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Bible Answers about Continuing Spiritual Gifts for Your Non-Charismatic Friends

o. Jude 18‑21

[As Jesus prophesied] “In the last times. . . there will be those who follow their own human desires, and who do not have the Spirit. By contrast, you, beloved, during these same ‘last times,’ edify yourselves in your most holy faith by praying in the Spirit.”

“Praying in the Spirit” is praying in response to the direct leading of the Spirit—a revelatory process. It also means praying in glossolalia (tongues speaking). 1 Cor 14:4,14,15 speaks of this where it says that the “one who prays in the Spirit edifies himself.”


Each of these passages, then, continues the pattern of Jesus’ commissions to his disciples to demonstrate/articulate the Kingdom in the power of the Spirit—to the 12, the 70 (72), the 120—numbers that may serve symbolically for “all of the Lord’s people” (includ­ing the readers of these verses) whom Moses wished would all be filled with the Spirit of prophecy instead of it being used “jealously” for accreditation of leaders (Num 11:29; cf., Isa 59:21; Joel 2:28-30; 1 Cor 14:1,5,39).

Bottom line: cessationism teaches that since the function of the “miraculous” or “revelatory” spiritual gifts was to accredit the doctrine of the New Testament, then no more such gifts can now occur. But the New Testament itself nowhere says that spiritual gifts are to accredit New Testament doctrine or establish the canon of Scripture. The New Testament is explicit, however, about the gifts’ other functions: “for the common good,” to reveal secrets of the heart, to convict sinners, to cause worship of God, to exhort, encourage, and edify (1 Cor 14).

Most cessationists believe that the “non-miraculous” spiritual gifts continued: hospitality, helps, administration, evangelism, pastoring, teaching, etc. On the other hand, the “miraculous” gifts had to cease because they accredited new doctrine. Besides creating an artificial and unbiblical distinction among spiritual gifts, this teaching confuses the sufficiency of doctrine with the means by which that doctrine is communicated. Just as inspired preaching applies the gospel to the hearers’ spiritual needs but does not add to the Scripture, so the same for the gift of prophecy. Just as the gift of hospitality expresses the gospel in physical ways, but does not add content to Christian doctrine, in the same way a gift of healing.

Neither the “non-miraculous” nor the “miraculous” gifts add anything to the content of the gospel; they are simply means to communicate the gospel, whether in word or in deed. Spiritual gifts do not prove the Gospel, so much as they are the Gospel!

So George doesn’t need to be tongue-tied. He has some great resources to help him in his dialogues with his non-charismatic friends. These include: Jack Deere, Surprised by the Power of the Spirit, 1994 and Surprised by the Voice of God, Zondervan, 1996. Gary Greig and Kevin Springer, eds., The Kingdom and the Power: Are Healing and the Spiritual Gifts Used by Jesus and the Early Church Meant for the Church Today? (Gospel Light, 1993). Jon Ruthven, On the Cessation of the Charismata (Sheffield Academic Press, 1993) and Wayne Grudem, ed., Are Miracles for Today: Four Views (Zondervan, 1996).




Coming in the Spring 2000 issue:

Answering the Cessationists’ Case Against Continuing Spiritual Gifts

Some of the arguments Dr. Ruthven will answer:

  • “History shows that spiritual gifts ceased.”
  • “If miracles and spiritual gifts have continued, then why don’t we see them today?”
  • “Ephesians 2:20 shows that the ‘foundational gifts’ of apostle and prophet have ceased.”
  • “1 Corinthians 13:8-10 teaches that spiritual gifts cease when the canon of Scripture is established and/or the church is matured.”
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Category: Spirit, Winter 2000

About the Author: Jon M. Ruthven, Ph.D., passed away April 11, 2022. He spent his entire adult life in ministry, starting with David Wilkerson in Boston and New York City in the mid-60s. After spending a dozen years pastoring, a couple a years as a missionary in Africa as President and Dean of Pan Africa Christian College in Nairobi, Kenya, he ended up teaching theology in seminary for 18 years. Always interested in training and discipleship, Jon sought to develop a radically biblical approach to ministry training that seeks to replicate the discipling mission of Jesus in both content and method. Jon wrote numerous scholarly papers and books including On the Cessation of the Charismata: The Protestant Polemic on Postbiblical Miracles (1993 and 2009) and What’s Wrong with Protestant Theology? Tradition vs. Biblical Emphasis (2013). He emphasized the biblical grounding for a practical ministry of healing, signs and wonders in the power of the Spirit. Facebook.

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