Cessationism & Charismania: opposing poles of the Church spectrum
Graham: Islamic State will attack on US soil, Obama must stop terror group’s rise
Senator warns of possible attacks at home if US doesn’t combat Islamic fighters in Iraq, Syria
Indonesia—the fourth largest country on earth in population—has more Sunni Muslims than any other country on earth. Located in Southeast Asia, it boasts having the world’s largest unreached people group: a single tribe consisting of 50 million gospel-resistant Sunni Muslims known as the Sunda people. The Sunda tribe is just one of several large tribes in Indonesia consisting of Sunni Muslims. The radical Islamic group ISIS now committing barbaric atrocities in Iraq in creating their Caliphate consists of Sunni Muslims.
It happens that God has been giving dramatic dreams and visions to Muslims in which they see our Lord Jesus, resulting in many of them believing in Him as their Lord and Savior. In the gospels and Acts, we see Jesus and his disciples ministering to the sick and demonized with the result that God performed great miracles of healing. Scripture records that these miraculous signs resulted in people turning to Jesus as the Messiah. Therefore such miracles, whether dreams, visions, or miraculous healing and deliverance, can result in gospel-resistant peoples turning to Jesus Christ.
In 2003 we conducted a Seminar for Indonesian servants of God who minister in the area of West Java where the Sunda people live. At the Seminar we taught them how to reach these unreached Sunni Muslims more fruitfully. We taught them how to pray to God effectively with the goal of miraculous healings taking place to confirm the absolute truth of the gospel to the gospel-resistant Sunni Muslims. After the Seminar, two of the participating servants of God began to share the gospel with the Sunda Muslims and asked God to confirm the gospel to them by healing their sick miraculously. The Lord was gracious and answered their prayers. Many Sundanese Muslims were healed dramatically, and as a result accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
As of 2013, after ten years of sharing the gospel in this way, the two Indonesian servants of God have brought to Christ 2,700 Sunda Muslims and reached 70 of their villages. (As far as we know, no other group in Indonesia has achieved such results with the gospel-resistant Sunda tribe.)
This has also happened in crusades conducted in India in the recent past by evangelical pastors. As one particular Houston-area Baptist pastor prayed, God was gracious to hear his prayer, and He miraculously healed the sick who were present. As a result, many Hindus turned to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior at his crusade.
We can preach the gospel in the same way to those soldiers of jihad sent by ISIS to America to plant their black flag over the Whitehouse—as well as to the millions of other Muslims who have already made America their home. When they experience the amazing grace and miraculous healing power of God in their physical bodies, many will be open to believing that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father, who is the One True God and Creator. This will make evangelism to them much more fruitful.
But what about cessationism?
Cessationism of course teaches that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, including the gift of healing, have ceased with the availability of New Testament Canon to the Church. Since we now have the perfect and the complete word of God to teach and lead us (1 Corinthians 13:8-10), the imperfect gifts are no longer needed for believers. This we understand.
However, we have not finished preaching the gospel to every creature nor have we completed the Great Commission which involves discipling all nations. Can we say that the power and authority which Jesus gave to His disciples in the gospels when He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God to the lost has also ceased along with the gifts for building up the Church?
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 power and authority was specifically given to the disciples for preaching the gospel to those who never heard. It was to confirm to them that Jesus was the Messiah and that the kingdom of God had come near through Him. Today there are billions of precious souls in the Third World who have never heard, and many of them, like the Sunni Muslims of the Sunda tribe in Indonesia, are gospel-resistant. They need to see miraculous signs before they can believe, just like the Jews two thousand years ago during the time of Jesus (John 4:48).
It may be that we the Church do not need the gifts since we have the New Testament Scriptures to teach and guide us. But the power and authority given by Jesus in the gospels must be distinguished from the gifts. The former were given to the disciples in the gospels well before the gifts of the Spirit were made available on the day of Pentecost. And while the gifts are for building up the Church, the power and authority are for the express purpose of reaching the lost with the gospel.
Therefore cessationism should not preclude the use of the Lord’s power and authority to confirm the truth of the gospel to those who never heard. We should teach God’s servants how to pray effectively in order that the Lord will reveal His mighty power and authority to those radical, gospel-resistant Muslims who have come to our shores to convert our beloved nation to Islam by legal means. They intend to use our freedom of religion to spread their religion gradually. And once they have reached sufficient numbers, they will theoretically have the constitutional means to take away that freedom and force us by law to submit to their Allah.
But what Baptists have done in India with Hindus, we can do here in America with Muslims.
Perhaps we should re-visit cessationism for the sake of reaching them before they increase in numbers to the point where our task becomes very, very difficult?