Thursday, December 29, 2016

Are You a Continuationist or Are You a Cessationist?


29 December 2016: Mindful in the extreme of this sensitive subject matter, the intent is to wade gently through it so as to not cause any major ripples. At the same time there is a compulsion to put this before as many as will read it.

Have you ever wondered why the current church, the bride of Christ, does not exhibit the same incredible spiritual empowerment of the Holy Spirit  as manifest in the very beginning of our faith, such as those things recorded in the Book of Acts and other inspired works? Have you ever prayed on this? For myself, the answer is 'yes' to both questions.

Going back as far as I can recall, the teaching has always been that God hates sin. He loves the sinner, but hates sin. In no way can He abide with or by the defiling filth of sin; his absolute unblemished holiness is the perfection of perfection. It is sin that has always and will always separate the unredeemed human being from Him. It is the saving grace of the Blood of the Lamb which redeems us and provides the aspiration toward achieving a holiness like Him, to live re-born to be like Him, to be Christ-like and without sin.

And in our redemption through the Blood of the Lamb we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, because in that moment we are blameless, sinless. That is how and why the Holy Spirit, God, can be within us. Yet the Christian is able capable of sin; we have an inherent sinful nature as sons of Adam. So when the Christian inevitably does sin does the Holy Spirit, being an integral part of God, depart from indwelling the human being in that moment?

When a discussion of this crops us I will invariably bring up the difference between receiving the Holy Spirit upon salvation in Christ Jesus, and another experience which is a baptism in the Holy Spirit and the special gifts that come to the individual with that baptism. Trust me on this, I know many Christian brethren who will turn up their noses and deny such a thing exists; they will claim that such 'quackery' is the realm of Pentecostals and Charismatics and other assorted 'holy rollers' and snake handlers who get carried away in or with excessive worship, and so on and so on.  I happen to know different from direct experience, a baptism in the Holy Spirit is the ultimate in unique Christian experiences; there is nothing like it and nothing will alter the truth I adhere to about it following my experience.

But to get back to the central point, if a Christian sins, does the Holy Spirit depart because He can no longer indwell where sin is resident once again? Could this be the reason why the incredible spiritual empowerment that once was so prevalent in the Church in ancient times is now-a-days not so evident? If so, then how ill-equipped are Christians living in sin to fight against the dark forces spoken of by Paul in Ephesians 6:12? Very ill-equipped if biblical reason is applied.

Be mindful, no position is being stated or taken here, and I am as far from anything dogmatic on this as one can be. Yet it was at this point recently when I became aware of a debate within Christendom on this very subject, and the debate is encapsulated the title above. I came upon an entry in the GotQuestions.Org website dealing with this issue which reignited interest in the theological issues at the heart of it. I suggest a reading of the linked article if this subject holds any interest for you. Based upon my own experience with a baptism of the Holy Spirit I have to say that I am a little more than partial to the Continuationist view, but I am praying the Lord through His Spirit to guide to a doctrine to adhere to.

One thing I am absolutely sure of it that when the Lord pours out His Spirit upon all Israel it will be for them and those they encounter exactly as its was in the days of the Lord's Apostles. 

Marana'tha!

21 comments:

WorkOfGrace said...

Ephesians 1:13-14, Paul explains that at the moment of salvation, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. He uses the analogy of a guarantee or earnest and states the Holy Spirit was given as the "earnest" or "down payment" of God's promise of the inheritence that is ours as co-heirs with Christ. This is an amazing transaction by the Father alone, not based upon our performance, just wholly His Faithful promise. I do believe, that just as a child will hinder intimate fellowship with their parent when disobedience is chosen, so we too, will know a loss of intimacy and can even lose a sense of assurance of our belonging to the Father...a definite consequence of sin. But thankfully, God's guarantee does not depend upon our sinlessness. I think Paul displays this struggle in the heart of the believer well in Romans 7 then to burst forth with Romans 8 as the declaration of God's faithfulness inspite of our propensity to sin and struggle with the flesh, Thanks be to God for we would stand no chance of fellowship with the Father through the Spirit if this were not so.

