8

Continuationism is the idea that extraordinary gifts of the Spirit (prophecy, tongues, healing) continue in the present day. This is contrasted with cessationism, which says that such gifts have ceased (at the closing of the canon, or the death of the last apostle, etc.). The charismatic movement is continuationist in its theology. What Bible verses and Biblical arguments support the doctrine of continuationism?

This question is the polar opposite of this one: What is the basis for Cessationism?

  • 1
    It might be worth saying that continuists believe that we should expect those gifts to be commonplace. Many cessationists would believe that prophecy, tongues and healings can and do still exist, but are markedly uncommon. – curiousdannii Jan 29 '15 at 1:38
  • 1
    @curiousdannii I think that position is more commonly considered a light Continuationism, rather than a flavor of cessationism. But I may add clarification to the question soon. – Mr. Bultitude Jan 29 '15 at 2:03
  • 1
    I guess classifying people into only two groups is unhelpful. Some people think these gifts will never happen again, others think everyone should have them, and there's a big range in between. – curiousdannii Jan 29 '15 at 4:19
7

This is from Why I Am a Continuationist by Sam Storms:

New Testament evidence of miraculous gifts among Christians who are not apostles. In other words, numerous non-apostolic men and women, young and old, across the breadth of the Roman Empire consistently exercised these gifts of the Spirit (and Stephen and Philip ministered in the power of signs and wonders). Others aside from the apostles who exercised miraculous gifts include (1) the 70 who were commissioned in Luke 10:9, 19-20; (2) at least 108 people among the 120 who were gathered in the upper room on the day of Pentecost; (3) Stephen (Acts 6-7); (4) Philip (Acts 8); (5) Ananias (Acts 9); (6) church members in Antioch (Acts 13); (7) anonymous converts in Ephesus (Acts 19:6); (8) women at Caesarea (Acts 21:8-9); (9) the unnamed brethren of Galatians 3:5; (10) believers in Rome (Rom. 12:6-8); (11) believers in Corinth (1 Cor. 12-14); and (12) Christians in Thessalonica (1 Thess. 5:19-20).

We must also take note of 1 Corinthians 13:8-12. Here Paul asserts that spiritual gifts will not "pass away" (vv. 8-10) until the coming of the "perfect." If the "perfect" is indeed the consummation of God's redemptive purposes as expressed in the new heaven and new earth following Christ's return, we can confidently expect him to continue blessing and empowering his church with the gifts until that time.

...

A similar point is made in Ephesians 4:11-13. There Paul speaks of spiritual gifts (together with the office of apostle)—and in particular the gifts of prophecy, evangelism, pastor, and teacher—as building up of the church "until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (v. 13; italics mine). Since the latter most assuredly has not yet been attained by the church, we can confidently anticipate the presence and power of such gifts until that day arrives.

  • Great answer. I don't know who Sam Storms is. What would be great is a link to this source your using, even if its just an amazon link to purchase the book. At least there'd be not confusion what book and person you're talking about. Would you be able to edit that in? Also, it it a quote or your paraphrase? You can make a blockquote (the preferred formatting of large quotes) by typing > before the paragraph. – 3961 Feb 4 '15 at 22:51
  • 1
    I'd like to add, that with a biblical basis answer, you may provide your personal reasoning, so long as it uses primarily the bible, and you can provide a source that proves others use the bible in this way to make the same conclusions or it is a common argument that can easily be found elsewhere. – 3961 Feb 4 '15 at 22:55
4

Here are some of my thoughts on this:

1) John 20:21 "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."

Jesus' ministry included much healing. If we are sent as Jesus was, wouldn't we also be sent with the ability to heal?

2) Matt 28: 19-20 "Therefore go and make disciples ... 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."

Jesus had sent the 12 (and 70) to heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead and cleanse lepers. The Great Commission would seem to include that sending for us.

3) Mark 16: 17-18 " And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on people who are ill, and they will get well."

It seems those signs will follow believers.

I know this passage is controversial, but I would refer you to Micholas Lunn's book: "The Original Ending of Mark: A New Case for the Authenticity of Mark 16: 9-20." In which he puts forward a pretty good case for its inclusion.

4) God using people in power gifts did not start with Jesus and the apostles. There are accounts of OT characters who had the Spirit of God and had prophecies and saw miracles as a result. Some stories come to mind: Elijah and the prophets of Baal. The axe head in 2 Kings 6 (I think that's where it is) plus all the prophets.

Something significant happened at Pentecost - the Spirit was poured out on all (unlike the OT where it was a few) and the Spirit remains.

