Satisfied by the Promise of the Spirit: Affirming the Fullness of God’s Provision for Spiritual Living. By Thomas R. Edgar. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1996. 263 pp. Paper, $12.99.
Dr. Thomas R. Edgar, Professor of New Testament at Capital Bible Seminary, presents a rebuttal of the writings of Dr. Jack Deere and his phrase “Surprised by the Spirit.” Edgar writes, “Rather than seeking a surprise, we should be satisfied with what we have in Christ” (p. 263). Reasoning as an attorney and looking “for as many biblical answers as possible to the many questions about these miraculous gifts” (p.10), Edgar presents the case expositionally, exegetically, logically, and historically that the foundational gifts of apostle and prophet and the confirmatory gifts of miracles, healing, and tongues have ceased.
The first two chapters critique the elevation of one’s experience over Scripture, and in so doing, traces Deere’s change from cessationist to charismatic. In chaps. 3-7, Edgar provides the reader with in-depth exegesis of 2 Cor 12:11, Eph 2:20-22, 1 Cor 15:8, Acts 2:4-11, and segments of 1 Corinthians 12-14. Edgar seeks to provide answers to these questions: What is the nature and purpose of tongues? Does the Bible sanction private, personal, and devotional uses of tongues? Does the biblical gift of tongues produce spiritual vitality in a church or an individual? Should the gift of tongues be sought? If one does not speak in tongues, is it the fault of his own faithlessness?
After 200 pages of biblical definitions, exposition, and exegesis, the author presents in chap. 8 the perspective of historical theology in this debate.
At one point Edgar makes a rather provacative claim: “Therefore, his [Deere’s] repeated insistence that these verses teach believers to seek the miraculous gifts seems intentionally designed to take advantage of the uninformed reader” (p. 235, italics added). As it is nearly impossible to substantiate such a charge regarding an author’s motives, it probably would have been more irenic and charitable to avoid making it.
From the middle of chap. 9 to the end of the book, Edgar develops conclusions along two lines. The first conclusion is that the burden of proof rests with noncessationists, not cessationists. “Proponents of the charismatic movement have managed to shift the burden of proof regarding the temporary nature of some gifts to their opponents. They have done this by assuming that all things have remained the same throughout the church age, and they have demanded proof to the contrary” (p. 240). Edgar exhorts the cessationist, “pastors and other Christian leaders should not be demanding proof that today’s alleged charismatic gifts are wrong. They should be demanding proof that they are right, and until such proof is given, they should not allow such practices in their churches” (p. 260).
The second conclusion gives clear meaning to the book’s title. Edgar writes, “Depending on the particular charismatic perspective, the believer needs a ‘second work’ or ‘baptism of the Spirit,’ and repeated ‘miracles’ as evidence that God is working” (p. 258). He concludes “this feeling of insufficiency” (p. 258) can be filled with a satisfaction of what has occurred for the believer at salvation.
With its 252 pages and 472 footnotes, this analysis is a useful study source for pastors and professional teachers, as well as serious-thinking local church leaders and teachers.
Bruce S. Main
Pekin Bible Church