The Cessation of the Sign Gifts -- By: Thomas R. Edgar

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 145:580 (Oct 1988)
Article: The Cessation of the Sign Gifts
Author: Thomas R. Edgar


The Cessation of the Sign Gifts

Thomas R. Edgar

Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis
Capital Bible Seminary, Lanham, Maryland

Referring to the charismatic movement Hollenweger states that “in the not too distant future there will be more Christians belonging to this type of Christianity than to the Anglican community. They will number almost as many as all other Protestants together.”1 He feels that the numerical and perhaps the spiritual center of Christianity will shift to “Indigenous Non-white” or “Third World Pentecostal” churches.2 The validity of such a prevalent force is an issue that cannot be ignored.

The Essential Question: From God or Not from God?

As with any other doctrinal issue it is important to know the truth or the error of the “charismatic” position. This is not a purely doctrinal matter, since in the charismatic movement in all its various forms, such as Pentecostalism, neo-Pentecostalism, “power evangelism,” and the “signs and wonders” movement,3 emphasis is placed on phenomena and subjective experiences. These experiences, which transcend doctrinal considerations and doctrinal boundaries, are the raison d’etre of the movement. They are not merely the daily

outworking of one’s doctrine as distinct from his doctrinal position, but are usually crisis events that allegedly go beyond normal, traditional Christian experience. These so-called “spiritual” experiences are either from God or not from God. There can be no neutral or partially true position. Either they are biblically true or they are false experiences. If they are biblically false then the issue is much more serious than merely another view of the Christian life, since the charismatic movement involves a spiritual experience that attempts to be in direct contact with supernatural forces. Whether the charismatics are correct can only be determined from the Scriptures and other relevant facts. By the very nature of the issue, the “gifts,” such as tongues, healings, and signs and wonders, so prevalent in today’s charismatic movement, are either from God or not from God. There can be no middle ground.

Evidence Contrary to the Validity of the Phenomena

Several factors give evidence that the phenomena of the charismatic movement are not the gifts and activities of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. On the other hand charismatic proponents have given no evidence, other than their assumption, that these are the same phenomena. That their numbers are growing, tha...

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