Seven Reasons Why All Gifts of the Spirit Continue Today

I am one who unashamedly believes that God still speaks today. You can call me charismatic. Or you can identify me by the more politically-correct theological term known as continuationism. But I believe God still speaks-reveals-communicates today, as he always has done and will continue into the age to come.

Why would I believe such?

I list 7 reasons below:

1) God is an actual living, personal being

Almost every Christian would uphold this statement. And, so, one would only expect a living, personal being to be a communicator, a speaker. I am not sure I need to quote a lot of proof texts (though I could). But it is simply a theological deduction from reading the entirety of Scripture.

Living, personal beings are communicators in so many ways. And so, why would we expect anything less from the eternal personal being? Thus, he will continue to communicate, speak, reveal, unveil, illuminate, until all things are completed. Well, and then he will keep speaking even after all things have been renewed in Christ!

2) Christ is the charismatic prophet and his body is to follow

When I use the word charismatic, I mean it in the sense that Roger Stronstad defined it in his work, The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke:

I use the term “charismatic” in a functional and dynamic sense. By “charismatic” I mean God’s gift of His Spirit to His servants, either individually or collectively, to anoint, empower, or inspire them for divine service. (p13)

And, as the living Word, Christ was the greatest prophet to ever exist. Yes, greater than Moses or Isaiah or Jeremiah. There has been none like him who spoke and revealed the Father as he did.

Therefore, if Christ is the great charismatic prophet, then by nature, his body is to follow in those same footsteps. The body follows the head. It’s part and parcel to our calling in Christ. It doesn’t mean that everyone is particularly marked out as a prophet today. Of course not. But, via the Holy Spirit’s indwelling and empowering, Christ expects his body to get on with completing that which he initiated. Christ is still continuing that which he began to do and teach (Acts 1:1). Thus, we are now not only a priesthood of all believers, but also a prophethood of all believers.

3) The Spirit continues the same work of Christ

This really connects with the former point, but it’s the Spirit who continues the work of Christ. It is he that comes to empower the people of God, all that we might be vehicles by which Christ continues his work. I know this sounds like the A, B, C’s of pneumatology (doctrine of the Holy Spirit), but the charismatic Christ sent the charismatic Spirit to gift the charismatic ekklesia-church. One cannot get away from the reality that the work Christ began so long ago was to continue through the current age.

4) The positive affirmation in Scripture that such gifts would continue

I share much more here, but suffice it to say that there are actual Scripture passages that teach such works and gifts would continue. In the article I have linked to, I specifically take time to look at four positive Scriptural affirmations: John 14:12; Acts 2:17-18; 1 Corinthians 13:8-12; and Ephesians 4:11-16. There are plenty more one could look at and consider, but those are a very solid starting point as to specific passages.

5) Inaccurate interpretation from cessationists

There are the ‘usual suspects’ passages brought up by cessationists. These passages become pointers as to why certain gifts (or ‘sign gifts’) would cease once the full testimony of Christ and the gospel was completed in the New Testament canon. But that’s just it – Scripture actually doesn’t tell us to expect some gifts to cease.

Four very often quoted passages are 1 Corinthians 13:8-12; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 1:1-2; and Hebrews 2:3-4. I have spent some time considering these passages in this article, which you can click to read more thoughts if you’d like.

As a side point, it is also quite interesting to note that phrases like ‘word of the Lord’‘word of God’, or ‘word’ do not usually refer to the graphe or written Scripture. It can refer to such, but not normally. God’s word – not just that in the text of Scripture – was always being spoken, even if it wasn’t recorded in the canon of Scripture (e.g., 1 Sam 10:10-13 and 1 Tim 1:18-19). Again, it’s part and parcel to be a living, personal being that desires to communicate. Here are some other examples below where the above phrases do not refer to the written Scripture:

  • Word of God – Luke 3:2
  • Word of God – Acts 4:31
  • Word of God – Acts 6:7
  • Word of God – Acts 12:24
  • Word of the Lord – Acts 13:44, 48-49
  • Word of the Lord – Acts 19:20
  • Word of the Lord – 1 Thess 1:8
  • The are countless times the word ‘word’ arises and does not refer to Scripture

6) God spoke through those who were not prophets or apostles

Even if one wants to argue that apostles and prophets do not exist today, there are still plenty of examples of others who were used to speak forth prophecy or used in other extraordinary gifts. Here is a smattering from the New Testament:

  • Stephen (Acts 6:8)
  • Philip (Acts 8:4-7)
  • Ananias (Acts 9:17-18)
  • The 120 believers at Pentecost (Acts 2:4)
  • Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:46)
  • Agabus (Acts 11:37-38; 21:10-11) – he was not an apostle, but was a prophet
  • The Ephesian disciples (Acts 19:6)
  • The Galatian believers (Gal 3:5)
  • The Corinthian believers (1 Cor 14)

This should give courage to those of us who are not actually apostles or prophets (most of us!). God wants to utilise his people in such ‘charismatic’ activities since he has been doing such from the beginning.

7) The great testimony of the charismata in church history

I have already written on this topic before, which you can find here. But suffice it to say, there are plenty of examples of God, by his Spirit, speaking and acting out the charismata as found in 1 Corinthians 12.

