By Titilade Oyebade Adegbola
I don’t believe it is cessation or continuation we should use for the gifts of the Spirit, especially the sign gifts when we discuss them. This is one reason why it seems we break into factions when we discuss them and some very badly behaved and immature brethren call names and fight dirty about these views.
There are certain patterns I have seen both in the scriptures, in the history of the Christian Church, and in my few years as a believer. I will put these things I have settled upon into two to three articles and I will enjoin my readers to take each point and study the scriptures for themselves to see if they’re true or if they can find these patterns.
The works of Jesus
Firstly, no one can do what Jesus did in miracles, in signs and wonders. The Lord Jesus manifested His glory as God while He walked among men. The greater works he was talking about weren’t about miracles or signs and wonders. It was about the reach of the Gospel. He was limited to Israel, today we are all over the world.
No one can do the things Jesus did, even John said if they were to write what He did in three and half years, the whole world wouldn’t contain the books:
“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written. John 21:25 NASB1995
So, how do we reconcile this with greater works? Nobody after the Apostles can do what they did both in volume and in quality. God did so many wonders in the Early Church through the Apostles that many who had tried to be like them were scammers.
The apostles stood out
The Apostles were in their class. There were things they did because God gave those signs as marks or seals of their Apostleship. 2Cor. 12:12 proves this and Heb. 2: 4 How will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifies with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. Hebrews 2:3-4 NASB1995
The signs and wonders the Apostles performed were seals of their Apostleship and they show they were the ones chosen and designated by Christ to witness His death and resurrection.
Other people who were not Apostles manifested the sign gifts in the New Testament, but not as resounding as those of the Apostles. The Apostles manifested the sign gifts with more authority and magnitude. It was as if Jesus was still at the scene. Even then, it was still God that was working with them not that they had the power.
The Bible tells us in the Hebrew 2:4 scripture that God was the One confirming the Gospel. Reading through the History of the Church, there were manifestations of the Charismatic after the Apostles left the scene but they were not as authoritative and as profound as those of the Apostles.
But there were pockets of Manifestations of the Spirit here and there in the Churches that some of the Church Fathers wrote about.
Beyond the apostles
And coming the time of people like Spurgeon, Wesley, and a few of the preachers of the Early Period of Protestantism, a few of them manifested the gifts despite not saying they were continuationists.
An example is Charles Spurgeon. He gave words of knowledge that were accurate while preaching that revealed people’s sins and led them to repentance.
But Charles Spurgeon espoused cessationism, yet manifested some gifts. This shows these gifts work by God’s will. Nobody can operate them independently of Him. And this should make all of us humble.
We cannot be deterministic in our views of the gifts. Both the Cessation and continuationists should not be deterministic.
The cessationists have reported these things in their mission fields yet they don’t even go all out to seek them. We have had such reports. While those who deride them daily and even do rallies for them don’t experience them.
Read also: Miracle Seekers and the Miracle We Need: https://churchtimesnigeria.net/miracle-seekers-the-church-and-the-miracle-we-need/
Don’t promise people
We shouldn’t promise people what we have no power to do. All we owe people is the Gospel. The God of the Gospel will do whatever He chooses to do according to His own will. So, preach the undiluted Gospel.
As I said at the beginning of this article, I do not think it is a cessation or continuation of the gifts we should be talking about but what we see in the scriptures as the true manifestations and the contexts in which they happened.
If we follow this strictly, many of those attacking one another will rest and will know that the camp we should belong together is the camp of what the scriptures say.
All along, I have been painting these contexts to us. One such context is that Jesus’ miracles were in their class, no one can do what He did, He did those things for His glory and to show He was God, the Apostles did those to stamp their apostolic ministries, it was God Who works miracles and not the Apostles or any believer.
Miracles, healings, and Spiritual gifts are manifested by the Holy Spirit as He chooses and in the context of the true presentation of the Gospel to bring glory to Jesus.
Another context or conclusion I have also drawn up in this study is that all those miracles and manifestations we see in those places where Jesus and the true Gospel are not preached are scams!
Many of us won’t agree with this conclusion, but it is what it is. Now, let me ask you this question. How many of those miracles that the lying wonder pastors tell us about have we witnessed for ourselves? How many of the testimonies shared have we researched? Which doctor gave the diagnoses of many of the sicknesses and diseases we share the testimonies daily in our Churches and crusades?
Does this mean there are no genuine miracles and healing today? There are. I have witnessed two in my life. Let me start with my testimonies.
In 2002, I was diagnosed with both ulcer and filariasis before going for service in 2003. But both got worse in Borno State because my medicine finished and I didn’t have much money to treat myself as a corps member.
The first healing I got was for ulcer. I couldn’t sleep one night. My NCCF (Nigeria Christian Corpers Fellowship) president called me the next day and prayed with me and that was the end of that ulcer till today. It was a prayer of agreement. This reminds me of Jesus’ saying that if two of you shall agree over a thing on Earth, it shall be done.
