The Cessation of New Testament Supernatural Gifts - Part One
1. Scripture teaches the cessation of these gifts [cont'd]. A further truth taught in Scripture about the cessation of these gifts is -
When Moses was to go back to Egypt and bring the Israelites out of bondage the Lord accompanied this with signs and wonders. As the days of the Judges were coming to an end and the days of prophets were commencing the Lord also sent signs and wonders during the ministry of Elijah and Elisha.
This is also true again with the coming of Jesus Christ and also true with the days of the Apostles and the giving of the New Testament Scriptures.
It is therefore to be expected that with the completion of the canon of Scripture and new revelation ceasing these gifts will also cease. The Scripture marks its own completion, Revelation 22:18,19: For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. John was the last of the Apostles to write and then to die. With his passing there came to an end this period of revelation and hence the gifts that accompanied that period also came to an end.
2. Church history supports this position. This understanding of the cessation of New Testament gifts has been the historic position of orthodox Christianity:
John Chrysostom [ca. 347-407 AD] writes in his commentary on Corinthians about spiritual gifts: This whole place is very obscure; but the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to and by their cessation, being such as then used to occur but now no longer take place.
Augustine [354-430 AD] writing on the first epistle of John said: In the earliest time the Holy Ghost fell upon them that believed; and they spake with tongues, which they had not learned, as the Spirit gave them utterance. These were signs adapted to the time. For there behooved to be that betokening of the Holy Spirit in all tongues, and to shew that the Gospel of God was to run through all tongues over the whole earth. That thing was done for a betokening, and it passed away.
Thomas Watson writing in 1660 on the Beatitudes said: Sure, there is as much need of ordination now as in Christ's time and the time of the apostles, there being then extraordinary gifts in the Church which are now ceased.
John Owen writing in 1679 said: Gifts which in their own nature exceed the whole power of all our faculties, that dispensation of the Spirit is long since ceased and where it is now pretended unto by any; it may justly be suspected as an enthusiastic delusion.
Matthew Henry writing in 1712 said: The gift of tongues was one new product of the Spirit of prophecy, and given for a particular reason, that, the Jewish pale being taken down, all nations might be brought into the church. These and other gifts of prophecy, being for a sign, have long since ceased and laid aside, and we have no encouragement to expect the revival of them; but, on the contrary, are directed to call the scriptures the more sure word of prophecy, more sure than voices from heaven; and to them we are directed to take heed, to search them, and to hold them fast, 2 Peter 1:19.
Jonathan Edwards in 1738 wrote that the extraordinary gifts were given: In order to the founding and establishing of the Church in the world. But since the canon of he Scripture has been completed, and the Christian Church fully founded and established, these extraordinary gifts have ceased.
C. H. Spurgeon was of the same view: As the result of the ascension of Christ into heaven the church received apostles, men who were selected as witnesses because they had personally seen the Savior — an office which necessarily dies out, and properly so, because the miraculous power also is withdrawn.
Although we may not expect, and need not desire, the miracles which came with the gift of the Holy Spirit, so far as they were physical, yet we may both desire and expect that which was intended and symbolised by them, and we may reckon to see the like spiritual wonders performed among us at this day.
It is a rule of the kingdom to keep the best wine to the last, and therefore I conclude that you and I are not left to partake of the dregs, but that those works of the Holy Spirit which are at this time vouchsafed to the Church of God are every way as valuable as those earlier miraculous gifts which have departed from us. The work of the Holy Spirit, by which men are quickened from their death in sin, is not inferior to the power which made men speak with tongues.
A. W. Pink writing on the Holy Spirit said: As there were offices extraordinary (Apostle and Prophets) at the beginning of our dispensation, so there were gifts extraordinary; and as successors were not appointed for the former, so a continuance was never intended for the latter. The gifts were dependent upon the officers. We no longer have the Apostles with us, and therefore the supernatural gifts (the communication of which was an essential part of "the signs of an Apostle": 2 Cor. 12:12) are absent.
3. This is the doctrinal position of the Free Presbyterian Church. We believe in the completion and therefore the sufficiency of the Scriptures. We opposes the mystical revelations of those who claim direct revelatory communication from God by way of dreams, visions or other means. No new revelations are to be added to the oracles of God. We believe that all other claimed revelations such as the charismatic prophesies are fraudulent and deceptive.