For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. [Romans 8:14 KJV]

16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. [Galatians 5:16-18 KJV]

How are Christians led by the Holy Spirit according to Cessationism?

For instance, when a Christian has to make an important life decision in which he/she would really like to hear God's opinion on the matter through the direct lead of the Holy Spirit, what should such a Christian do and possibly expect to receive according to the Cessationist view?

Some concrete real life situations that come to mind where the lead of the Holy Spirit would be quite helpful include:

  • Knowing one's calling (should I be a pastor, teacher, evangelist, missionary, etc.?)
  • Deciding what career to pursue.
  • Choosing one's spouse (or whether to remain celibate for the sake of the gospel).
  • In the case of a pastor or another church leader, the discernment to decide who will join them in positions of leadership in the church (ideally, one would like that these people were directly chosen by the Holy Spirit Himself, because He has the perfect discernment).
  • Avoiding dangerous situations, especially when they are unpredictable (not for the Holy Spirit, of course).
  • Being led by the Holy Spirit, possibly in supernatural ways, to approach and share the gospel with specific individuals, especially at the right place and time when they are ready to receive it.

Related questions:

  • 3
    Like a lot of your questions on cessationism, this one suggests you don't know what cessationism actually is all about. It's only about the "miraculous" or "showy" sorts of spiritual gifts. It's not about anything else. So being cessationist or continuationist shouldn't make a difference to being led by the Spirit.
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 27, 2021 at 5:17
  • 1
    @curiousdannii - is hearing from God "showy" or "not showy"?
    – user50422
    Dec 27, 2021 at 5:23
  • 2
    It's not a spiritual gift at all. Prophecy is, but that's a small part of hearing and being led by God.
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 27, 2021 at 5:39
  • 1
    Yes of course. I expect almost all cessationists would believe in both of those. Unless you mean strictly hearing the audible voice of God.
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 27, 2021 at 6:49
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? How do Cessationists view "being filled with the Holy Spirit"?
    – Anne
    Dec 28, 2021 at 10:24

2 Answers 2


I'm not a strict cessationist. However, I do not reject the possibility that God can chose to withdraw the full range of his charismatic gifts at any time and place. It's just that there is no specific prediction that he will do so. However, if God would withdraw the charismatic gifts of the Spirit, I would propose the following as a comfort:

  1. God works though the study of his Word to stimulate our reasoning process so as to maximize ethical decision making.

  2. Our reasoning process is complex and may involve intuitive factors that reflect our subconscious instinct to do what we are designed to ethically do, even though we may not intellectually grasp why we "feel" like doing certain things.

  3. God hides himself, so that our human autonomy is kept at a maximum level. In other words, God delights in our freedom to make choices. As an example, think of a parent offering their child choices.

  4. God gives us autonomy to make choices based upon how they conform to the absolutes of Scripture. It is kind of like how Nathan replied to David, "Whatever you have in mind, do it, for God is with you." (1 Chronicles 17:1-2)

  5. The ambiguity of not knowing how to make clear moral choices is allowed by God at times so as to drive us back to the cross in humility for our fallen nature that is in bondage to sin and operates from a blind seared conscience. Psalm 19:12, "But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults."

  6. God is totally sovereign. If he so desires, he could withdraw his presence and/or hide his tracks so as to look like an absentee landlord. "Truly you are a God who hides himself, the God and Savior of Israel." (Isaiah 45:15)

  • 2
    Excellent answer that balances many factors: God's hidenness, special status of his Word, human conscience, human freedom, human instinct, agnosticity as to whether God withhold tangible spiritual gifts, etc. Jan 14, 2022 at 23:16

I do not know if Friesen is necessarily a cessationist, but I do know he disagrees with the traditional view of trying to discern an inward impression, voice, or such from God, and that his view accords well with the 'wisdom view', which is what a cessationist would generally hold to... Summarized below. His book "Decision Making and the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View" is linked below.

  1. Where God commands, we must obey.
  2. Where there is no command, God gives us freedom (and responsibility) to choose.
  3. Where there is no command, God gives us wisdom to choose.
  4. When we have chosen what is moral and wise, we must trust the sovereign God to work all the details together for good.



  • 1. Where God commands, we must obey - How do Cessationists discern God's commands, in particular commands that are specific to one's life?
    – user50422
    Dec 27, 2021 at 0:05
  • 1
    In this view God gives us freedom to choose what job to take, who to marry, etc. God does not command every aspect of our lives. Rather, He commands us to obey His moral law and to make wise decisions.
    – Zanarkand
    Dec 27, 2021 at 13:56
  • What about one's personal call to ministry (e.g. pastor, missionary, evangelist, etc.)?
    – user50422
    Dec 27, 2021 at 14:56
  • 2
    Yes, same thing. The argument would be that God only rarely calls specific individuals (Abraham, Moses, Paul) at pivotal moments in salvation history, but that when it comes to being a pastor or missionary we just need to decide based on our aptitude, confirmation from community, and our willingness to commit to that path. The book by Friesen would have a much more nuanced analysis.
    – Zanarkand
    Dec 27, 2021 at 23:30
  • 2
    I think it would depend on what cessationist you were talking to, to be honest. My suspicion is that the most common response would be that there is no basis in Scripture for believing that hunches come from God, and that there could be other potential explanations for such a hunch other than divine intervention.
    – Zanarkand
    Dec 28, 2021 at 0:58

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