Summary: Why do we take the cessationist position on the sign gifts?
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is very concerned that false teaching be acknowledged and corrected.
In our last message, we began to look a Christ’s corrective teaching on prayer.
During that study, I made a short reference to the subject of speaking in tongues.
I noted in that message that I was planning to go further regarding the question of speaking in tongues, and that is what we are doing today.
We are going to do so by simply asking a very basic question:
WHY DON’T WE SPEAK IN TONGUES?
READ: Matthew 6:7
In our previous message, I described the definition of this phrase which Jesus uses in our text today, but to ensure we all remember allow me to repeat myself.
When Jesus says, “Do not heap up empty phrases” or in the KJV “vain repetition”, what we have is a prohibition against believers engaging in mindless repetitive words in prayer.
The Greek term “Battalogeo” comes from battus, which means to stutter or repeat words tediously.
This is clearly a rebuke against those who chant or repeat themselves mindlessly in prayer, without engaging their minds in what is being said.
As I noted previously, much of what is referred to in the modern church as “speaking in tongues” certainly fits this description.
It is often just mindless chatter filled with indiscernible sounds.
Now, for those of you who may not be familiar with this issue, I want to give a short overview of the divide which exists within the modern church.
Churches are normally designated as “Pentecostal” or not, sometimes as “Charismatic” or not.
Pentecost is referencing the day in Church history when the Holy Spirit fell on the church and miracles came as a result.
Charismatic refers to the “charis” or grace gifts which God the Holy Spirit gives to the church.
Probably the more accurate distinction is made in the terms “cessationist” and “continuationist”.
Cessationist - Belief that certain gifts were meant to be signs to affirm the apostolic age only and were never intended to continue on.
Continuationist - Belief that all of the gifts of the early church were meant to continue until the return of Christ.
The continuationist makes a distinction between the “sign” gifts which are designated as those which were meant to accompany and affirm the teachings of the apostles in the early church.
These “sign gifts” would include divine healing, the gift of speaking prophetic revelation, and the gift of tongues.
It is noteworthy that the one gift that tends to get the most attention is the gift of tongues.
It has been pointed out that “Tongues” is likely the most popular charismatic gift because it is the easiest to fabricate.
Prophecy which is specific is more difficult (which is why the vast majority of prophecy today is very non-specific).
Healing is also hard to fake, which is why we see them healing non-verifiable disease like back pain and ear ringing, not broken bones and amputated limbs.