Brian G. said...

Sean,

I have been following your blog for some time, but have never commented, that I recall. Let me preface by saying that I have a high respect for your insight here and believe that you are very spot on with your approach to prophecy, hermeneutics, etc, and you certainly have gained a wealth of knowledge of history & peoples & lands which give you very good I sight. What I read here, however, gives me pause. The reason is because you stated that your experience gives you assurance of the doctrine of baptism of the Holy Spirit. I take great exception to the idea that one's experience has anything to do with establishing doctrine. Doctrine is set by God's Word, and God's word alone, plus or minus nothing, including, and especially, a personal experience. There is much false doctrine being taught that has come as a result of people's experiences. One can have experiences while practicing Buddhist style meditation as well, but it does not make that experience valid as truth. Just something that seriously jumped out at me.

jmoll106 said...

Just a quick search of given and Holy Spirit or sealed or grieve gives a believer a quick lesson on who a believer is in Jesus.
Also a quick search of (in Him, in Christ etc) is very assuring to a believer.
A quick search af the word ABIDE also has important lessons.
That said, the question I ask myself always is Will Jesus say to me, Depart from me,I never knew you.
So, in my walk, I believe, worship, repent (alot) :), serve him, do His will, pray for His kingdom to come, show thankfulness and gratitude and allow the precious Holy Spirit to lead me into all truth, correct and bless my walk with my Savior.IMHO
I think I would be a continuationist in that regard.

Sean Osborne said...

Brian G,

Sorry to have goven you pause, but I made no case for my Spirit baptism in "establishing a doctrine." I took no position other than to say I lean towards 'continuationist' views.

However, in the 12 hours or since posting this, the Lord has shown me the doctrine of His Word on this issue in the letters written by Peter and Paul. More on this later.

jmoll106 said...

Also, since I accidentally hit publish before I was finished.

I have seen all these gifts used and abused. Some in very personal ways and others with dear christian friends. So personally I have know problem being a continuationist even with the wolves in sheep clothing that are out there.

Sean Osborne said...

Jmoll106,

I agree completely. All are recipients of the Holy Spirit when we accept Christ as Lord and Savior. This is a relationship that must be maintained as you describe through our daily lives.

Recall the fairly recent discussion here about the Harpazo as it relates to Jesus' parable (Matthew 25) about the 5 wise and 5 foolish virgins.

Recall that the 10 virgins were symbolic of the bride of Christ, and the oil in the vessels for their lamps was symbolic of the Holy Spirit. They all slept as the bridegroom was delayed.

Then the shout was heard announcing the coming of the bridegroom's entourage and they all rose to go out and meet them. But the foolish virgins had no oil in the vessels for their lamps, the wise virgins did.

The wise went throught door, the foolish were given the bad news "I don't know you" the door was shut and those 5 were left behind at the Harpazo.

Half went, half left behind because they had no "oil" in their vessel.

Sean Osborne said...

I should have started with what Dr. David Reagan has previously written on this subject because what he says here and believes is what i believe also.

Holy Spirit Baptism

Kenneth Moore said...

Sean:
Yes, I also believe continuationism. Continuationism is the belief that all the spiritual gifts, including healings, tongues, and miracles, are still in operation today, just as they were in the days of the early church. A continuationist believes that the spiritual gifts have “continued” unabated since the Day of Pentecost and that the demonstration of “signs, wonders, and miracles” (2 Corinthians 12:12), as witnessed in the apostolic era, should be a hallmark of today’s church as well.

But this concept is clearly refuted in 1 Corinthians 12:11, which says that the Spirit “distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” Paul dealt with this very issue in the Corinthian church: “Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues?” (1 Corinthians 12:29–30). The answer to these rhetorical questions is “no.”

