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  • The Holy Spirit.

    Is there any one here who has experienced the filling of the Holy Spirit spoken in tongues. I've really wanted this and I hope there is someone here who can share an experience.

  • #2
    It is good that you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit but why do you want to speak in tongues. If your read 1 Corinthians 14 you will find that Paul considered other gifts more important than tongues.
    Clyde Herrin's Blog
    Comment>

    • #3
      Originally posted by ptahm22 View Post
      Is there any one here who has experienced the filling of the Holy Spirit spoken in tongues. I've really wanted this and I hope there is someone here who can share an experience.
      The Holy Spirit teaches me in my native tongue for me to understand the knowledge of Christ. If the Holy Spirit is ever used to get your attention by speaking into your mind, it will be in the language you understand.
      Comment>

      • #4
        Originally posted by theophilus View Post
        It is good that you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit but why do you want to speak in tongues. If your read 1 Corinthians 14 you will find that Paul considered other gifts more important than tongues.
        I mentioned speaking in tongues because in Acts 2:4 all apostles spoke in tongues after receiving the Holy spirit. It's an evidence of the baptism of the Holy spirit. When you can interpret them you will have access to the spiritual realm. The Holy spirit is our helper so we have access to all that he can give.
        Comment>

        • #5
          Originally posted by ptahm22 View Post
          I mentioned speaking in tongues because in Acts 2:4 all apostles spoke in tongues after receiving the Holy spirit. It's an evidence of the baptism of the Holy spirit.
          As you can see from my 'Denomination', I am 'Pentecostal' (one of those nut groups where people still speak 'in tongues' during church services). I am also 'Reformed' in my theology (which basically means that I take the sovereign power of God and the absolute truth of the Bible VERY SERIOUSLY).

          So let's start by talking a little about Acts Chapter 2 and what is going on there. Backing up a bit to Luke 24 (remember Luke also wrote Acts).

          Luke 24:44-49 (Jesus speaking)
          44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

          45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” [NIV]


          Jesus opened the 'minds' of the Apostles and left them with THREE specific instructions:
          1. stay in the city (Jerusalem)
          2. until you get 'power from on high'
          3. preach to ALL NATIONS, but begin in JERUSALEM


          So now let's take a look at what actually happened in Acts Chapter 2:

          Acts 2:1-4
          1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. [NIV]

          1. They stayed together in Jerusalem and waited (as instructed)
          2. They received 'power from on high' which came in the form of a SOUND from Heaven, and the SIGHT like tongues of fire resting on each of them. They RECEIVED the HOLY SPIRIT.

          (a study from your concordance just looking up every verse that mentions the Holy Spirit and reading the paragraph or chapter containing that verse would tell you a lot about Him (the Holy Spirit) and would be a worth while investment of time to separate the Truth of God from stories that people will tell you.)


          Moving on with the story in Acts Chapter 2:

          Acts 2:5-15
          5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,[fn] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

          13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

          14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! [NIV]


          3. The people anointed by the Holy Spirit spoke in languages that they did not know. Those in the crowd who DID speak foreign languages heard "them" (all of them?) speaking in their native, foreign language. Note that they were 'describing the wonders of God'. Some heard only nonsense (the mockers, those with no heart for God or ear to hear ... as William likes to remind us some are 'not Jesus sheep', so they do not listen). Then Peter preaches what may be the first 'invitation' to salvation under the new covenant.

          So, some observations and things to think about. The only people who heard 'jibberish' were unbelievers who mocked God. As a Pentecostal, I make nothing more of this than the modern speaking in tongues is NOT what happened in Acts 2. People need to stop claiming that it is. The event was not unique, but is recorded as being repeated in Acts, however the POINT being made by God repeating the event was to show beyond any shadow of a doubt that Jews and non-Jews were all equal under the new covenant.

          Notice the focus. Never in any part of the story is the focus on 'look how great the Apostle or disciple speaking in tongues is' or 'gosh, I sure wish I was as spiritual as they are?' Exactly the opposite was the case. Every word and event focused on the glory of God. The only claim to fame that the people had was they were obedient. God said to go and wait and they did. They waited expectantly. They waited while praising God. When God 'showed up and showed off' as we Pentecostals like to say, the BIG DEAL was not the languages, it was the TONGUES OF FIRE! It was the power of the Holy Spirit on you and with you and INSIDE YOU, that empowers you to be of service. To speak words that someone with 'ears to hear' can hear and that will bring GLORY TO GOD!

          You can have what they had a Pentecost in Acts 2, but don't strive after the foreign languages, seek after the FIRE of the HOLY SPIRIT burning within.

