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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Why CFBC Unapologetically Doesn't Practice Speaking in Tongues, Prophecy, or Miracles

CFBC is an Urban Cessationist Church


One of the most divisive theological issues in the church today is the question about spiritual gifts. In this study, we will search the Scriptures to shed clarifying light on this question that confuses and divides so many believers. First, we’ll identify the main three groups into which churches have divided regarding the gift of miracles, tongues, and prophecy.

1.    What do Continuationists believe? They believe that people with miraculous and revelatory gifts still exist in the church today. They believe that the church has recaptured the power of Pentecost, and that the miraculous manifestation of the power of the Spirit is essential for the sanctification of believers. They typically believe that these gifts stopped only because of sin dominated the church during the dark ages. Miracles and prophetic gifts and namely tongues play central roles in these ministries.

2.    What do Cautious Continuationists believe? This group is often called Open But Cautious. They believe that the tongues and prophetic gifts are for the church today and yet recognize many abuses of false expressions of these gifts. Also they generally do not play a central role in their ministries.

3.    What do Cessationists believe? They believe that the miraculous and revelatory gifts ceased after the Apostolic era. All evangelical, for that matter Anglican and Catholic churches before 1960, believed this. They believe today’s so-called revelation, tongues, and miracle workers in the church are at best illegitimate and at worst demonically inspired.

Here's a short list of churches, schools, and prominent leaders from each group?
  • Continuationists: Church of God in Christ, Holiness Churches, Pentecostal denominations such as Assemblies of God, King’s College, Fuller Seminary, Jack Hayford, TBN
  • Extreme Continuationists: Word Faith Preachers and Churches, Benny Hinn, TD Jakes
  • Cautious Continuationists: Calvary Chapels, Sovereign Grace Churches, Biola, John Piper, Wayne Grudem, C.J. Mahaney.
  • Cessationists: John MacArthur, The Masters Seminary and Colleges, most Baptist and Presbyterian Church, CFBC

After being invited to preach at a small Nazarene Church in Los Angeles, William J. Seymour, the Father of Pentecostalism, was kicked out after he preached from Acts 2 that tongues were the evidence of the Holy Spirit. Soon after, he moved to the Azusa Street Mission of LA. He held a revival attended by both blacks and whites, and it took off. People claimed to have visions, prophecies, and spoke in tongues/babel. It had bazaar extremes. People fell into trances, spiritists and mediums also attended. Many of the leading pastors and theologians of the day condemned this new movement (see B.B. Warfield in his book Counterfeit Miracles). Even Charles Parham, Seymour’s spiritual father, split with him over the extremes of what Seymour alleged to be the work of the Spirit. Nevertheless, a new powerful movement was born. It continued to gain numbers rapidly, and gave birth to all modern day Pentecostals and Charismatics.

When these events occurred the Los Angeles Times reported:

Meetings are held in a tumble-down shack on Azusa Street, and the devotees of the weird doctrine practice the most fanatical rites, preach the wildest theories and work themselves into a state of mad excitement in their peculiar zeal. Colored people and a sprinkling of whites compose the congregation, and night is made hideous in the neighborhood by the howlings of the worshippers, who spend hours swaying forth and back in a nerve racking attitude of prayer and supplication. They claim to have the "gift of tongues" and be able to understand the babel.[4]

BIBLICAL BASIS: The Truth about Tongues

  1. What is and is not biblical tongues? It is the gift of speaking in an unlearned real foreign language (Acts 2:5-11). It is not indiscernible babble (1 Cor 14:7-10). 
  2. Who had this gift? It was never the case that all believers could speak in tongues (1 Cor 12:30).
  3. Did Paul speak with the tongues of angels? Paul’s appeal to “speaking in an angelic language” is not a practice he claimed that he performed. He makes this hypothetical reference purely for the sake of argument to show how much more important love is than the gifts (1 Cor 13:1). Just as he did not have “all knowledge” or “give away everything he owned” neither did he “speak with the tongues of angels” (13:2-3).
  4. What was and was not the purpose of tongues? No gift including tongues was for personal edification (1 Cor 12:7; 13:5; 14:5b, 12). Paul is rebuking the Corinthians for selfishly trying to use the gift of tongues for themselves (14:4, also cf. 14:17). He is not commending this practice. God gave the gift of tongues to the early church to rebuke unbelieving Jews (1 Cor 14:20-22).
  5. Does the NT indicate that the gift of tongues would cease? The Greek text in 1 Cor 13:8 strongly suggests that tongues in and of itself would one day simply cease. Church history confirms that this gift of speaking in unlearned languages did in fact disappear and has never returned after the first century. Nothing claiming to be tongues today remotely resembles what happened on the day of Pentecost.


Some P/Cs create a two-tier breech within Christianity—the haves and the have-nots. They believe those who speak in tongues have the Spirit while those who don’t speak in tongues don’t have the Spirit. Some take that line of thinking to the extreme of believing non-tongue speakers are not saved.

