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Signs & Wonders – Part 3

posted Mar 21, 2017, 10:01 AM by First Baptist


 

In this series, we are exploring the 4 schools of thought within Christiandom concerning signs & wonders. The main question is: Did the ability to perform signs & wonders end with the apostles?

 

Last week, we looked at “cessationism.” This is the view that, yes, the ability to perform signs & wonders ended with the apostles. In other words, this ability (or gift) only existed during the formative years of the church. The purpose of signs & wonders was to authenticate the apostles as divine spokespersons until such time as the New Testament was written.

 

This week, we’ll look at the Pentecostal/Charismatic view.

 

Explanation

 

Pentecostals/Charismatics reject cessationism and maintain instead that the ability to perform signs & wonders is a continuing gift within Christianity. In other words, the gift of performing signs & wonders is no different than any other spiritual gift.

 

Those who ascribe to this view argue there is simply no biblical warrant for suggesting the termination of signs & wonders. Indeed, the Old Testament promises that signs & wonders will be a characteristic of the “last days” and this means the entirety of the last days, not just a portion of them.

 

(Note: From a biblical perspective, the “last days” began with Jesus’ 1st coming and will culminate with His 2nd coming. Virtually every scholar agrees with this definition of the “last days.”)

 

John Deere represents the Pentecostal/Charismatic well when he writes:

 

“No one ever just picked up the Bible, started reading, and then came to the conclusion that God was not doing signs and wonders anymore and that [certain] gifts of the Holy Spirit had passed away. The doctrine of cessationism did not originate from a careful study of the Scriptures. The doctrine of cessationism originated from experience [i.e., derived from the apparent absence or scarcity of signs & wonders throughout Christian history].”

 

Concerning experience, Pentecostals/Charismatics will point out that signs & wonders have indeed existed throughout the history of the church, although mostly confined to areas being evangelized for the first time, or to where a revival has sprung up after a lengthy dearth of evangelism. Therefore, it’s just not accurate to insist signs & wonders ceased; the relative scarcity of them is a different matter entirely.

 

Analysis

 

The view that signs & wonders continued beyond the apostles is a strong one.* They certainly subsided (after the apostles), but that’s different than arguing they ended entirely. We also need to separate out the abuse of the gift versus the gift itself. It’s true there are charlatans who pretend to have the gift, but that doesn’t mean the gift doesn’t exist any longer.

 

Next week: The Third Wave view

 

 

Pastor Dan

 

 

*This shouldn’t be interpreted as an endorsement of all Pentecostal/Charismatic theology. I believe they are profoundly wrong on certain matters.

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