Whether continuationist or cessationist, all born-again believers are part of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). When we allow any non-foundational issue to cause division and dissension, we are not giving heed to what was most important to our Lord.

The lists of gifts found in Romans 12:6–9, 1 Corinthians 12:4–11, and 1 Peter 4:10–11 are not identical and may not have been intended to be exhaustive.

Biblical scholars abound on both sides of this issue. Cessationism holds that the inspired Word of God is all we need to live as Christ desires us to live. Continuationists assert that the Holy Spirit who was poured out in Acts 2 still continues His work, with all the supernatural giftings mentioned in Scripture.

The above text I copied and pasted that think these comments here are all written by men on God who have the active Holy Spirit witin that is sealed.

Ending with I'm pretty sure I don't have all the gifts of the spirit enabled. I do have a daily walk with the Lord even thou I still live in an evil sinful world so sometimes sinful. Just ask my wife. God Bless Sean and all here to have spiritual eyes as we live in prophetic times.

jmoll106 said...

I just finished reading the link to Holy Spirit baptism and I can honestly say with a smile on my face.
Some people do not have a way with words (like myself) and other's have a way with words like Dr. Reagan. His summation on the subject was well said and righr on.
Thanks for that link.

Sean Osborne said...

Kenny,

Thanks for your excellent comment which includes the Scripture doctrine I mentioned above to Brian G as "more on this later." You just saved me a lot of time. :)

hartdawg said...

Sean, I would like to share with you a third position, this position is held by many fundamental Baptist and hyper dispensationalis. It's as follows
The sign gifts for present among the early church because it was a largely Jewish Church and the Jews require a sign. But when the Jews rejected the gospel and it went to the Gentiles that is when the gifts stopped. The sign gifts, will be returned during the time of Jacob's trouble. Because the Jews require a sign and they will have 7 years of signs.
These hyper dispensationalis also believe that the Pauline Epistles are for us but the book of Hebrews and James are for the people during the time of Jacob's trouble.
Have you ever run across this hyper dispensationalism?

hartdawg said...

I gotta say one more thing. Because I'm seeing all of these counterfeit gifts does that not prove that the gifts are real? That's not the counterfeit proof the genuine?

Brian GC said...

I have appreciated all comments and your original remarks Sean. My initial and only comment is to do with terminology, for your experience is very similar to my own.

Baptism of the Spirit is, in my understanding, that moment of time when we believe and accept Jesus as the Christ and our Saviour; it is analogous to WorkOfGrace's "we are sealed with the Holy Spirit"

It is my understanding that the 'filling' of the Spirit is the phenomena I experienced some hours after I had accepted Christ Jesus; a moment of indescribable joy that so filled my soul as to be a physical thing.

I have never again experienced so powerful a manifestation, but have experienced similar joy many many times since.

I also believe 1 John 1:9 is the Father's provision for the necessary forgiveness and cleansing required for the 'filling' of the Spirit.

A simple recap: The baptism of the Spirit is His initial task of baptizing us into an eternal union with Christ Jesus: the filling of the Spirit is at the moment of Christian confession of sins, i.e. 1 John 1:9

Continuationism is another matter.

Miriam said...

I wanted to comment that I have never read a convincing scriptural foundation for the premise that what are referred to as the gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased at some arbitrary point in time. I would think that if there were such a passage or passages, they would have been identified long ago.

When I was growing up and attended conservative Jewish Sunday school I was similarly told that the miracles that occurred in Old Testament days had ceased in modern times. I do not recall the reasoning behind that.

I have seen convincing evidence that Old Testament miracles have not ceased, in fact I think we would all probably agree that we are seeing them today. Any Jewish Sunday school teacher today who has studied the wars of modern-day Israel and still claims that miracles are no longer taking place is several cards short of a full deck, in my humble opinion (no disrespect intended). I have also personally experienced miracles in my own life.