And, a great resource to look at would be The Century of the Holy Spirit: 100 Years of Pentecostal and Charismatic Renewal by Vinson Synan. He takes time to chronicle what has happened over the past 100 years or so with the rise of the Pentecostal and charismatic movements. In today’s world, it is estimated that there are some 500 million believers associating themselves within the Pentecostal, charismatic or neo-charismatic branches of the church. And the accounts of God’s activity by his Spirit continue on into the 21st century.

Also, another book I have been made aware of, but have not yet been able to read, is Charismatic Gifts in the Early Church by Ronald Kydd.

So, suffice it to say, I find it extremely hard to argue for the cessation, or ceasing, of certain gifts of the Spirit. For me, there is an overwhelming biblical, theological and historical positive case for the continuation of such.

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15 thoughts on “Seven Reasons Why All Gifts of the Spirit Continue Today

  1. GOD In Christ, is still His own “continuationism”, and Christ is still “Incarnate” on the Throne in the Glory! As one has written of Calvin thoughts here: “Thus for Calvin faith in Christ as in our High Priest and our King becomes a believing appropriation of the sacred doctrine taught of Him in the Scriptures through the Holy Spirit.” Indeed the Risen, Ascended Christ our One and only Mediator, HE is always enough!

  2. It seems strange to me that God could have had the Bible as we have it today SO much in mind from the beginnings of the earliest writings, but never MENTIONED or prophesied about it directly. Cessationists point to the “completion of canon” as the time when certain gifts ceased, but how would you pin this date down? The scripture texts as we have them are STILL evolving as new manuscripts are found (Dead Sea Scrolls), and the cultural contexts of words are more clearly defined. I simply see no point where God’s Word will be truly “complete”. It puts a kind of box around God to say that He’s said all He’s going to and that’s all there is. He is a living, breathing entity involved intimately in our current daily lives. Why would He confine His communications only into writings transcribed thousands of years ago? It simply makes no sense.

    • Wow Ken, your “sense” just wipes out the Reformation and the Sola Scriptura! I will quote Rev. 22: 18-19, which is also seen from Deut. 4:2 ; 12:32. (So the quote is more than just the idea of the Book of Revelation, but has a general application). Let me also recommend Michael Kruger’s rather new book: Canon Revisited, Establishing The Origens And Authority of the New Testament Books, (Crossway, 2012) See that both Michael Horton and John Frame have written in support of the book!

      • Robert –

        It is very easily identifiable that Rev 22:18-19 and Deut 4:2 & 12:32 do not have a canon of Scripture in mind. Therefore, to suggest they have a ‘general application’ would be to wrongly apply them.

      • @Scott: I would not agree with your logic, since Christianity is really Judeo-Christian, which has really only “One” Holy Spirit, not one for each Testament or Covenant! As St. Paul says, “All Scripture (both Covenants) is breathed out by God.” But no doubt Paul is thinking of the OT here in 2 Tim. 3:16. But here again the Spirit of God is centre place in both Covenants!

        Btw, before you “jump” in here, I would really recommend reading Kruger’s book on Canon! 🙂

      • Robert –

        Maybe one day I can read Kruger’s book. I agree that the same Holy Spirit that empowered God’s people in the old dispensation has been doing the same in the new dispensation. However, now the empowering of the Spirit was to be for all flesh – male & female, young & old, Jew & Gentile, etc. Though the same Spirit we have an increased role amongst all God’s people. Hence our need for all gifts of the Spirit alongside the canon of Scripture. It was happening in the old and new testament times – prophecy & Spirit activity that wasn’t specifically recorded in the Scripture, but still real nonetheless. And Joel 2:28ff never imagined a lesser role of the Holy Spirit or lesser kind of prophecy in the new covenant age.

      • Scott: Our presuppositions are certainly different, my general approach is certainly Reformational, and Judeo-Christian creationally. Indeed the latter, with the covenant, is always part of the Salvation History of God. Sadly for many, even well known theologians today, this is somewhat missing! Btw, indeed Kruger’s book is simply the best in this subject area, today! Of course in my opinion.

      • Robert –

        The problem mainly lies in that I find no biblical, theological, historical nor practical grounds for the cessation of certain gifts of the Spirit.

      • Scott: No, that just “your” presupposition/suppositions! It is surely not the measure of the classic Reformational & Reformed Theology! Again, I would ask you to read Kruger’s book! The point is always theological: Canon as Community Determined, i.e. The Church’s Book. Also, Canon as Historically Determined, tracing Origins (Judeo & Christian). And finally Canon as Self-Authenticating. Here Determining The Canonical Model, “reformed” and thus “catholic”!

      • Then maybe they need to be “wiped out”. Just because those passages were at one time determined to reference the entirety of OUR scriptures doesn’t necessarily make it true. I refuse to a believe a biblical interpretation SOLELY because someone else said that’s the way it is. I don’t see ANY logic in applying those scriptures to a book that wasn’t even completed when those scriptures were written. To say that God had some mystical prescience assigned to those words above what the writers were actually discussing is a HUGE stretch in my mind. Sure it’s POSSIBLE, but isn’t it more logical to just go with the more obvious directly stated meaning rather then trying to stretch it to mean something bigger just because we would like some “stamp of approval” on our particular choices of holy writings which we have declared “canon”? That seems pretty arrogant in my view.

  3. Pingback: The Gifts of the Holy Spirit Continue Today « Christianity 201

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