The Purpose of the Cessationist Doctrine
By: Peter Uka and Deji Yesufu
This essay is the concluding statement of the Cessationist group, Peter Uka and I, on the ongoing debate between Cessationists and Continuationists. We wish emphasize the heart of our doctrine which we were unable to reach in all of the discussions in the debate.
The main point of Cessationism is not that God is powerless, or that the Holy Spirit does not exist, or that there are no miracles. The main point of the Cessationist is that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the most important element in all of God’s dealing with humanity today. And that preaching and teaching this gospel is our duty as God’s people. This gospel is God’s means of savings sinners. And this gospel must be preserved from perversion so that it is not distorted and thereby loose its saving power. Cessationism believes in the miracles of the Bible. It however states this: that the miraculous elements in scriptures were signs pointing men to the carriers of God’s message – his apostles. The miracles were God’s means to an end. That end being the gospel of Jesus Christ. The great danger that lies with Continuationism and all of its variants is to turn the means to an end and to disregard the end totally. This is what has befallen our churches where miracles, signs, wonders, prophecies, etc, have become what Christians seek today so as to achieve liberation from life ills, while the gospel is totally disregarded and sinners are perishing both in the world and even inside the church.
Because the message of the gospel is the central theme of God’s dealing with humanity, it is important that this message is not distorted. To ensure that the gospel remain pristine, it is important that we understand that revelation has ceased. Revelation is God’s special message to all men regarding his redemptive plan for humanity. That message began in the Old Testament, right from the Garden of Eden and through to Moses. Jesus continued to preach this message but the Apostles of Christ gave the very last bastion of that message as recorded in their epistles. This message, God’s revelation, has ceased. This is Cessationism in a nutshell. God’s revelation to humanity is recorded in the Bible that contains the Jewish Torah (the Old Testament) and the testimony of Jesus as recorded by his eye witnesses (the New Testament). Theologically the bible is regarded as a closed canon. A canon is a rule or measuring device. Measuring devices must have fixed rule so standards of measurement do not change from place to place. God has given us the message of the Bible as his all time rule or the means by which we must compare ourselves with (James 1:23-25) to bring us to conformity with his mind. The Bible is not an Open Canon. No one is receiving fresh revelations from God. Anyone claiming such is a false apostle, proposing a false gospel.
When an individual claims he heard God speak to him, that individual is telling us God is giving him fresh revelations that is as authoritative as the words of the Bible. Those words are what will determine a Church’s doctrine and those doctrines will direct a people’s lives. The end result is that the Bible looses its regard with such people because an old textbook will quickly be discarded for fresh revelations of the Spirit. This is the chief error of Charismatics and it is ruining many congregations. Some argue that we should compare such revelations with scriptures and discard the ones that are not scriptural. The easiest means to discard this thought is to remind such people that every word of temptation to Jesus by Satan in Matthew 4 was scriptural. The same Satan and his demons are still available today whispering such revelations to people (1 John 4:1ff). If scriptures are sufficient for us, we would abide by it, learn it’s doctrines and obey its commandments and we shall be blessed thereby. The same goes with so called words of Knowledge and words of wisdom. No one knows what exactly those gifts were. We believe they were supernatural abilities given to the apostles to write scriptures.
God’s miracles pointed to God’s message. God’s message is the gospel of Jesus Christ which all men must believe and be saved, or discard and be damned. The tragedy of Charismatism is that they tabernacle on the means and disregard the ends. There are millions of Charismatics today who are not Christians but who speak with tongues and hear voices. These people are heading to an eternity in hell because they have believed that the gospel was signs and wonders.
Another tragedy with Charismatism is that their claims to the miraculous is not based on any careful exegesis of the Bible but on myths and legend. Starting from William Branham, to Kenneth Hagin, Amy McPherson, Oral Roberts, Kathryn Khulman, Benny Hinn, Benson Idahosa, Chris Oyakhilome and T. B. Joshua, all of whom are Word of Faith preachers, there are documented facts of the falsehood behind all these men and women’s claims to the miraculous. The consistent testimony of any investigation of their miracles were that no one was ever healed by them. Rather what we see is that these men trade a claim to the miraculous for people’s money – defrauding millions in the process (they will receive their due reward in eternity).
In conclusion, I repeat: Charismatism has succeeded in building an idol or a temple around the miraculous. It is what they worship and it is what they seek. What God meant to be a means has become an end for them. The biggest tragedy, however, is yet to come. As we encounter the last age and as the Churches are made increasingly unknowledgeable by miraculous workers, two things will happens: 1. The mystical will increase. Men will increasingly resort to extra biblical revelations to preach a false doctrine. Like Islam, many will bring messages from angels and deceive many as Jesus warned in Matthew 24 and Paul in Galatians 1:6-9. 2. Along with these false messages, will come an abundance of miracles, signs and wonders as Paul warns in 2 Thessalonians 2 and John in Revelation. These men will be the precursor to the Antichrist. By the time there messages are fully believed, the Antichrist shall simply arrive and receive these deceived many into his arms. This deception will start in the churches and spread to the world. The mark of the 666 will begin in Church!
In the midst of this confusion, an elect few will be granted immunity to all these by the simple doctrine of a sufficient scripture. They will not have miracles in their churches neither will they speak with tongues. They will be saved by simple preaching and teaching, and their lives will reflect God’s truth. They will be saved ultimately from the presence of the Antichrist to live with Jesus forever. They will be very few. I appeal to you to consider what these few are saying.
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