Today I will address the cessationist view of the Holy Spirit–the claim that the miraculous signs of the Holy Spirit ceased with the death of the apostles and the canonization of the New Testament.
First, we must understand that cessationists, like most other groups, aren’t completely unified. This website and others outline four basic types of cessationists according to their theology. However, the overall cessationist view can be summed up as thus: The signs of the Holy Spirit were needed to validate the gospel of Christ and establish the Early Church. Now that Christianity is well established, such signs are not needed.
To be fair, nearly all cessationists stress the vital role of the Holy Spirit today in leading others to Christ and empowering believers to live as good examples of the faith. They accept that the Holy Spirit still moves among us, just not in miraculous signs performed by individuals. A few radical cessationists, however, go as far as to claim that any signs manifesting today are demonic and should be rejected at all costs. It’s this latter view that I wish to counter most strongly.
The Holy Spirit bestows two things upon believers: fruits and gifts. This post will explore both of these.
In the contest over which is more important or desirable in the life of the believer, fruit wins hands down. According to Galatians 5, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. If you want to know whether a Christian or preacher of the gospel is on the level, don’t look for the exercise of gifts, such as healing or tongues. These can be faked or worked by deceiving spirits. Instead, look for the fruits. This command comes from Jesus himself:
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them [emphasis added]. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:15-20).
I like how he says it twice. 🙂
The fruit of the Spirit defines the true Christian and delineates godliness from worldliness. You might be surprised to learn that the world has nine fruits of its own that should not have any place in the lives of believers. They are: Continue reading
I thought I would start my first Bible study post on the one factor I credit for changing my life: the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a surprisingly controversial subject among Christians. Some, like the Pentecostals, believe the gift of the Holy Spirit (as evidenced by tongues) is for every believer. Others accept the existence of the Holy Spirit, but think speaking in tongues or prophesying is weird, outdated, and unnecessary. Still others say that the Holy Spirit was reserved only for the apostles of the Early Church and that any so-called “manifestation” of the Spirit, such as healing or tongues, is a demonic deception designed to lead believers astray.
What is the truth of the matter? We must turn to the scriptures to find out. Continue reading