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Deceptive cessation doctrine: A wise virgin’s guide to waiting for the Bridegroom 3.3

The book of Joel contains a prophecy about what the Lord would do in the last days. Once you see it, it should be instantly familiar:

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.  Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.  The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Joel 2:28-32 (ESV)

Now let’s go to the book of Acts and the upper room. The disciples who obeyed Jesus’ command to go to Jerusalem and receive power from on high have been waiting in the upper room. Something happened that no one anticipated:

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 2:1-4 (ESV)

No one knew what had happened. At this time, Jews from all over the world were present in Jerusalem for Pentecost. They were amazed to hear these Galileans speaking about God’s mighty works in the native language of their lands. When some accused the disciples of being drunk, Peter addressed the crowd. He told them that this was not drunkenness, but God pouring out His Spirit on the people as Joel had prophesied. The gifts of the Spirit are: Word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, healing, working miracles, prophecy, discerning between spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues (1 Cor 12: 4-10). The Spirit administers these gifts and apportions them to us according to His will. It sounds good, so what exactly is the problem?

The problem is, some teachers have decided that these gifts were only intended for the days of the apostles. The gifts were intended to jump start the church and get it going, after which they would no longer be in effect. These people tell us that since the gifts are no longer in operation, we go to the doctor if we are sick, and we go to school if we need to learn a new language. I will call this doctrine which teaches that the gifts of the Spirit are no longer in effect today as Cessation Doctrine (CD). This doctrine has been around for a centuries, and it’s about time someone overturned this table. Let’s investigate these things: Do the gifts of the Spirit have an expiration date? If so, when is it? If not, are they still in operation today? Why do we need these gifts? What does this mean for the wise virgin?

Do the gifts of the Spirit have an expiration date?

Yes they do. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells us that these things will end one day: “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away” 1 Cor 13:8 (ESV). These gifts are to be in use during a specific time, after which they will cease.

When do the gifts of the Spirit cease?

To answer this question, we must think like Bereans (Acts 17:11) and use their strategy. CD tells us that the gifts of the Spirit ceased after the days of the Apostles, and Paul does tell us that they will end. The question remains when will they end? In the same letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells us when the gifts of the Spirit will cease:

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

1 Cor 13:9-12 (ESV)

Paul does not tell us a specific date, but he tells us the season in which the gifts will cease. Does he say “after the days of the Apostles”? No! It does appear that Paul means a day after the ministry of the Apostles, but refers to a day far removed in time from the day of the Apostles, not immediately after the days of the Apostles as CD alleges. Paul calls the season of the gifts a partial impartation, when the time of perfection comes, then these gifts will cease. If CD is correct, then we must be living in the days of perfection because the gifts have ceased. I must disagree with CD and overturn this table. When you listen to the news and you hear about nation rising against nation, famines, natural disasters, signs in the heavens, false prophets, lawlessness, love growing cold, and persecution of believers, I can safely say we are not living in times of perfection. Paul was obviously speaking of a date in the distant future since these things have been happening since his day. Since we know that man cannot perfect this world on his own efforts, I believe that this time of perfection could be when the Lord returns after the Tribulation and established His rule. This leads to the next points.

Are the gifts of the Spirit still in operation today? Why do we need them?

Since it is obvious that we have not reached the time of perfection, it means that the gifts are still in operation. There two additional arguments that support the operation of the gifts of the Spirit today. During the last supper, Jesus told His disciples that “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father” John 14:12 (ESV). You may be curious why I would point to this as an argument against CD, but let me explain. First, if Jesus said we would do the works He did, then what were the works Jesus did? According to the gospels, He performed miracles, raised the dead, cured lepers, healed all manner of sicknesses and infirmities, prophesied about the future, He knew what was in people’s hearts, and He distinguished what was truly good from what only appeared to be good. Let’s ask ourselves this question next: If we are supposed to do the same works that He did (and even more), how can we do them without the gifts of the Spirit? Can we raise the dead without faith? Can we perform miracles without the gift of miracles? Can we cure disease without the gift of healing? Going to the doctor is not the same thing as having the gift of healing, is it? The list goes on, and the obvious answer is no. We cannot do all the works of Jesus without the gifts of the Spirit. If CD is true, then why would Jesus tell us we would do the same works He did if the gifts of the Spirit (which makes the works possible) ended operation after the days of the Apostles? The truth is we need the gifts of the Spirit to do the works He did.

The final apology comes from Jesus’ example of life. Without exception, we can all agree that He showed us how to live a life that pleases the Father. We are to pay close attention to His works and do the same things. In Matthew we read some of His first actions:

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.  John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Matt 3:13-17 (ESV)

In this early picture of Jesus’ life, He was baptized and received the Holy Spirit. If we are to do the same things He did, we must follow His example, which includes receiving the Holy Spirit. If Jesus needed to receive the Holy Spirit, how much more do we? It is good that we still stress water baptism, but it does not follow that we should neglect the baptism of the Holy Spirit. If CD is true, then we only need to get a water baptism. But that does not seem correct because Jesus gave us an example that was meant to be followed by all generations, which included receiving the Holy Spirit. Has anything changed?

 What does this mean for a wise virgin?

As the times get closer to the end, we need every gift that God gives us to endure the darkness that is coming. The gifts of the Spirit are just as important to a fully equipped saint as the armor of God (Ephesians 6: 10-17). Neglecting these gifts and not seeking them puts a Christian at a serious disadvantage in the times to come. Although there are many more examples that could be given, I will close with this example of why we need the gifts of the Spirit. Jesus tells us that in the last days “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” Matt 24:24 (ESV).

