It’s interesting to see how deeply into cessationist doctrine chookwatcher has gone, as he grows bolder in his determination that Christ’s gifts to the Church have ended.
This is an actual declaration in a post by chookwatcher.
‘There are no such thing as modern-day Apostles.’
I think that should be ‘things’ plural, but, anyway, chookwatcher is patently arguing in the face of the teaching of the Apostle Paul, and of Christ.
Paul, especially, makes it clear what Christ has done for the Church at His ascension.
Ephesians 5:7-16 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended” — what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
‘When He ascended on high…He gave gifts.’ Now I put it to you that Christ’s ascension occurred long after He had already appointed the Twelve Apostles, which He had done whilst still on the earth, before His crucifixion, so we read in Luke:
Luke 6:12 Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor.
So this took place during Christ’s ministry on earth, before Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, and, therefore, before His ascension, when, we are told, He gave gifts to men.
These gifts are separate, then, from the appointing of the original Apostles – known as the Lamb’s Apostles, whom we identify as the Twelve Apostles.
What were the gifts He gave at the ascension? Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.
This clearly reveals that there were apostles appointed after Christ was ascended, who could not have been the Twelve Apostles, who were chosen whilst He was engaged in His earthly ministry.
At the ascension, then, Christ gave gifts to men, including the offices of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. They are all gifts from Christ.
Where does it say anywhere in scripture that these gifts and offices have ended? Nowhere. That is the only answer. Nowhere does it say that apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers have ended.
There are around sixty references to apostles in the New Testament. ‘Apostle’ is from the Greek word apostolos, which means ‘a delegate’, ‘an ambassador of the gospel’, ‘a messenger, one sent forth with orders’. Apostello is ‘to be set apart’, or ‘to send away’. An apostle is one who is set apart and sent for a specific purpose.
Most specifically it refers to Christ’s Apostles, or the Lamb’s Apostles – those He chose when He was ministering in Israel, but we know that one was replaced – Mathias for Judas Iscariot – plus there were others mentioned in the Book of Acts, and throughout the Epistles, including the Apostle Paul, who was chosen by Christ after His ascension, so the New Testament canon speaks of more than the twelve, although it is true that the Apostle’s Doctrine was established through Christ and the twelve, along with prophets of this era, but we can’t ignore the part Paul played in the establishment of the canon.
Ephesians 2:19-22 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
It’s interesting that we know who the Twelve Apostles are, but we do not have the names of the Prophets, although we are clearly told that the Household of God is built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets.
These are the Twelve appointed by Christ before His ascension. Their’s was the Apostles’ Doctrine, which was prevalent during the Book of Acts. Paul, however, calls himself an Apostle of Christ, and was given revelation from God.
Are saints still being equipped?
There is no record anywhere that Christ stopped delegating His ministry to those gifts, not just apostles, but also prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.
The question, then, that we should ask is whether we still need those gifts in the Body who are set apart by Christ ‘for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’.
Of course, we do. We need this ministry as much today as we did after the ascension of Christ. In fact, it was at His ascension that He sent these delegated leadership gifts into the Church.
There are more people on earth today than ever before, and, far more Christians than at any time in history, simply because the population of the earth is growing exponentially. Therefore we need the ascension gifts of Christ as much as we ever have.
Cessationist teachers claim that we no longer require the gifts of the Spirit, nor the ascension gifts, because we have the completed canon of scripture, but there is no scripture for this, nor is there any sense to their argument.
Scripture for gifts
In fact, there is scripture for both the ascension gifts and the gifts of the Spirit. There is scripture for the signs and miracles of God. There is scripture for prophecy. There is scripture for healing. There is scripture for deliverance.
Cessationists are happy to accept the existence of pastors and teachers, and maybe even evangelists, but for some reason eliminate the other two gifts of apostles and prophets. And they do so without the use of scripture. They do so with flawed reasoning alone.
The truth is that the entire premise of chookwatcher’s attack on certain parts of the Body of Christ in part rests on his determination that apostles and prophets have ended. He has never shown from scripture that this is so, nor does he have a sound argument. A declaration alone is insufficient evidence.
There is no scripture that removes apostles form Christ’s gifts to the Church.