For You Were Not Willing: Cessationism (Part 2)

The scripture says (Matthew 7:7-8): “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

This is in the context of receiving gifts from and being provided for by God the Father.

Last time we said that one major reason Cessationist doctrine takes root in a person’s life is because the person looks at much of what is called Charismatic Christianity and sees disorderly madness. But we said that the misuse of something does not justify its abolition, but its reform to proper usage.

There seems, however, to be another major reason people become Cessationists: Many Christians simply do not experience the gifts of the Spirit at operation in their lives. How might we explain this?

The answer seems rather simple, but might have rather significant implications for believers. I believe the answer lies in the unwillingness of the person to seek their charismatic gifts in accordance with the commandment in 1 Corinthians 12:31.

Think about it. Let’s say a person takes on a doctrine of Cessationism. Almost automatically, that person will be closed off to the possibility that any of the charismatic ways the Spirit might move through him, and therefore he doesn’t seek the will of God concerning it. Why? Because he is committed to at least two ideas: (1) He committed to the actual cessation of the gifts. Then why seek them? (2) He is also committed to the sentiment that any manifestation of a so-called gift is actually a positive movement of evil spirits. Of course, then,  he finds charismatic gifts repulsive and will not seek them

Now God will not do with us what we are not willing to do. That theme I see again and again in scripture. So if we are not open, individually and corporately, to the proper, orderly, edifying use of the charismatic gifts, then God will not force us to be instruments of their operation.

I find this profoundly sad, to be honest. The charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit are powerful and wonderful ways God has chosen to build up the body of Christ. But the Cessationist doctrine is causing untold thousands of young Christians to be closed off to the will of God operating through them in this way.

So I suggest we need to be open. We need to ask, seek and knock after the charismatic gifts, and seek the will of God concerning their proper use.

In my own experience, only when I have been open to what God wants me to do in seeking his will to serve others, have I received a very strong and relevant word of knowledge or wisdom to share with another believer in need. I am always open to what God wants me to do, and I believe God honours my openness and willingness at the opportune time of his choosing.

For example, recently, at church, I sought the will of God on this and later that evening was talking with a young teenage brother in the Lord. I was just chatting with him, and then got a sense that the Lord wanted me to say something to him. So I just opened my mouth spontaneously mid-conversation and shared that I believe the Lord has a special vocation on his life, perhaps to go into the ministry, and that he should think on and pray about, reading certain recommended scriptures. He told me his heart burned with conviction at those words, for he had been honestly worried and seeking the Lord concerning if he had any special calling in his life.

His prayers and concerns to God had been heard, and God had responded to him directly through a word of wisdom and knowledge through me to him! Amazing!

So I think we need to be open and willing for the charismatic gifts of the Spirit to work through us; otherwise, they won’t.

Next time, we will briefly discuss one scripture commonly used to say the charismatic gifts of the Spirit have ceased: 1 Corinthians 13:8.

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