What is Jesus saying here? He is telling His disciples that in the last days the lies that the enemy spins will be so convincing that even God’s own children would be deceived if it were possible. These deceivers will walk like us, talk like us, and in every way they will have the appearance of being authentic. Those virgins who are able to distinguish the authentic from the deceiver can do so because they have the gift of distinguishing spirits. Those virgins who do not have the gifts of the Spirit are much more at risk to be fall into the trap of the Adversary. Virgins who want to be wise take note! The Holy Spirit and oil go together in Scripture. God wants you to have enough oil for your lamp so that your light will shine brightly while waiting for the Bridegroom. What does that say about the virgins whose lamps were going out? Remember that Jesus did not face the devil until He had been baptized and received the Holy Spirit. We will also need the Spirit’s help to endure the coming darkness and Tribulation as we wait for the Bridegroom. Get your oil!!! The gifts of the Holy Spirit are available today for those who will ask for them. If you haven’t received them yet, it’s time to start praying.

Finally, I would like to end by recommending three DVDs that demonstrate the supernatural power of God in operation today. We need the power of God to do the works of Jesus, and these DVDs show actual examples of what God is doing in the world today. The DVD titles are “Finger of God,” “Furious Love,” and “Father of Lights.” I hope they provoke you to seek the Lord as never before. Be blessed, my beloved.

Finger of God DVDFurious Love DVDFather of Lights

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Come out to meet Him: A wise virgin’s guide to waiting for the Bridegroom

 

Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’  But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’  Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Matt 25:1-13 (ESV)

The parable of the ten virgins is very important for all of us who are waiting for the bridegroom today because it speaks to the terminal generation. These are the people who will be alive when the Lord returns to the Earth. We need to pay close attention to its message because it warns us that just being a member of the body of Christ does not guarantee a place at the marriage supper of the lamb; it clearly tells us that some people will be disqualified. This parable raises some obvious questions that deserve answers such as: Why didn’t all the virgins prepare the same way? Why didn’t the foolish virgins take extra oil? How did the wise virgins know that they might need extra oil? Why weren’t the foolish virgins admitted after their return? The purpose of this series is to closely examine this parable and related topics in order to glean from it what went wrong and what went right. These gleanings are intended to be a resource for the body of Christ who want to be ready when the Lord returns; it will be a wise virgin’s guide (WVG) to waiting for the Bridegroom.

Many people have tried to establish a date of Jesus’ return, and every one of these efforts has ended in failure. This has also made many unbelievers skeptical of the claims of Christianity; they doubt if we know what we are talking about. Those in the church who subscribed to a date set for the Lord’s return have also been discouraged; some may have even suffered shipwreck in their faith from this. This guide will not attempt to set a date for the Lord’s return, but it will only point to signs of the times we are to look for before the Lord’s return and what we need to do to be ready. Scripture tells us that:

From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.  So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.  Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Matt 24:32-35 (ESV)

This is a clear indication that certain events must happen before the end comes, and that there will be a generation of people who will witness these events. I believe that we are that generation. Now that I have said this, it would be logical for my readers to ask “why do you say that?” Let’s look at what is happening in the heavens even now.

The word of God tells us about signs in the heavens in the first book of the Bible “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years’” Gen 1:14 (ESV). Signs in the heavens will precede the most important event prophesied in Scripture, which is the return of Jesus to this world. We are obviously witnessing signs in the heavens today. This year (2014) there will be two blood moons; one will occur on Passover and one on Feast of Tabernacles, and next year (2015) there will be two blood moons on the same Jewish feast dates again. These four blood moons are known as a tetrad, and they have also occurred on other important dates of Jewish history, such as the expulsion of the Jews from Spain by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, the rebirth of Israel as an independent nation, and the Israeli capture of all Jerusalem during the Six Day War. Since the blood moons appear on Jewish festivals, it negates the argument that this is just some random natural event; God is using these signs in the heavens to tell people important events are about to take place and to make necessary preparations. Jesus also mentioned signs in the heavens when He described the end times to His disciples:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Matt 24:29-31 (ESV)

Other New Testament writers also mention signs in the heavens. Peter’s sermon in Jerusalem mentions: “the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day” Acts 2:20 (ESV).

John tells us “When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood” Rev 6:12 (ESV).

There is obviously more evidence to present than just these signs, but I offer them as a starting point. God gave us the Scriptures in which He declared the end from the beginning. Since He is omniscient and does not lie, we ought to pay close attention to what the Bible tells us. I wish more people would do this, but reality paints a different picture.

The Bible is consistently the best seller year after year, but don’t expect the New York Times to publicize that fact. There are Bibles, or at least portions of Scripture, in homes and hotels across America. One would think that since the Bible sells so many copies every year it must be the most widely read book in America; unfortunately that is not the case. In spite of its sales and widespread availability, the Bible is not seriously studied and mined for its spiritual wealth by most people. Often times it is largely ignored and disregarded, even among those who are professing Christians. It occupies a place on the shelf when it should occupy a place in the heart. This ought not to be. It is this indifference to the word of God that will lead to a future tragedy:

For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Matt 24:37-39 (ESV)

Noah faithfully warned the people for years about the coming flood, yet people were indifferent to God’s warning and just went about their daily business. They only realized Noah was right when the floods came, but by then it was too late. Among those who will be lost are the foolish virgins.

Time is short, and it is a commodity we are running out of. Therefore we ought to redeem every day for the Lord and His Kingdom. The time to prepare is now (as in stock up on your oil). The wise virgins looked ahead for the coming of the bridegroom, planned accordingly and followed through. Go and do ye likewise! Later installments of the wise virgin’s guide (WVG) will give more detailed material on what to do while waiting for the Lord’s return.

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