Monday, June 04, 2007


The Cessationist View of Tongues

I am one who does take a cessationist view. I would restrict cessationism to only the sign gifts as sign gifts, of which I believe tongues is the main sign gift, although I would include the person who claims to be gifted to perform miracles.

My understanding of cessationism is based pretty squarely on 1 Corinthians 14:20 Brothers, don’t be childish in your thinking, but be infants in evil and adult in your thinking.
21 It is written in the law: By people of other languages and by the lips of foreigners, I will speak to this people; and even then, they will not listen to Me,says the Lord.
22 It follows that speaking in other languages is intended as a sign, not to believers but to unbelievers. But prophecy is not for unbelievers but for believers.
23 Therefore if the whole church assembles together, and all are speaking in [other]languages, and people who are uninformed or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your minds?
24 But if all are prophesying, and some unbeliever or uninformed person comes in, he is convicted by all and is judged by all.
25 The secrets of his heart will be revealed, and as a result he will fall down on his face and worship God, proclaiming, “God is really among you.”

I view tongues as a sign gift fulfilling the prophesy found in Isaiah 28. Look at verse 1 to get the context 1 Woe to the majestic crown of Ephraim’s drunkards, and to the fading flower of its beautiful splendor, which is on the summit above the rich valley. [Woe]to those overcome with wine.

The biblical sign gift of tongues has fulfilled its prophesied purpose of being a sign to unbelieving Israel of their impeding judgement and exile from the covenant.

It was a sign not meant to convert but to condemn.

Clearly this sign was given at each juncture in Acts where the gospel proceeded from one stage to the next: Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the endsof the earth.”

Jeruslem and Judea : Acts 2:4 Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability for speech.

Samaria Acts 8:14 When the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had welcomed God’s message, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 After they went down there, they prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For He had not yet come down on any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

to the ends of the earth: Acts 10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speaking in [other]languages and declaring the greatness of God. Then Peter responded, 47 “Can anyone withhold water and prevent these from being baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

Please note: It was Peter, among the apostles, who was given this task each time, fulfilling Matthew 16:18 And I also say to you that you are Peter,and on this rockI will build My church, and the forcesof • Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth is already boundin heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosedin heaven.”

The only other reference is that of Paul taking the gospel to the disciples of John the Baptist in Acts 19 (the Essenes?)and is likewise sginificant of its sign gift purpose.

Thus Paul's teaching to the Corinthians about tongues was only a solution to a short term problem: a true gift of tongues was not expected to be around many more years, for after AD 70 and the destruction of the Temple, it would be pretty clear that a complete transition of covenant had been made.

My primary usage of 1 Corinthians 13 in a cessationist argument is from verse 8 : Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for languages, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. ...
where languages "cease" (middle tense in Greek indicating that they cease in and of themselves.... > BECAUSE their purpose is completed)it is because they have fulfilled their prophesied purpose.

I have noted that people often offer a parody of a cessationist position to attack.. because its easier to attack a parody than the real thing.
I believe the real cessationist position stands on better ground exegetically than the continualist position (of course I would, I am defending the position), but I feel folk do themselves an injustice to attack the parody rather than the real cessationist position.

I would be glad to hear your views.


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