Pentecostal Apologetics

This is Part Two of: "Cessation of Tongues" (Concerning 1 Cor. 13)

 Cessationist reasoning (that tongues would die out before other forms of prophecy) is beyond insane; as they must take great liberties and questionable assumptions to make it work. Notable Greek scholars (some, who are cessationists themselves) decry the technique used for that argument.

It is ironic, that to be consistent, cessationists have to say that the gift of "interpretation of tongues" was to last longer than the gift of "tongues" itself (as interpretation is "prophecy" and is not mentioned as ceasing). Another absurdity of the cessationist argument is that they have had to create a "two-outpouring theology."

They believe that prophetic speech has already ceased; and yet, they know that Jesus told His disciples that in the last days people will speak prophetically (again):

"But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." Matt. 10: 19-20

The above verses are also mentioned in Mark 13: 11, and Luke 21: 5. In all three occasions Jesus is speaking of the very last days of the tribulation period; and He is saying that His disciples will speak by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, cessationists have had to say that there will be a second outpouring of God's Spirit on all flesh for this to be possible; and hence, a two-outpouring theology.

Another absurdity from the cessationist camp is that they take the prophetic praying of Romans 8: 26 (which they believe is here today--as long as the person praying does not speak in tongues, or even groans audibly by the Spirit), which is written below, and say that it is not really anything prophetic--as if it happens every time someone prays.

"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Rom. 8: 26

What cessationist will say that Rom 8:26 is not for today? But graonings and inward sounds are basically the same as tongues. It is 99% same. The only difference is that tongues-speakers move their lips a little more, and if it is to be interpreted they are also louder. Clearly 8:26 is a man praying with the Holy Spirit taking over. This is similar to what is described in 1 Cor. 
"For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries"  1 Cor 14: 2

There is an incredible bit cessationist nonsense that needs to be explained here. This will show the reader that cessationists scoff at the science of hermeneutics (the science of interpreting scripture) in order to read into the text that the prophetic gifts have died out. Here it is (following the scriptures):

13: 9 "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part."

13: 10 "But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away."
13: 11 "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

13: 12 "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."

13: 13 "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."

The cessationist argument is as follows:

"The 'perfect' is the Bible. When the perfect inscripturated prophecy (the Holy Bible) arrived [perhaps in the 3rd or 4th century, or wichever date they pick] people no longer needed the partial prophetic knowledge of tongues, prophecies, dreams, and visions; so they ceased to happen. For, when Paul wrote 1 Cor., the Bible had not yet been completed so the prophetic gifts were still in operation. This means that people at that time could only know part of God's word; which meant they were like spiritual children who understood like children. They were limited in their knowledge of God, because they had no Bible and could only know what Paul taught them (when he was with them) which was not very much. So they could only see through a glass darkly."

Face to Face

Now, the obvious problem with their reasoning above, is that the gifts will not cease until we are in the millenial reign, and see (God/Christ) face-to-face. This, of course, puts cessationists in a dilemma. For they want to say that people knew in part until the Holy Bible was written, and since then, people can see face-to-face. Therefore, "face-to-face," for them, must not mean face-to-face; as for them, it must mean, "face-to-book/Bible"

And here is where cessationists use the most horrible hermeneutics known to man. As they say: "Face-to-face does not mean that we will see God/Christ; but instead, reading the Holy Bible is coming face-to-face with God; because in it we see how wicked we are compared to God's holiness, and that knowledge is similar to coming face-to-face with God Himself."

When they say the words above, all they are really saying is that "face-to-face" actually means, "face-to-book" Written below are five of the cessationist theologies:

1 "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know even as also I am known." 1 Cor. 13: 11-12

Cessationists say: "Reading the Holy Word is seeing God face-to-face because in reading the Holy Word we see how wicked we are compared to how holy God is, and that is like seeing God Himself--face-to-face."

