In answer to Taking Up The Gauntlet of the cessationists.
My definition of my side of the discussion, which some call “continuation”:
“Continualism may be defined as the idea that because God is immutable “the same yesterday, today, and forever” that we may expect there to be constancy and continuation in the way in which He acts as revealed in Christ and in the scriptural account. This would include the manner in which the gospel of Christ and the acts of the Church, as instituted by that gospel, remain in force in this age until the time of the second coming when He appears as promised. Specifically, this includes the manifestation of miracles through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, also called ‘signs and wonders’;and the spiritual gifts manifested as recorded in scripture.”
I further submit that there remains the need for these signs and wonders to continue their purpose which is not yet fully accomplished.
I submit that the idea that they should cease is an arbitrary one, and no where supported in scripture.
I submit that bona fide Christians of good repute have testified to the veracity of the continualist reality
Centuri0n makes some statements.
“God always does things for a purpose and usually tells us explicitly that purpose.” made by commenter M.Burke is given the approval by Centuri0n that “Micah’s last paragraph is exactly what I am trying to say.”
In his own words he says,”God’s purpose in signs and wonders is to establish the source of the message He has sent forth. “
“the problem that the continualist encounters: why were the signs given? Were they merely a form of common Grace that God handed out in a kind of random way, or did God have a purpose in manifesting signs?”
While agreeing that we would say that God’s does all the things He does for a purpose, we would also say this is true about His acts called “signs and wonders”. The questiion then centers around what His purposes are. The cessationist puts forth the idea that one knows definitively what that purpose is and that it has been finished and set aside. The continualist may maintain that these miraculous manifestations were for the purpose of verifying the message and the messenger and that there is a openness to some being done for reasons not fully known. This is a stronger position, for when speaking of God and His intentions and plans… although there are those things that may be known with surety, it is also true that there remain mysteries about God. We don’t know everything, IOW.
Notice also that I use the word, message, and not the terminology of some,”writing canon Scripture”. God used signs and wonders to uphold the message and the messengers… and one of the purposes that we know was stated by the Lord Jesus in answer to the demand “If you are the Christ,tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me”
But Jesus further has stated, “these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
In this the signs follow the belief, not give rise to it. The Word of God gives the faith. This could be written or preached, but the Word is the Logos or Christ. Here is part of the problem… cessationists tend to say, ” I don’t see this happening, so I doubt that it is supposed to be happening now”… then they draw their doctrine to fit their experience. How is this different than an atheist in their contentions about whether there is a God at all? This is an arbitrary point on the cessationist part. Paul did not experience Christ in any way differently than we would in this day… even though it must be admitted that his ministry was especially great in effect and in the body of written scripture that came from him- even among the Apostles who were of the original twelve. But he experienced meeting with Christ in the very same way we must, the resurrected Christ who had returned to heaven.
Did God give a common grace? It appears that this is one side of the coin. This also seems to be supported by Paul’s statement concerning the gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 . That does not mean that everyone manifest all the gifts, or that they are exhibited at will. What it does mean is that these were given to the entire Church and the Holy Spirit still chooses the whom, what, when, and where.
Hebrews 2:4 particularly interests me because it brings us to another contention. Centuri0n says this: “I don’t think God has changed his method of sending His message. His message, however, is now complete.”
Hebrew 2:4 says “This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” This is God’s own expression to the continued testimony of the gospel. The message was complete after Jesus rose from the dead and delivered the great commission to his disciples… but it’s expansion was not. The expansion of that message will continue to be a necessity of allowing God to verify His messengers to the nations and peoples who do not have established churches, preachers, and printed Bibles with the literacy needed to read them. To those who think that it is enough to say ” we have plenty of Bibles everywhere” is narrow and parochial at best, blind and unworthy of Christ at worst. Not everyone in the world is saved that could be, and of those not all have the access that Western developed nations do. So let’s lay that argument to rest now.
This could well explain the phenomenon that we see of many more miraculous works done in places where there has been a dearth of the gospel message or in areas once closed, but we don’t need to believe that is the case. All we know is that there are places where the gospel must yet be preached to new ears- to many who have not heard it.
The world still has need of the message, given by God’s called and chosen messangers… and that means that the necessity of the obvious and known purpose is not over or fulfilled yet.
The whole idea of “canon” came later, anyway. It is needful to abide by the verity of those past messengers who with great carefulness, spiritual acuity and scholarship collated and gave approval to the writings we recognize as canon. But that wasn’t the only situation in which God chooses to exhibit signs and wonders.
— we have to ask ourselves, “Does Scripture say that miracles will happen for no apparent reason or for some explicit reason?”
I think this is the black and white fallacy. Can we claim to always understand God’s apparent reason? Does it have to otherwise be an explicit reason on our list of what we claim to find in the scriptures? The Scriptures give proof that miracles do happen, and they happen under numerous circumstances. There is no method to it, but it is not random…. even if it appears that way to us.
— we have to ask ourselves, “Does Scripture say that signs from God will manifest themselves randomly or orderly, in the sense that they will clearly point to God or vaguely or weakly point toward God?”
Personally, I feel this is vaguely stated. Does scripture have examples of things that are both vague and clear? I believe so. Are there times it is unclear what the source is? The magicians of Pharoahs court had their signs and wonders up to a point. But I believe that we should expect clarity… I’m just not quite sure what the contention is in this question.
“If God is still writing Scripture, then God is still performing signs and wonders to validate His word.”
This is asking the wrong question. It is not whether God is still writing scripture, but whether God is still speaking. Is God still speaking? And if He is, then in whatever way He speaks, what is to obstruct His validation process, should He choose to act in that way?
God has a body of work in His written word, but is His expression in the earth finished? Is His not a Living Word? And are our lives and hearts not the tablets upon which He continues to write to this day?