The Gift of Tongues & The Issue of Cessationism.

There are some in the Body of Christ today who teach that miracles, signs and wonders (tongues inclusive) were not meant by God to persist past the apostolic age (i.e. the age of the Early Church). These ones argue that miracles were granted temporarily at the start of the Church (in the first century) to authenticate the apostles’ ministry. Thus, miracles lost all use and ceased to be, after the last apostle’s death (John), around 100 AD. This school of belief is known as cessationism. We believe this to be a very serious issue.

Does the Bible teach that signs and wonders were to end with the apostles? The honest answer would be no. Observe Jesus’ words again, in Mark 16, “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (vv. 17-18). Notice Jesus does not say “these signs will follow only apostles.” He says “those who believe.” This readily shows that miraculous signs will continue, throughout the duration that men believe the Gospel—as long as believing men exist, signs will not cease to abound, through them! Jesus never so much as suggested that displays of the supernatural would cease at any point, during the Church age. On the contrary, He taught us to expect signs, just like He did. Our Lord says in John 14:12, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” The “works” (Grk. “erga”) refer to signs, wonders and miracles which He performed to rouse men’s faith in Him (see John 5:20, 36, 7:3, 9:3, 10:25, 32, 37-38, 14:11, 15:24). Jesus taught believers to expect the same “works” He did to be done through them!

Similarly, the apostles taught the saints to imitate them, as they followed Christ (cf. Philip 3:17, 4:9, 1 Corin 4:16, 2 Thess 3:7-9). For instance, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” It is apparent. The apostles invited their readers to emulate them in all areas; in their sacrificial/sanctified living (2 Thess 2:15, 3:6-15, cf. 2 Tim 3:10-11), as well as in their supernatural exploits (see 1 Corin 12:31, 14:1, 39, 1 Thess 5:19-20). Can we truly be said to be imitating Christ and His apostles if we do not walk in the same miraculous power they walked in? In the Book of Acts, signs and wonders were not wrought only by the apostles. Even so-called “ordinary believers” (i.e. non-apostles) could function in the Spirit’s power. Acts 6:8 records that Stephen did great wonders and signs among the people, “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.” In Acts 9, Ananias, a saint living in Damascus, ministered healing and the infilling of the Spirit to Paul (who would later become an apostle!), “And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized” (vv. 17-18). Other saints prophesied (see Acts 19:6, 21:4, 9). Miracles were being wrought at Galatia in Paul’s absence (Gal 3:5). James speaks of elders (non-apostles) who could heal the sick (Jas 5:14-15). This concept of cessationism is clearly foreign to the Bible.

The idea that tongues have ceased to exist today is oftentimes based majorly on just one text in the Bible—1 Corinthians 13:8-10.


1 Corinthians 13:8-10

8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.


Paul is clear in this text that prophecies will fail (i.e. the gift of prophecy will be done away with), tongues will cease and the gift of the word of knowledge will vanish away, someday (vs. 8). But the crucial question would be: WHEN would this happen? Paul tells us in vs. 10 of the same chapter, “…when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” This obviously refers to the end of the age, when Jesus the perfect Man (Heb 5:9, 7:28, cf. 1 John 3:5, John 14:30) would appear (Col 3:4, 1 John 3:2, cf. Acts 1:9-11, 2 Thess 1:10), and all things would be made perfect in Him (Eph 1:10, 2:7, 1 Corin 15:24-28, 50-57, cf. Isa 11:6-10). We groan for this day, Paul says (Rom 8:18-25, cf. 2 Corin 5:1-5), when the Lord would usher in a perfect state of things. In that day (His Parousia), we would not need tongues anymore, because our minds would be able to communicate with God, perfectly! We would not need prophecy, because all prophecies would have been fulfilled, perfectly! We also would not require the word of knowledge anymore, for we would have known all things perfectly (1 Corin 13:12), in our new human bodies (at the Resurrection). The limitations of our bodies and minds would be done away with, absolutely. This is WHEN the gifts will cease! But for now, in this imperfect world, the gifts yet remain. Mark 16:17 therefore stands as Jesus’ unconditional promise to every believer; every man who exercises faith in the Gospel would receive the ability to speak with new tongues (i.e. strange utterances).


(The article above is an excerpt from the new book by Pastor Josh “The Christian’s Guide To Tongues.” To order:


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