However it certainly seems true, at least to me, that there are branches of Christianity and certain well known individuals that have gone completely off the deep end, focusing on the external manifestations of these gifts rather than their inward effect and outworking in the world, which is the purpose for which they were given. The scripture that comes to my mind in this regard is from first Samuel 16:

6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

The other thing that comes to mind is Jesus' behavior after he had fed the multitudes with the loaves and fishes - he avoided public acclaim because he knew that most of the people were interested in the external manifestations of His power (and would gladly have followed him to get more loaves and fishes, but were not focused on the things of the Spirit).

As I understand it, salvation is actually a kind of legal contract, where the righteousness of Jesus is attributed to us and our sins are attributed to Him. It is my understanding that this cannot be undone, but that when rewards are distributed, those who stopped at that point and did not produce the Fruit of the Spirit will be "saved as though by fire" as in 1 Corinthians 3:15 - their works being wood, hay and stubble, they will have no reward, but they will escape eternal separation from God. I hope this rambling comment makes sense and is on topic.

Rhonda said...

I have wrestled with the question about gifts for a long time. When I asked
God about it, I thought about the story in Acts 3:6 when Peter and John were
going into the temple and a lame man asked them for alms and Peter said, "I do
not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of
Jesus Christ the Nazarene--walk!" Then in this same daydream a long, long line
started forming. Then I thought to myself, can you imagine what someone today
could do with the gift of healing. He/she would never be left alone, they
could charge whatever money they wanted and they could get it. Doesn't the bible
say human's hearts are continually evil. I don't think God would allow or want
His spiritual gifts abused like that. But I do believe miracles happen today.
God can do anything He wants. I know there are people who think that anyone who
gets sick or hurt and has enough faith can get healed. Then the healing is about
that person's faith so I know that isn't right either. I have friends who have
the gift of tongues or so they say. They have made me feel like a second class
Christian since God has not given me this gift. At first I felt very bad, like
I wasn't good enough to have this gift, but then I realized that's not how God operates
and He loves me too. These same friends brought me to a church a few years ago
to listen to this man preach. After the service he called people forward to give
them a word or a blessing, I don't remember. After he said something over you, you were supposed to fall down. They called it being slain in the spirit. Well, at
least 25 people were up there, me included because I was urged to go up, all of
them but myself and one other person did not fall over. Wow! did I feel stupid!
I carefully walked past the people on the floor to go back to my pew where I started
crying because I thought something was wrong with me. So confusing! Now I don't
think God approved what that man was doing. I guess I have more questions than answers but I do think God's giving or not giving of spiritual gifts is different
now somehow than in biblical times.

Nora said...

„Continuationism is the belief that all the spiritual gifts, including healings, tongues, and miracles, are still in operation today, just as they were in the days of the early church.”

I agree, this is my stance too.

As for the other topic, I agree with what WorkOfGrace said. I’m sure in my belief that when we’ve first believed and accepted the Lord into our hearts and have been sealed by His Holy Spirit we’ve gotten saved. This is our *union* with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and it is unbreakable. As John 6:37-40 says: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never turn away.” For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I shall lose none of all those He has given Me, but raise them up at the last day. For it is My Father’s will that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Also John 10:28: “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

However, there is *fellowship*, it is about our daily relationship-maintenance with the Lord and it could be suspended due to our sins. The *union* is still intact, we still belong to the Lord but we’re out of fellowship with Him and during this time the Holy Spirit can’t work through us effectively! As soon as we confess our sins turning to Him, we’re back in fellowship with the Lord, the Father and the Holy Spirit again. That’s one of the reasons why daily regular prayer is important in my opinion. We all commit sins that we’re not even aware of but the Lord is merciful, He forgives all of our sins when we ask Him regardless how many of them we’re aware of. King David prayed, “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.” (Psalm 19:12) What about born again believers who spend most of their lives out of fellowship? I believe that the Bible describes them in the last sentence of the passage which describes the Bema Seat judgment (1 Cor 3:11-15): “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” I believe that all the silver, gold and precious stones are representing the works that the Lord Himself did through us, that happened at His prompting and in His strength. All the hay, wood, etc. that will burn are “achievements” that we did in our own strength without the Lord’s involvement and prompting, apart from Him. There will be believers whose life’s work will be burned being all wood, hay and straw but they themselves will be saved because IT IS THE LORD’S ACCOMPLISHED WORK, our salvation is His work alone, so not any of us could boast.