          Ephesians 2:8-10
          8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. [NIV]


          You are God's 'handiwork' ... the word means masterpiece, best creation ... CREATED TO DO GOOD WORKS. Don't settle for babbling to show off for other people. If the Holy Spirit wants you to say something, then what you say will be important and bring supernatural glory to God (just like in Acts 2) and if the Holy Spirit has some other gift and task for you to do, THAT work will be exceptional and bring glory to God.

          God Bless,
          Arthur



          Comment>

          • #6
            I was reading on this subject a little earlier and wanted to just paste this in here:

            2. The temporary purpose of tongues


            The second proof that cessationism can be proved from the Scriptures (sign-gifts have ceased) is about tongues-speaking. It is the biblical statement that tongues-speaking was given by God specifically as a sign for Jews, signalling to them that the new era of Messiah had arrived.
            In 1 Corinthians 14.21-22 Paul says,

            'In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.'

            In other words, the gift of tongues was a miraculous proof to Jews who were resistant to believing in Christ, that the new age and a new church order had arrived. It was not for the benefit of Jews who had come to believe, but a sign of promise and warning to those who did not believe. It was not intended for Gentiles, but Jews.
            Paul quoted from Isaiah 28.11, a chapter in which Isaiah prophesies Christ’s coming. As a sign to Jews, Isaiah says Jewish people will be addressed by those with 'stammering lips and another tongue'. Gentile languages will challenge them, a most belittling experience for Jewish people. At the same time it was a sign that the Messianic age would bring Gentiles into the church, and the Gospel would be preached in other languages.
            This would be a mark of the new age when God would pull down the flag of the Jewish church, and run up the flag of the Jewish-Gentile church of Jesus Christ. Unbelieving Jews, who resisted Christ and clung to the skirts of Moses, would find the Word of God being preached to them in barbarian, Gentile languages.
            All this came to pass, beginning on the day of Pentecost. The Jews were duly called and warned, but tongues are not mentioned outside the Acts of the Apostles and 1 Corinthians 12-14, showing that they had accomplished their purpose of warning the Jews that the new era had arrived.
            This announcing of the church age was accomplished while the apostles lived, and the sign has been withdrawn. What passes for tongues-speaking today is not done in the presence of doubting Jews, and has nothing to do with the sign of the New Testament. The sign that the church age has come has served its purpose, and been surpassed by the reality.
            The Gospel is now preached in virtually every language in the world, and the sign that this would happen is long extinct. The purpose of tongues (according to Paul’s teaching) has been fulfilled, proving their discontinuation.

            3. Tongues were real languages


            The third proof of cessationism adds to the second, and it is this – that a gift of real languages was given on the day of Pentecost (and for a while afterwards), which has never been seen since that time. It should be obvious to us that the miraculous languages of the books of Acts and 1 Corinthians have never occurred since those days.
            Tongues-speaking of modern times is never any known human language, but only meaningless, disjointed speech. Nothing miraculous happens. In New Testament times the tongues-speaker was given by the Spirit the ability to speak in a real language which he had never learned, and people who had grown up with him were astonished.
            Jewish people would be present (as it was specifically a sign for them). On the day of Pentecost many Jews who lived in foreign regions heard their own languages spoken, and attested the genuineness of the speakers. After Pentecost the Spirit would give the miraculous gift of understanding to interpreters so that the authenticity of the language would be proved. Nothing like this has been seen since Bible times.
            Today those who advocate tongues-speaking point to 1 Corinthians 13.1 where Paul, speaking hypothetically, says that even if he spoke an angelic tongue, without love, it would amount to nothing. Desperately looking for a text, charismatic teachers take Paul's words as a justification for ecstatic, non-linguistic tongues, but it is plain to any thinking person that this is a serious misuse of the verse.
            By describing literal languages, the Bible effectively warns us that these gifts have been withdrawn. They simply have not happened at any time in history, anywhere in the world, since the very early days of the church. What happens today is that people (who may be sincere Christians), in their desire to do what their leaders insist is right, seek to give utterance outside the rules of speech. However, they do not speak real languages, or even understand what they are saying.
            Cessationism is clearly taught in Scripture, by virtue of the fact that the very precise description of real languages given in Scripture cannot be applied to anything that has taken place since.[1]
            Since Bible times we have had glorious events of reformation and mighty revivals, when the Spirit of God has been pleased to work in exceptional power. Yet we have not one reported or recorded claim of anyone speaking a real language they had never learned. This is certain proof that the gift of biblical tongues has ceased.
            Source: Cessationism | Charismatic Gifts | What is Cessationism? | Proving that Charismatic Gifts have ceased - Metropolitan Tabernacle

            God bless,
            William
            Comment>

            • #7
              Originally posted by William
              I was reading on this subject a little earlier and wanted to just paste this in here:



              Source: Cessationism | Charismatic Gifts | What is Cessationism? | Proving that Charismatic Gifts have ceased - Metropolitan Tabernacle

              God bless,
              William
              Great post, William. It proves that unless we understand the OT, we won't properly understand the new.
              Comment>

              • #8
                Originally posted by thatbrian View Post

                Great post, William. It proves that unless we understand the OT, we won't properly understand the new.
                Thanks, the Isaiah 28:11 reference brought me to question an extra biblical historical account - "Wasn't the Hebrew language a dead language?" I think Hebrew was a dead language around the time of Pentecost (need verification) with only a few understanding it, I think that if this is verified that this supports the Cessationist's interpretation.

