I am not a hard cessationist. I am a de facto cessationist.
Yes, I made that up. It may not be the best way to put it. But let me explain.
A hard cessationist believes that the “supernatural sign” gifts (prophecy, tongues, healings, etc.) stopped NECESSARILY out of an exhaustion of purpose. Why “necessarily”? Because, to the hard cessationist, the scriptures themselves teach that these gifts would cease.
I do not believe that. The Scriptures, as I see it, do not teach that these gifts would cease. In fact, most implications given are that these gifts would continue.
So, why am I still a cessationist? Do I not believe the Word of God? For one simple reason: while miracles did not cease, these gifts, according to every implication I can see, did.
It is not unlike the canon of Scripture. Why is the Bible no longer getting thicker? Why did the books stop being written and added to the canon? Every indication was that the canon would continue. However, most people believe in a “closed” canon. Now, while I do not accept the word “closed,” I readily admit that the scriptures are no longer being added to since the first century. Therefore, I do not believe in a “necessarily” closed canon. I believe in a de facto closed canon. The books just ceased.
To me, the gifts seem to have followed the same pattern. They were not “closed.” They simply ceased. It was a de facto stopping. That is what I mean by being a de facto cessationist.
Now, as I have said many times, I would love – no, I greatly desire – that the gifts had continued and were evident today just as I would love for the Word of God to still be given. Who wouldn’t?
In my opinion, it would be best if the word “charismatic” was no longer involved. You were a church or person who believed in the miraculous or you were not. You were either someone who called upon God to do great interventive things or you did not.
At this point, we would have to let God make the moves and leave the traditional designations behind. There would no longer be charismatic or non-charismatic. There would simply be those who called upon and hoped for the interventive movements of God, and his actions would determine our unity in this area. On the other side, there would be those churches who did not call upon or believe in the miraculous and they would suffer whatever the result may be.
I have not seen many miracles. Really, I’ve only seen one. And it did not end positively for me. But I promise you I have called upon them and I do hope for them. And if God makes his move, I will rejoice and celebrate, de facto.