There are some debates over Christian doctrine that extend beyond the boundaries of the faith—ones that have direct implications on how we relate to the unbelieving world. The nature of the gospel, the effectiveness of Christ’s redemption, who God is, the inspiration of Scripture, heaven and hell… these are issues on which Christians can’t really compromise without experiencing significant cognitive dissonance at best and falling into outright apostasy at worst.
There are other doctrines, though, over which we can debate and still walk away as friends. One of those is the question of whether or not the charismatic gifts—the “signs and wonders” we see in Scripture as being intended for confirmation of the gospel message—are still active today.
Some, like my friend Adrian Warnock, say yes. Some, like John MacArthur and R.C. Sproul, say no.
And it’s easy for us to get hot under the collar on the issue—and far too often, cessationists and continuationists paint one another in an unfair light.
I’m a bit more moderate in where I stand on this topic, which really means that while I’ve heard evidence that at least some of these gifts are active in some capacity, I tend to lean on “earnestly desir[ing] the higher gifts” (1 Cor. 12:31), as Paul puts it.
In other words, I try not to make this a big issue.
But one of the things that’s been a curiosity to me for ages has been the issue of healing—did miraculous healings end at the conclusion of the apostolic age? Does God still miraculously heal today? How does it happen?
Opinions, of course, vary. I know of men who earnestly believe that if you pray and God doesn’t heal you, it’s because you lack faith. I know of others who don’t seem to believe God engages at all with requests for healing… and then there are some who are a little more balanced, like the late Anthony Hoekema. [Read more…]