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Why the Cessationism vs Continuationism Debate is Really About the Authority of Scripture

The Christian Worldview / David Wheaton
The Truth Network Radio
March 2, 2024 2:00 am

Why the Cessationism vs Continuationism Debate is Really About the Authority of Scripture

The Christian Worldview / David Wheaton

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March 2, 2024 2:00 am

GUEST: Scott Aniol, Editor in Chief G3 Ministries and Featured in Cessationist

It’s a simple question with far-reaching ramifications: do Christians today possess the same miraculous “sign” gifts that God gave first century apostles, such as Peter and Paul, to…

  • Perform miracles, like bringing a dead person back to life (Acts 9:36-42);
  • Heal instantly and fully, making a blind man see or lame man walk (Acts 3:1-8);
  • Speak instantly in a previously unknown foreign language (Acts 2:1-12);
  • Prophesy, by foretelling the future with 100% accuracy (Acts 27:21-26)?

Christians today are widely divided on the issue of cessationism (men ceased to have sign gifts after the first century) and continuationism (men and women continue to have sign gifts today).

It’s more than just a perennial doctrinal debate. It’s ultimately about the sufficiency and authority of God’s Word, for if men and women today receive revelation from God beyond Scripture, we can’t trust Scripture alone as the final authority.

Scott Aniol, executive vice president of G3 Ministries, an organization partnered in producing a documentary film called Cessationist, joins us this weekend on The Christian Worldview to discuss this compelling topic.
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  • Stream Cessationist, and other resources, FREE for one month on G3+
    Donate any amount to TCW and receive a FREE one-month G3+ streaming platform PROMO Code. This gives you access to Cessationist and other films, video series, audiobooks, and more from G3 Ministries.

  • OR… a limited quantity of the Deluxe DVD Edition of Cessationist is available. This 2-disc bundle includes a booklet by Tom Pennington, timeline, bookmark, and more.

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Why the cessationism versus continuationism debate is really about the authority of Scripture. That is our topic today right here on the Christian worldview radio program where the mission is to sharpen the biblical worldview of Christians and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. I'm David Wheaton, the host. The Christian worldview is a listener-supported radio ministry.

You can connect with us by visiting our website, thechristianrealview.org, calling toll-free 1-888-646-2233, or by writing to Box 401, Excelsior, Minnesota 55331. It's a simple question with far-reaching ramifications. Do Christians today possess the same miraculous sign gifts that God gave first-century apostles, such as Peter and Paul to, number one, perform miracles like bringing a dead person back to life? Number two, to heal instantly and slowly, making a blind man see or a lame man walk? Or number three, to speak instantly in a previously unknown foreign language? Or number four, to prophesy, and by that I mean foretelling the future with 100% accuracy?

Those are the four sign gifts. Christians today are widely divided on the issue of cessationism, which means that men ceased to have sign gifts after the first century, and continuationism, that men and women continue to have these same sign gifts today. It's more than just a perennial doctrinal debate, though. It's ultimately about the sufficiency and authority of God's Word.

For if men and women today receive revelation from God beyond Scripture, we can't trust Scripture alone as the final priority. Scott Annual, Executive Vice President of G3 Ministries, an organization that has partnered in producing a documentary film called Cessationist, which we'll talk about today, joins us on The Christian Ruleview to discuss this compelling topic. Scott, thank you for coming on the Christian Ruleview radio program today. The last time you were on the program was on July 1st of 2023 to talk about Christian nationalism, and today we're going to discuss a different topic on cessationism. I want to start off by playing a soundbite from this documentary film that appeared early on from Nathan Buzanitz, who works out at the Masters Seminary, where he talked about the distinction between a miracle of God versus a miracle worker.

Listen to this. A miracle is a supernatural act of God in which he interrupts the normal course of life in an extraordinary and remarkable way to accomplish his purposes. If we get a little bit more specific, we might ask, what is the gift of miracles or who was a miracle worker? The gift of miracles was a gift given to a supernaturally endowed person. God worked miracles through that individual, confirming that that individual was a spokesman and representative for God.

Buzanitz makes a distinction there, Scott. Why is that an important distinction to make in defining cessationism versus continuationism as a miracle of God versus a miracle that God works through a man? Yeah, it's very important because when we use the term cessationism, which is kind of an unfortunate term because it makes it sound like we're negative, you know, what exactly is ceasing?

But it's important to define exactly what we're talking about. And what a cessationist says is that those particular gifts given to an individual, the gifting to have the ability to perform those particular signs and wonders for the confirmation of their own ministry as a mouthpiece of God, that is what has ceased. What a cessationist is not saying is that God doesn't actively work, that God doesn't do divine works or even that God would never do something extraordinary and miraculous. God certainly can, certainly is, but what cessationism specifically is referring to is the cessation of the miraculous gifts given to an individual for the purpose of confirming his ministry as a messenger of God. Scott Annual with us today on the Christian worldview, talking about this film titled Cessationist.