2 "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know even as also I am known." 1 Cor. 13: 11-12

Cessationists say: "When we read the Holy Word, we see ourselves as we really are--as sinners; in this way the Holy Word is like a mirror showing us how we look; as God sees us--as James agrees with us: "For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass [ a mirror]" (James 1: 23)

3 "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know even as also I am known." 1 Cor. 13: 11-12

Cessationists say: "Spiritual gifts; particularly tongues, are for the immature--for the spiritual children. We are to grow out of them and focus on reading the Holy Word; rather than using spiritual gifts. Paul agrees with us: "Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men." "Wherefore tongues are for a sign" (1 Cor. 14: 20,22)

4 "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." 1 Cor. 13: 9-10
Cessationists say: "The 'perfect' is the Holy Word of God. So when the Holy Word was made available, the prophetic gifts ceased. James agrees with us: 'But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty... shall be blessed' (James 1: 25)

5 "And now abideth faith, hope, charity [love], these three; but the greatest of these is charity." 1 Cor. 13:13

Cessationists say: "The prophetic gifts were temporary, and were passing away; but love is permanent, and will last throughout the church-age."

First of All Four Observations:

1) The plain meaning of the words, "face to face" imply being in God's presence (um, face-to-face). "for they have heard that thou LORD art among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face" Numbers 14:14 "The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire" Deut 5:4 "And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face" Deut 34:10 "And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend" Ex. 33: 11 In the verses above, "face-to-face" refers to direct revelation/knowledge from God--Not information from God through a third source, such as the written word. Face-to-face is direct revelational knowledge from God. There is no way the term, face-to-face can be construed into saying, "face to book." The Greek word, "anigmati" that has been translated as "darkly" and from which we get our english word, "enigma" from, basically means, "a riddle." The Greek wording of 1 Cor. 13: 12 is as follows:
"For we now see through a reflection ["reflection" may be translated as mirror] in a riddle but then face to face"

Because both mirrors [back then], and riddles do not reveal everything clearly; Paul was using the mirror/riddle illustration to show the Corinthians that prophetic messages are only bits and pieces of God's knowedge (not perfectly clear). And that revelational knowledge would be partial until we are actually in the presence of Christ (face-to-face). But cessationists have come up with the opposite conclusion. They have to say (to support their theories that the "perfect" is the Bible):
"at Corinth, the bronze mirrors were of excellent quality that revealed every facial blemish; and therefore, Paul was showing that face-to-face does indeed mean face-to-book as the Holy Bible reveals every spiritual blemish that people have (of course, they leave out the word "riddle" as it does not fit in well with their theology)."

Notice that the verses from Numbers (below), show that prophetic revelation is in riddles; that is, in part--not full knowledge. But that face-to-face revelation (as with Moses) is perfectly clear and understandable. Cessationists suppose that only the written Word is clear and understandable.
"And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold" Num 12: 6-8

A few verses below reveal that Bible writers used the words "face-to-face" to mean just that (This should not even be an issue of contention, but cessationists are insistent that "face-to-face" means "face to book/Bible")
2 John 1:12 "Having many things to writ unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face"

3 John 1:14 "But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face"

2 Cor 10:1 "Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meakness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you" The Greek wording of the above verse has the word "face" instead of "presence." This verse should rightly be translated as "I am weakly when face-to-face with you." It is possible that other Bibles use "face-to-face" in their renderings of the above verse.

2) Paul did not know of a complete Holy Bible, or he would have mentioned it rather than saying, "the perfect." Paul never thought there would be a Holy Bible. Notice that Paul thought that the Lord would be returning very soon, and he still made no attempt to gather epistles together to form a complete (perfect) Holy Bible. It must be realized that Paul wrote 1 Cor. with the idea that the Lord is returning soon:
"So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" 1 Cor. 1: 7
"Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come," 1 Cor.4: 5

"But this I say, brethren, the time is short" 1Cor. 7: 29

Paul wrote to the Corinthians as if the time was short, and yet he still made no attempt to gather scriptures together to form a complete Holy Bible. It is not possible that he was telling the Corinthians that the "perfect" is a completed Holy Bible.

3) In context, Paul was not refering to incomplete writings with a few epistles--Then the perfect Holy Bible. He was speaking of incomplete and partial revelation (dreams, visionst, tongues etc)--Then complete revelation knowledge of God (during the heavenly age). Paul was not talking about the law and prophets, Septuagint, incomplete writings and scraps of paper---then the perfect complete Bible. Rather he is talking about incomplete revelation knowledge in tongues dreams etc---then perfect revelation knowledge as we will be face to face with Him, and no longer needing partial bits of revelation to guide us.

