A Case for Cessationism
By: Deji Yesufu
I regard my decision to stop speaking in tongues as about the most radical steps I took as far as the practice of my Christian faith is concerned. I had been in a theological system for 15 years that upheld this practice and it was something close to anathema to say you no longer believe in tongues. Some people even claim that such person no longer has the Holy Spirit. However after examining the biblical evidence, I came to the conviction that the practice of speaking in tongues in the place of prayers was not Christian and had more occult roots in it than many will admit. There is little space for me to prove this point exegetically from scripture but I will say that back then when I spoke in tongues, I sometimes asked God for interpretation. I believe the interpretation came eventually: God helped me to see that I was saying nonsense whenever I claimed to be speaking in tongues. So I stopped and that action is about the best decision I ever made regarding my prayer life. This essay is a “cover letter” for a longer discussion which I have titled “A Case for Cessationism” (you may download the PDF file by clicking on the link). In this 5,000 word essay I argue that Cessationism teaches that revelation has ended.
How many of you have met the Nigerian prophet or prophetess? How many of you have seen the harm that these rogues are causing to homes? A case in point: Mother A lost her husband when she was in her early thirties. She is left to raise three children – two boys and one girl. Someone takes pity on her and helps her to get a job at the teaching hospital in their town as a hospital maid. With her meager salary, she trains her children through school and they graduate from the university. All of them grab good jobs and settle down with their spouses to raise their own families. But for a strange turn of fate, all the three children have delays in having children. One of the siblings is invited to a meeting and he is told by a prophetess that it is their mother that has eaten up their children. He reports the matter to his siblings and they all decide to cut off from their mother. Mother A is heartbroken and develops high blood pressure in the process. She is dead in less than a decade of being labelled a witch. A year before she passes, two of the children give birth to their own children. After the burial, and while discussing the matter among themselves, these children begin to wonder whether they were fair to this woman who labored to make them who they are today. Stories like this abound in Nigerians homes; thanks to the prophet/prophetess phenomenon.
If this family had been taught by some sound teaching that God is no longer bringing new revelations to man today, that God no longer has apostles or prophets on earth today; they would have spared themselves a lot of heart ache. When someone approaches me and tells me “God told me…” this person is telling me that he is giving me words that are equal in authority to the Bible. While many people dispute this fact, in reality that is what it is actually.
I visited a family once that had just lost the mother of the house. Quite understandably the whole family was distraught. Someone, among the team I came with, probably in a bid to encourage them, told us that he had had a dream a night before and saw the dead woman in white. He woke up and felt that God was telling him that our sister had gone to heaven; no one needed to worry or weep over her anymore. It was his way of encouraging the bereaved. I hope those words encouraged the family but I think what should have been more encouraging for them was knowing that the scripture says that anyone who dies believing in Jesus Christ as his Savior, will wake up in eternity with the Lord in heaven. What was distressing for me was that believers needed a dream to tell them that a dead Christian was in heaven; when in actual fact the Bible already teaches this to be the case. If a Christian dies believing in Jesus, we must take it for granted that this person is with the Lord; except he or she was a hypocrite when he was alive.
These days my Cessationism is helping me a great deal. The moment Pentecostals understand that I do not believe in their “…God told me…” statements, our conversations take up more intellectual and discerning paths. We can then approach the Bible on its merits alone and allow God’s holy writ to speak to us plainly. That way whatever conclusions we reach are likely to be God’s counsel to his people and not some charlatans trying to defraud people of money. I believe God still speaks to people but I maintain that whatever God has to say, he has already said it in the Holy Bible. God commands his people to let the words of Christ dwell in them richly; that way the counsel of scripture gives us a general wisdom, what some call a biblical worldview, in dealing with issues of this life. If God’s laws determine how you deal with the issues of your life, whatever the outcome might be is God’s counsel and his will for you.
In recent time, I think I made the Cessationism debate popular. There is a gentleman, Oje Giwa-Amu, who has practically developed hypertension over the matter and is bent on labelling Cessationists as demoniacs. I have since told him that he has greater problems with his Unitarianism than Cessationism. In response to a video he did, Peter Uka taught on Cessationism. Uka and Dr. Motunrayo Adetola were eventually invited to discuss the matter with some YouTubers called Biblical Gymnastics. This essay is a response to the YouTube video they published on the subject. I hope you will find the time to download the PDF text and read.
Thanks for reading.