P/Cs can become so enamored with the so-called ecstatic experience of tongues that they put more stock in their experience than in the Word of God (1 Cor 12:1-3). This error often leads to a serious case of spiritual AIDS leaving the church inept in its fight against dangerous heresies. Also some P/C churches lose sight of true spirituality—a Holy Spirit empowered holy life and accept in its place their ecstatic experiences, which are more pagan-like than like Pentecost.

So what do we do? (1) We believe tongues did cease (1 Cor 13:8) at the close of the apostolic age. Yet we fellowship with P/C believers who hold to the essentials of the faith. (2) We have limited fellowship with P/Cs who resist important doctrines such as the security of the believer, and all believers are filled with the Spirit. (3) We reject fellowshipping with those who reject the essentials of our faith like the trinity, and believe errors like the prosperity gospel and tongues are evidence of salvation, etc.

Pt 2 Prophecy and Miracles

HISTORICAL  CONNECTION: Quotes from the Church Fathers
Below is a small but representative sample of quotes about the church’s conviction about miracles, prophecy, and tongues in the Fall 2004, Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal on 1 Corinthians 13:8-13.

Augustine (354–430):
In the earliest times, “the Holy Ghost fell upon them that believed: and they spake with tongues,” which they had not learned, “as the Spirit gave them utterance.” These were signs adapted to the time. For there behooved to be that betokening of the Holy Spirit in all tongues, to shew that the Gospel of God was to run through all tongues over the whole earth. That thing was done for a betokening, and it passed away.

John Calvin (1509–1564):
“...the gift of healing, like the rest of the miracles, which the Lord willed to be brought forth for a time, has vanished away in order to make the preaching of the Gospel marvellous for ever.”

Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758):
Of the extraordinary gifts, they were given in order to the founding and establishing of the church in the world. But since the canon of Scriptures has been completed, and the Christian church fully founded and established, these extraordinary gifts have ceased.

Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892):
The works of the Holy Spirit which are at this time vouchsafed to the Church of God are every way as valuable as those earlier miraculous gifts which have departed from us. The work of the Holy Spirit, by which men are quickened from their death in sin, is not inferior to the power which made men speak with tongues.

[Speaking of the office of the apostles,] an office which necessarily dies out, and properly so, because the miraculous power also is withdrawn.

Benjamin B. Warfield (1887–1921):
These gifts were not the possession of the primitive Christian as such; nor for that matter of the Apostolic Church or the Apostolic age for themselves; they were distinctively the authentication of the Apostles. They were part of the credentials of the Apostles as the authoritative agents of God in founding the church. Their function thus confined them to distinctively the Apostolic Church and they necessarily passed away with it.

BIBLICAL BASIS:       The Truth about Prophecy

1.    Are modern day prophets often wrong? Yes, and in contradistinction to that, prophetic speech in the Bible is always 100% accurate (Deut 13:1-3; Jer 28:15-17; 2 Pet 2:1).

2.    Does the Bible indicate that prophecy might cease, and if, yes, then how? Paul writes that when that which is perfect (teleios in the Greek) would come, prophecy would cease (1 Cor 13:10). The Greek word teleios can mean either mature or perfect, depending on the context. Paul didn’t know exactly when prophecy would end because he didn’t know exactly when Christ would return (soon or not so soon). So to indicate when prophecy might end, he used two illustrations. One pointed to maturity—the growing from a child to manhood—and the other the arrival of perfection—seeing face to face rather than in a mirror, which was a polished metal in his day and not very clear (1 Cor 13:11-12). Either would cause prophecy to cease. It just so happened that maturity came before perfection. We are still awaiting Jesus to bring in the perfect state of the Kingdom. Theologians debate whether the mature thing that ended prophecy was the completion of the canon or the church in general. I believe the completion of the NT canon is the stronger position. Because Christ tarried, then just as the OT canon of revelation was concluded, Paul anticipated that the prophetic process of writing the NT would one day be complete, mature or teleios.

3.    Is God giving prophetic revelation today? No. Today God leads His people through the illuminating work of the Spirit based upon the revelation of His Word. No one today can add any so-called prophetic truth to the Bible (Rev 22:18-19).


Pentecostalism/Charismatic theology in its milder forms leaves the door open for revelation, which inadvertently suggests that the Scriptures are not sufficient (2 Tim 3:16-17). The language the “Lord told me to tell you” is theologically invalid and dangerous. If God indeed spoke to anyone, telling them to tell someone something, then the hearer is placed under the weight of having to obey because they’ve just heard the infallible will of God. No one should feel compelled to obey the voice of “God told me to tell you.” Why? Precisely because the claim of hearing prophetic revelation from God isn’t valid. God leads, guides, illumines us, but He doesn’t communicate in the revelatory sense of speaking to us outside of His Word. The P/C movement has totally confused these important theological distinctions and in doing so has left many people open to the deception of believing what someone tells them is God’s Word for their lives when it may not be.

But also many P/Cs love the Lord and the truths we hold as essential. Our difference should not keep us from fellowshipping together on almost any level except in church membership.