                God bless,
                William
                Comment>

                • #9
                  Originally posted by William View Post
                  I was reading on this subject a little earlier and wanted to just paste this in here:
                  Not sure this is the place or not (and the Gift of Tongues is not my favorite, being one of the most abused 'gifts'), but the CONCEPT behind cessationism rubs me the wrong way. So ...


                  Acts 19:1-7
                  1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
                  They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
                  3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
                  “John’s baptism,” they replied.
                  4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all. [NIV]


                  Paul at Ephesus is hardly either the Jews in Jerusalem of Acts 2 or proving a point to the Apostles like Acts 10. There were only about 12 of them, they were already believers, and they spoke in tongues and THEN went to the synagogue. So how does the refutation of Tongues based on Acts 2 that you quoted above apply to the events of Acts 19. It seems God had yet another purpose that involved placing hands, the Holy Spirit, speaking in 'tongues' and 'prophecy'.


                  1 Corinthians 12:4-11
                  4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

                  7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.


                  I will not insult you by pointing out that speaking in different tongues and interpreting different tongues are included in this list. I will instead call your attention to 1 Cor 12:11 and note that ALL of these are from the same spirit, the Holy Spirit ... who does not change like the rest of the Godhead ... and is STILL at work in us today. Does the Spirit still give 'faith'? Does the Spirit still 'heal' miraculously?
                  When was the exact moment that the Holy Spirit stopped doing these things? Clearly it must have happened after Paul wrote his letters.

                  1 Corinthians 12:27-31
                  27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. [NIV]


                  Since Paul is teaching this to the new Christians as part of the ongoing Body of Christ, it would seem that he expected it to continue for a while at least. Again the obvious question and my primary objection with cessationism, Have ALL of these others ceased as well? Has God gotten out of the miracle business, and the teaching business and the healing business? The verses draw no lines or distinctions, so any man made demarcations seem arbitrary and do violence to God's word.

                  Originally posted by William View Post
                  n other words, the gift of tongues was a miraculous proof to Jews who were resistant to believing in Christ, that the new age and a new church order had arrived. It was not for the benefit of Jews who had come to believe, but a sign of promise and warning to those who did not believe. It was not intended for Gentiles, but Jews.
                  I reread 1 Corinthians 14 and I suggest everyone do the same. These "in other words" do not seem like Paul's words. They seem like an improper exegesis from the context. Corinth is a heck of a place for 'ground zero' for God to focus the gift of tongues to reach the 'unbelieving Jews'. For that matter, can anyone reasonably claim that every one of the Jewish elect who will ever be born has been reached? Doesn't this stand in complete contrast to all of the verses that there is no longer Jew or Gentile because God reaches all the same?

                  No. The obvious meaning for 'believers' and 'unbelievers' in 1 Corinthians 14 is exactly that. All believers and all unbelievers without any 'Jewish' qualifier. The reference to the prophecy was the sign that the events had come to pass, not that the details that Paul discussed at length were irrelevant because they no longer mattered.

                  I will be the first in line to say that most of what passes for 'tongues' in modern churches is an embarrassment. However, you cannot tell me with one breath that God saved Abraham just as he saved us because God's plan is the same forever, but the Holy Spirit is the 'moody' and 'capricious' person of the Trinity who changes his mind frequently ... just because Paul quoted the Old Testament.

                  Comment>

                  • #10
                    Wayne Grudem makes various arguments for or against each position (continuist and cessationist). Though Grudem is a continuist which is apparent in his book "Systematic Theology". I recommend reading it to understand each camps position, but regarding the camps available there are "continuist, cessationist, and undecided".

                    Lemme first define what a Cessationist is as someone who thinks that "certain" miraculous spiritual gifts ceased when the apostles died AND Scripture was completed.

                    For example 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 - Paul mentions the gift of prophecy as something that is "imperfect", and then says that what is "imperfect" will "pass away" 1 Corinthians 13:10. He even says when this will happen: "when the perfect comes." Without love, the gifts are without value 13:1-3. Paul argues, love is superior to all the gifts and therefore it is more important to act in love than to have any of the gifts. In order to show the superiority of love, Paul argues that it lasts forever, whereas the gifts are all temporary 13:8. Verses 9-12 further explain why the gifts are temporary. Our present knowledge and prophesying are partial and imperfect verse 9, but someday something perfect will come to replace them verse 10.

