Cessationism & Charismania: opposing poles of the Church spectrum

In I Corinthians 12 the apostle Paul teaches about the nine supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit. The clear purpose of these gifts is for building up the body of Christ—which consists of those who believe in and follow Jesus.

12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (NIV)

The gifts of the Spirit are for the common good of the Body of Christ. That is unequivocally the function of the gifts of the Spirit.

Now some teach that these supernatural gifts are no longer in operation, including the gift of miracles and the gift of healing. This is based on the very next chapter of I Corinthians where Paul warns the Corinthians—who were misusing the gifts—that love is far more important than the supernatural gifts.

13:10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. (KJV)

Some teach that the “perfect” has already come in the form of the written Holy Scriptures, and that therefore the gifts—“that which is in part”—have in fact disappeared. Others, however, disagree with this interpretation and believe that the “perfect” refers to the coming of Jesus Christ.

But for the sake of argument—on whatever basis—let us say that the supernatural gifts have passed away. The Church now has the written Scriptures to minister to us and build us up (or we have already by faith attained to the “perfect” eternal state as maintained by others), and we have no more need of the supernatural gifts of the Spirit.

However, Paul’s teaching in Chapters 12 and 13 focus on the supernatural gifts only. It says nothing about the power and authority the Lord has entrusted to the Church to be used in reaching the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospels speak clearly of this power and authority.

Luke 9:1 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases,  2  and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 

This supernatural power and authority over diseases and demons were given to the disciples for the purpose being sent out to proclaim the kingdom of God to the lost. The miraculous healings through the disciples would confirm the truth of the gospel to the lost, and convince them that Jesus Christ was in fact the promised Messiah. This power and authority was definitely not for the purpose of ministering to the Church, which was not yet in existence in the gospels.

Therefore the power and authority over diseases and demons is very different and to be contrasted with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The power and authority are essentially for ministering the gospels to the lost, while gifts are primarily for ministering to the Church. The power and authority were given to the disciples in the gospels, while the gifts of the Spirit were not available until the day of Pentecost in Acts when the Holy Spirit descended from heaven. Every one of the Twelve disciples was given this power and authority as well as the Seventy-two later in Luke 10; while not every believer has been given the gift of healing (I Corinthians 12:30).

Therefore power and authority over diseases and demons are clearly not to be confused with the gifts of the Holy Spirit—in particular the gift of healing. Although it is argued that the gifts have disappeared, it is unscriptural to apply the same argument to power and authority.

The Church has the Scriptures, so it is said that we no longer need the gifts. But has the Great Commission been fulfilled? Have all nations been discipled? Has the gospel been preached to all creation—including multiplied billions of hardened, difficult-to-reach, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and idol-worshippers?

No. Therefore, power and authority over diseases and demons is still very much available to the Church today to be used in preaching the gospel to the gospel-resistant lost who often need to witness such signs before they can consider Christ as Lord and Savior.