Does the Existence of a Completed Canon of Scripture Preclude the Need for Signs, Wonders, and Miraculous Gifts of the Spirit?2
Another argument often heard from cessationists pertains to the closing, completion, and sufficiency of the canon of Scripture. Signs, wonders and miraculous gifts accompanied and attested to the truth of the gospel until such time as the last word of canonical Scripture was written. The need for such manifestations of divine power therein ceased. The Bible itself has replaced miraculous phenomena in the life of the church.
There are several problems with this argument.
In the first place, the Bible itself never says any such thing. No biblical author of whom I am aware ever claims that written Scripture has replaced or in some sense supplanted the need for signs, wonders and the like.
Secondly, why would the presence of the completed canon preclude the need for miraculous phenomena? If signs, wonders and the power of the Holy Spirit were essential in bearing witness to the truth of the gospel then, why not now? In other words, it seems reasonable to assume that the miracles which confirmed the gospel in the first century, wherever it was preached, would serve no less to confirm the gospel in subsequent centuries, even our own.
Thirdly, if signs, wonders and miracles were essential in the physical presence of the Son of God, how much more so now in his absence. Surely we are not prepared to suggest that the Bible, for all its glory, is sufficient to do what Jesus couldn’t. Jesus thought it necessary to utilize the miraculous phenomena of the Holy Spirit to attest and confirm his ministry. If it was essential for him, how much more so for us. In other words, if the glorious presence of the Son of God himself did not preclude the need for miraculous phenomena, how can we suggest that our possession of the Bible does?