Continuationism is a Christian theological belief that the gifts of the Holy Spirit have continued to this present age, specifically the sign gifts such as tongues and prophecy. Those who support this view are called Continuationists or Noncessationists. Those who do not support the Continuationist view are known as Cessationists. While the conflict between Continuationism and Cessationism is not an issue that affects salvation, it has drawn a dividing line between Christian denominations across the United States.
Though, it should be noted that the denominations are considered different due to the time of each denomination's separation from the mainstream church along with other reasons.
Paul tells us that the gift of speaking in tongues will cease when "the perfect comes", when he "shall know fully" even as he has "been fully known". Cessationists interpret that time as the time when all of the scriptures is written, but Paul's readers could not have understood Paul that way; they have no concept of a N.T. canon (to be recognized half a millennium later). They could not have understood Paul to mean that at the completion of scripture, all prophecies and tongues and knowledge will pass away. In fact, Paul expects that all the gifts are operational when Jesus comes back, he says so in the same epistle...
...therefore he could not have meant that passage that way since he cannot instruct something he does not believe (or know about).
Furthermore Paul is using himself as an example when he says that "he" shall know just as "he" has been fully known, and that hardly seems to be a fitting description of the time when he would be dead. His readers would very more likely interpret that time to be when Jesus returns, just as cessationists would have no problem interpreting 1 John 3:2...
...to refer to the time when we meet Jesus face to face at his return.
Some cessationists who agree with the logic above, on the other hand interpret the different description for tongues "will cease" as oppose to prophecy and knowledge "will pass away", to mean that the gift of tongues will cease earlier than prophecy and knowledge. That is, prophecy and knowledge would pass away when Jesus returns, but the gift of tongues would cease earlier. But that is irrelevant, because what is important is the context and the context of the entire chapter shows that Paul is referring to one event in the future not two...
And besides, Paul already says in the same book that he expects all the gift to be present at Jesus' return (see 1 Cor.1:4-8 above), so he can't mean that tongues will cease earlier than Jesus' return.
If knowledge, prophecy, tongues will pass away/ cease when Jesus returns, then it follows that they are still available today.
The "you" in the verse could not have referred to the early church alone, as the early church did not become Jesus' witnesses to the end of the earth (all peoples).
"when the Holy Spirit has come upon you" does not refer to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in all believers as disciples Jesus was talking to were already genuine believers and already had the Holy Spirit ().
In other words, they were not waiting for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (which they had), they were not even waiting for the power of the Holy Spirit on certain individuals (which was already at worked in the O.T. Prophets and the Apostles). But they were waiting for thus outpouring of the Holy Spirit in power over the whole Church. And this is exactly what happened at Pentecost.
Therefore "you will receive power" in Acts 1:8 is a promise by Jesus available and needed by the Church today to complete the great commission.
Peter says what happened at pentecost was the fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel 2:28-32a. Peter interprets "in the last days" to be their current time, and since we are in the "last days" this is still being fulfilled today, and it will continue to be fulfilled until Jesus returns ("before the day of the Lord comes").
Cessationists would argue though that verse 19-20a...
...was not fulfilled at pentecost, and therefore it was only a taste of the fulfillment and not permanent, and it will be completely fulfilled in the millennium/future. This interpretation though has problems in reconciling a cessationist interpretation of where they say spiritual gifts have ceased because they are no longer needed, now they say spiritual gifts would be available in the future. In contrast a continuationist interpretation has more consistency:
Cessationists argue that these passages applied only to the early church and not to the church today (especially on the basis of Eph.2:20). Continuationists counter that it is impossible to make that claim, since the whole New Testament was written to the early church and not to us. The evangelical view of the inspiration of the bible says that the various biblical authors were superintended by God in such a way so that what they wrote to their immediate readers were also God's very own words for us today.
While proper interpretation is always an issue, it is an argument in itself why God would include those verses above in His Word to us today if He knew that none of them actually speaks to us today, certainly not in a way that is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness". In fact they would outright confuse us today if those spiritual gifts have already ceased, especially "do not forbid speaking in tongues" and "do not despise prophecies".
Some cessationists would argue that the gifts referred above are mis-understood by continuationists. For example, "prophecy" would be said to describe something other than a revelation from God; specifically, "prophecy" is applying/preaching God's words to a situation (or preaching with conviction), and that is to be done using the Bible.
