Miraculous Gifts Today | Debating Cessationism vs. Continuationism Pt. 1

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"Miraculous Gifts Today | Debating Cessationism vs. Continuationism Pt. 1" | Watch this episode on Vimeo

Miraculous Gifts Today | Debating Cessationism vs. Continuationism Pt. 1

This week on the Straight Truth Podcast, Dr. Josh Philpot wants to talk with Dr. Richard Caldwell about a couple of words he refers to as $5 words. These words he refers to are cessationism and continuationism. But what do these words mean? In these words, we find root words that mean to cease and to continue. But biblically speaking, what are we talking about when these words are used? When someone uses these words, it's meant to describe a theological position. The position involves a disagreement among Christians as to whether spiritual gifts remain operational within the church or whether the operation of spiritual gifts ceased with the Apostolic Age or sometime shortly afterward. Would you like to learn more about this? Join us and listen in as Dr. Caldwell and Dr. Philpot seek to help us better understand this terminology used to describe what Christians believe the Bible teaches regarding the ceasing and continuing operation of spiritual gifts.

To start us off, Dr. Caldwell provides some helpful clarification. When he talks about cessationism, it’s really only about one category of spiritual gifts. Dr. Caldwell does not use this word to imply that none of the spiritual gifts function today. He sees the New Testament as categorizing spiritual gifts into two different groups. One group consists of the apostolic sign gifts that would be temporary. The other group is edifying gifts meant to be permanent for the church and are further categorized into speaking and serving gifts. So what he says, as a cessationist, is that this one category of gifts being chiefly associated with the Apostles belonged to the Apostolic Era as significant signs, and they are no longer functioning today. But, a continuationist would say no, all of the gifts are still in operation, including those of a miraculous nature, otherwise known as the sign gifts, associated (primarily) with the Apostles. Even within the "camps" or groups, if you will, you will find variations of those gifts that are believed to remain and those that don't.

Dr. Philpot asks: What is meant by the word “sign” and what is the purpose of the “sign”? Which gifts would be considered sign gifts?

Dr. Caldwell says that a sign was something God gave to point to something else. The signs served to point to something beyond the function of the gift itself. They also authenticated the messengers, those representatives who were granted special authority in the Lord’s church in its earliest days. The gifts that served in this capacity would be the gift of languages or tongues, prophecy, any specific gift that was miraculous in nature and able to be made use of on-demand, and any particular gift that would be revelatory in nature; gifts that were associated with the Apostles and the Apostolic Era. Dr. Caldwell even explains how the gift of languages was actually a sign of judgment upon the nation of Israel.

Dr. Philpot asks: But why do cessationists say these signs have ceased? Where do they get this understanding, and how do they arrive at it?

Dr. Caldwell shares that we will not find a text of Scripture that says these gifts have stopped. He shares 1 Corinthians 13, which indicates that when the perfect arrives (speaking of the heavenly state), prophecy and the gift of knowledge will be done away with, and tongues will have ceased. So, there is no doubt when the eternal state arrives, some of these gifts will no longer exist. Yet, he sees the overall trajectory of the New Testament to make clear that these gifts no longer function even within the New Testament itself, where we see a kind of winding down of some of these. He provides some helpful examples from the books of Acts, Ephesians, and 2 Corinthians.

Additionally, he challenges us to look at the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, regarding miracles in general. There are a few things that we need to notice and think about. First, notice how rare miracles are. Second, notice that they exist and occur in time periods when God was still giving revelation. Notice the silence between the close of the Old Testament and the coming revelation of the New Testament, where you don't have these things going on. Why? Because the Old Testament canon is complete. Now, notice these things begin to occur as the New Testament comes into being. Take note that in both testaments, these miracles, etc., took place in connection with spokesmen of God who needed that kind of authentication. Dr. Caldwell would argue that when the New Testament canon is complete, and now is, we have an all-sufficient word in the Word of God itself.

What Dr. Caldwell believes has happened with the charismatic movement and a lot of the continuation is people wanting to make normative that which was never normative. We’re taking what was not common occurrences, these signs of significance and authenticating power that had to do with unique men of God meant to serve God’s redemptive purposes in specific periods and eras of time, and trying to make them commonplace.

One last thing Dr. Caldwell mentions is that every believer is a cessationist in one sense or another. He points out that we don’t go to the temple anymore and aren't offering animal sacrifices anymore. In other words, what we all acknowledge in not doing these things is that God has worked in different ways in different periods of redemptive history, and He is no longer doing those things. We live in a time beyond the Apostles and beyond the time of the giving of New Testament revelation. God is working differently now because we have been given the all-sufficient Word. So, for cessationists, there isn't a question of God being as powerful as He ever was. He can still do miraculous things, and no cessationist Dr. Caldwell knows would deny the power or ability of God to do miracles. All of this has to do with how God is choosing to work in this era as compared to the Apostolic Era.

About The Straight Truth Podcast

The Straight Truth Podcast: Christian Opinions in an Increasingly Secular World. Join Dr. Richard Caldwell, Dr. Josh Philpot, and their guests as they discuss news events, current affairs, and cultural issues from a Biblical point of view. Find the truth at www.straighttruth.net

The Straight Truth Podcast is a weekly opinion show hosted by Dr. Richard Caldwell and Dr. Josh Philpot. Straight Truth is available as an audio podcast on iTunes or as a video podcast through YouTube or Vimeo.  The duration of the podcast is approximately 10 minutes. We release new episodes every Thursday.

The topics discussed in the Straight Truth Podcast are current events, matters that challenge traditional Christian values, and questions submitted by audience members. Dr. Caldwell, Dr. Philpot, and their guests seek to answer these questions with Biblical truths and from a Christian conservative point of view. The Holy Bible is the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God; it alone is and will be the basis and authority of
answering any and all questions.

The Straight Truth Podcast is the perfect podcast for those seeking to strengthen their faith, to be informed on how to broach difficult topics with a Christian point of view, to share their faith with unbelieving friends, to challenge the status quo of their own beliefs by viewing them under the lens of the Scriptures, to interpret current news events from a Biblical point of view, and more.

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Season 27 Credits

Produced by
Juan Carlos Claveria

Executive Producers
Joshua Philpot
David Anders

Hosted by
Joshua Philpot

Social Media Descriptions by
Michele Watson

Graphic Design
David Navejas

DP / EDITING / COLOR
JUAN CARLOS CLAVERIA

SPECIAL THANKS TO THE
FOUNDERS BAPTIST CHURCH
MEDIA TEAM VOLUNTEERS

Special Thanks to
El Centro Network

Music by
LynneMusic

Motion Graphics
The Media Stock

Set Decorator
Molly Atchison

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