Dear Oje Giwa-Amu: Concerning Cessationism
By: Deji Yesufu
Your recent fascination with Cessationism, which has resulted in a debate between you and Peter Uka, a vlog post of about 90 minutes and a Facebook post, has occasioned this response from me. Incidentally Cessationism is not top of my priority on theological issues at the moment; but since you have called me out on Facebook because of it, I guess I could leave a response here and I would ensure that it is the only response I would give on the matter. Cessationism is not a matter in theology that is worth dividing on but if you will understand the heart of this theological perspective, it will benefit you a great deal. In this essay, I would not bother about defining Cessationism or putting out scriptures that have been thrashed out by both sides. I want to write a personal thought to you; albeit a public one and I would request that you read them intently with the hope that God would minister to your heart and save you from perdition.
Sometime in 2014/15 I stumbled on a Facebook group called “Open Congregation”. I noticed that the people there spent a great deal of time debating theological issues. I would eventually be drawn into one or two topics on the subject of tithing and having investigated that subject thoroughly, I was not short of opinions to give on it. Many people on that forum praised my “anti-tithe” insights and I remember that you, Oje, were one of those who felt my thoughts were worth extolling. At that time in my theological development, I had just encountered Cessationism. It was one year after the Strange Fire conference at Grace Community Church, led by John MacArthur, and Cessationism was the rave of the theological world then. Thus when theological topics on gifts of the Spirit or its abuse were suggested on Open Congregation, I quite naturally brought my “Cessationist” perspective to bear on it.
I remember quite well that you, Oje Giwa-Amu, learnt about Cessationism from me for the first time on Open Congregation and rather than taking the time to learn about the subject, you just reacted against it. For many weeks after I broached the idea, you continued to write posts after posts condemning the topic. When I noticed you had succeeded at winning a good number of folks to your side on the subject, I had to let you be. Eventually leaving Open Congregation completely – talk about going from grace to grass on that forum. But before I left, I made the point which you have not been able to refute: that your angst against Cessationism is not that it is a false doctrine. It is because it is one doctrine that proves your idol and teacher, William Branham, as a false prophet and a false teacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Cessationism showed that Branham miracles were false and at best they were of demons. This is why, when you refute Cessationism, you are never in short supply of spurious videos from Branham healing crusades. I remember that my encounter with your videos on Branham led me to search the internet and I came across a very disturbing fact. Some of the people with the highest numbers of miracles, signs and wonders in religious gatherings today are not Pentecostal Christians. They are Sharmans from the Eastern parts of the world. I saw links after links after links of these Shamans working mind boggling miracles and they still do them today. I concluded by saying that miracles could not legitimize a man; the only thing that can prove that a man was true is what he teaches. William Branham, until his death, never repented of his Satan-sleeping-with-Eve-in-the-garden doctrines. He never repented of his Word of Faith errors. He died a false teacher and is certainly not in God’s kingdom today, if we are to measure him up by the standards of scriptures.
I move quickly now to why I adopted Cessationism as a belief.
Why I am a Cessationist
Peter Uka taught me Cessationism. For six months between February and July 2014, Peter would come to Ibadan, from Lagos, once a month to teach a group of us the Bible. For two months, he taught us “sufficiency of scriptures” – which he began with. He made the point that the moment the Holy Scriptures come alive to us, there would be no need for his coming for those classes. Here is the interesting thing: in the whole six months that he came to teach us the Bible, he never mentioned the word “Cessationism” – not once. Peter concentrated on helping us to see that the Holy Bible was all that we needed for our lives and for godliness. After he left, I began to study the book “Strange Fire”. It was in that book I came across Cessationism. In fact John MacArthur, who wrote the book, did not mention Cessationism much in the book. It was the Strange Fire conference, in their live speaking sessions, that the subject was broached. I was particularly blown away by Tom Pennington’s treatment of the subject: his “A Case for Cesaationism”. I made this point to say this:
I am not a Cessationist because I have an aversion to miracles or speaking in tongues or continued prophecies. No, I was not taught that way. I am a Cessationist because I have finally found the Bible to be sufficient for me; the Bible is enough! I can remember coming to this understanding and seeing the Holy Scriptures come alive. I came to understand the place of waiting upon God, in his word, to find directions to the issues of life. I came to learn of one vital truth: that my business with God is living holy and uprightly; he would handle every other issues concerning my life and my future – I do not need dreams and prophecies for direction in life. There is no challenge in this world that a sufficient scripture cannot handle. And, contrary to what you think sufficiency of scriptures is – sufficiency of scriptures says simply that the Bible is enough. You do not need anything else but the counsel that the word of God births. What is clear in the Bible is sufficient to direct us in obedience. And the Holy Spirit is able to shed light on what is not clear and help us know how to apply them to issues of life.
The other reason why I am a Cessationist is this: every false religion in this world stands on the premise of “God told me”. The number one case in point is Islam. Very few Christians have investigated the claims of Mohammed but if the Christians and the Jews around him in the seventh century had adopted “sufficiency of scriptures” they would have realized that the revelations that he was receiving were not from God and could have been better discipled him and delivered him from errors. Every other error in religion today premises on the fact that one person ditches what the Bible is saying and begins to listen to voices in his head. The Reformers adopted the truth of “sola scriptura”, which is actually “sufficiency of scriptures”, to denounce the errors of Rome. The Roman Catholic Church believed everything Luther taught but they also were committed to their traditions. These tradition included the worship of Mary, veneration of saints, giving of indulgences, and so on. Do you know that these extra biblical teachings did not come because of some theological development among Catholics? It came because some mystics rose up in the church and declared that this was what Christians were to be doing. So when the Reformers rejected Rome, they also rejected Catholic mysticism and all their traditions. Check out all the other errors of our day and you will realize that one person somewhere is declaring what God is saying from a subjective mindset and not from a sufficient scripture.
