I recently had the privilege of attending a gathering of a few families with whom we have developed varying degrees of relationship over the recent years. The very young to senior citizens were present. As I reflected on the two and a half days together, I was amazed at the ease in which so many different fruit and gifts of the Spirit were manifest during our time.
One of the most significant reasons we do not see healings in our midst as we might, is because of the worldview assumptions and the cultural values of western individualism and personal privacy. The scriptures were not written to, or by, people with a western worldview. They understood sickness, disease, and healing differently than we do. We cannot come to the scriptures with our western presuppositions, and expect kingdom results. This profoundly affects our theology and practice of praying for the sick.
The quality of life we enjoy in the West today is due in large part to the advancements of medicine and science. It’s not difficult to find a place of deep thankfulness when meditating on the reality of my birth in the 20th century rather than the 10th. Five minutes of rational reflection on the facts of history should have the same affect on any of us. Of course, the deceit of pride is we begin to believe we’re entitled to certain things just because we’re alive. We know that the roadway to sin is paved with the cobblestones of thanklessness.[i]
Until the most recent times, the grueling struggle for mere existence was the normal lot of life for everyone but the rich or the aristocracy. The average human life span in ancient Greece was 20 years. It was 21 at the time of Christ. It grew to 30 years in medieval Europe, 47 years in the United States in 1900, and to over 75 years today.[ii] This means that hitting a ripe old age of 70 has only been a possibility for approximately the last .25% -.50% of recorded human history! [iii] 99.75%-99.50% of those who have gone before us[iv] on the planet would not share our definition of normal. Not only would our life span have staggered them, but the overall average health that we enjoy today would also have been inconceivable. Our predecessors were (along with millions of our contemporaries) locked in a bitter daily struggle for life or death that we just can’t comprehend.
Why is Cessationism so damaging to the gospel?
Cessationism’s effect on the essence of the gospel cannot be ignored. It must be dismissed as either heterodoxy or heresy because it undermines, or completely overturns, crucial elements of the faith delivered by Christ and the apostles to the church, for which Jude exhorts us to contend:
- Its view of the Lord’s humanity is deficient. In Cessationism, Jesus is God’s representative man soteriologically and ethically, but He is God disguised as a man for power. This is borderline Apollinarian heresy.
- It attributes manifestations of power as attesting to inherent deity, thus undermining Jesus’s self-attested subordinate dependency on the Father and in disregard to subsequent similar manifestations of power through those who were not divine in essence.
- Full realization in time and space of the believer’s union with the Lord is undermined. Cessationism limits the expression of the believer’s union with the Lord to Christ-like character.
- The mystery of incarnational truth (Christ is incarnate again in the church) is openly resisted.
- It is in opposition to God’s eternal plan for redeemed humanity.
- It has a pessimistic and nominal view of the nature of the church, its destiny, and its present role as co-regent of the universe with Christ through intercessory prayer.
- It separates God’s people from the temporal benefits and powers of living in the foretaste of the age to come.
- It under-realizes the significance, responsibilities, and privileges of being the eschatological people of God.
- It artificially separates the power of the Holy Spirit to sanctify the believer from the power to manifest supernatural power through the same vessel.
- It has a deficient view of the effects of sin on man’s intellectual faculties. It mistakes the authority of the interpreter for the authority of Scripture.
- It minimizes or eliminates the modeling role of Jesus and the apostles. Historical passages of Scripture are said to have no doctrinal value in the present age, thus eliminating nearly fifty-nine percent of the New Testament as irrelevant to the modern believer.
- The doctrine of authentication of the apostles by signs and wonders is contrary to Scripture’s testimony that power alone, does not authenticate. God authenticates His message, not necessarily the messenger.
- Cessationism is equivalent to modern Pharasaism: holding orthodox (?) truth but in opposition to genuine spiritual manifestation.
- Occultists and New Age practitioners have filled the spiritual void caused by Cessationism in Western society.
- Reformed Cessationism has stripped the Protestant Church of spiritual discernment. Cessationist discernment is only a matter of agreement to Reformed theology, doctrine, and practice.
Copyright 2012, Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.swordofthekingdom.com. This is an excerpt of from our book: Your Empowered Inheritance . . . Now! available at www.goczn.com/srcrosby. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Empowered Inheritance . . . NOW!