This is a one hour and fifty minute, very well produced documentary film. Why even do this, produce a documentary on cessationism? Why it's biblical and really a polemic against why continuationism is not that these miraculous sign gifts are still in continuance today? Because, you know, when even people listening today may believe that God still has these gifts enacted in men and women today, it can be an offensive topic. So why such an intent endeavor to make this film on cessationism?

Well, I think there's two primary reasons. When we think about the continuationist movements, and there are several, you have sort of the main line, mainstream majority continuationists or charismatics who have really infiltrated Christianity throughout the world and with some really dangerous doctrine that impedes upon the sufficiency of scripture. Sometimes you'll see forms of that doctrine that include health, wealth and prosperity gospel.

So you're even losing the gospel itself. And that's really mainline charismaticism around the world that's causing a lot of problems in this country to be sure, but also around the world. And so it needs to be addressed. It's not like it was addressed 10 years ago or it's been addressed before.

No, it's continuing to be a significant problem around the world. And so that's a big reason. And we do address many of those sort of mainline majority charismatics who have some pretty serious theological problems. The second reason is that there are a minority of more thoughtful evangelical continuationists, and they're not by any stretch of the imagination as problematic as the more extreme forms, but they have succeeded in pretty much infiltrating most of evangelicalism with a theology that again, we don't think is quite as seriously problematic as being a false gospel like the health, wealth and prosperity gospel. However, we still believe that it is unbiblical, that it causes problems for the church, that it leads people in an unproper belief concerning the nature of divine revelation and many other things. And it's in a sense more subtly impacted, even reformed and otherwise conservative evangelical Christians.

And so again, we feel like this needs to be addressed. The biblical teaching needs to be perpetuated and taught clearly. And so for that reason, we were involved in the production of the cessationism film. We published through G3 Press a book, a biblical case for cessationism by Tom Pennington, which I really believe is now the standard defense of the doctrine.

It's an excellent book. And we have a conference coming up in Oklahoma in October, the cessationist conference, in which we'll also address the issue head on. So we think that these are important biblical truths that need to be clarified because of the rampant infiltration of various forms of continuationist theology around the world. Scott Annual is our guest today here on the Christian worldview radio program. He's the executive vice president and editor-in-chief of G3 Ministries, who partnered in production of this film called Cessationists.

And we actually have the DVD of the film and also that book by Tom Pennington that Scott just mentioned, and we'll tell you how you can get that throughout the program today. 2 Peter 1, starting in verse 19, says Scott, So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts, verse 20, but know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. And this is talking about the inspiration of Scripture, but also the primacy of Scripture.

So how is this debate, Scott, between cessationism and continuationism, more than a debate over whether men still possess these supernatural sign gifts as the apostles did in the first century, but really it's a debate about the operation of the Holy Spirit today and ultimately about the authority of Scripture? Absolutely, yeah, I think that text in 2 Peter is so critical because it contrasts Peter's experience of Jesus' transfiguration on the mount, which was God himself speaking from heaven and confirming his son. Contrast that with the written word, and Peter's argument in that passage is very clearly that the word, the written word, is the certain sure revelation that we need to rely on, rather than longing after even these sorts of supernatural experiences like he and the apostles experienced in the first century.

I think that's key, because the issue here really is the sufficiency of the word. Even those more thoughtful continuationists, they say they believe in the sufficiency of the word, but the minute that we teach that God still speaks outside of his word, or still gives these gifts, these miraculous gifts, outside of the inspired word, we really are impeding upon the sufficient work of the word itself. You mentioned the operation of the Holy Spirit. Well, I think the question we need to be asking, and I've actually just finished a book on what does the Holy Spirit do today that will be out sometime this year, the question we ought to be asking is what ought to be our normal expectation for how the Holy Spirit works. The Holy Spirit is active. God does divine works every single day. Cessationism is not teaching that God does not work and that the Holy Spirit is not active.

He absolutely is active. He does divine extraordinary works, particularly in the regenerating of dead hearts and the sanctifying of believers. That's divine work from God. But what we find in the pages of scripture is that our expectation ought to be that the Holy Spirit does those works through the sufficient word that he has inspired, which is more sure and certain than even if we had some sort of experience of God's miraculous works. The minute that you talk about those things, God gifting miraculous works, or God even speaking directly to individuals, well then you're placing in the equation some uncertainty regarding that fallible individual's private interpretation of his experience. But what Peter is saying in that text is that the written word is not reliant upon the private personal interpretation.