Continuationists would argue though that N.T. understanding of prophecy is not preaching or applying from scriptures but a revelation from God (but is not necessarily scripture as not all prophecies by all genuine prophets was included in scripture). For example...
In both cases, there was no preaching (or expected preaching), they understood prophecy as a supernatural revelation not preaching from scripture.
In the same way, Cessationists also argue that "speaking in tongues" refers to human languages only...
(which they do not forbid) and does not include what cessationist call ecstatic speaking (which they do forbid). However, Luke here is not making a theological statement about which tongues are valid but simply narrating the people groups who heard them. Had some Christians spoken in angelic languages, it is not expected that Luke should include "angels" among the people groups who heard. Continuatinists argue that Cessationist are making this passage teach something it is not intending to teach (prooftexting); Luke was not teaching his reader to reject tongues of angels... he was certainly not teaching that persons who speak angelic languages are to be excommunicated, accused of committing apostasy, being possessed by demons or anything like that.
Continuationist argue that Paul does speak of angelic languages as part of the gift of tongues...
And N.T. methods for testing the genuineness of spiritual experiences can confirm that a person who speaks in tongues today really does have that gift from the Holy Spirit...
And it should also be noted that those who spoke in tongues in Acts 2 were not articulating/preaching the gospel to those who heard (as cessationists argue as the purpose of the gift of tongues), but the Pentecost Christians were speaking mighty works of God in tongues, Peter still needed to preach the gospel. This is consistent with modern experience of the gift of tongues; whenever they are interpreted they tend to be only phrases or sentenses of praises to God, rarely (if ever) whole articulate sermons. Modern experience of the gift of tongues is also consistent with other descriptions of it in the bible...
Persons who speak in tongues are edified in the Spirit, abound emotionally in the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal.5:22) and have a sense of communication with God though they do not understand what they are saying.
Notice the descriptions of Paul regarding a person who speaks in tongues without the gift of interpretation; such a person prays with his spirit but is unfruitful in his mind, sings praise in his spirit, give thanks in his spirit (which the apostle approves) - all of these are consistent with the modern experience of the gift of tongues.
Satan does not give spiritual gifts to help the Church. No Christian who performs miracles then preaches the gospel is doing it by Satan's power. A person who speak with the gift of tongues then immediately says in his heart "Jesus is Lord!" is not operating in Satan's power, in fact he can only do it in the power of the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, the Bible warns not to sin against the Holy Spirit by accusing such people to be operating by demonic spirits...
... the Pharisees witnessed the mighty working of the Holy Spirit and fully understood it, yet they accused the Holy Spirit to be an evil spirit ("prince of demons" - Matt.12:24). That's why Jesus said they blasphemed the Holy Spirit and would never be forgiven (as oppose to blaspheming him in which case they could be forgiven).
Here, Paul is saying that the Ephesian gentiles were once separated from salvation being gentiles, but Christ broke the dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles, and that they (the gentiles) became fellow citizens with the Jews in the household of God, being secure because they were built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ the foundation. They (gentiles) are joined together (with Jews) in one holy temple, being continually built together.
Nowhere here is Paul discussing with the Ephesians whether or not supernatural gifts will cease. Cessationist approach Eph.2:20 with the question "Will apostles and prophets cease ?" (which is called an Eisegesis or proof texting). But the text itself is not about that question, the text is about the equality of the Gentiles with Jews as far as salvation is concerned because they (Jews and gentiles) are built on the same foundation. One could easily approach the text with the question "Are apostles and prophets important in the church today?" and come up with the conclusion that churches should be led by apostles and prophets because they are "foundational"... but that doesn't prove anything because the text is not about that issue.
Apostles and prophets were only foundational and thus temporary. Thus there would come a time in the history of the church when they would cease as the foundation is fully laid, the foundation being the N.T. scriptures (completing the Bible)...
... Since the Bible is already complete, all inspired revelations have ceased. And along with it all, gifts that could produce such revelations. Thus the gift of apostleship, prophecy, word of wisdom, word of knowledge, tongues and interpretation of tongues; have all necessarily ceased.
Some cessationists also add to the list miraculous gifts, arguing that miracles were only needed to confirm genuine revelations...
... so that there are no gifts of miracle-workings are given by God to Christians although they believe that God can perform miracles. In other words, if someone prays and a miracle happens, it is not because that person has the gift of miracles but because God sovereignly chose to perform one.
