Lately there’s a phrase that is getting thrown around in the world to describe Christians who believe in God but live like He doesn’t exist: Practical Atheism. There are books and blog posts written frequently that warn about the foolishness of practical atheism.
Living like there is no God when you believe that He exists is dangerous. But practical atheism has a dangerous younger brother most people forget about- practical cessationism.
If you don’t know, cessationism is the idea that the gifts of the Holy Spirit that are displayed by the believers in the book of Acts ended when the last of the apostles died. Practical cessationists believe that God still does the kind of thing he did in the book of Acts, they just don’t live like God wants them to be involved.
In the almost twenty years since I’ve been a Christian, much of the body of Christ has come around to the idea that Jesus still speaks and heals. They’ll even acknowledge that He does miracles. But when you talk to many of these believers, even Pentecostals and charismatics, you get the idea that while they acknowledge God does these things, they don’t expect to be involved.
This is sad.
It’s sad because the church is supposed to be full of the power of the Holy Spirit. God gave us the gifts of the Spirit to demonstrate Christ’s reality to the lost and build up the church.
But it’s even more sad because it’s ignoring one of the commands Paul gave to the Corinthians: “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy,” (1 Corinthians 14:1
These gifts of the Spirit that Jesus gives the church (see 1 Corinthians 12:8-11
) are to be desired, not just acknowledged. And from time to time, they need to be stirred up (2 Timothy 1:6
). But when we desire them, seek after them, and simultaneously keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, amazing things happen.
Jesus gets glorified. The lost see the power of Jesus in real life. The church is built up.
So my encouragement to you today is this- don’t be a practical cessationist. If you’ve never sought the gifts of the Spirit, ask Jesus what that looks like for your life. If you have and you’ve let the gifts He’s given you lie dormant, begin to stir them up.
Are you a practical cessationist? How can you take the next step into experiencing the fullness of the Holy Spirit? Let me know in the comment section.