Cessationism teaches that the miracles recorded in the gospels and Acts have ceased in the Church today. it teaches that the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit—like the gift of healing—have ceased. Moreover, since the Church now has the written Word of God, followers of Jesus Christ live according to Holy Scripture and no longer depend on or need miracles.
Whether or not we subscribe to cessationism, let us consider the following…
Does cessationism apply to Third World regions of the world where the Bible is not at all available and the gospel has never been preached—where there are no churches? Missiologists inform us that perhaps 40% of the world’s population live in such unreached regions overwhelmingly dominated by Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, animism, ancestor worship, witchcraft and sorcery. Such regions are spiritually very dark and similar to what the early disciples faced as they took the gospel to the ends of the earth in regions where people believed in Greek and Roman gods and had never heard of Jesus Christ.
In the gospels people came to hear Jesus preach and teach primarily because of the astonishing miracles he performed proving that He was the promised Messiah. Many accepted His message and believed that He was sent by the Father after witnessing the unprecedented miraculous works He did at His Father’s command.
Is it possible that this still holds true today in Third World missions to those who never heard? The answer is a resounding “yes”. People who never heard the gospel will pay close attention to it after they have witnessed miraculous works taking place in the name of our Messiah Jesus—miracles that their beliefs and gods have clearly failed to do.
This is what we are now witnessing through our trained harvest workers in predominantly Hindu India, soon to become the world’s most populous nation.
NOT the gift of healing
The miraculous healings recorded in Acts were overwhelmingly NOT the result of a gift of the Holy Spirit—like “the gift of healing”—which was available only after Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended. Rather the miracles in Acts were clearly the result of the early disciples exercising the power and authority which Jesus had given His disciples in the gospels well before Pentecost.
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.’
A study of the miracles performed by the disciples in Acts shows that overwhelmingly they continued to use the supernatural “power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases” which the Lord had given them in the gospels even before the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. In Acts therefore the early disciples were not using the “gift of healing” or the “gift of miracles” to minister to the sick, but rather the supernatural power and authority Jesus gave to every disciple He sent to proclaim the kingdom of God to those who never heard about Jesus as the Coming Messiah.
Supernatural “power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases” are still available to missionaries today who are sent to proclaim the kingdom of God to those who never heard. They are separate and distinct from the gifts of the Holy Spirit—which according to cessationism are said to have already ceased in the Church.