"The main thrust of his argument was that cessationists still believe that there can be miraculous healing, but there is no gift of healing operative in the church".
He noticed something I have picked up on too in my studies of the great charismatic/cessationist divide.
"It is easy to take the approach that says, "Sure, we believe that God can heal. He can do anything, and if he wants to, he will." And yet, we don't strive to cultivate the gift of healing.So, even though we may be 'continuationist' in our theology, it may be hard for an outsider to tell any difference between us and a cessationist like Challies if we are not actively pursuing the cultivation of these gifts".
I've just finished transcribing a document on "Ephesians 4 Ministries" that was ground-breaking when it was preached. The preacher put forward a concrete argument, carefully drawn from Scripture showing how it is inconsistent to believe that the risen Christ has given the gift of the pastor/teacher to the church and yet has withdrawn those of apostle and prophet (and evangelist if you are Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones). Unfortunately the preacher has changed his mind and thinks the apostle and prophet gifts are no longer given so I can't make it available. But I think the same inconsistencies surely apply in the whole realm of spiritual gifts and cessationism.
"I think this is the main problem in our churches today which is limiting our moving in the miraculous on many levels. Is it faith to believe God has the power to heal or is true faith believing God has not only the power but also the desire to heal? I have recently listed to some excellent sermons on the authoritative command for healing (by Rob Rufus) that radically changed the way I view this whole subject. He points out that there is only one instance where we are instructed to pray for the sick, the passage in James of course. Every other time healings occur it is at command. I rather like the way he says " God is tired of us asking him to do what he's already told us to do".
The challenge facing all of us who call ourselves serious and earnest readers and believers of the Word of God is this: Do we honestly believe that the Word of God categorically says that the spiritual gifts have ceased? Or are our orthodox stomaches turned by some excess we have observed and if we are honest, we don't really have the faith to lay hands on someone and see them healed, or open our mouths and hear a miraculous unknown tongue or a prophetic utterance from God come forth?
It's a challenging and excellent discussion and deserves to be heard. Particularly as the phrase; "raging charismatic fire-brands Larry Tomczak and C J Mahaney" is there somewhere. I like that. I wonder if people call me a "raging charismatic fire-brand". Or has that fire gone out? I think I would rather God told me to calm down from being a raging charismatic fire-brand rather than hear Him say that He is tired of telling me to go and do what He has already told me to do.
I am loving Jesse's heart and burden in what he is writing. I know I am not part of the same group of churches but I think it's one that can be shared in the Church universal in this awesome quote of C H Spurgeon;
"If there were only one prayer which I might pray before I died, it should be this: 'Lord, send thy church men filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire.' Give to any denomination such men, and its progress must be mighty: keep back such men, send them college gentlemen, of great refinement and profound learning, but of little fire and grace, dumb dogs which cannot bark, and straightway that denomination must decline."
Jesse closes that post; "We're only going to continue to advance the kingdom of God if the fire of God's Spirit burns in our hearts and gives us supernatural strength". I agree with his Mum. "Lord may it be!".