5) 1 Johyn 4: 8 God is love and Matt 19:17 Ps 119:68 God is good. If God can heal, which He has shown us He can through the accounts we read in the Bible, is removing the gifts of healings from the church compatible with love and goodness? It doesn't seem like it to me.

  • Sorry that I comment on this answer but I don't see any other possibility. Unfortunately your other answer got deleted: christianity.stackexchange.com/a/37299/355 - I would love to read your last comment where you answered my question concerning eternal life - would you be so kind as to repost it here? Thank you so much! – vonjd Feb 13 '15 at 7:01
2

I would let the Scripture speak for me:

  1. Peter clearly says that in the last days God shall pour out His Spirit. Though he applied the verse to indicate the outpouring of God's Spirit at his own time, last days would mean this time period as well (dual application)

Acts 2:17 - 18: And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

This is taken from the book of Joel where it is explicit that the passage is about the current day rather than the days of the apostles.

Joel 2:28 - 31: And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

To know what time this verse is talking about, we turn to Jesus who quotes the second part of the verse:

Mark 13:24 - 26: But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

This clearly states that the sun darkening, moon not giving light will happen just before the second coming of Jesus Christ.

  1. God coming to His people - In the form of Jesus and Holy Spirit is described beautifully here as

Hosea 6:3: Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.

We can clearly see that the God is talking about a former rain and a latter rain. The former rain comes to help the crop grow while the latter rain is for the crop maturation. So when the Church started the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit, was the former rain. Just before Christ's second coming there will be a latter rain

Zechariah 10:1: Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.

Isaiah 40:6: The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:

So God is pouring His Spirit upon people, and as the term latter rain signifies crop maturation, this will occur just before the Second Coming of Jesus:

Revelation 14:14 - 16: And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.

Ripe - Mature for harvest

  1. Jesus' warning clearly explains that there will be Gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Last days:

Matthew 24:24: For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

The Following are clear from this verse:

  • There will be false prophets in the Last Days
  • The false prophets will show great signs and wonders
  • Many will be deceived - even among the elect

From the facts above, we can easily see that the warning (not to get deceived) and the predicted result (many will get deceived) would not make sense if there were no true prophets who will be showing true authentic signs. If there would be no true prophets, then it would make more sense for Jesus to warn against anyone who claims to be a prophet and to not believe any sign shown by them. A warning of this kind would have been very hard to ignore and only a very few only would have been deceived (if at all).

The fact that even the very elect get deceived shows that the false prophets and the signs shown by them so closely resemble the true prophets that it is very hard to discern between them.

tl;dr: There is no need to warn against duplicate if no original exist - infact it makes no sense to do so.

  1. The Revelation speaks of prophecy in the Last days:

Revelation 10:5, 6, 7: And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.

The above verses are quoted to show that this event in Revelation 10 is taking place at the last days - time shall be no longer. Now in this set context:

Revelation 10:11: And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

The word again means anew in the original tongue - This would mean that there would be new prophecies (hence prophets) when the events described in the chapter takes place.

  1. God has promised to send Elijah before the Great and Terrible day of the Lord:

    Malachi 4:5 - 6: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Reading verses 1 and 2 of Malachi, we find that the great and terrible day of the Lord is the day when the earth shall burn as an oven - pointing to the final destruction of the wicked. So even though this is applied to John the Baptist, this has another application at the end of time.

  • Points 1 and 2 say that the Holy Spirit is given to his people - that has little to do with continuationism since it is a foundational belief of all Christianity including cessationism. Point 3 says that there will be events in the last days that have been prophesied about (before they happened) and that John prophesied. Neither point really has much to do with continuationism. – Mr. Bultitude Jan 30 '15 at 18:50
  • 1
    @Mr.Bultitude "Your sons and daughters would prophecy", "old men shall dream dreams", do you mean these statements don't explain continuationism but just show Holy Spirit would come? Peter specifically applied that to explain the gifts of the spirit. – One Face Jan 30 '15 at 20:17
  • I think you need to do more research on the cessationism vs. continuationism debate. Your assumption seems to be that creationists aren't aware of the book of Acts, rather than that they argue that events in the book of Acts aren't representative of modern Christian experience. – Mr. Bultitude Jan 30 '15 at 20:57
  • 1
    @Mr.Bultitude I have modified my answer. See if it makes more sense now – One Face Jan 31 '15 at 10:56
1

As set out in the various scriptures quoted above, the whole tenor of scripture is a presumption that the gifts of the Holy Spirit form a normal ongoing part of church life. To make a case otherwise involves a decision to take scriptures like 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 away from the straightforward meaning of the words.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.