                    This is explained by the analogy of a child who gives up childish thought and speech for the thought and speech of an adult verse 11. Paul then elaborates further on verse 9-10 by explaining that our present perception and knowledge are indirect and imperfect, but that someday they will be direct and perfect verse 12.

                    In this argument Paul connects the function of prophecy with the time of its cessation. It fills a certain need now, but does so only imperfectly. When "the perfect" comes, that function will be better fulfilled by something else, and prophecy will cease because it will made obsolete or useless. So the overall function of 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 is to show that love is superior to gifts like prophecy because those gifts will pass away but love will not pass away.

                    Paul also intends tongues to be included in the sense of verse 9 as among those activities that are "imperfect", but omitted overly pedantic repetition for stylistic reasons. Yet tongues must be understood as part of the sense of verse 9, for verse 9 is the reason for verse 8, as the word "for" (Gk. gar) shows. Thus verse 9 must give the reason why tongues, as well as knowledge and prophecy, will cease. Notice that the repeated "if, if, and if" in verse 8 suggests that Paul could have listed more gifts here if he had wished.

                    So 1 Corinthians 13:10 could be paraphrased, "When the perfect is come, prophecy and tongues and other imperfect gifts will pass away." The only remaining problem is to determine what time is meant by the word "when." Several factors argue that the time of the Lord's return is what Paul has in mind. However, from a Cessationist perspective lemme list some objections:

                    When the "perfect comes" means one of several different things, such as "when the church is mature" or "when Scripture is complete" or "when the Gentiles are included in the church". Probably the most careful statement of this view is found in the book by Robert Reymond, "What about continuing revelations and miracles in the Presbyterian church today".

                    Here's just one Cessationist argument:

                    "The imperfect" things mentioned in verses 9-10 - prophecy, tongues, and knowledge - are incomplete means of revelation, "all relating to God's making his will known to his church."

                    "The perfect" in this context must refer to something in the same category as the "imperfect" things.

                    Therefore, "the perfect" in this context must refer to a means of revelation, but a completed one. And this completed means of God's making his will known to his church is Scripture.

                    Conclusion: "When the perfect comes" refers to the time when the canon of Scripture will be complete.

                    This is not to say that the perfect refers exactly to the canon of Scripture, but rather to "the completed revelatory process" that resulted in Scripture.


                    God bless,
                    William
                    Comment>

                    • #11
                      Originally posted by William View Post

                      Thanks, the Isaiah 28:11 reference brought me to question an extra biblical historical account - "Wasn't the Hebrew language a dead language?" I think Hebrew was a dead language around the time of Pentecost (need verification) with only a few understanding it, I think that if this is verified that this supports the Cessationist's interpretation.

                      God bless,
                      William
                      Cessationists are misunderstood. It's not that we don't want there to be miraculous gifts, we simply want to be good and faithful students of the Word. We don't want to rain on anyone's parade. We seek a proper understanding of scripture.
                      Comment>

                      • #12
                        Originally posted by thatbrian View Post
                        It's not that we don't want there to be miraculous gifts, we simply want to be good and faithful students of the Word.
                        Unfortunately, I think being ill content with what we already have subjects us to exploit - that is the want for something more. One of the most respectful things about the Reformed camp is the lack of exploitation - which generally comes from diligent study of the word and probably the cessationist view of "certain" spiritual gifts. The previous article left me thinking that for want of the signs of certain gifts signified leaves us rather open to exploitation, and makes us rather doubtful for refusing to reject questionable "claims" because of superstition. For example, I remember the Reformed Baptist Charles Spurgeon telling of a man that said God told him to preach from the pulpit. Spurgeon expressed no doubt to the man about God wanting him to preach from the pulpit, but expressed his doubt that God wanted Spurgeon to let the man preach from his pulpit. I gave that story pause, because I recall certain churches that I have attended that would have without question allowed that man to preach from the pulpit for fear of rejecting God based on that man's personal testimony, and I further question how these Pastors protected the sheep fold.

                        I think a lot of people got a rude awakening with Mark Driscoll - a Charismatic Calvinist. Many people didn't realize up until his questionable assertions and dismissal from the church that Calvinist does not always equal Reformed.