Cessationists argue that no one who claims to prophesy today is 100% accurate, therefore they really are not really prophets/ have the gift of prophecy. Some cessationists (but not all) would go to the logical conclusion of that argument to say that those who claim to prophesy today are necessarily false prophets, and therefore people should not follow them.
This form of absolute argument is also used by cessationists with regard to other gifts; that is, someone who claims to have the gift of healing (1 Cor. 12:9) must always be able to heal 100% of the time and instantaneously (not over a period of time), someone who claims to have the gift of miracles (1 Cor. 12:10) must always be able to perform one (and not fail when attempting one), otherwise they are not really genuine gifts.
Wayne Grudem (ed.) Are Miraculous Gifts for Today: Four Views. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996 (Richard M. Gaffin, Jr., R.L.Saucy, C.Samuel Storms, Douglas A.Oss).
Advocates of Continuationism
Jon Ruthven, On the Cessation of the Charismata: The Protestant Polemic on Post-Biblical Miracles. Revised Edition. Deo Press, 2008. (Often identified as the definitive study, it examines the historical, philosophical and exegetical issues, focusing on Warfield.)
Gary Greig and Kevin Springer (eds.) The Kingdom and the Power: Are Healing and the Spiritual Gifts Used By Jesus and the Early Church Meant for the Church Today? Ventura, CA: Gospel Light, 1993 (thorough and practical, especially the comprehensive summary of popular cessationist arguments by Wayne Grudem, Ch. 2).
Jack Deere, Surprised by the Power of the Spirit. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993, and Surprised by the Voice of God Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996. Influential works by a former professor at Dallas Theological Seminary.
Studies on Miracles in History
Bouyer, Louis. “Some Charismatic Manifestations in the History of the Church.” Perspectives on Charismatic Renewal. Edited by Edward O’Connor. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1975. Bentivegna, Joseph, SJ. "The Witness of St. Augustine on the Action of the Holy Spirit in the Church and the Praxis of Charismata in His Time." Studia Patristica 22 (1989): 188-201.
Campbell, Theodore C. “Charismata in the Christian Communities of the Second Century.” Wesleyan Theological Journal 17 (Fall 1982): 7-25.
Campbell, Theodore C. “John Wesley and Conyers Middleton on Divine Intervention in History.” Church History 55 (March 1986): 39-49.
Campbell, Theodore C.”The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the Theology of Athanasius.” Scottish Journal of Theology 27 (November 1974): 408-443.
Campenhausen, H. von. Ecclesiastical Authority and Spiritual Power in the Church of the First Four Centuries. Translated by J. A. Baker. London: A. and C. Black, 1969.
Carroll, R. Leonard. “Glossolalia: Apostles to the Reformation.” In The Glossolalia Phenomenon. Edited by Wade H. Horton. Cleveland, TN: Pathway, 1966. Pp. 69-94.
Congar, Yves M. J. I Believe in the Holy Spirit. 3 vols. New York: Seabury, “Excursus A: The Sufficiency of Scripture according to the Fathers and Medieval Theologians,” and “Excursus B: “The Permanence of ‘Revelatio’ and ‘Inspiratio’ in the Church.” In his Tradition and Traditions: An Historical and Theological Essay. Translated by M. Naseby and Th. Rainborough. New York: Macmillan, 1967. Pp. 107 37.
Davison, James Edwin. “Spiritual Gifts in the Roman Church: 1 Clement, Hermas and Justin Martyr.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Iowa, 1981.
DiOrio, Ralph A. Signs and Wonders: Firsthand Experiences of Healing. New York: Doubleday, 1987.
Dixon, Larry E. “Have the ‘Jewels of the Church’ Been Found Again? The Irving Darby Debate on Miraculous Gifts.” Evangelical Journal 5 (Spring 1987): 78 92.
Dollar, George W. “Church History and the Tongues Movement.” Bibliotheca Sacra 120 (October -December 1963): 309-11.
Elbert, Paul. “Calvin and Spiritual Gifts.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 22 (Spring 1979): 235 256.
Foubister, D. Ron. “Healing in the Liturgy of the Post Apostolic Church.” Studia Biblica et Theologica 9 (October 1979): 141 55.
Frost, Evelyn. Christian Healing: A Consideration of the Place of Spiritual Healing in the Church of Today in the Light of the Doctrine and Practice of the Ante Nicene Church. London: A. R. Mowbray, 1954.
Greer, Rowan A. The Fear of Freedom: A Study of Miracles in the Roman Imperial Church. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1989.