4) Paul includes himself as one who only knows in part, and who will actually see the perfect. Paul includes himself as not yet perfect though he knows the entire gospel message. For Paul has the complete inerrant Word in his mind already he does not have to wait for the perfect Holy Bible to be written so that he will see himself in mirror and realize that he is a sinner-- "the chief of sinners." Paul even knows of the antichrist and end times per his message to the Thessalonians speaking of the man of sin to be revealed. The only thing Paul did not know is the exact number (#666)of the beast Paul includes himself as one who knows in part, and prophesies in part. He includes himself as one who is waiting for the "perfect" to come. And as seen in the verses below, he includes himself as one who will see the "perfect."

"For we know in part, and we prophesy in part... For now we see through a glass darkly... now I know in part; but then I shall know even as also I am known" 1 Cor. 13: 9-12

Paul had  recieved his doctrine from the Lord Himself (per Gal. 1: 11-12),  what was left for Paul to know? Yet he said that he only saw through a glass darkly (in a riddle). If we see clearly cause we have the complete Holy Bible but he did not see clearly; he should learn from us.
Cessationists forsake all of their "hermeneutical rules" in order to claim that Paul was speaking to the Corinthians of a future complete Holy Bible. There is no way that the Corinthians read the words of 1 Cor. 13: 12 (below) and came to following conclusion: 

"What Paul is telling us is that all of the epistles from various writers will be gathered together into a book; and we will look face-to-face at the book; which will be equivelent to looking at our own selves face-to-face, because in it we will learn how wicked we are, as God sees us, and in turn, that will be equivelent to seeing God face-to-face-- as we see how holy He is compared to us; that is what Paul is telling us here."

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." 1 Cor. 13: 12
In their paranoia they take away our proof-text that we will actually see God/Christ face-to-face some day. With their liberal interpretation of 1 Cor. 13: 12 they may say of 1 John 3: 2 ("when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is"), that John is not saying that we will actually see Him; but, rather, that we will know of God by reading about Him in the Bible"--there is no end to their madness!
Actually, the Greek word "teleios," which has been translated here as "perfect," means, and has been translated as: "perfect," "mature," and "complete." The word "perfect" in the verses below is "telios" and may be translated as "mature" or "perfect."
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Matt. 5: 48
"Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect:" 1 Cor. 2: 6
"Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus" Col. 1: 28
"Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God" Col. 4: 12
"Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded" Phil. 2: 12-15
In the Philippians verse above, First Paul is saying that he is not telios (perfected/complete) but that he is telios (mature minded). According to the pericope' (The 1 Cor. 13: 8-13 portion of scripture), the "partial" is not here at the same time as the "perfect." First the partial, then later (face-to-face) the perfect comes. Which means; according to cessationist teaching, that the partial tongues, knowledge, and prophecies will be gone by the time the complete (perfect) Holy Bible comes into existence. However, if just one person, anywhere on the planet, at any time, had a prophetic prayer or dream, while the perfect Holy Bible is here, then the cessationist position is destroyed (But, as seen above there are variations of the cessationist argument as to when the prophetic gifts supposedly ceased.

Some cessationists believe that the spiritual gifts ceased, not when the perfect/complete canon of scripture was organized, but as early as A.D. 70, when the Jewish temple was destroyed--in that case any tongues-speaking after 70 A.D. proves the cessationist argument to be incorrect).
A key point in the cessationist argument is that the people of Paul's day only knew in part. However, they knew about as much as anyone does today. Paul preached at Ephesus for about 3 years. If someone listened to Paul preach for 3 years, then he knew enough that he would not have to wait for a Bible to be created so that he could see how wicked he is compared to the Holy God--even the Old. Test. teaches that truth. Below are written some verse that show the people of Paul's day knew a lot. They knew how to be born again (which includes realizing how sinful they are in a Holy God's sight). They knew enough to be blameless at the Lord's return (if you and I can be so fortunate!) And they were complimented by Paul's word's that they even have the mind of Christ!

"Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit... Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God" 1 Peter 1: 22-23
"Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 1: 8

"For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ." 1 Cor. 2: 16

Copyright 2006 - 2007. Peter Kwiatkowski. Creative commons licensed