Summary: A sermon on the cessationist view of charismatic gifts (Material taken from Holy Spirit: A Biblical Study by Dr. Jack Cottrell, chapter 8, and Power from On High by Dr. Jack Cottrell, chapter 11)
Many commented on spiritual gifts last week. Probably talk about that more in the future.
Last week we talked about how there were temporary gifts and permanent spiritual gifts.
Tonight we are talking about “cessationism”. It’s important to remember that this has nothing to do with the decision of the South in the nineteenth century to secede from the North! That is “secessionism,” not “cessationism” Cessationism argues that miraculous gifts have ceased.
A. “I do not believe miracles are happening today”- this statement will bring a gasp of shock from many. Two things we need to keep in mind when we say this:
1. “If you don’t believe in them today, then you don’t believe in them at all.” We are not saying that we are naturalists. Naturalism is a philosophy that believes that nothing exists beyond the natural universe or, if it does, it does not affect the natural universe. Deism also goes along with naturalism. Thomas Jefferson was a deist and a naturalist. In his Bible he literally cut out all supernatural events. We do believe that God performed miracles in the past.
2. Others want to redefine the word “miracle.” Some want to redefine it to to apply to anytime God intervenes in our world. Under this redefinition if we say that there are no miracles today then we are saying that God does not intervene in any way in our world today. That is not what we are saying! If we don’t believe that God will help or intervene then why do we pray?We must understand the English word “miracle.” Look up the word in 3 modern English dictionaries and they all contained phrases like, “An event that contradicts known scientific laws,” “an event that is contrary to the established laws of nature,” “an extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers” I think we get the idea.
We believe in God’s special providence today. God’s special providence is when God intervenes in our lives and our world. These things occur within the boundaries of natural law and do not violate natural law, but they are nonetheless events that would not have happened without God’s special causation. An example is the healing of a sick person in answer to prayer (James 5:16).
Miracles are acts of God that are visibly occurring on the level of the physical. Also they are unlike acts of special providence because they are obviously contrary to natural law. For example, instead of a gradual healing brought about in answer to prayer, a miracle is an immediate healing of a lame or blind man.
Thesis: Let’s give arguments against miracles today and then talk about some problems with modern miracle movements
Arguments against miracles today
Miracles- Literally this word means “power.” This speaks of the source of the miracle, the supernatural power of God.
Wonders- This tells us the immediate result of a miracle, amazement and wonder.
Signs- This occurs throughout the New Testament. Sums up the purpose of any miracle.
A genuine miracle is used to authenticate God’s messengers and the truth of their messages.
Read Mark 2:1-12.
Jesus forgave the man’s sins because He was God. This caused trouble with many there so to authenticate this message of forgiveness Jesus healed the man of his paralysis.
“That you may know” vs. 10 sums up the purpose of all miracles.
John 20:30-31: Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. “You may believe” again sums up the purpose of miracles.
D) What are miracles signs of? They are signs or evidence of what is claimed to be revelation from God is really revelation from God.
Under what circumstances does God give revelation? God gives revelation in connection with his redemptive works: to predict them, to identify them, to explain them, to tell us how to respond to them. Such redemptive works include the Exodus at the time of Moses, the cross and resurrection of Jesus, and the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost.
These 3 things will happen together: God’s redemptive works, as explained by God’s revelation, that are authenticated by miracles. This pattern is best reflected in Hebrews 2:3-4.
How does all of this relate to the question of whether miracles are happening today? As long as God is performing new redemptive works, we can expect new revelation to be given in order to explain these new works. In that case we can then expect more miracles to happen to authenticate the new revelation. We would expect miracles to take place if new redemptive works are taking place and new revelation is given to explain those new works. This is definitely not happening so the very purpose of miracles argues against their continuation beyond the first century AD.