Harris, Ralph W. Spoken by the Spirit: Documented Accounts of “Other Tongues” from Arabic to Zulu. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1973.
Hebert, Albert J. Raised from the Dead: True Stories of 400 Resurrection Miracles. Rockford, IL: TAN Publications, 1986.
Hinson, E. Glenn. “A Brief History of Glossolalia.” In Glossolalia: Tongue Speaking in Biblical, Historical and Psychological Perspective. Edited by Frank Stagg, E. Glenn Hinson, and Wayne E. Oates. Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1967.
Hinson, E. Glenn. “The Significance of Glossolalia in the History of Christianity.” In Speaking in Tongues, Let’s Talk about It. Edited by Watson E. Mills. Waco, TX: Word Books, 1973.
Hunter, Harold. “Tongues speech: A Patristic Analysis.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 23 (June 1980): 124 137.
Kelsey, Morton. Healing and Christianity in Ancient Thought and Modern Times. New York: Harper and Row, 1973.
Kelsey, Morton. Tongue Speaking: The History and Meaning of Charismatic Experience. NY: Crossroad, 1981.
Kydd, Ronald. Charismatic Gifts in the Early Church. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1984. Based on his “Charismata to A.D. 320: A Study in the Overt Pneumatic Experience of the Early Church.” Ph.D. dissertation, St. Andrews University, 1973.
Leivestad, R. “Das Dogma von der prophetenlosen Zeit.” New Testament Studies 19 (April 1973): 288 99.
Mullin, R. B. Miracles and the Modern Religious Imagination. (New Haven, Conn., USA: Yale Univ. Pr., 1996).
Pont, Gabriel. Les dons de l’Esprit Saint dans la pensée de saint Augustin. Sierre: Editions Chateau Ravire, 1974.
Robeck, Cecil M., Jr. “The Role and Function of Prophetic Gifts for the Church at Carthage, A.D. 202 258.” Ph.D. dissertation, Fuller Theological Seminary, 1985.
Robeck, Cecil M., Jr. Pagan Christian Conflict over Miracle in the Second Century. Cambridge, MA: The Philadelphia Patristic Foundation, Ltd., 1983.
Robeck, Cecil M., Jr., ed. Charismatic Experiences in History. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1985.
Rogers, Cleon L, Jr. “The Gift of Tongues in the Post Apostolic Church (A.D. 100 400).” Bibliotheca Sacra 122 (April June 1965): 134 43.
Schlingensiepen, H. Die Wunder des Neuen Testamentes. Wege und Abwege ihrer Deutung in der alten Kirche bis zur Mitte des fünften Jarhunderts. Beträge zur Förderung christlicher Theologie 2e Reihe. 28 Band. Gütersloh: C. Bertelsmann, 1933.
Stephanou, Eusebius A. “The Charismata in the Early Church Fathers.” The Greek Orthodox Theological Review 21 (Summer 1976): 125 46.
Wagner, C. Peter, editor. Signs and Wonders Today. Expanded edition. Altamonte Springs, FL: Creation House, 1987.
Walker, D. P. “The Cessation of Miracles.” In Hermeticism and the Renaissance: Intellectual History and the Occult in Early Modern Europe. Edited by Ingrid Merkel and Allen G. Debus. Washington, DC: Folger Books, 1988. Pp. 111-124.
Ward, Benedicta. Miracles and the Medieval Mind: Theory, Record, and Event, 100 1215. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982.
Warfield, B.B. Counterfeit Miracles. NY: Charles Scribners Sons, 1918.
Watkin Jones, Howard. The Holy Spirit in the Medieval Church. London: Epworth, 1922.
Watkin Jones, Howard. The Holy Spirit from Arminius to Wesley. London: Epworth, 1929.
Weinel, Heinrich. Die Wirkungen des Geistes und der Geister in nachapostolischen Zeitalter bis auf Irenäus. Tübingen: Druck von H. Lampp, 1898.
Wendland, Johannes. Miracles and Christianity. E.t., H. R. Mackintosh. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1911.
Wenham, David. “Miracles Then and Now.” Themelios 12 (September 1986): 1-4. Wetmore, Robert Kingston. "The theology of spiritual gifts in Luther and Calvin a comparison." Concordia Seminary: ThD dissertation, 1992.
Williams, George and Waldvogel, Edith. “A History of Speaking in Tongues and Related Gifts.” The Charismatic Movement. Edited by Michael P. Hamilton. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975.