So what do we do? (1) We believe that revelatory gifts ceased (1 Cor 13:8) and yet we fellowship with those who believe all the other essentials of our faith. (2) We limit fellowshipping in teaching venues with those who resist important doctrines. And (3) we reject fellowshipping with those who reject the essentials of our faith: the Trinity, advocating a false gospel, i.e., the Word Faith’s prosperity gospel, etc.

Pt 3 Miracles/Signs and Wonders


In addition to the belief that revelatory and miraculous gifts are for the church today, the resurgence of Pentecostalism brought with it the signs and wonders movement. With a global outreach via Christian television broadcasting networks (like TBN), mega-star and mega rich faith healers have successfully spread their brand of Christianity all over the world. Starting in the 1920-30s with Aimee Semple McPherson, Oral Roberts in the 40s, Kathryn Kuhlman in the 50s, faith healers now include the biggest names in Christianity Fred Price, Benny Hinn, and others. Before we consider a biblical critique of the claims of faith healers, it would be helpful to gain a historical perspective by hearing the convictions of the early church fathers regarding the gifts of miracles.

Quotes from the Church Fathers
Below is a small but representative sample of quotes about the church’s conviction about miracles, prophecy, and tongues in the Fall 2004, Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal on 1 Corinthians 13:8-13.

John Chrysostom (c. 344–407):
This whole place [speaking about 1 Corinthians 12] is very obscure: but the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to and by their cessation, being such as then used to occur but now no longer take place.

Thomas Watson (c 1620–1686):
“Sure, there is as much need of ordination now as in Christ's time and in the time of the apostles, there being then extraordinary gifts in the church which are now ceased.”

Conyers Middleton (1683–1750):
We have no sufficient reason to believe, upon the authority of the primitive fathers, that any such powers were continued to the church, after the days of the Apostles.

George Whitefield (1714-1770):
[After being accused of practicing the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, said:]
I never did pretend to these extraordinary operations of working miracles, or speaking with tongues [since] the karismata, the miraculous gifts conferred on the primitive church . . . have long since ceased.

Arthur W. Pink (1886–1952):
As there were offices extraordinary (apostles and prophets) at the beginning of our dispensation, so there were gifts extraordinary; and as successors were not appointed for the former, so a continuance was never intended for the latter. The gifts were dependent upon the officers. We no longer have the apostles with us and therefore the supernatural gifts (the communication of which was an essential part of "the signs of an apostle," II Cor. 12:12) are absent.

BIBLICAL BASIS: The Truth about Signs and Wonders

  1. Is it normative (normal) for God to raise up miracles workers among His people? While it is true that throughout history God has done and continues to do the miraculous, it is also true that only during three relatively short spans in all of history did He perform the miraculous through men gifted to perform signs and wonders. And never was it the case during any point in history that all believers performed miracles.
  2. Why did miracles occur in biblical history? The Scriptures make it clear that God conferred miraculous gifts to Moses/Joshua, Elijah/Elisha, and Jesus/the apostles to validate/authenticate that they were His direct divine spokespersons (Exodus 4:1-5, 8-9; 14:31; 1 Kings 17:23-24; John 10:37-38; Acts 5:12; 2 Cor 12:12; Heb 2:4).
  3. What is the NT evidence of the work of the Spirit? The Bible warns against those (Matt 7:22-23) who claim signs and wonders as being evidence of salvation. The fruit of the Spirit is a morally transformed life (Gal 5:16, 22-23) with no reference to revelatory or miraculous gifts (Eph 5:18ff).
  4. Consider some of the extraordinary miracle workers in the Bible and answer the questions do the verified works of anything faith healer today remotely compare with them? (Exod 14:21-22; Deut 34:10-12; John 9:30-32; 11:43-44, 47; 53; 12:10-11; Acts 5:15-16; 9:36-37, 40; 19:12).
  5. What does the following investigations suggest about today’s so-called faith healers? Following a Kathryn Kuhlman 1967 fellowship in Philadelphia, Dr. William A. Nolen conducted a case study of 23 people who claimed to have been cured during her services. Nolen's long term follow-ups concluded there were no cures in those cases. Furthermore, "one woman who was said to have been cured of spinal cancer threw away her brace and ran across the stage at Kuhlman's command; her spine collapsed the next day, according to Nolen, and she died four months later." Also the show 20/20 exposed TV Evangelist Peter Popoff as a fake. He pretended that God was revealing to him sick people in the audience when in fact one of his workers would read that person’s pray card to him through a hidden receiver in his ear. 20/20 picked up the frequency


Many of today’s so-called faith healers are fake healers. They knowing deceive vulnerable people desperate for help to rob them of their money. The Bible warns us, “but evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived,” 2 Tim 3:13.

So what do we do? (1) We believe that the miraculous gifts from Pentecost ceased, and yet we acknowledge that God can and does do miracles as it pleases Him (2) We limit fellowshipping in teaching venues with those who resist important doctrines. And (3) we reject fellowshipping with those who reject the essentials of our faith: the Trinity, advocating a false gospel, i.e., the Word Faith’s prosperity gospel, false teaching faith healers, etc.

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