If we would take the warning of Jesus in Matthew 24 seriously and evade deception, we would have to rest content with what the Bible teaches alone and ignore everything coming from subjective experiences and the minds of men and women.
Who actually is Aiding the Devil?
In your debate with Peter Uka, you made the point that Cessationists are being used by the devil. Of course you made that argument to put fear in the minds of little minded people, so that they will not touch Cessationists with a long pole. But who exactly is aiding the devil in all these? I would make a few suggestions.
When the debate was about to begin, someone left a comment on the flyer that I shared and said this: why is Peter Uka debating a heretic. In response I made the point that there is no limit to those Christians should not debate. In fact it is heretics that we should debate the most – in case God might save them from their errors. My dear Oje Giwa-Amu, I would be doing you a great disservice if I call you a Christian; you are not. You are a heretic. See, most people in theological circles do not consider Cessationism heresy. At worst, they might call it an error. But from the days of the Apostles, everyone who has rejected the doctrine of the Trinity is regarded as a heretic. Oje, you do not only reject the doctrine of the Trinity, you regard those who teach it as men in blatant errors. I do not know anyone who teaches against the Trinity as much as you do – thus if anyone is being used by the devil to propagate heresy the most – you are the man. And I pray you repent because there is no one who rejects the doctrine that Jesus Christ is God and thus the same with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, that will enter heaven.
In the little gathering that I lead, we have been considering Ephesians 1. In verse 3 – 14, Paul the Apostle describes the whole concept of salvation given to us. In this description, he shows us God the Father who predestined a few to salvation from the foundation of the earth (verse 3-6, 8-13); God the Son who redeemed men by the cross (verse 7); and God the Holy Spirit who secures our salvation in real time (verses 13 -14). Friend, if you reject the Trinity, you reject the One God in three persons who secures your eternal salvation. It is a pitiable state to be in and I pray God grants you repentance. Because your errors are not only driving you to perdition, you are leading your listeners to an eternity without God and his Christ. If I were you, I would leave Cessationism alone and return to scriptures and learn of God who is One but three in persons. Amen.
Concerning the Question You Asked
So, you left two questions for Peter, Dr. Motunrayo and me on Facebook. Peter and our doctor friend are more theologically inclined, so they would do a better work of exposing those truths to you. But I would just attempt those questions, lest you accuse me of avoiding them. They are easy.
- Should Christians covet the gift of prophecy in the light of biblical admonition to covet the best gifts?
The scripture that talks about coveting the gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 is verse 31, the last verse, which reads: “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way.”
Incidentally this scripture did not mention prophecy. Verse 31 is coming in the context of Paul mentioning many other gifts of the Spirit operating in the Corinthian Church. You can see them from verses 28 to 30. When he gets to verse 31, he admonishes the church to seek the best gift which was actually the gift of charity and then he uses the whole of chapter 13 to talk about the blessing of charity.
Here is one point you miss in this rabid pursuits of yours for the gifts of the Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit, whichever way they operate, were not given for ostentatious purposes but as a means of serving God’s people. Thus, the person with the greatest love in his heart for people; was the persons who could be most useful because he would serve other people the most. So the greatest gift was love and not prophecy.
Besides, when the New Testament was written, prophesy was seen in two ways: foretelling and forthelling. It could be either of them; the context of scriptures will tell. The prophets of old foretold things. That gift has ceased today. Anyone foretelling anything today is a thief and a robber; he is a false prophet. However, we may still forthtell and anytime a man stands on the pulpit and teaches God’s counsel to his people, he is speaking forth God’s word and thus forthelling. This is the prophesying that is still legitimate today and whenever the scripture, as in 1 Corinthians 14:1, spoke of prophesying, it was talking about speaking God’s counsel to people. Preaching is today’s prophesy and we ought to desire the best preaching in our churches.
- Does God still give the gift of prophesy today?
No, not in the manner of foretelling; but, yes, in the manner of forthelling. God raises anointed ministers to speak and teach his word. In doing this, they are prophesying to our generation; calling them to know the triune God. Amen.
A Personal Appeal
I end with this personal appeal to you: Oje, stop running around social media and teaching false doctrine. Find a Christian assembly and be committed to it. Throw away the jargons you have learnt from books by Unitarians and submit yourself to a church. By the way, please answer this question that you have evaded since 2014: What church do you attend? What do you do there? All churches today are not Loadicean churches, sir!
As far as I know, your local church is Facebook. Perhaps I should remind you that Facebook is an all-comers markets; where ideas are being traded by all and sundry and only the stupidest persons come here to learn doctrine. Get a life beyond Facebook. Learn the gospel. Become a Christian. Allow the Spirit of God possess you; not these false Brahamite mindset. And then go to scriptures with a humble mind and be taught. Some of us were taught by persons much younger than us but we realized they were speaking truth and we submitted to God’s counsel through them.
I pray God to give you ears to hear. Goodnight.
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