What is the basis for Cessationism?
The supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit were first observed at Pentecost;
Acts 2:16-18: But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 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:
When Jesus gives the "great commission" to the eleven disciples, he describes the ability of believers to supernaturally heal others and be immune from harm from snakes and poison;
Mark 16:15-18: And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
It is interesting to note from the Joel prophecy that it includes more than has actually happened so far;
Joel 2:27-32: And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed. 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. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.
Peter had every expectation that everything Joel said was about to be fulfilled. When Jesus began his ministry by quoting Isaiah, he stopped short.
Luke 4:17-20: And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
Isaiah 61:1-6: The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.
It might seem that the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit are intended for the Kingdom. They were in evidence when the kingdom was immanent. (Paul was bitten by a snake and unharmed, Peter and Paul healed people including raising the dead, tongues were in use, and devils were being cast out)
There are three main views of spiritual gifts today.
- Spiritual gifts are fully functional and available to all Christians today.
- Spiritual gifts are only partially available today.
- Spiritual gifts have ceased functioning.
The biggest support for the view that spiritual gifts have ceased to function is empirical. The dead are not raised. Those who support full or partial gifts have to either cling to a distant report of some unverified incident or exaggerate the talent of a teacher or administrator as a "gift" from the Holy Spirit.
Prayers are answered. Healing does take place. The Holy Spirit does lead people to have the right words to say at the right time. However, supernatural gifts were not so subtle or transient as to be indiscernible from talents.
Peter said that the receiving of the Holy Spirit was told by Joel. Joel describes something very much related to Israel and can be considered Kingdom related. If one sees the offer of the Kingdom to Israel as withdrawn at the destruction of the temple or the diaspora, then one might see that the function of supernatural gifts would also be withdrawn.
When a faithful remnant is found in Israel (as described in Revelation), I would expect that the Kingdom would once again be immanent and that the gifts of the Holy Spirit would once again be poured out. I would also expect that the portions of Joel and Isaiah that were expected by Peter and truncated by Jesus would also come to pass.