I have a big problem with cessationism. Initially, I thought that this kind of view is only limited to some very extreme fundamentalist churches. However, I found that this view is very widespread among Protestant churches (My former church in Singapore, my church in Indonesia and my current church are all practically cessationist churches as they never practice gifts of the Spirit like prophecy, healing and exorcism). According to this view, the dramatic miraculous signs have already ceased after Bible was completely written.
So, why does this view so troubling me? Because, there are a lot of disturbing implication. Firstly, the adherents of this view will also admit that currently there are a lot of supernatural occurrences in this modern time. But then they will rationalize this by saying all or almost all alleged miracles are fake or otherwise are come from demonic origins. In other words, they are implying that all Pentecostal and Charismatic churches who are prophesying, healing the sick and casting out the demons in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, did that with either demonic power or they are all lying for gain followers to their churches. This means a demonization of around 30% of body of Christ and I would not let take this thing lightly.
To support this view, they usually will stack up many cases of alleged miracles which upon investigation are turned out to be orchestrated. Then, since there are many false miracles, they will argue that these things are just some crazy people following trend of New Age Movement without any meaningful substance and even leading people astray.
The second argument that usually they offered is that the miraculous signs in the Bible are only served as authentication of the church before Holy Scripture are completely written. They reasoned that since we have complete Holy Scripture, we would not need any miracles whether for evangelism or for edification.
Lastly, these people will argue that there are many instances that even after witnessing miracles, people would not repent and back to God but their heart are hardened. Hence, miracle is not so important compared to faith. They will quote what Lord Jesus said to Thomas that ‘blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’ (John 20: 29).
Now, this is the time for me to rebuke these nonsense.
First of all, why does the choice should be between miraculous signs and the Holy Bible? Are not Bible story full with miraculous encounters with God, angels, and even demons? If these cessationist pastors want to be consistently opposed miracles then they may as well take their scissors and cut all miraculous stories including talking serpent, Ten Plagues of Egypt, parting of Red Sea, God’s appearance in Mt. Sinai, manna from heaven from Old Testament and virgin birth, healing of lepers, feeding thousands with 5 breads and 2 fishes, and most importantly, the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ from New Testament?
If you somewhat say that that the only real miracle can only be found inside the Bible, the problem now is even more obvious. All witnesses have died and it is easy for me as nonbelievers to dismiss this story by labeling it a bunch of fables written by ignorant Stone Age people. After all, it is more fitted with our observation to presume that miracle is not real since we cannot observe the real one.
Obviously, this is the disaster for evangelism and edification. Instead of relying on visible and supernatural signs to convert the heathens, these pastors said that somehow learning language to translate Scriptures (which will take years to accomplish) and memorizing some doctrines and formulas like Four Spiritual Laws or Evangelism Explosion is somehow more correct way to convince people. In my opinion, it is more like religious version of Multi-Level Marketing agents than apostles in the Act.
Guess what? The reality is the ultimate judge which way are more effective to convert people. Charismatic and Pentecostal churches are still thriving in United States and spreading like wildfire even in oppressive countries like Iran and China while mainstream Protestant are dwindling in numbers. If somehow they are helped by demonic power, then I guess I need to be grateful to Satan for bringing so many people to believe in God.
As for argument that witnessing miracle will not help believer to grow in spiritual maturity, you are partially right. Indeed, witnessing miracle will not bring godliness into believers. But neither theological study nor memorizing doctrines. And the issue here is not to grow to spiritual maturity but convince nonbelievers about existence of God of Israel by the manifestation of His power.
By dismissing miracles, you need to rely on philosophical arguments to prove about God’s existence which are beyond grasps for average people. Such arguments probably can convince philosophers, scientists and educated people (it is also not very certain, since there are a lot of alternative worldview such as New Age and secular humanism) but will not and will never able to inspire major revival.
Lastly and most importantly, the actions by labeling work of God through their fellow brothers in Christ as demonic manifestation is border to blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and it is, according to Jesus, unforgivable sin. If you continue to dwell in this ideology, I will be worried about your eternal fate…