It's not produced by a private personal interpretation of an individual. We have a written word, now a complete canon of scripture, and the fact that we have that complete canon of scripture now that is sufficient and is authoritative means that God no longer speaks directly. He speaks through his word. He doesn't speak directly in some sort of personal experience, and he also doesn't therefore need to gift individuals with the sign gifts, which as we've mentioned already, the whole purpose of those gifts was to confirm the messenger when God was delivering that prophecy, while the canon of scripture during certain stages in his redemptive history was being added to for the completion of God's revelation. So it's important to emphasize the Holy Spirit is an active worker in the world today. God continues to do divine works, both providentially, which is still a divine work, but also in our immediate experience, and especially in the regeneration of sinners and the sanctification of believers.

All of those things, God works through the sufficient word that he has inspired. Very well explained. Scott Annual is our guest today here on the Christian Real View as we talk about this brand new film called Cessationist. We think this is an excellent and important film for you, your family, and your church to watch, and there are two options for you to see the film. The first is a DVD and book called the Deluxe Edition. You get the DVD of Cessationist, the film, and a second DVD of bonus content, and that book, A Biblical Case for Cessationism by Tom Pennington and other things that go with it. We purchased the last 35 Deluxe Editions from G3, and we have them for purchase through the Christian Real View for $49.99. The second option is to stream the film for a donation of any amount to the Christian Real View.

We'll send you a code for a first month free subscription to G3 Plus, which has unlimited access to the film and all their other films, video teaching series, and much more. So whatever you choose, just get in contact with us the usual ways through our website by calling us toll free or writing to us, and all that information will be given in this upcoming break. We have much more coming up. I'm David Wheaton, and you are listening to the Christian Real View Radio Program. David Wheaton here, host of the Christian Real View, to tell you about the Overcomer Course for Young Adults held June 21st and 22nd at beautiful Stonehouse Farm in Jordan, Minnesota.

Age 18 to 25 is a highly transitional time. The convictions developed and the decisions made during this crucial stage sets one's course for years to come. In eight sessions over two days addressing life's most important issues, such as God and the gospel, right thinking and living, relationships in marriage, vocation, the local church, and more, the Overcomer Course is designed to help young adults gain clarity and conviction on God's plan and their purpose in it.

There will be plenty of time for interaction and discussion as well. You can find out more and register by calling 1-888-646-2233 or by visiting thechristianworldview.org. The heart of God-rejecting man yearns to get back to Babel, creating a world where man rules apart from God.

Evidence for this is all around us, and Revelation says this is where the world will end up. On Friday, April 12th, Christian journalist Alex Newman will join us for a Christian worldview speaker series event at Beacon of Hope Church in St. Paul, Minnesota to speak on the topic of how the push for global governance utilizes environmentalism, the educational system, economic policy, and more. You can come for a donation of any amount, but seating is limited, so you need to register in advance at thechristianworldview.org or by calling 1-888-646-2233.

Doors open at 6 p.m. Alex Newman speaks at 7 with Q&A to follow. Be informed to think biblically and live accordingly. Hope to see you Friday, April 12th at Beacon of Hope Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. Welcome back to the Christian worldview, I'm David Wheaton. Be sure to visit our website, thechristianworldview.org, where you can subscribe to our free weekly email and annual print letter, order resources for adults and children, and support the ministry. Our topic today is why the cessationism versus continuationism debate is really about the authority of Scripture. Our guest is Scott Annual of G3 Ministries, who partnered in production of an excellent film called Cessationist.

I'm going to play another soundbite from the film here, Scott. This is from Tom Pennington of Countryside Bible Church in Texas, and here's what he had to say about miracles. There were times, three of them in Scripture, when God gave to men the power to work miracles. There is first of all the time of Moses and Joshua, 1400 years before Christ, a period of about 65 years.

Then you fast forward to the time of Elijah and Elisha. You're about 800 years before Christ, and there again you have a period of about 65 years when God was giving men the power to work miracles. The next period of time like that comes in the time of Jesus and the apostles, and that stems from the beginning of his ministry to, at the very latest, the death of John.

There you have another period of 65, 70 years. Those were the three epochs, and in each case it was to confirm those men as his messengers. Sometimes we as Christians think that God doing miracles was just something that was constant throughout all the thousand years of history, but it really wasn't. Tom Pennington makes the point that there were really three times in history when miracles were taking place via men, and that there is no significant mention of miraculous gifts after the book of Corinthians. Explain that more, why there were these particular specific periods that weren't that long, and is God doing miracles not by the means of men, but is God actually doing miracles today in some way?

We need to remember what this thing is we're talking about. We use the word miracle, but actually the word sometimes translated miracle, although in more modern translations that word is actually very infrequently used. It's really more of the older translations that use that word, because really that word is a translation of a word that literally means sign.

