Cessationism & Charismania: opposing poles of the Church spectrum

I would like to take the liberty to share with you something which is on my heart.

Last year it was reported to us that a young woman in Indonesia who had died was raised back to life by disciples who had trained under The Elijah Challenge. This took place while a crowd of Muslims was praying for her spirit to be received by their Allah in their heaven.

A video is now being produced in Indonesia of this woman’s testimony. Through this woman’s testimony plus those who were present at the incident (as well as any available medical evidence), we hope to show to the Muslims and to the world that the Jesus we preach is the only way to the Father in heaven who is the Only True God.

The One whose name has authority to bring back the spirit of someone who has left this life for another place is also the One who has authority to send the spirit of that person to His Father’s house.  


The raising of Lazarus

John 11:25  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;  6  and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  …

41  So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  42  I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”  43  When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44  The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

As Jesus raised Lazarus back to life, He also raised back to life the woman who had died in the testimony above. This is the proof that whoever believes in Him will never die, but will have everlasting life.

We will not be surprised if Muslims who read this testimony will attempt to do harm to this woman, just as the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus after Jesus raised him from the dead (John 12:10). They are already looking to arrest the leaders responsible for the extraordinary miracle. But whoever does such a thing will have to account for what he has done on that Day before Jesus Christ the Judge who Himself rose from the dead and holds the keys of death and Hades (Revelation 1:18).

Last year Muslims displeased with the fruit of our ministry hacked into our website and brought it down twice, costing us considerable expense in bringing it back online in a much more secure form and many, many hours of labor restoring each one of the well over 1,000 pages. Even now our site experiences an average of ten attacks per day.

When we were holding an open-air evangelistic event in Pakistan in the early 2000s, we had to shut down and flee when Muslims hearing the gospel being preached threatened to do us harm.    


But… Christians?  

Of course we are not surprised at such behavior on the part of Muslims. What perplexes us is the position of some Christians against us. For one, there are some groups which criticize us because we are too conservative. We do not “teach” believers how to speak in tongues nor do we teach supernatural manifestations which are not recorded in New Testament Scripture. We do not teach “prosperity and success” in this life as is often emphasized in some circles, but rather carrying one’s cross daily and denying oneself for the sake of the kingdom of God. And so in such circles some (but certainly not all) have rejected us as being too conservative and having fallen short of all that God has for His people. For that reason the pastor of the church of which we were formerly members essentially drove us out. (He is no longer at that church.)    


So what DO we teach?

What we do teach is preaching the gospel to all creation and discipling all nations before the great and terrible Day of the Lord. And when proclaiming the kingdom of God to extremely gospel-resistant peoples like Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, idol-worshippers and those who believe in witchcraft, the Lord will often confirm the message with miraculous signs in order that such peoples can overcome their cultural resistance to the gospel and believe in Jesus as the Messiah. We teach that the Lord can and will use His servants to perform these works as evidence of the truth of the gospel to the lost, just as He used His disciples in the gospels and in Acts. This is based on the following Scriptures:

John 4:47  When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death. 48  “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”  …50  “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”  The man took Jesus at his word and departed.  51  While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living.  …53  So he and his whole household believed.  

John 20:30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.  31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John 14:12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing…

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. 

Luke 10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. …9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’     



Unfortunately some Seminary-trained leaders who have been taught “cessationism” will say that the Scriptures from Luke above no longer apply for disciples today. One former well-known pastor of a large conservative church in the city where we live labeled what we teach as “false teaching” without even having heard the teaching from us directly. Another pastor serving in another very large conservative church also in our city said that what we teach is “heresy” without even knowing exactly what we teach. (Interestingly, as mentioned above we are too conservative for groups at the other, opposite end of the Church spectrum.)    


The greatest miracle

The greatest miracle is the new birth through faith in Christ. When a believer leads a sinner to faith in Christ, he or she has had a part in the greatest of all of God’s miracles—eternal life for the sinner. Our “heresy” is teaching that God can and does use His people in His “lesser” miracles as well—ministering to the sick and demonized with power and authority—as a sign to lost sinners that the gospel is in fact absolutely true. And in order to reach the very difficult gospel-resistant billions who live outside the West and who consider Christianity to be a western white man’s religion, God uses His servants to do these “lesser” miracles, just as He did in the gospels and in Acts. These miraculous healings and deliverances are powerful evidence to Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and idol-worshippers that our God is the Only True God and that Jesus Christ is the only way to Him.

This is not merely theory, but we have seen it take place in actual practice over the past 14 years through the many unknown disciples and servants of God who have dared to follow and apply Jesus’ model for ministry to the sick and infirm in the context of proclaiming the kingdom of God to the lost. Isn’t it scriptural for disciples to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and to do what He did?

Now the Lord has graciously entrusted to us the miracle of the raising of the dead in Indonesia through servants of God we personally trained. Can “false teaching” or “heresy” result in the raising of the dead before a crowd of Muslims? Does Satan have the power and authority to raise the dead—as only God does?

But Jesus told His disciples that the world would hate them because it would hate Him first.

John 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.

Perhaps it is worthy of note that in the time of Jesus, it was the religious leaders of the day who were threatened by him and hated him.  We can understand why Muslim leaders would hate us because we equip disciples to preach Jesus Christ among them powerfully and fruitfully. But Christian leaders…?