Sean Osborne said...

The conterfeit and the outright fakers, of which there are MANY, these are motivated by something completely unholy, something sinful. Utilizing a one-word descriptor GREED is quite appropriate here.

This activity does prove true gifts of the Spirit are very real and can never be faked.

Randall B said...

Very much agree with your statement Sean "This activity does prove true gifts of the Spirit are very real and can never be faked."

Also very much agree with Dr. David Reagan - and thank you for that link.

I do see Salvation in its three tenses for the Believer.

Past Tense - Justification - Sealed with Holy Spirit forever when one first believes - OJAJ Once Justified Always Justified. Gift of Eternal Life for truly believing.

Present Tense - Sanctification - Relationship with the Lord - Working out our Sanctification with fear and trembling - Believer's Bar of Soap 1 John 1:9 will restore Relationship guaranteed - I believe that this is the area that the "Gifts of the Spirit" (Love being the BEST) operate according to the sovereign will of the Holy Spirit. (Believers may choose to spend a bunch of their lives in the Prodigal Pigpen.) Rewards for living the victorious life: Crowns, accolades, authority, etc.

Future Tense - Glorification - That which the indwelling Holy Spirit guarantees for every believer.

*************

Also need to be careful applying the parable of the 10 Virgins to the Bride. Matt 25:1 places the time frame squarely at the 2nd Coming. Different mail for different folks.

Sean Osborne said...

Randall B,

No careful application exercise is required here.

I happen to be very firmly in the group of dispensationalists which views Jesus' Olivet Discourse parable of the wise and foolish virgins as being directly related to the imminent and unknown day/hour of the Harpazo as opposed to the known timing of the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ at the Battle of Har Megiddo to establish His Kingdom on the earth with the bride (armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean) following closely behind him.

"And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him." Matthew 25:8 KJV

There is no call to come out and meet the returning Messiah at the height of the Battle of Har Megiddo which prevents the extinction of human life on this planet.

Those who say this is so have added meaning to The Revelation of Jesus Christ, as expressly forbid by Revelation 22:18-19.

The only thing shouted at that time are the words of an angel standing in the sun who will speak a command to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” Revelation 19:17-18

Great Grany 5 said...

Sean,

By this time in my Christian walk I know I am a Continuationist thru and thru and love it! One very important lesson all of us have to remember and come to grips with is fundamental to the discussion! All things are to work together to GLORIFY CHRIST and to bring strength to the body of Christ, the church! Not for our stardom but that each and everyone of us reverence more fully and foundational that Jesus Christ is over all, in heaven and on earth!

No mere man is to be esteemed to such a degree that we forsake our fellowship with God or accept any other gospel. To me the Holy Spirit is truly the same Spirit that Jesus was enabled with at the Cana wedding when he turned water into wine! We are seated in Jesus Christ at the right hand of God but it is only through Him that we have our being! Pretty humbling when you keep that in the front part of our brain but deeply in our heart and soul!

When I slip, I kneal at His throne immediately or stop on the spot because of whose we are reminds us. There are too many instances that Abba has moved in my life to ever convince me that the promises that Jesus promised to us who believe quit somewhere because God quit! If we aren't having our prayers answered or being moved by the Holy Spirit then it is US not HIM!

Love you all and he is the same for each one of us
GG5/SHALOM

Sean Osborne said...

A big, bold AMEN for GG5!!!