That's what we're talking about. When we say miracle, what we mean is a sign. Well then the question needs to be, okay, if that's what the biblical authors used to describe these things, these gifts, well what is it a sign of, and what purpose did it serve? And this is where we need to step back and say, okay, what is God doing in the world? God is working his plan for his own glory of redemption, and he is unfolding that plan, or he has unfolded that plan in a progressive way through the history of humanity. And so we have a glimpse of the Gospel in Genesis chapter 3, but then over the period of the Old Testament and then into the New Testament, God in really sort of three significant stages sort of unpacks and unfolds that plan of redemption. And we talk about progressive revelation in respect to that purposefully, because that is how God makes that plan known.

He does so through his revelation. Well, because it's progressive, what that means then is that at each of those stages in the unfolding of God's plan, he had to reveal new revelation in order that God's people might know what is expected of them, and ultimately of course that they might know the way of salvation. So at each of those stages in which he is unfolding progressive revelation, the first stage being with the exodus from Egypt and the meeting of God's people with God at Mount Sinai, the delivery of his law, that's a significant transitional stage in the progressive unfolding of God's plan. And then the next big transitional stage is the period of the prophets, Elijah and Elisha in particular, when God is now unfolding things to come in revelation for his people.

And then of course that third big transitional stage is with Christ and the apostles, and the unfolding of the perfect fulfillment of all things in the person of Jesus Christ and the founding of his body of the church in those early years of the New Testament period. So at each of those stages when God is now revealing new revelation, how are the people going to know that they can trust these divinely endowed individuals who are delivering that revelation, whether it be Moses, or whether it be the prophets, or whether it be Jesus Christ himself and his apostles? Well, in order to confirm in the sight of the people that these individuals indeed are messengers from God who are delivering divine revelation, God gifts them with the ability to perform signs. We see this clearly with Moses. Moses himself asks God in the burning bush, how will I be able to convince the people that I'm a messenger?

And that's where he gives them the ability to change the staff into a snake and all that happens in the crossing of the Red Sea and all of that. And so all of those miracles, those signs were meant to confirm Moses and later Joshua in those early years of crossing over into the Promised Land that these are messengers of God who are here to present God's revelation at that transitional stage. Same thing during the period of the prophets, Elijah and Elisha, and then the same thing is the case in the lifetime of Christ himself and then those early years of founding the church, particularly the apostles were confirmed as messengers of God who then went on to pen the very revelation of the New Testament. And the way that they were confirmed was through the performing of signs.

And that's why we don't see a lot of reference to signs later in the book of Acts or past the early couple of epistles that are written in the New Testament. So I would say, is God doing signs miracles in that sense today? I would say no, he's not because he's no longer needing to confirm new messengers of his revelation because we have the complete canon of scripture. Is God again doing divine supernatural work today?

Absolutely. Again, he's regenerating dead hearts. He is sanctifying his people. Can God heal people instantaneously, supernaturally today?

Absolutely he can. But is he gifting individuals with signs anymore? Well, again, if we understand the purpose of a sign, to confirm somebody who is a mouthpiece of God during stages in which God is unfolding new revelation, well then no, he doesn't have any necessity of gifting people with those signs anymore, because we have a sure, certain, sufficient, authoritative, complete word.

Amen to that, Scott. Scott Annual is our guest today from G3 Ministries, talking about this film, Cessationist. We have it available in DVD and book Deluxe Edition, or you can stream the film for a donation of any amount to The Christian Real View.

Just get in contact with us the usual ways at our website, or by calling toll-free, or by writing to us, and all of our contact information is given during the breaks. As a follow-up to what you just said, Scott, it seems like one very obvious, right there in front of your eyes, argument, evidence, I guess you could say, against continuationism, that men and women still possess these miraculous sign gifts today, is that men and women aren't able to perform these miraculous sign gifts today. I mean, I don't see anyone raising people from the dead, as the apostles were able to do, or healing people who were blind and lame from birth, I don't see any of that, you know, you have to set aside all the chicanery and the false things going on at the healing crusades, or I don't see men and women able to foretell accurately the future, as back in these days when they had the sign gifts, or for men and women to speak in a previously unknown language. So if you look at just the evidence of what's taking place, that this isn't taking place, why is there such a growing movement of continuationism?

I've heard it's the fastest growing within the broad definition of Christianity, it's the fastest growing, and who are the names and the churches and the organizations that are making this so prominent? Just in our own sort of fallibility and certainly sinfulness, we want experiences, we want tangible experiences that we can point to and say, that's God at work. And again, I mean, some of that's our sinfulness and not trusting the sufficiency of God, but some of that is just sort of natural as human beings, we want to have definable experiences that are tangible, that are visceral, that we can sense. But I think the New Testament speaks directly to this. I think this is exactly the problem that the book of Hebrews is addressing, where Hebrew converts to Christianity are being tempted to leave their Christian faith because they want the more tangible, visceral experiences of the Jewish practices of worship, and they've given those up in favor of merely trusting the sufficiency of God's Word and spiritual experiences, which are real experiences but don't have that same sort of visceral, tangible evidence. We want evidence, we want proof that God is working. And I think the author of Hebrews, his message is just as critical for what we're seeing in the influence of the charismatic movement continuationism today. And that is, we need not long for and trust and look for physical evidence that God is working, we simply need to trust it by faith.