                        God bless,
                        William
                        Comment>

                        • #13
                          I was led to understand from scripture that perfection comes with the new Heaven and the new Earth ... THAT is when Tongues (actually speaking other languages, not babbling nonsense) and Prophecy and all of the other things, except Love, will be rendered unnecessary. That is when God will with absolute certainty have no more 'Apostles' and no more books added to scripture. I see no evidence that God HAS chosen to reveal himself to any Apostle after Paul and I see no evidence that he HAS chosen to inspire any additional books to be added to the Bible, but I see nothing in the Bible that would forbid him from doing so if he chose to.

                          Part of what rubs me so wrong about the argument is that at its core, it is the same one that Bertrand Russel offered to convince me that there is no God.
                          "The evidence of contemprarry Christian life is such that God, if he ever existed, must surely be dead."

                          Growing up in churches that had no place for anything supernatural or disruptive, I endured 22 dead services before accepting Mr Russel's observation as more likely than not. I have no use for that pale shell of a 'god' in my life. The God who reached out and struck me down is still very much in the miracle business. I have no idea about 'Tongues'. Frankly, I probably fall squarely in the unsure group on that gift. But it will take a heck of a smoking gun verse to convince me that God can't or won't or doesn't do something that he spent 4 chapters talking about how the Church needs to do it in order and love.

                          God Bless,
                          Arthur
                          Comment>

                          • #14
                            Originally posted by atpollard View Post
                            I was led to understand from scripture that perfection comes with the new Heaven and the new Earth ... THAT is when Tongues (actually speaking other languages, not babbling nonsense) and Prophecy and all of the other things, except Love, will be rendered unnecessary. That is when God will with absolute certainty have no more 'Apostles' and no more books added to scripture. I see no evidence that God HAS chosen to reveal himself to any Apostle after Paul and I see no evidence that he HAS chosen to inspire any additional books to be added to the Bible, but I see nothing in the Bible that would forbid him from doing so if he chose to.

                            Part of what rubs me so wrong about the argument is that at its core, it is the same one that Bertrand Russel offered to convince me that there is no God.
                            "The evidence of contemprarry Christian life is such that God, if he ever existed, must surely be dead."

                            Growing up in churches that had no place for anything supernatural or disruptive, I endured 22 dead services before accepting Mr Russel's observation as more likely than not. I have no use for that pale shell of a 'god' in my life. The God who reached out and struck me down is still very much in the miracle business. I have no idea about 'Tongues'. Frankly, I probably fall squarely in the unsure group on that gift. But it will take a heck of a smoking gun verse to convince me that God can't or won't or doesn't do something that he spent 4 chapters talking about how the Church needs to do it in order and love.

                            God Bless,
                            Arthur
                            I grew up sharing your explanation also, Arthur. Mind you I attended a Calvary Chapel movement that originated in the Pentecostal church. If anything I am "undecided" with a cessationalist leaning. However, my indecisive nature on this matter has left me vulnerable as the butt of satire and parody! :) Interestingly, here's a fellow Presbyterian's take on our WCF:

                            Richard B. Gaffin, Jr.

                            The Westminster Confession of Faith, insisting that Scripture is sufficient in our day, holds that "those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people" have "now ceased" (1.1). We who adhere to that doctrine are thus often called "cessationists." That label carries a lot of baggage. By itself, it's negative. In current debates about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, it suggests what one is against. At the outset, then, we need to correct certain misconceptions about "cessationism."

                            We do not assert that God's Spirit is no longer actively working in dynamic and dramatic ways. We earnestly believe that he is. What, for instance, can be more powerful and impressive—even miraculous!—than the 180-degree reversal that occurs when the Spirit transforms those dead in their sins into those alive for good works? This involves nothing less than a work of resurrection, of (re-)creation (Eph. 2:1-10). This is awesome indeed!

                            Nor do we believe that all spiritual gifts have ceased and are no longer present in the church. At issue is the cessation of a limited number of such gifts. The continuation of the large remainder is not in dispute.

                            People sometimes tell me, "You're putting the Holy Spirit in a box." At least two responses come to mind. First, I do take this charge to heart. It is by no means an imaginary danger that we might unduly limit our expectations of the Spirit's work by our theologizing. We must always remember the incalculability factor that Jesus notes in John 3:8 (the Spirit is like an unpredictable wind). Any sound doctrine of the Spirit's work will be content with an unaccounted-for remainder, an area of mystery.

                            Secondly, however, as I will try to show, the Holy Spirit himself, "speaking in the Scripture" (Westminster Confession of Faith, 1.10), puts his activity "in a box," if you will—a box of his own sovereign making. The Bible knows nothing of a pure whimsy of the Spirit. The Spirit is indeed the Spirit of ardor, but he is also, and no less, the Spirit of order (1 Cor. 14:33, 40). It's striking that Scripture particularly stresses order in a discussion of spiritual gifts! A perennial challenge to the church is to seek this ordered ardor—or, if you prefer, this ardor-infused order of the Spirit.

