesying served simply to edify, exhort, comfort, instruct, guide and reveal - but only in 'confirmation' of the Gospel - signs and wonders only 'followed' the proclamation of the Gospel. Because the Church was built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone!
So when continuationists say sign-gifts continue today, most of them don't mean that prophecy today automatically carries the same authority as the Apostles, nor that the canon of Scripture isn't already closed, nor that new doctrines not spoken of in the Bible can be promoted today. Because prophecies never had quite that unquestionable status, not even in the early Church.
Most continuationists just mean that the Holy Spirit still chooses to confirm the Word of God today in the same ways He confirmed it in the early Church. He still ministers to the Church today through all of the same means as in the early Church.
Think about it: cessationism actually requires extra-apostolic interpretation, not continuationism. Because continuationism takes precisely the same stance on spiritual gifts as the New Testament, whereas cessationism views, interprets, differentiates and applies the topic of spiritual gifts from a post New Testament position:

"...prophecies, they shall fail [not, have failed]; whether there be tongues, they shall cease [not, have ceased]..." ( Cor.13:8).

The foundation was already laid. Ever since, there's only one Church, one Gospel - not two different modus operandi.

"Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to day and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).

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