And faith is assurance of things hoped for, it is conviction of things not seen, it is trust in the sufficient Word, it is confidence that what God has promised is true, it is confidence that God is still at work in regenerating hearts and sanctifying believers through His Word, and not longing after or expecting these sort of visible signs that appears to be what people are longing for. This has been on the rise since at least the early 20th century, with various movements. It's gone through sometimes what is described as several waves of the charismatic movement.

But today, again, you kind of see it in two forms. You see it in the more mainstream majority extreme forms, prominent in groups like the New Apostolic Reformation, Bethel out in California as a large influence, particularly through their worship music that has spread worldwide. People like Todd Bentley and others who are perpetuating this sort of theology.

But like you said, you don't see the gifts that we see in the New Testament. You don't see those being perpetuated by these individuals. A lot of these men are really frauds. They're pretending to be performing those sorts of things, even raising people from the dead and these sorts of things, but you don't actually see them happening.

And so you do see that influence. But as I mentioned earlier, you do have a minority of more thoughtful theological and evangelical continuationists. They're not frauds.

They're not deceptive. They're not preaching another gospel. And so what they actually have to do is they have to redefine things like prophecy, tongues, and healing. And they have to argue that the forms in which those gifts take place today are different from what we saw in the Old Testament or what we saw during the lifetime of the apostles. And so prophecy is not infallible like it was in the Bible.

Prophecy today is fallible. Tongues are not speaking in known languages that the person speaking has never before learned anymore. Like it clearly wasn't the book of Acts. No, tongues now is the tongues of angels or something. Healings are not immediate reversals of somebody being lame or somebody having a withered hand or somebody rising from the dead like they were in the scriptures.

Now it's more somebody who has depression is helped or somebody who has an ailment that is not necessarily visible is healed. So they end up having to redefine those things, which again, I would just argue there's no biblical warrant to redefine those gifts. Let's define the gifts as the Bible does. Let's understand their purpose. Let's understand that their purpose has ceased. And then this is exactly why we don't see people performing these sorts of gifts today.

Well that's an excellent lead-in to my next question for you. You've referred to some of the more well-known, maybe we could call them Reformed continuationists, and by Reformed we mean they believe in the soteriology or the doctrines of grace of salvation that came out of the Reformation. Names like John Piper, Wayne Grudem, D.A.

Carson, and I think another one featured in the film who I wasn't very familiar with was named Sam Storms, correct me if I'm wrong. But let me just play a short soundbite from the film of an interview with John Piper as he talks about his position on the miraculous sign gifts. To turn to the miraculous gifts, tongues, healing, prophecy, well where would you say the place for those gifts would be in the life of the church today?

Yeah, yeah. I would want my people to know I believe in those things. I want them to flourish in those things. Because they've got a word of knowledge for us, got a word of prophecy. And if you're scared of that kind of language, you can say, has God impressed upon you in some way something that you think somebody in this room or all of us need to hear from your walk with God?

And open yourself up to that. Okay, that was John Piper talking about his continuationist position. And the film also brought out not only these men, but also the term that's often used among evangelicals. They'll say, well, I don't want to consider myself a cessationist because I don't want to, quote, put God in a box.

So I'm open but cautious. Why is the open but cautious position that I think Piper, Grudem, Carson, and others who are Reformed continuationists would hold to, why is that not a tenable or helpful position? First of all, it is very important to distinguish these men from, again, the more majority mainstream charismatics, because these men, I've benefited a lot from the writings of men like John Piper, Wayne Grudem, D.A. Carson, and they believe the gospel, they believe in the unique authority and sufficiency of scripture, which is not true of the majority charismatics. So these men are brothers, they're believers, they do write things that are helpful that have contributed to sound theology.

But on this issue, I think that they're just biblically mistaken. And to particularly address the open but cautious moniker, which I don't believe is a tenable position, I would actually cite Sam Storms himself. Interestingly, Sam Storms, who is another one of these really influential Reformed continuationists, he actually did a multi-part blog review of the cessationist film. I respect him for doing that.

I'm thankful that he did that. But one of the points that he makes, he says, you know, in the film I'm called open but cautious, but I'm not open but cautious. He even himself says that's not a tenable position, because here's the thing, if we believe that those gifts are still being given today, well then the Bible clearly says that we ought to pursue them, not be cautious. 1st Corinthians 14 says if they are continuing, we need to actively pursue them.

