by: Matthew Glover
“The results of the current election prove that gifts of the Spirit, namely prophecy, have ceased.”
This is a cessationist argument.
What is cessationism?
Cessationism is simply the belief that the gifts given on the day of Pentacost, and the ones spoken of by Paul in 1 Corinthians, have ceased.
When did they cease?
Cessationist believe that the gifts ceased after the Apostolic Age, meaning they stopped at the death of the last apostle, John.
In short after the death of John, who wrote The Book of Revelation, gifts such as speaking in tongues, and prophecy stopped and no longer happen.
The subject of cessationism is quite vast and so I want to focus on the gift of prophecy and this past election. I actually want to focus on a recent argument presented on Tik Tok.
So let’s break this down.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- The Prophecy of Donald Trump That Never Happened
- A Cessationist’s Argument (Ephesians 4:12-13)
- Refuting the Argument Step by Step
THE PROPHECY OF DONALD TRUMP THAT NEVER HAPPENED
I’m sure if you watched anything put out by the Evangelical Christian movement on social media, print, or television you would have seen a menagerie of “prophecies” stating that Biden did in fact steal the election, the truth was going to come out immediately, the election was going to be overturned in favor of Donald Trump and he was going to continue his presidency and “Keep America Great”.
However, that’s not what happened.
There are still those who believe that Trump will pull out a victory from somewhere and fulfill the prophecy given to them by God.
This has created a noticeable divide on Christian social media between those who believe these prophecies, those who don’t, and those who believe that the gift of prophecy has ceased.
A Cessationist’s Argument (Ephesians 4:12-13)
Tik Tok is already a pretty rough terrain. Once you have, sort of, figured out how to program your algorithm you still get strange stuff. I get a lot of videos from “Christian Tik Tok” and a vast majority I agree with because they are usually pretty basic. What can you really ask for, given only 15-60 seconds to present an idea. However, the video pictured above showed up on my “For You Page” (Feed).
This individual claims that the Trump prophets are equivalent to the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18. I don’t agree with that, but I do have my opinions about these “prophecies” that have been going on, but that’s not the argument I wish to address. The argument I wish to address is that prophecy has ceased.
Let me lay out the argument that I will be rebutting beginning with his reading of Ephesians 4 presented from the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible.
I will address the usage of “13a” in my rebuttal.
Here is his argument based on this passage:
- The gifts (namely prophecy) were meant “till” or until – which gives these things an expiration date.
- The unity of faith is talking about the Jews and Gentiles now being one in the faith as stated in Galatians 3:28.
- The knowledge of the Son of God is the saving knowledge of Jesus, it has come to us, and you can’t be saved without this.
- Unto a perfect man refers to being “in the perfect man” meaning you are “in Jesus” meaning saved, and Jesus lives in you.
This is a lot. There are some points that are not wrong, but I believe they are being USED incorrectly. So let’s refute this, shall we?
RefuTing the Argument Step by Step
YOU FORGOT ABOUT VERSE 11
The first rebuttal I have to make is this. Ephesians 4:12-13a is either A. not addressing spiritual gifts but offices, or B. the gifts being referred to in these verses are offices themselves.
See if we move our stubby little fingers to Ephesians 4:11 ( I will be using the ESV from now on because it’s MUCH easier to understand).
These are offices given. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, “shepherds” (pastors), and teachers have been given FOR the perfecting of faith, the work of ministry, and the edifying, or building up, of the body of Christ, the church.
If we are to believe that the gifts referred to in this chapter in these verses have ceased, then why do we still have evangelists, and pastors and teachers? Why have those “gifts” not ceased, because THAT is the context of this passage?
I’m sure our friend still believes that the office of pastor, evangelist, and teacher are still suitable for today.
Why would he be okay with that?
Because there’s still work to do.
“till” is an unrealized expiration date
I agree that when someone says “until” that is usually associated with some sort of end. However, I don’t see any evidence that these things have happened, or that Paul even hints that these things he lists are even close.
Let’s look at another verse that speaks of the completion of the gifts. 1 Corinthians 13.