The second one was filariasis (a disease caused by tiny worms that invade the lymphatic system, which helps fight infections and balance fluids in the body.). I suffered from that disease throughout my service year. On the eve of our passing out in 2004, a woman missionary, an Evangelical missionary, to one of the interiors of Adamawa State came to train us on mission work and she then prayed for us.
As we were praying, she gave a word of knowledge that there was someone: she described that disease which would keep me up at night scratching my body or I would have to take piriton that left me drowsy all the time.
She prayed and said that the condition stops now in Jesus’ name. She said it normally affects you most at night. She said, this night, you would not experience it.
That night, I didn’t take Piriton and I didn’t scratch once. I didn’t know when it was daybreak. I slept like a baby without taking any medicine. That was the end of filariasis.
So, I have experienced healing, not go and come, but real healing in my body, and since then, even when ulcer runs in my family, I have not experienced it again. The same goes for the blood disease called filariasis. Do you know I never gave these testimonies of healing anywhere except when I wrote them on Facebook?
Do you know my NCCF president didn’t give this testimony till we left service? My question is why do we preach testimonies today rather than preaching and teaching the Gospel? Why do we do miracle rallies where all we hear are just stories and testimonies we don’t know who they happened to?
Let me remind you, the healings I got were not at miracle rallies. They were not at healing schools. They were not at Camp and I didn’t have to see any man of God. One was through a missionary, another was from a prayer of agreement. What does this mean to us?
Now, let me tell you some other negative experiences I have had that made me know many of the testimonies shared and stories told by some of these popular ministers are not true.
Sometime in 1998, a woman in my church was down with cancer. She was taken to Camp and many men of God. She didn’t get healing but died. Around the same time, there was a woman in the branch of my church in Lagos. She had been married for many years without a child.
She went to Lekki 98 and gave testimony that God had answered her. Her testimony was the No. 100 in the magazine my sister bought. Up until a few years ago, she was still barren. What testimony did she give then?
I have also seen countless people I know who have visited Camp for healing and fruit of the womb who are still the same or who died even after they were prayed for.
I also attended Redemption Camp for years and I never for once in those years saw anyone get up from their wheelchairs. One other experience I had was in Akure.
There was a woman I knew, whose child had a congenital heart problem. There was this popular crusade in Akure by a popular Akure Prophet. She gave a testimony on television that her child was healed of that heart problem. It became the rave of the town. The child died a few weeks later.
I have also read countless eyewitness accounts of the Healing School in Lagos and how they scam people and deceive them. Two accounts of these stories touched me.
There was a lady, a single mother whose child had a congenital problem. This happened in South Africa. Mr C. asked her to give testimony that the child was healed and she was given some remuneration and was also promised that as she shared the testimony, her healing would come.
The child died a week after the testimony. Another of such stories was about the lady who had a pulmonary embolism. She came from South Africa to Lagos and went through the motions of the healing school. When they knew she might die in their school, they quickly packaged her back to South Africa. I think she died on the way back or so.
The positive story
Whereas, in another experience, some Christians went to do Bible study with some people in a hospice in the US. All they went for was Bible study.
They didn’t promise them they could be healed or anything. But after sharing the word of God for a while, one of the people in wheelchairs said she desired to walk again. The Bible study teacher got up and prayed, Barbara, in the name of Jesus, get up from that wheelchair! Barbara got up and she has been walking since.
There are also many of these miracles, healing, and supernatural provisions from missionaries Bible study teachers, and itinerant evangelists who were even Evangelicals that I have come across.
One common thing about all these miracles was that they were not planned. They were not at any crusades. The people involved were not popular ministers. They were itinerant evangelists, Bible study teachers, and missionaries. Yet, God worked through them.
You can’t box God
Whereas, our planned miracle rallies haven’t witnessed anything but stories. Without drawing a particular conclusion, you should be able to conclude with what I have presented. And the conclusion is God is not a genie in a bottle. He doesn’t act to our whims and caprices. He is sovereign and He does as He pleases.
He is the One Who heals and does miracles. And since He is still the King and the Master, His works have not ceased. And no Christian has said His works have ceased. But He doesn’t necessarily have to follow our methodology.
So, what does this mean to us believers? It means we should stop looking for miracles from ‘big men’ and ‘women of God’. Rather our focus should be on our God Who does all things as He pleases. If He wants to heal you, He is the Almighty. He doesn’t need any special man with a special anointing to do it. Talk to Him directly.
Ask your brethren to pray with you. Ask the elders of the Church, your local church to pray for you. You are not God’s grandchild. You are His child. Let your faith be in Him and Him alone not in any man’s anointing.
(Cessationism, in Christian theology, is the view that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, such as healing, tongues, and prophetic revelation, pertained to the apostolic era only, served a purpose that was unique to establishing the early church, and passed away before the canon of Scripture was closed (comp. 1 Cor. 13:8-12 with Heb. 2:3-4). It is contrasted with continuationism, which is the view that the miraculous gifts are normative, have not ceased, and are available for the believer today.)