And that's what Storms says. Storms argues that you are in sin if you don't actively pursue these things. And you heard Piper not say it's sinful, but to say we ought to actively pursue these sorts of things.

So really, they're not open but cautious, and those who might use that terminology need to realize that the dominant defenders of the more Reformed version of continuationism don't really believe that, and they don't advocate that phrase either. You either believe the gifts continue, or you don't believe the gifts continue, and if they continue, then you ought to actively pursue them. And so again, if we understand the purpose of these gifts as confirming new messengers of divine revelation, and if we believe like Piper, Grudem, Carson, and Storms do, that the canon of scripture is complete, we must not, and I think they all would agree with this, we must not expect any new divine revelation.

Well, if we believe that, then we ought to also affirm that the confirmatory signs of messengers of new divine revelation also are ceased, and we should not expect those as well. Scott Annual with us today, talking about this new documentary film, it's a very good film, we highly recommend it, called Cessationist. There are two options for you to see it. You can order the DVD and book Deluxe Edition, or you can stream the film for a donation of any amount to the Christian Real View. Just get in contact with us, the usual ways that will be given during this upcoming break on the Christian Real View.

Stay tuned, we have much more coming up. I'm David Wheaton. The heart of God-rejecting man yearns to get back to Babel, creating a world where man rules apart from God. Evidence for this is all around us, and Revelation says this is where the world will end up. On Friday, April 12th, Christian journalist Alex Newman will join us for a Christian Real View Speaker Series event at Beacon of Hope Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, to speak on the topic of how the push for global governance utilizes environmentalism, the educational system, economic policy, and more. You can come for a donation of any amount, but seating is limited, so you need to register in advance at theChristianrealview.org or by calling 1-888-646-2233. Doors open at 6pm, Alex Newman speaks at 7 with Q&A to follow. Be informed to think biblically and live accordingly. Hope to see you Friday, April 12th at Beacon of Hope Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. David Wheaton here, host of the Christian Real View, to tell you about the Overcomer Course for Young Adults, held June 21st and 22nd at beautiful Stonehouse Farm in Jordan, Minnesota.

Age 18 to 25 is a highly transitional time. The convictions developed and the decisions made during this crucial stage sets one's course for years to come. In eight sessions over two days addressing life's most important issues such as God and the Gospel, right thinking and living, relationships and marriage, vocation, the local church, and more, the Overcomer Course is designed to help young adults gain clarity and conviction on God's plan and their purpose in it.

There will be plenty of time for interaction and discussion as well. You can find out more and register by calling 1-888-646-2233 or by visiting thechristianrealview.org. Welcome back to the Christian Real View, I'm David Wheaton.

Be sure to visit our website thechristianrealview.org where you can subscribe to our free weekly email and annual print letter, order resources for adults and children, and support the ministry. Our topic today is why the cessationism versus continuationism debate is really about the authority of Scripture. Our guest is Scott Annual of G3 Ministries, who partnered in production of an excellent film called Cessationist. Scott, let's talk more about the effect of continuationism on evangelicalism, and I'd like to play a soundbite here from Francis Chan from the film. And he talks about an experience that he had when he went over to Myanmar, which is formerly known as Burma, and how he experienced being able to heal people, and everyone he touched was being healed. And this, I believe, was given at Moody Bible Institute's Founders Week, if I'm not mistaken. Here's Francis Chan, a very well-known evangelical author of many books that many evangelicals have read.

Here's the soundbite. So for the last few years, I have believed in miracles, and I have believed for healing, and I'm so shocked, because every time I would pray, nothing would happen. And sometimes I'd even go overseas to where I'd hear about all these miracles happening, go, okay, let me at least see it.

And I'd get there, whether Africa, India, whatever, and nothing. We were in Myanmar, Burma. I can't even tell you how intense, how amazing the experiences we had were. People started coming forward for healing. Every person I touched was healed.

You guys, okay. This is craziness to me. I have never experienced this in 52 years. Again, just an unbelievable story, and even consider the environment there at Moody Bible Institute, I think it was Founders Week, people were clapping. The audience was clapping at his recounting of this experience of purported healing over in Myanmar, but as the person who was commenting from the film, I can't remember his name in the film, but he was saying this is a racket that they have going on over there, where they set these preachers up. But I'd like to ask you, what has been the effect of continuationism on the evangelical Church, whether in the preaching, the messaging of the Church, or the worship methodology? That very example of the audience response to that description of an experience is an example of the effect, because my guess is a lot of people in that audience would not describe themselves as Pentecostal, Charismatic, or even continuationist.