Gifts will surely pass away, but Paul says, “when the perfect comes”. I don’t know what that means to you, but Jesus already came, and revealed himself to that generation. So the perfect already came once and left again, before Paul wrote these letters, so what perfect could Paul be talking about?
“The perfect man” as the King James puts it in Ephesians 4:13a? I will flesh that thought out at the end.
I believe Paul is talking about the New Heavens and the New Earth when, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:
“Be steadfast…knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain,” because the imperfect will be made perfect, and the partial will be made whole.
These things have not happened yet, and therefore the “gifts” in Ephesians 4 MUST still be available in order to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”
The Unity of the Faith (Galatians 3:28) Doesn’t Support Your Position
What does Paul mean by the unity of faith? Well let’s look and see what our friend thinks the unity of faith is, in Galatians 3:28:
In the Tik Tok video our friend states the verse above and says, “Jews and Gentiles are one in the faith.” (I want to point out he does not mention the male or female bit.)
The word Gentile is just another way of saying “non-Jewish”. The word is usually translated from the greek, “ethnos” meaning ethnic. Ethnically anyone who is not Jewish is a Gentile, or from another “nation”.
In the Bible, specifically the Old Testament, when you see the word “nation” it’s talking about the nation of Israel, and when you see the word “nations” with an s, it’s referring to everyone else.
So our friend says that Galatians is talking about the unity between the Jews and the Gentiles. Well, I agree…
The disconnect comes when one uses this verse to “proof-text” their point of view, when the verse is not giving evidence for such a thing.
In the book of Galatians “Messianic Believers” or Jews that believed Jesus to be the Messiah, were coming to the church in Galatia, which was made up of mostly Greek Gentiles, and telling them they needed to fulfill the law in order to truly be a part of the Jesus movement.
So, the Jewish believers were separating the non-Jewish believers by their practice, however Paul states, very clearly, that because of faith there is no more distinction. Jews and Greeks are now under faith and are now apart of one family.
He also separates the classes as well in verse 28, “no longer slave or free, male or female, you are all one (equal and apart of a singular movement together) in Christ Jesus.”
Yes, unity has come through Christ, however unity is still something to be accomplished to completion, or as Paul states in Ephesians 4:13, “until we all attain unity,” not only of faith, but also of, “knowledge of the Son of God,” meaning there are those who do not have this knowledge.
The knowledge of the Son of God is the saving knowledge of Jesus, it has come to us, and you can’t be saved without this.
As I closed the last section, I want to reiterate what Paul was saying in Ephesians 4:
I still didn’t quote the entire verse. I will address that, but I want to tackle his argument here.
Paul says, “until we all.” Until all of us have grown into a unity of faith and into a knowledge of the Son of God. Paul continues chapter 4 with a call to maturity and growing which implies there are some that aren’t as fully developed in faith and knowledge. I would argue, that’s why we need, Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers, to help us grow into maturity.
Paul also says this in his letter to the Philippians, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” (Philippians 2:12).
When I was in the Baptist church there were these different phases of your salvation. Sanctification, edification, glorification.
Sanctification is the process of separating out, making one holy through salvation.
Edification is the building up and training; working out salvation.
Glorification is the final completion when faith is fulfilled and perfected.
The knowledge of the Son of God isn’t just one thing, but something we work through continually until the time of perfection.
Unto a Perfect Man – You Forgot About The Rest of Ephesians 4
I’ve already touched on this, but let’s finish out Ephesians 4:13 first.
If our friend were to have included, “until the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ,” to his argument it would have fell apart because it’s painfully obvious that no one living today has, as Paul says, “come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”
If you can’t understand KJV here’s the ESV:
Until we all attain maturity that measures to the quality of the Jesus’ fulness.
Do you know anyone like that?
So maybe God has given these gifts to us, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, to help us attain perfect maturity so that we aren’t,
We need to be cautious of false prophets, so that we aren’t tossed around believing everything we hear. We need to build each other up in love and make the body grow so that the perfect can come and these gifts can truly cease.