There are some who admit they hear God speak. There are others who mock the very concept. The two main reasons for disbelief are lack of personal experience and errant doctrine. If you look closely at the popular passage used by believers in this errant doctrine, you’ll notice a major fallacy in this notion of cessationism:
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
Hmmm…. Let’s consider this a moment. Prophecies will cease. Tongues will be stilled. Knowledge will….. what? Pass away? Hmm….. I think it’s safe to say that knowledge has yet to pass away. That would mean that prophecy and tongues aren’t obviously a thing of the past either.
Let’s lay aside our preconceived notions of what the Bible says. In truth, most of us don’t live by what the Bible says. We live by what other people have taught that it says. We often live based on someone else’s interpretation. So our trust, in that most crucial moment, hangs on the infallibility of a fellow brother in Christ who is just a capable of sin and error as we are.
I don’t win anything if you agree with me, and agreeing with me is not my goal. We should ALL endeavor to agree with God, and with what HIS word says. I don’t need John Calvin or John Wesley or Martin Luther or Augustine to tell me what the Bible says. These men loved the word and did the best they knew how to interpret and teach what the Scripture says. But they weren’t always right. We know this, because they disagree with each other, and truth does not contradict truth.
Cessationism was not a belief based on Scripture. Instead, it was a belief based on a lack of physical evidence. Fewer and fewer men prophesied. Fewer and fewer men and women spoke in tongues. Fewer healings took place. As the church grew more into the role of a government than a biological body, the power and revelatory gifts of the spirit dwindled. In essence, it was Man who quenched the Spirit, not the Spirit who withheld from Man.
Let’s not make this a major point of contention. It IS possible for God to speak to men and women, and it IS true that he does whether or not you have experienced it yet. But I believe that ANY heart seeking God and asking for him to speak will encounter him directly. God is not a man that he should lie, and he said, “My sheep hear my voice.”
Yes, those of us who grew up being taught differently are scared. Heck, we’re terrified. If we admit that God can speak, then we are responsible to listen! And what if he tells us to do something we don’t want to do? Then we’d be in as direct disobedience as we can be! Or what if we can’t tell the difference between the still small voice of God and our imaginations? What if we say or do something because “God told us to” and we’re wrong? What if we look foolish?
God uses foolish things to confound the wise. It takes a humble Christian to go out on a limb to obey what they think God is saying to them and risk looking foolish in the eyes of everyone else. He gives grace to the humble and resists the proud. Are you really worried about doctrine or your image? It’s a question worth asking, because in the end, we will have to give an account to our Father in heaven, and what excuse will we give for a lifetime of ignoring his voice? “I didn’t know,” just somehow doesn’t cut it. We have a lifetime to pursue the truth, and to pursue every angle that is necessary to say that we have full confidence that we have made ourselves available to our loving Savior.