                            First the Foundation, Then the Superstructure


                            According to the Nicene Creed, the "one holy catholic" church is also "apostolic." What does that mean? What constitutes the apostolicity of the church? Getting a biblical answer to that question is the important first step toward seeing that God's Word teaches that certain gifts of the Spirit have in fact fulfilled their purpose and ceased.

                            Ephesians 2:11-22 provides as comprehensive an outlook on the New Testament church as any passage in Paul's writings or, for that matter, in the rest of Scripture. Using a favorite biblical metaphor (cf. 1 Pet. 2:4-8), Paul says that the church—composed now of Gentiles as well as Jews—is the great house-building project that God, the master architect-builder, is constructing in the period between Christ's exaltation and his return. The church is "God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone" (vss. 19-20).

                            Two closely related considerations are noteworthy in this description. First, notice that the foundation in view is finished. It is a historically completed entity. When a builder knows what he's doing (as we may assume God does!), he lays the foundation once at the beginning of the project. The foundation doesn't need to be repeatedly relaid. After he lays the foundation, he builds the superstructure on that foundation. From our vantage point today, we are in the period of superstructure-building. Christ has laid the foundation of his church. Now he is building on it.

                            Secondly, this conclusion is reinforced when we consider exactly how the apostles and prophets, along with Christ, are the church's foundation. For Christ, that plainly consists in his saving work, in his crucifixion and resurrection—"no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 3:11; cf. 15:3-4). But the apostles also belong to the foundation. That is not because the saving work of Christ is somehow incomplete. It is rather because of their witness, a witness—authorized by the exalted Christ himself—which is fully revelatory (e.g., Acts 1:22; Gal. 1:1; 1 Thess. 2:13).

                            This unique role of the apostles in God's historical unfolding of his saving plan comes to light in Ephesians 2:20. We find a correlation all through the history of salvation to its consummation in Christ (Heb. 1:1-2)—God's word focuses on God's deeds. And so the situation is this: to the foundational once-for-all, finished work of Christ, God joined the foundational once-for-all, finished apostolic witness to that work. God's word focuses on God's deeds. This was the matrix for the eventual emergence of the books of the New Testament.

                            Ephesians 2:20, then, indicates that the apostles had a temporary, noncontinuing role in the life of the church. Their place was in the important foundation-laying phase of the church's history. Their function was to provide revelatory, infallibly authoritative, canonical witness to the consummation of salvation history in Christ's finished work. That function was fulfilled. It does not belong to the superstructure-building period to follow. It instead provides the completed foundation on which Christ continues to build the superstructure of the church.

                            Several other lines of New Testament teaching confirm that the office of apostle was temporary. In order for someone to be an apostle, one job prerequisite was to have been an eye and ear witness of Christ before his ascension (Acts 1:21-26). Paul—in 1 Corinthians 15:7-9 (cf. 9:1)—saw himself as meeting this requirement by way of an exception. Along with that, he seems clearly to say here that he is the last of the apostles.

                            The Pastoral Epistles were largely concerned with making apostolic preparation for the future of the church after the time of the apostles. Two of these letters are addressed to Timothy, whom Paul viewed, more than anyone else in the New Testament, as his personal successor. Yet Paul never called him an apostle. In light of the redemptive-historical rationale already noted, "apostolic succession" in a personal sense is a contradiction in terms. The apostolicity of the church is not secured by an unbroken, outward succession of officeholders that can be traced back to the apostles. It rather consists in steadfast fidelity to the apostles' teaching or tradition (2 Thess. 2:15) as it is inscripturated in the New Testament.

                            Many in the charismatic movement agree that apostles—in the sense of those who are "first" among the gifts given to the church (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11), like the Twelve and Paul—are not present in the church today. In that respect at least—whether or not they realize it—the large majority of today's charismatics are in fact "cessationists." Anyone who recognizes the temporary nature of the apostolate, then, needs to think through—in the light of other New Testament teaching—what further implications this basic cessationist position may carry.

                            What about Prophecy?


                            Ephesians 2:20 itself states one such implication—an important one. It affirms that the prophets, along with the apostles, have a foundational role. Who are these prophets? Clearly, they are not the Old Testament prophets. First of all, notice the word order: "apostles and prophets," not "prophets and apostles." More importantly, just a few verses later and in almost identical words, the prophets in view are said to belong to the "now" of the new covenant, in contrast to the "other generations" of past covenant history (Eph. 3:5). Some have recently argued that these prophets are identical to the apostles ("the apostles who are also prophets"). This view is hardly plausible in view of Paul's next reference to apostles and prophets beyond this context (Eph. 4:11: "some to be apostles, some to be prophets"). Ephesians 2:20 clearly implies that prophecy was a temporary gift, given for the foundation-laying period of the church. Therefore, along with the apostles, the New Testament prophets are no longer a present part of the church's life.

