This is a teaching that Spiritual gifts, specifically “sign” gifts no longer function today. Proponents say it is supported by 1 Corinthians 13:10.
“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:8-13)
This passage speaks of a time when spiritual gifts would cease. When is that time? When, “completeness comes” (v.10) or when “we shall see face to face” or when “I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (v.12)? Proponents suggest completeness is the finalization of the canonical scriptures, but how does the completed Bible cancel out a significant portion of itself? Additionally, verse 12 includes two other conditions of this end, “seeing face to face” and “knowing fully as we are known”. Do we see everything clearly face to face today? Do we know fully as we are known today? No. These two realities can not happen until Yeshua returns to earth. Cessation is not supported by the assumption that the canonized Bible is completeness, seeing face to face, or knowing fully as we are known.
In order to get a full understanding and context of 1 Cor. 13:10, consider the following chapter and verses, “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.” (1 Corinthians 14:1-3) Why would Paul continue his instruction and guidance upon something that would soon become obsolete? Moreover, why would he say to “eagerly desire spiritual gifts”, if they were a passing sign? He says that prophecy is for strengthening, encouragement, and comfort, these things are not eliminated by scripture and are more than a mere signs. The full context of scriptures pertaining to the purpose and importance of Spiritual gifts contradicts the theory of cessation after the first century.
It is worthwhile to address the term “sign” gifts. For Cessationist the term “sign” is crafted to include spiritual gifts which are considered dubious by intellectuals, such as speaking in tongues, prophecy, word of knowledge, word of wisdom, interpretation of tongues, miracles, healing, and discerning of spirits. It is convenient and inconsistent that the gift of administration and teaching are not recognized as sign gifts. In Acts 10:46, speaking in tongues was considered evidence of the impartation of Holy Spirit, but that connection does not equate with a supernatural healing or miraculous sign. Moreover, they were not given through an apostle laying on hands, as some suggest as a reason for cessation. Anything could be called a sign of faith or the Holy Spirit presence, baptism, confessing Jesus is Lord (1 Cor. 12:3 ) or an altered life. This “sign” distinction is not supported in scripture and appears made up to support an argument.
The overriding conclusion one must be ready to accept with Cessationism is whether you will believe that large portions, even full chapters, of new covenant scriptures must be disregarded entirely, and it was God’s plan for us to disregard them. Such a presumption is contrary to a perfect God and perfect complete Word, relevant through the ages and to all mankind. (Acts 2:38-39) If some scriptures are now irrelevant who decides where to stop?
Cessationists assert that spiritual gifts have actually ceased; there have been no spiritual gifts, miracles, wonders, or supernatural healings for over 1900 years. The idea of cessation first arose with Calvin in the 16th Century. There is evidence of supernatural working of the Holy Spirit and Spiritual gifts in ancient church writings, various revivals, and the Charismatic renewal in the last two centuries. Many millions of Charismatic Believers are witnesses to what scriptures describe in detail. Written records of past revivals have documented manifestations of the Spirit that were accredited by an altered life. Simply denying the existence of spiritual gifts is no more evidence than denying that Jesus ever existed is proof he was never born. A more reasonable explanation for scarcity of recorded Spiritual manifestations during certain periods of church history is the apostasy that entered and prevailed in the church before the Reformation.
One favorable article for cessation stated, “The issue of whether sign gifts can function today is controversial due to the fact that the biblical information regarding their usage is not explicitly stated.” This is an example of how pervasive unbelief can become. Paul states, “Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.” (1 Cor.12:1) They are described extensively in scripture. It is true that Spiritual gifts are given as God decides and they are received and effected by faith. (Rom. 12:3,6) Where there is no faith there will be no gift (Gal. 3:2; Matt. 21:21); God seldom works amidst unbelief. (Mark 6:3-5) To suggest the gifts of the Holy Spirit do not exist, because one without faith has not been forced by God, against his will, to manifest a spiritual gift, is simply ludicrous. God demands faith (Heb. 11:6) which is offensive to the rational mind and pride of man’s intellect, rather than accept clear scripture, men strain with all kinds of fiction and bizarre argument in an effort to justify themselves and nullify God’s word.
Finally and most importantly, these comments are directed at a theory and teaching (better described as an argument for disbelief), not to any person, whether or not they willingly accepted Cessation teaching. People can still believe in Jesus, as God’s Son and refuse every gift God desires for them, except the Holy Spirit. I will not judge the servant of another, but I will speak against false teaching and rejecting God’s Word. It is true that love is the highest way and when Yeshua returns as King of the nations spiritual gifts will cease. You needn’t accept my testimony regarding Spiritual gifts, but consider carefully before disregarding any scripture, quench the Holy Spirit, or doubt God of the impossible.