Why I Am Not Continuationist

In the last installment of his series,  blogger, author and pastor Tim Challies examines a movement known as continuationism or “charismania” as Bible teacher John MacArthur has dubbed it.   Whatever you call this movement, one thing is for sure.  It is  “a fast-growing movement with disastrous implications.” 

The charismatic movement is known for its acceptance of miraculous sign gifts a.k.a. “signs and wonders.” Charismatics believe that the sign gifts are still in operation today.  Moreover, the spiritual gifts described in 1 Corinthians 12–14 are said to be the evidence of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. According to Challies, “The miraculous gifts I see and hear in the charismatic movement have only the barest resemblance to the New Testament gifts.”

Now listen to Tim explain why he believes the Holy Spirit does not dispense the miraculous gifts today….

Laying on of handsToday I come to the end of the series I’ve titled “Why I Am Not…”  The purpose of this series has been to take a look at the things I do not believe and all along it has been my desire to explain rather than persuade. So far I have told why I am not atheist, Roman Catholic, liberal, Arminian, paedobaptistdispensational, or egalitarian. Today I want to explain why I am not continuationist or, if you prefer, charismatic.

Once again we need to begin with definitions. “Continuationism is the belief that the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit taught in the Bible—such as prophecy, tongues, interpretation of tongues, healings, and miracles—have not ceased and are available for the believer today. Continuationism is the opposite of cessationism which teaches that supernatural gifts have ceased either when the canon of Scripture was completed or at the death of the last apostle.”* In other words, this is a matter of whether certain miraculous gifts that were active at one time are still active today. I believe those miraculous gifts have ceased.

Once again, my beliefs on this matter are not easily separated from my background. Growing up in conservative, Reformed churches I knew no continuationists. I knew that such people existed only when I heard my parents speak sheepishly about their early introduction to Pentecostalism. They told us of their attempts to receive the gift and their growing acknowledgement that their tongues-speaking friends were simply uttering repetitive, nonsensical phrases. It was not until I was in my mid-twenties and a baptist that I first encountered tongues. The band at a worship conference entered into a time of “spontaneous worship” and immediately many of the people around me began to make strange sounds. It took me a few minutes to understand what was happening.

A more formal introduction to continuationism came when I encountered Sovereign Grace Ministries. I had first become aware of this ministry through online connections and then through C.J. Mahaney’s books. I attended one of their worship conferences and here I saw what they called prophecy—prophetic songs meant to communicate divine truth to people in the audience. (“The Holy Spirit is giving me a song. I believe this song is for all the people here named Katie. If your name is Katie, please come to the front as the Holy Spirit has something to say to you.”) What I found at that conference and in these churches were people who were godly and kind and committed to Reformed theology, yet also firmly charismatic. Though I was certainly underwhelmed by this example of prophecy, I was so taken by the people, by their love for the Lord, and by their excitement in worship that I returned home wondering whether my family should find a way of joining them. For the first time I saw that continuationism was not necessarily opposed to sound doctrine.

It was at this time and in this context that I began to read, that I began to ponder, and that I began to search the Bible to see what it says about the continuation or cessation of the miraculous gifts. I read defenses of continuationism written by the theologians of the charismatic movement: Wayne Grudem and Sam Storms come to mind. I saw leaders I admire profess their view that the gifts continue to be operative today. I also read MacArthur’s Charismatic Chaos, interviewed Sam Waldron, and read a number of critiques of continuationism. Through it all I became increasingly convinced that the miraculous gifts have ceased. I could not be continuationist.

I am not continuationist because of my understanding of the Bible….  Continue reading

Related:

Continuationism and Cessationism: An Interview with Dr. Wayne Grudem by Tim Challies

“A Fast-Growing Movement With Disasterous Implications” by Marsha West

See our White Paper on Angels, Demons & Spiritual Warfare

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10 Responses to Why I Am Not Continuationist

  1. Ben July 8, 2016 at 11:44 am #

    Exactly

    Head Word of Faith flock Fleecer Kenneth E. Hagin Died heart disease

    The list is long

    Fleece the “partners” Like Oral Roberts 900′ jesus appeared told him to raise $8 Million or he would die

    Hobby Lobby bailed them out
    Norma Jeans coffee bail out

    That why they target the Rich Businessmen to fund the operation

    Sow seed to get healed

  2. Michael July 8, 2016 at 12:20 pm #

    Would you please suggest to your Reformed friends to stop writing any posts online with no way to comment on them. Is someone supposed to believe him because he says so. This isn’t the first time I’ve raised this issue and so far they refuse to obey what the scriptures say in 1 Peter 3:15. You might want to suggest to them to stop making sweeping generalizations as well as if everyone who believes all of the gifts are still in operation are among the charismatic/Pentecostal streams as this isn’t even true.

    Oh, and could you please inform Tim Challies that he is not a pastor in the Biblical sense of that word as his actions are clearly out of sync with what the New Testament teaches. Does this man actually believe God is building institutional churches, forming religious hierarchies within them, telling people like himself to rule over other saints and call himself and this sacred place he invites others to by formal names.

    Tim Challies is deceiving people and leading them back into old testament ritual and tradition just like his “reformed” companions. I’d love to see just exactly how he would be against what I’m saying but sadly he’s too spiritual or plain disobedient in allowing me and others to confront him about his own hypocrisy.

