The Error Of The Cessation Doctrine
SOME, IF NOT MANY, reading this article have probably never heard of the term “cessation doctrine” (or cessation theory). Most who actually believe in it have never heard of the term. There are many ways to define it, but the one I will use is this: The cessation doctrine is the belief that the Pentecostal working of the Spirit in the book of Acts passed away with the original apostles, and that it should no longer be expected, sought after, or seen in the church.
The Pentecostal working of the Spirit would include, primarily, the baptism with the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues, but also includes the gifts of the Spirit (I Cor. 12:4-11), the laying on hands for healing, and asking God to perform miracles to confirm His Word (Acts 4:23-33). This doctrine is mainly believed by non-Pentecostal groups such as Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Church of Christ.
Having been raised in a Baptist home that later became Pentecostal when my mother and stepfather were baptized with the Spirit, I am very familiar with the mindset of those who believe in the cessation doctrine. Growing up, if there were any family members who were saved, they were independent conservative Baptist. I attended a very conservative Baptist school from the age of 13 until I was 18. Words fail to say how thankful I am to the Lord for the fundamental biblical soundness lived out by my grandparents on both sides of my family, and for the Christian school I attended. The Lord used these greatly in my life.
Even though I am very thankful for my Baptist roots, when my mother and stepfather were baptized with the Spirit, and we started attending a Pentecostal church, I immediately saw the difference between a non-Spirit-filled church and life and that of a truly Spirit-filled church and life. I was only 6 years old at the time. I would eventually receive the baptism with the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues at the age of 16, and it changed my Christian life. The best way I can describe it is that Jesus became so big in me that I couldn’t hold Him in. The Holy Spirit always glorifies Jesus. It changed every aspect of my walk with God—prayer, worship, reading the Word—and the call of God on my life became clearer than ever before. So I can say that I’ve lived the non-Spirit-filled life, and I’ve lived the Spirit-filled life. The Spirit-filled life is so much better!
It seems I’ve heard all of the arguments or “biblical proof” that the Pentecostal working of the Spirit passed away with the original disciples. The most used “proof” is in I Corinthians 13:8-10 which says, “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they will fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”
Those who believe in the cessation doctrine believe that “when…(the) perfect has come” refers to the 66 books of God’s Word. In other words, when John finalized the writing of the book of Revelation, the “perfect” had come, and the working of the Spirit as seen in the Book of Acts passed away. Yes, it’s true that God’s Word is perfect (Ps. 19:7), but it was perfect before John finished writing Revelation. The “perfect” that Paul is referring to is the resurrection, or rapture. When believers are resurrected, all of the working of the Spirit as seen in Acts will be done away with; there will be no need for it anymore.
There is no scriptural evidence that the Pentecostal working of the Spirit passed away with the original apostles—zero! On the contrary, the Bible clearly tells us that the outpouring of the Spirit recorded in the book of Acts will continue until the second coming of Christ, which follows the seven-year tribulation period. In Acts 2, Peter quoted from Joel 2:28-32, which states, “It shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, that I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh…[until] the great and notable day of the LORD come [second coming of Christ].”
The “last days” began on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, and now we are in the last of the last days. What does this mean? It means that God is still pouring out His Spirit upon believers as He did in the book of Acts. It means that the baptism with the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues is still for today. It means that we as believers should ask God to confirm His Word with signs and wonders as was done in the book of Acts. Jesus hasn’t changed! He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8).
Jesus is the baptizer with the Spirit (Matt. 3:11). The baptism with the Spirit is a gift that God intends every one of His children to receive. What’s it for? It’s to receive the power of the Spirit to accomplish the work that God has for you. The main work is to be a witness (Acts 1:8). It’s not just power to do, it’s power to be a witness to others—a witness of the reality of Jesus Christ and all that He accomplished on the Cross. If you haven’t received the baptism with the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues, I encourage you today to ask God to fill you to overflowing just like He did for believers in the book of Acts.