                            What about Tongues?


                            1 Corinthians 14 deals with prophecy and tongues in far more detail than any other New Testament passage. A quick perusal will show that, like a backbone, a contrast between prophecy and tongues structures the entire chapter (beginning in verses 2-3, continuing throughout, and culminating in verse 39). The broad concern of the apostle's argument is to show the relative superiority or preferability of prophecy to tongues. Prophecy is "greater" because (as speech intelligible to others) it edifies the church, while tongues (unintelligible to others) do not. The immediate proviso, however, is that when tongues are interpreted, they are on a par with prophecy for edifying others (vss. 4-5). Tongues, when uninterpreted, are eclipsed by prophecy. But interpreted tongues are functionally equivalent to prophecy. And so God's Word draws a close tie between prophecy and tongues. We may even say fairly that tongues, as interpretable and to be interpreted (vss. 13, 27), are a mode of prophecy.

                            What these two gifts have in common, and the reason they can be contrasted in this way, is that both are word gifts. Specifically, both are revelation. Both bring God's word to the church in the primary, original, nonderivative sense.

                            Verse 30 states explicitly that prophecy is revelation. It is also clear, among other considerations, from the only instances of prophecy in the New Testament, those of Agabus (see Acts 11:27-28; 21:10-11) and the book of Revelation (see Rev. 1:1-3).

                            That tongues are revelation is plain from verses 14-19. They are inspired speech of the most immediate—indeed, virtually unmediated—kind. In its exercise, the gift of tongues completely bypasses the "mind," in the sense that the intellect of the speaker does not produce what is said. The Holy Spirit so takes over speech capacity and organs that the words spoken are not the speaker's own words in any sense. Also, by speaking of their content as "mysteries" (vs. 2), Paul confirms the fully revelatory character of tongues (as well as their link with prophecy, see 13:2). Elsewhere in the New Testament, at least without any clear exceptions, this word always refers to revelation—more specifically, to the redemptive-historical content of revelation (e.g., Matt. 13:11; Rom. 16:25-26; 1 Tim. 3:16).

                            From those passages that are most pertinent and decisive, then, a basic explanation for the cessation of prophecy and tongues emerges. By God's wise and gracious design, apostles and prophets played a temporary role in the church's history. They did not continue after its foundation was laid. The redemptive-historical "specs" of God's church-house are such that apostles and prophets are not permanent fixtures (Eph. 2:20). Neither are tongues, since they are tied, as we have seen, to prophecy (1 Cor. 14). They, too, passed out of the life of the church, along with the passing of the apostles and prophets (and other means of bringing God's word).

                            What about 1 Corinthians 13:8-13?


                            Many, however, judge that 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 clearly teaches that prophecy and tongues will not cease until the second coming of Christ. To them, this is a "gotcha" text that by itself settles the issue. But does this passage really imply their conclusion?

                            Look carefully at 1 Corinthians 13:8-13. Notice that its primary thrust is to compare the believer's present and future knowledge. Present knowledge is partial and obscure (vss. 8-9), in contrast to the full, "face-to-face" knowledge that will be ours (vs. 12) with the arrival of "perfection" or perfect knowledge (vs. 10). This "perfection" almost certainly will arrive when Christ returns in power and glory. Does that mean that these gifts will not cease until the Second Coming?

                            That conclusion goes beyond the aim of this text. The accent of this text is on the character of our present knowledge—in particular, on its partial quality. The particular mediaof that knowledge are not the point. Paul clearly had a pastoral concern with the proper exercise of prophecy and tongues in the church at Corinth (chapters 12-14). Therefore, it's understandable that he mentioned them in this context. He was not, however, addressing the issue of when they would cease. Rather, he was stressing the partial, opaque character of all our knowledge until Christ returns. This is true no matter by which revelatory means that knowledge comes (including, by implication, even inscripturation). This is also true no matter when those means may cease.

                            Ephesians 4:11-13 reinforces this interpretation. The exalted Christ "gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, ... until we all reach unity in the faith ... and become mature [or, perfect], attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." Almost certainly the "unity" and "fullness" of verse 13 is the same state of affairs as the "perfection" in 1 Corinthians 13:10. Ephesians 4:13 perhaps echoes 1 Corinthians 13:10 as well by its use of the word "perfect" or "mature." This is the situation Christ brings by his return. Since that is so, if we read Ephesians 4 as noncessationists insist we should read 1 Corinthians 13, we are left with the unavoidable conclusion that there will be apostles, as well as prophecy and tongues, until the second coming of Christ. Even many noncessationists, however, rightly reject this conclusion.

