Greetings family and friends,
As I write this letter, I can’t help but think that I may lose some friends and readers. Some may call me a “heretic.” Some may say words like, “I feel so sad for her, she has really become confused with theology, or her worship of God is driven by feelings and emotions.”
However, I have come to a place where nothing hurts me anymore. What I care about is loving and honoring my Creator. I want nothing more than to praise and honor my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Forever! For all of eternity!
And the only opinion of me that matters to me is that of my Heavenly Father…
I have discovered the Holy Spirit! Not that the Holy Spirit was never present in my heart. He was there. I just never gave him full freedom to work in me and through me…
Cessationism. “The view that the “miracle gifts” of tongues, prophecy, and healing have ceased—that the end of the apostolic age brought about a cessation of the miracles associated with that age. Most cessationists believe that, while God can and still does perform miracles today, the Holy Spirit no longer uses individuals to perform miraculous signs.”
This is what I have been taught for the majority of my life as a Christian in my conservative Baptist church.
You see, the only time I ever heard anything about the Holy Spirit was one time a year: the Pentecost.
This was the one time a year when we would hear a few passages from Acts and sing a song called “To you we pray, O Holy Spirit.”
Healings? Prophecy? Word of knowledge? Praying in tongues?
The miracle gifts given to a believer in Jesus were only for the apostolic church, I was taught. Only for a time when “a confirmation was needed to establish the church.” And these gifts were given to the select few.
However, last year God awakened me from spiritual slumber. (That is a story worthy of its own post).
A renewed love for Jesus and God’s Word awakened a hunger for knowing God more through His Word. I devoured the Bible and read it with new eyes.
Reading the four Gospels and moving on to Acts and the Epistles, I came to a realization that what I have been taught my entire life, in regards to the modern day function of the Holy Spirit, is not what the Bible teaches us.
There is not a single verse that conveys that the function of the Holy Spirit, as it was in the apostolic church, was to end with the apostles. Not a single one. I could not find it. It is simply not there!
In fact, the one verse that is often used to argue the cessationism dogma or stance, is this one: “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away” 1 Corinthians 13:8.
Context. Read the following verses (9-10) and it becomes clear when the prophecies, the knowledge and the tongues are to be ceased… “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.” In other words, the partial (tongues, prophecy, knowledge) will cease at the arrival of the perfect (the return of Jesus Christ).
I wasn’t reading any commentaries. I wasn’t listening to any sermons about the Holy Spirit’s function. In fact, I had a preconceived bias against the continuationism teachings. However, I was also just simply reading my Bible with a newfound hunger for God…
In the words of Evangelist Daniel Kolenda, “A new believer, reading Scripture without preconceived bias, would never come to the conclusion that the gifts of the Spirit are not for us today. Shouldn’t that concern the sincere cessationist?”
Wow…. I cannot even describe in words what I felt at that point. I asked my husband to read 1 Corinthians 12-14 with me. I prayed. And I prayed and read the Word more…
This was a difficult time and a painful realization.
See, I was opposed to the “Pentecostals” and the “Charismatics” my entire life. If there ever was a discussion about any topic resembling the gifts of the Holy Spirit, I took a firm stand and staunchly defended my cessationist views.
In fact, when one of my brothers went to a church where some believers prayed in the Spirit (in tongues), I couldn’t say anything negative about the church except that “they prayed in tongues.” Forgive me, brother. And forgive me, Father.
To be clear on my perspective, the New Testament lays out rules specific to “gift of tongues” and orderly worship in church including the structure and the need for an interpreter. Apostle Paul also presents rules for prophets and prophecy. I wholeheartedly agree that the miraculous gifts need to be governed and practiced wisely. My “revelation” so to speak, was that these gifts do indeed continue today!
As I prayed for God to reveal to me if what I was getting from the Word was correct, He began to surround me with people who confirmed what I was understanding.
Shortly thereafter, the pastor of my home church started a six week course on the Holy Spirit and the supernatural.
It was as if I asked the Lord for some sprinkles and He sent the rain!
At least seven months have passed since the revelation of the Holy Spirit that His gifts are present and available today to all that desire them. This time has been a steady climb of learning more about God and getting to know Him more personally and intimately. It has also been a period interlaced by moments of doubt, as I come from a conservative Baptist family, and cessationists do present a lot of arguments for their belief. (Many of you are probably thinking of things to say in defense of cessationism right now!)
However, I continued to see the weaknesses of the cessationism position and, unless the covenant between God and man has changed, (which it hasn’t), or we clearly see indicators that certain instructions in the New Testament no longer apply, (which there aren’t), we must assume that New Testament imperatives apply to us today as well.
I started this post a month ago, never quite getting the courage to finish it and publish it, not looking forward to the backlash that would possibly come.
But I am not afraid of any backlash and, frankly, we need to come closer together as the body of Christ rather than create divisions amongst each other. We need to focus on Jesus and what He taught.
With love and in Christ,
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