They probably would describe themselves on paper as cessationist, but many evangelicals have been conditioned to the point where we're not going to argue with someone's experience. So if somebody says something happened, even if it contradicts what we believe, even if it contradicts what scripture says, we've been conditioned to trust experience over doctrine, experience over scripture. Where instead, we need to be emphasizing the fact that I don't care what somebody says their experience is, we need to always interpret experience through the lens of scripture.

Scripture is what is sufficient. This is exactly what Peter is saying in 2 Peter 1, that scripture is more sure, more certain, more trustworthy than an experience, because scripture comes directly from the Holy Spirit, it is not produced by a man, it is not produced by a man's interpretation, whereas experiences are. And so like you even pointed out there, experiences can be manufactured, experiences can be faked, experiences can be misinterpreted. I might have a legitimate experience, a true experience of something that God does, but I could misinterpret what's happening, and that happens all the time. So we can never trust experience, we must always trust scripture. And so we've been conditioned because of the gradual, subtle influence of continuationist theology, we've been conditioned, most evangelicals have been conditioned to trust experience over scripture.

And we see that in a number of different ways practically, and that's one example, that response to someone's experience. We see this a lot of times in how people talk about their experiences or the way in which God is working in their lives. People might say, well God moved me to do such and such, or God impressed upon me this sort of message, or God spoke to me, that kind of language. Where again, a lot of people who use that would never describe themselves as charismatic or continuationists, but nevertheless they've been conditioned in that way.

The largest influence I would say is in the area of worship. Evangelical worship, contemporary evangelical worship today is thoroughly charismatic. It's where it comes from, and I would highly recommend there's a book called Lovin' on Jesus, a concise history of contemporary worship by Sui Hong Lim and Lester Ruth, and these are two historians who are just tracing the sources of contemporary praise and worship today, and they show definitively how the way that most evangelicals worship today comes directly out of charismatic theology and actually embodies that theology, such that charismatic worship has subtly infiltrated, again, otherwise cessationist movements and churches, so that we have been conditioned to in essence be continuationists and not trust in the sufficiency of scripture, even though we would never admit it. And so they point out that even the desire to be outwardly physical and expressive in worship is a fairly new phenomenon that comes directly out of charismatic theology, highlighting intensity as a virtue in worship, like if you really want to know that God is working then it's got to be something intense, that comes directly out of charismatic theology, and largely stress on what they themselves describe as sort of a sacramental power of music, that music is that which ushers us into an experiential awareness of God's presence. Again, that comes directly out of charismatic theology, but all of those things have influenced otherwise cessationist individuals to really embrace charismatic theology, even though they might not even admit it or state that they're charismatic on paper.

Scott Annual is our guest today from G3 Ministries, who partnered in production of this film, Cessationist. I'm just going to read a passage, Scott, from 1 Corinthians chapter 12, because these are the chapters of scripture 12 through 14 in 1 Corinthians and a few other places that deal directly with these sign gifts, or really gifts of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12, starting in verse 27, says, Now you are Christ's body and individually members of it, and God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they?

All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they?

All do not interpret, do they? Lots of questions there of the various gifts, and he concludes the chapter this way. Paul does by saying, But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And this is often used by those in the continuationist movement that we need to desire, and we should seek to have these same gifts that these apostles had back in the first century. So explain how we're to properly understand that particular passage, especially in light of what comes right away next in 1 Corinthians 13. So I think, first of all, that passage clearly teaches that these gifts were given for the foundation of the Church.

That is their purpose. Again, they're meant to form the new body of Christ in those early centuries of the Church. That's why he equipped the Church, gifted the Church with apostles and prophets and teachers and signs and these sorts of things.

That was their function, and that was their purpose. And of course, Paul is even in context here. He is condemning the believers at Corinth for being divisive over these gifts, for thinking that certain people with certain gifts are better than others with different gifts because they're more showy, they're greater. In fact, that last verse, verse 31, you're right, many used to argue that we ought to desire the gifts in the same way. There are some, like John MacArthur actually argues that what that verse is actually saying is a condemnation of what the Corinthian believers were doing. The Corinthian believers were earnestly desiring the more showy kinds of gifts, and he's actually condemning them for it. And instead, he's urging them, now moving into chapter 13, he's moving them toward the more excellent way, which is love and unity and the building up of the body. And then that's exactly where he goes in chapter 14, which is another chapter that talks about tongues and prophecy, and a lot of people point to that chapter, but what's Paul's point in chapter 13 and 14? His point is that our goal in all things is to be love, unity, and the building up of the body. That's the purpose for all of these things, and God still providentially gifts his people with certain abilities to be able to serve the church.

That's still happening today. And again, why? Well, it's for the unity and the building up of the body.