It is available in softcover (204 pages), Kindle, E-pub and .pdf formats from the Online Mall tab at www.goczn.com/srcrosby. You can search Stephanos Ministries or the book title.
This is a scholarly/academic critique of a doctrine called “Cessationism” that dominates the media and popular Christian culture of Evangelicalism in the West. It is the belief system that teaches certain gifts of the Spirit and the ministries of apostles and prophets “ceased” by divine design at the end of the first century (and other variations of that theme).
In this book, I try to show that the essence of every vital, core, doctrine of the faith is undermined by Cessationism, and that it defrauds and disenfranchises believers from what is rightly theirs through the finished work of Jesus Christ, and the out-poured and indwelling Spirit.
This is written at a graduate/post-graduate level and it is hoped that it could be a valuable resource to serious students of scripture, leaders, and influencers who may be dealing with people or systems that eviscerates the gospel of Christ, and minimizes the scriptures own testimony of itself.
Copyright 2012, Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.swordofthekingdom.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact email@example.com.
The “revival” industry is a guilt and shame-based, obedience avoidance mechanism, that puts on to God responsibility for some great future day “if only” certain conditions are met by us. It fosters a do nothing (other than our meetings), hyper-spirituality that allows one to feel good about one’s self as being “spiritual” for begging, moaning, and pleading for “revival” in the future while doing nothing practical for humanity today. The problem is, the “if only” list is never ending, conditions are never met, or some blame shifting mechanism is developed to explain away why “revival” never happens, in spite of all our spiritual gymnastics. Hucksters leverage the guilt to keep the meetings full and the cash flowing.
There’s much hubbub these days about miracles, signs, and wonders. I’m as pro-supernatural as anyone on the planet can be. I’ve experienced many exciting supernatural phenomena in my life. I just refuse to make merchandise or a reputation out of them.
Would you consider something with me? If Jesus’ life span was approximately thirty-three years, and if His ministry was approximately three years, that means He spent thirty years in sonship and three doing miracles. A ten to one ratio: thirty years of “non supernatural” sonship, and three years of “stuff.”
There are voices, personalities, and teachings saturating Christian consciousness these days that would have you believe that if we are not pumping out miracles three times a week (Wednesday night and twice on Sunday) fifty-two weeks a year, that we are somehow failing to realize the kingdom of God.
Young people are being especially affected. Young people are being enticed to “greatness” and “realizing their destiny,” and being “world changers” by performing “signs and wonders.” Kingdom greatness is defined by being the servant of all, not by being the most prolific wonder-worker. The fabric of the kingdom of God is sonship, not the working of miracles.
God has spoken to us in these last days, in, through, and by the Son . . . literally, in a sonly way (Heb. 1:1). Sonliness is the final word of God to humanity. Sonliness is the seedbed from which every other facet of kingdom expression must derive (including signs and wonders) or that expression, whatever it is, is an illegitimate expression, and perhaps even an anti-Christ one. By making a legitimate subordinate value an ultimate value, many individuals and ministries who promote the signs and wonders paradigm have lost their way in Him. Their words, spirits, values, theologies, and methods frequently betray them as manifested by what I call a “bullying spirit.”
Many of the individuals who are deeply vested in the so-called signs and wonders movement, will use intimidation of various sorts (spiritual, psychological, theological) to bully you into agreeing with them or demeaning you by making you feel inadequate, inferior, or incomplete because you do not share the same enthusiasm as they do for the alleged “pursuit of the supernatural.” This childish bullying spirit is frequently accompanied by a form of elitism that is condescendingly dismissive of others.
Dear ones, lift up your heads. Do not let the immature or the ignorant bully you and rob you of the joys of your inheritance-your sonship. Paul said the world is waiting for the manifestation of sons (sons and daughters) not wonder workers. All sons may work wonders, but not all wonder workers will be sons.
Pray that the Lord of all mercies will have mercy on us all and save us from our own blind pursuits—even those done in His Name with a Bible under our arm and a worship chorus on our lips.
Copyright 2011 Dr. Stephen R. Crosby www.drstevecrosby.wordpress.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. I am indebted to my friend Marc Metz for seed thought in this regard.