    • Amy Spreeman July 8, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

      Hi Michael,
      I’m sure you could contact him and tell him yourself. We don’t have his email, but it’s surely online somewhere. 🙂

      • Michael July 8, 2016 at 2:49 pm #

        Thanks for your response. I wasn’t trying to forego any personal responsibility- I just had tried this previously with more than one “reformed” writer and none of them ever responded to me. I just thought maybe you knew them as friends and could pass the message along.

        I just get irked with all these people who posit themselves as leaders and in many, many ways these people do not echo New Testament principles or practice. All those professing Christ must be accountable as these verses command- not just to people of our own religious persuasion who naturally would agree with us.

  3. Amy Spreeman July 8, 2016 at 1:11 pm #

    For the record, I believe that the “apostolic gifts” have ceased with the real apostles: Tongue-speaking as real languages, healing/raising people from the dead, and receiving prophecies as oracles from God to the Church. I believe this because there are no apostles today who were appointed by Christ Himself, and that we have his breathed-out Word in Scripture. Other gifts like teaching, serving, etc., I believe are given to believers as they always have been. This for me has nothing to do with the Armenian/Calvinism debate.

  4. Faith July 8, 2016 at 9:54 pm #

    Why I am a continuationist:

    1. I had the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Nothing weird happened. I did not get the gift of tongues, but other gifts.
    2. I have gifts from the Holy Spirit.
    3. Nothing in the Bible contradicts that the gifts are for today. False teachers twist the verses to mean something else. They quote 1 Cor. 13 about ‘that which is perfect,’ but that refers to the kingdom, as anyone can see from the CONTEXT, since it says ‘when we see Him face to face,’ and that did not occur with the completion of the Bible (which, by the way, many did not even have full access to, and, the gifts are still very much in need, and, the devil’s occultic gifts are still in full swing).
    4. Just because there is a counterfeit, does not nullify there being a real. In fact, it validates it. I get so tired of people citing the freak fest of charisMANIA to deny the power of God today. Soooo typical!
    5. God’s power is still at work, just more powerful than satan’s occult power.
    6. Tim Challies is questionable at best.

    But, go have that cessation buffet and do all you wish to convince yourselves otherwise. That is all I will say on this item.
    ( :

    • berlorac July 9, 2016 at 10:33 am #

      Faith, please understand that we are not talking about all gifts of the Spirit having ceased, but only the sign, or revelatory, gifts of prophecies, tongues, and words of knowledge. Other gifts, such as discernment, still exist today.

      There is only one baptism and that is the baptism of the believer into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:5; cf. Romans 6:3, Galatians 3:27). This baptism occurs when the believer is first saved; it is wholly the work of the Spirit. If you did not receive the gift of tongues when the Spirit baptized you into Christ, that’s good, because the gift of tongues ceased in the first century AD.

    • berlorac July 9, 2016 at 11:03 am #

      Faith, 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 is very appropriate as a proof of cessationism. In this chapter about love and the continuation of love, Paul contrasts that with the cessation of prophecies, tongues, and words of knowledge.

      v. 8 — prophecies shall be done away, there is a definite end; tongues shall cease, they will gradually end on their own; words of knowledge shall be done away, there is a definite end.

      v. 9 — “know” is present tense; therefore, “we are now knowing in part and we are now prophesying in part.” Revelation from God at this point (AD 57) is only partial; Paul would not write his prison epistles, for example, until AD 62 and 63.

      v. 10 — “that which is perfect” is neuter, so it cannot refer to Christ at His Second Coming; rather, it refers to the written Word. Remember, Paul is talking about prophecy and words of knowledge, not people. Once the Word of God was complete, in written form, there would be no longer any need for prophecy, tongues, or words of knowledge, gifts that were given temporarily for the guidance of the Church until the written Word was complete.

      v. 11 — Paul explains verse 10, in that prophecy and words of knowledge were for the infancy of the Church, but once the Church was fully established on the written Word, those prophecies and words of knowledge were no longer needed and would cease.

      v. 12 — At the time (AD 57), all believers saw only partially, as in a dark looking-glass, but when the written Word was complete, we would see as if face to face, no longer in a dark mirror. You are adding something in this verse that is not there. You think it says, “when we see Him face to face,” but it does not say that. It says, “For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I have been known.”

      v. 13 — The contrast is that faith, hope, and love continue, even as prophecies, tongues, and words of knowledge ceased in the first century. Faith and hope continue until the Second Coming, but love abides forever.

      Amy is correct when she also attaches the sign gifts of miracles and healings with the Apostles. Since Paul was the last Apostle (1 Corinthians 15:8), those gifts faded out in the first century.

    • Jamie July 9, 2016 at 4:39 pm #

      4. Just because there is a counterfeit, does not nullify there being a real. In fact, it validates it. I get so tired of people citing the freak fest of charisMANIA to deny the power of God today. Soooo typical!

      AMEN!! While I believe the cannon is closed, the gifts are not. Big hug to you Faith!

  5. Faith July 8, 2016 at 10:02 pm #

    Oh, and John MacArthur is a wolf in sheep’s clothing at best.
    Why?
    Because he said it was ‘okay’ to take the mark of the beast and still be ‘saved.’ (among many other false teachings, ahem.)
    The bible totally contradicts what he said (and it’s no trivial matter):

    “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
    The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
    And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” Revelation 14; 9-11

    So I ask you all who love this guy John MacArthur; does all that mentioned above sound ‘okay’ to you?
    Good morning! I can’t get over it that people still quote him.
    But yes, I will still be around adding my tidbits!
    : D

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