We are all afflicted with our church traditions and cultures. Based on our denominational or church backgrounds, we could have different concepts of miracles. That is inevitable because we do not all study the bible by ourselves. The majority of the time, we depend upon our elders, bible teachers and godly leaders to exhibit us what the bible says. We make the assumption that they are more knowledgeable than we’re and so we simply trust what they’ve taught.
Our church traditions have their good points but some of these are producing negative results. Therefore, it is not whether my church tradition surpasses yours or vice versa. The main element is to find out which facets of our traditions are consistent with what the bible actually teaches and which are not. It’s dangerous to you need to take things for granted.
Through The Elijah Challenge ministry, we’ve taught many nameless and faceless believers from both the mainline evangelical and Pentecostal / Charismatic churches. We thank God that a number of these mainline evangelical churches are receptive to divine healing and the practice of healing the sick.
There are a few churches that believe miracles have already ceased and therefore they can not happen today. Through their teachings, essays and books, quite several these church leaders have buried divine healings and miracles in the grave of cessation. Regardless of many modern evidences of healing miracles they try to justify their belief by rejecting all these as counterfeits.
The cessation theory expounded by Benjamin B. Warfield, a professor at Princeton Seminary from 1887 to 1921, continues to affect many churches. Echoing Warfield, these Christians declare that God only allow extensive miracles in three periods of history, namely from the time of Moses to Joshua, Elijah and Elisha. The next period was from the time of Jesus to the Apostles. The final time when miracles can become rampant will be the time of the Antichrist and the truly amazing Tribulation.
The churches that adhere to the professor’s assumptions and arguments ultimately put on theological blinders – God will no longer perform any miracles outside these periods. According to them, all the claims of healing miracles in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements are therefore either fakes or false miracles.
Like many of the modern cessationists, Warfield wasn’t anti-supernatural acim. He believed that all the supernatural activities present in the bible were true. However, he strongly believed that all the biblical spiritual gifts and miracles had ceased since the time of the Apostles. Signs and wonders cannot occur in our era mainly because God apparently doesn’t have reason to create them happen.
I studied an 18-page transcript of a type lesson taught by a well known proponent of cessationism. This famous bible teacher begins with the story of Hobart Edward Freeman, a professor of Hebrew, Old Testament Studies, Philosophy and Ethics, who was simply later influenced by the Word of Faith movement. Freeman subsequently became very extreme in his teaching on healing and created storms of controversy by disparaging medical institutions, doctors and medicine. His faith-formula theology has caused him to show that God is obligated to heal every disease and infirmity if the believer were to response in genuine faith. He believed that if anyone who claimed healing and still continued to take medicine, the individual would not be expressing his faith with matching action.
Later, Freeman was charged by the government for’negligent homicide’when some members of his congregation died as a result of lack of medical care. Women were told to offer birth in the home, assisted by midwives, approved by Freeman’s church. Dead babies were prayed to be resurrected at the altar. Apparently, about 90 parishioners died during Freeman’s tenure. Two weeks prior to his appearance in court, Freeman passed away.
The bible teacher then listed his own selection of so-called extreme faith healers which range from A. A. Allen, Kathyrn Kuhlman to John Wimber. In careful calculated mockery, he says, “Now, it appears obvious, at the very least a curiosity to many of us that so many leading advocates of faith healing are sick!” He’s careful to point out that a number of these faith healers also died of chronic diseases.
After presenting a whole host of weird and ridiculous events which were considered miraculous by the naive, the bible teacher hopes to convince his audience that individuals who experience or believe in modern miracles are of similar category of naive people. Sounding benevolent, he warns that false signs and false miracles are the principal tool of Satan in the long run times.
This cessationist claims he believes God can still do miracles because God’s power has not diminished even in modern time. As soon as he finishes that, he quickly emphasizes that none, absolutely none, of the so-called miracles experienced today is of biblical standard. Then he reiterates his persuasion that both history and the Scripture support his belief that the gift of miracles, as stated in 1 Corinthians 12, has ceased operating today. He challenges the Charismatics to make at least one person who’s raised from the dead. The majority of the healing miracles, according to this teacher, are partial, gradual, temporary and on occasions, become reversed. They’re impossible to verify and apparently the only instant miracles are the ones that have to do with psychosomatic diseases.
With heavy mockery, this teacher says that even when the Holy Spirit wants to produce His power to heal, why does He choose to produce it on people who are teaching bad theology. In true pharisaic approach, he declares that surely if the Holy Spirit wanted to authenticate anybody with miracles, He could have chosen people such as the cessationists because in line with the teacher, these were supposed to the majority of skilled and teach the truest, purest, most profound and biblical form of theology. The arrogance of their theological prowess is evidenced nonetheless it is good for us to see that after Jesus first came, He did not approach the so-called skilled teachers of the Torah to share the Good News. He instead called people who were not theological trained people such as for example fishermen, tax-collector and even ex-prostitute.