(See original article by C. Samuel Storms- The Case for Continuationism)

by Samuel E. Waldron

Let me thank Sam Storms for his thoughtful article. I will respond to the most important of his assertions with which I disagree. Storms connects the result· statement of Ephesians 4: 13 directly with the giving-statement  of  Ephesians 4: 11 to argue that the gifts continue to operate. This connection is improbable. “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers …until we all attain to the unity of the faith.” The tenses of the verses do not mesh. The real sense of the text is that Christ gave certain gifts in the past for the attainment of certain goals (v. 12) and the final attainment of those goals is then identified in verse 13. The idea that these verses teach that Christ is going to continue all these gifts until the eschaton is unnecessary. 1

I agree with Storms that the “perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10 refers to the Second Coming of Christ. Nevertheless, his argument is flawed. The contrast between the partial (which passes away when the perfect comes) and  the perfect is not a contrast between partial gifts and perfect gifts. It is a contrast between partial knowledge and perfect knowledge. The text asserts that the partial continues until the perfect comes,  but  this  does  not  imply  that  the gifts of prophecy and tongues (by which the partial knowledge was given) also continue. 2

Storms cites D. A. Carson who said, “the coming of the Spirit is not associated merely with the dawning of the new age but with its presence.” We know that OT prophecy often speaks of the coming of Christ as one event though it is separated into two phases in the New Testament. Yet, this does not mean that Christ is present physically every moment of the intervening age. It also identifies the giving of the Spirit with the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit. The major purpose of the giving of the Spirit in the new age is the conversion of the nations.  Miracles only serve this cause.

Storms denies that “signs” are marks of an apostle because they were also performed by non-apostles. Granted, it was not just apostles that performed these signs.  Still, the text explicitly says that they were “signs of a true apostle.” If the Bible teaches that Christ gave His Apostles power to perform miracles, then performing miracles is necessary to prove oneself  an Apostle.

Storms says that no biblical author claims that Scripture has replaced the need for signs. But biblical writers do claim that signs were essential to the authentication of OT prophets and NT Apostles (Deut. 18:21- 22; 2 Cor. 12:12). This claim connects such signs with revelation and teaches that miracles were connected with the impartation of revelation.

Storms asks why miraculous signs are not given now if their function is to bear witness to the gospel. Such miracles would, of course, confirm the gospel today-if God gave them! Since many people have been saved then and now without  seeing  miracles, the  idea that  miracles  are  essential  is problematic. It is one thing to say that miracles attested the gospel. It is another to say that they are the essential attestations of the gospel. It might be that miracles were “essential” in some sense to the original impartation and establishment of revelation, but not to its ongoing reception.

Storms says that some cessationists fear that on-going revelatory gifts would undermine the sufficiency of Scripture. I do fear this. Miracles confirmed Prophets and Apostles  in their revelatory offices. The form of OT authority is prophetic, just as the form of New Testament authority is apostolic. If there are Prophets and Apostles today, their utterances must have the infallible authority of Prophets and Apostles (Deut. 18:15-21; 1 Cor. 14:37; 2 Cor. 13:3-5).

Storms argues that using the apostles  as the  standard for judging contemporary gifts could lead to the conclusion that no  spiritual gifts exist today “for who would claim to teach like Paul or evangelize like Peter.” The spiritual condition and usefulness of the gifted  person has nothing to do with whether we have the gifts of the Spirit. The unregenerate can have the gifts of the Spirit (Matt. 7:21-23). The assertion of extraordinary gifts today must be judged by the biblical standard. It is the only one we have! If the “gifts” today do not measure up to this standard, it is because they are not the biblical gifts.

NOTES

1 Samuel E. Waldron, ( Merrick, NY: Calvary Press, 2005),   61 -62

2 Samuel E. Waldron, 62-65.