                            But how can they consistently do so? In terms of gifts, in relation to the ultimate goal in view, how is this passage any different than 1 Corinthians 13:8-13? Noncessationists who correctly recognize that there are no apostles in the sense of Ephesians 2:20 and 4:11 today can't have it both ways. If these passages teach that prophecy/prophets and tongues continue until the Second Coming, then they also teach that the apostles do as well. But a more sound understanding is simply to recognize that these passages do not even address the question of whether or not prophecy or tongues (or any other gift) will cease before the Second Coming. They leave it an open question, to be settled by other passages.

                            A dilemma confronts noncessationists. If prophecy and tongues (as they function in the New Testament) continue today, then the noncessationist is faced with the quite practical and troublesome implication that Scripture alone is not a sufficient verbal revelation from God. At best, the canon is relatively closed. Alternatively, if—as most noncessationists insist—"prophecy" and "tongues" today are not revelatory or are less than fully revelatory, then these contemporary phenomena are misnamed. They are something other than the gifts of prophecy and tongues that we find in the New Testament. Noncessationists are caught in a redemptive-historical anachronism. They are seeking within the superstructure-building phase of the church's history that which belonged to its foundation-laying phase. They are involved in the contradictory effort of trying to maintain that the New Testament canon is complete and closed and yet at the same time that the revelatory gifts for the open canon period—gifts for when the New Testament documents were still being written—continue.

                            But God's Word lifts us out of this dilemma. It shows us that by God's wise and gracious design, prophecy and tongues have completed their task and have ceased. What remains, supremely and solely sufficient and authoritative until Jesus comes, is "the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture" (Westminster Confession of Faith, 1:10).

                            God bless,
                            William
                            Comment>

                            • #15
                              Originally posted by William View Post

                              I grew up sharing your explanation also, Arthur. Mind you I attended a Calvary Chapel movement that originated in the Pentecostal church. If anything I am "undecided" with a cessationalist leaning. However, my indecisive nature on this matter has left me vulnerable as the butt of satire and parody! :) Interestingly, here's a fellow Presbyterian's take on our WCF:

                              God bless,
                              William
                              I really like the 'Foundation' analogy. It is a far better case arguing FROM SCRIPTURE that the Foundation has already been laid, than attempting to argue that we already have 'prefect understanding'. I intend to chew on this further, but just to keep the conversation going, I offer some initial thoughts. More concerns than objections or refutations:

                              1. Jesus is more than a cornerstone (which keeps a foundation in alignment), he is the bedrock that supports the foundation. Have we pushed the analogy too far? Beyond what Christ intended (just as he accuses of the 1 Corinthians 13 analogy and the other side).

                              2. We do not have the testimony of the 12 apostles. The scriptural imagery is clear about there being 12 foundations. Yet what do we actually have: As I understand it, Matthew and Mark are drawn from the sermons of Peter, so we have second hand accounts of Peter, or First hand accounts from Matthew confirming the account of Peter, or a direct First hand account from Matthew that just happens to share a lot of common verbage with Mark. This is not to discredit Mark, just to view it from a legal perspective of fulfilling what it set out to acomplish. Luke is a detailed second hand account and from the narrative, would seem to be based on mostly the Apostles Peter and Paul. John is a clear, first hand Apostolic account ... an irrefutable 'foundation' in our 'finished foundation' analogy. Paul does not really count, no offense to Paul, but even granting that every word that he wrote was inspired and true, he admits that he was not there to testify as a first hand witness to the life, death and resurection of Jesus. He can only provide a partial foundation. We have one reliable and two 'unreliable' witnesses (Peter's witness is presented second hand and Paul did not witness all of the facts). How does that result in a complete and perfect foundation that requires no Apostles, Prophets, or Tongues to discern and verify the truth? I am not speaking by human scientific standards, but by Jewish Law for establishing a 'fact'. They say there are 12 foundations and 12 Apostles, but we have one and a half plus a witness that came along after the fact.

                              I think that it is probably a little late for a new Apostle. I am not sure what they would add that we need to know. I have strong questions about the general need for Tongues, although there are probably specific instances where the gift could still be useful. I am far more uncertain that we have no need for guidance in correctly understanding God's word and there is no more need for Prophets. The issue, like Apostles and Tongues, is that I can't swing a dead cat without hitting a false Apostle or Prophet or Tongues. Unfortunately, if I apply that as the yatdstick for judging what God will do, I would turn on TV, listen to a Christian Station and conclude that we all missed the rapture (the Holy Spirit has left the building). If I can't judge the Church by TV Preachers, then I can't judge the wheat by the tares.

                              I'll keep chewing on the 'foundation'.
                              It is worth thinking about.
                              Comment>
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