That's his purpose. So we need to understand all of that in the context, both of the abuses that were taking place in the church of Corinth, and then the way that Paul is urging them to pursue love and unity and the building up of the body. Scott Aniel again, our guest today in the Christian worldview, talking about this excellent film titled, Cessationists, and really encourage you to order this and watch it with your family, perhaps in your small group at your church or even before your entire congregation at your church would be extremely helpful. One more sound bite here with Jonathan Master and then Phil Johnson from Grace to You, talking about how there's harm done in telling people that they can be healed, that these promises of these sign gifts being enacted by men upon them.

Let's listen to that, and I'll follow up with a question. What I'm struck with is not just this doesn't fit with the Bible, although it doesn't fit in any way with biblical teaching, but just the human cost, the spiritual cost of this kind of false teaching at a moment when individuals are at their most desperate and have the most openness to hearing genuine truth from God and know they need something from God. Know that they're insufficient in themselves to do what needs to be done, and they're looking to the Lord in some way, and yet someone steps in and gives them this false, self-aggrandizing teaching. I've seen many other lives be destroyed when they finally woke up and realized these things aren't even real.

They think nothing is real. They question whether Christ is real, and it's hard to get anyone who's gone through that to come back and take a serious look at faith in Christ focused on the gospel rather than focused on these phony miracles. Explain more, Scott, why men and women promising these supernatural sign gifts that they have them and that they're going to help people with them, why is this especially pernicious for someone and even their ability to believe in God after being falsely promised something that they didn't receive?

This really is the central concern and why we've taken up this topic and invested in these resources and conference and so forth. We really end up removing from people the very thing that has the power to transform them, and that is the sufficient word. When you start emphasizing that people ought to be seeking after a divine word personally given to them, or they're promised that they're going to be healed in a supernatural way, or they're promised some other sort of miraculous sign gift, inevitably they then leave their trust in the Word of God itself, and they're seeking after these experiences.

And so again, we're removing that very God-given gift that we have been given, and that is the Word of God. The Word of God has the power to save. The Word of God has the power to heal what is actually the more desperate need of every soul, and that is a sinful rebellion against God. The Word of God has the power to sanctify human hearts. If we set that aside and long for these experiences, then we're losing the very power of God. And then, like you alluded to, if someone's promised healing, if someone's promised a particular sign gift, or if someone's told that, you know, if you're really baptized by the Spirit, then you're going to speak in tongues and it doesn't happen, well then it actually, in many many cases, causes them to leave the faith, to actually evidence that they never were really trusting in Christ alone for their salvation, but were rather trusting in these external signs and experiences. And when they don't get these signs and experiences, then they prove that they've actually believed a false gospel. And so this is what we fear even with these teachers who, again, say a lot of good things, and they themselves believe the gospel, and they believe in the sufficiency of Scripture. There is a danger that they are leading others to believe a false gospel, and they are leading others to not trust in the sufficiency of the Scripture. And so we're removing the power of the gospel, and we're removing the power of the Word to actually transform people's lives. Well, that really sums up the problem with continuationism, and it's why we wanted to highlight this topic in this film, Cessationist. Thanks to Scott Annual from G3 Ministries for coming on the program.

We have him linked at our website if you want to find out more about him. And again, there are two options for you to see this film. You can order the DVD and book Deluxe Edition, it's called. It has all sorts of content, and we have that available for purchase.

Or the second option is you can stream this film for a donation of any amount to the Christian ReelView. We'll send you a code for the first month free of a subscription to what's called G3 Plus, where they have a treasure trove of resources like this Cessationist film and others on their website. And just get in contact with us the usual ways, whatever option you choose there, and by our website, or by calling us, or by writing to us, and all that information is given immediately following today's program. Just a quick update and reminder, the Speaker Series event with Alex Newman on Globalism on Friday, April 12th is now 50% reserved. The Overcomer Course for Young Adults, June 21st and 22nd is 20% reserved.

So please get in touch if you want to attend one or both of these events. Thank you for joining us today on the Christian ReelView and for your support of this non-profit radio ministry. Let's remember, we have the prophetic word the Bible made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place.

Until next time, think biblically, live accordingly, and stand firm. The mission of the Christian ReelView is to sharpen the biblical worldview of Christians and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. We hope today's broadcast encouraged you toward that end. To hear a replay of today's program, order a transcript, or find out What Must I Do to be Saved, go to thechristianreelview.org or call toll-free 1-888-646-2233. The Christian ReelView is a listener-supported non-profit radio ministry furnished by the Overcomer Foundation. To make a donation, become a Christian ReelView partner, order resources, subscribe to our free newsletter, or contact us, visit thechristianreelview.org, call 1-888-646-2233, or write to Box 401, Excelsior, Minnesota 55331. That's Box 401, Excelsior, Minnesota 55331. Thanks for listening to the Christian ReelView.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-02 04:11:56 / 2024-03-02 04:31:05 / 19

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