One More Before We Get Back to Timothy

Here is an excellent article by Richard Gaffin, Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia that appeared in Modern Reformation magazine. I am an unabashed Cessationist and found this article in this weeks White Horse Inn e-mail quite good.

Defense of Cessationism

by Richard Gaffin

“Cessationism is a term that carries a lot of baggage. By itself it’s negative, suggesting what no longer exists or, in current debate about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, what one is against. So at the outset, certain misconceptions about the “cessationist” viewpoint need to be addressed.

It’s not that today God’s Spirit is no longer at work in dynamic and dramatic ways. What, for instance, could be more powerful and impressive, even miraculous, than the 180-degree reversal in walk that occurs when the Spirit transforms those dead in their sins into those alive for good works? This, Paul says, involves nothing less than a work of resurrection, of (re-) creation (Eph. 2:1-10). Awesome indeed!

Nor is the point that all spiritual gifts have ceased and are no longer present in the Church today. As will become clear, at issue is the cessation of a limited number of such gifts; the continuation of the large remainder is not in dispute…”

Read the rest on the Modern Reformation website.


5 thoughts on “One More Before We Get Back to Timothy

  1. How do we distinguish which “spiritual gifts” have ceased and which continue? In other words, how do we decide that tongues and prophecy have ceased but not the rest of the list that forms the context where Paul mentions tongues and prophecy.

    1 Cor. 12 is a list of “spiritual gifts,” and includes 1)utterance of wisdom; 2)utterance of knowledge; 3)faith; 4)gifts of healing; 5)working of miracles; 6)prophecy; 7)ability to distinguish between spirits; 7)various kinds of tongues; 8)interpretation of tongues.

    With this in mind, though, I am quite skeptical of tongues and prophecy today. All spiritual gifts are for the building up of the church (1 Cor. 12:7 – To each is given the manifestaion of the Spirit for the common good) and I see the concept of tongues used in charismatic churches to divide the Body of Christ. And of course Paul has warned us not to desire these “lower gifts.”

    So to sum up, I can confidently and emphatically say, “I don’t know.”

  2. I agree with the article. How could I disagree with MR? Unthinkable!

    But I still love our charismatic and Reformed brothers and sisters! (Are you listening, Deutero Q?)

  3. The Westminster Confession of Faith is explicitly cessationist:

    I:1 “Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.”

    I:6 The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.

    My thesis on this subject is that there is a connection between the present “signs and wonders” or the “tongues” movement and Deut. 28:49. Read more here:

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