Elisha said, "Hear the word of the LORD. This is what the LORD says: About this time tomorrow, a seah of flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria."
The officer on whose arm the king was leaning said to the man of God, "Look, even if the LORD should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?"
"You will see it with your own eyes," answered Elisha, "but you will not eat any of it!" (2 Kings 7:1-2)
Samaria was under siege, and on top of that there was a famine. This lasted so long that food – including dove's dung – became scarce and expensive. The people were starving so severely that they ate their own children (2 Kings 6:24-29). When Elisha announced that deliverance would arrive in a day, and that the price of food would come down, an official expressed unbelief at the prediction. Thus Elisha declared that he would be punished for this: "You will see it, but you will not eat it."
God is annoyed when people doubt his ability or willingness to work miracles. He was angry with the Israelites in the wilderness, because they heard the gospel but did not combine it with faith (Hebrews 4:2), and he said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest'" (v. 3; Psalm 95:11). God left them to die in their unbelief.
If some people do not enter into God's rest, it is not because God has ceased performing mighty works, and it is not because he has ceased manifesting his power through his people, but it is because they have ceased combining faith with the gospel. It is because they have ceased in their faith, and God will leave them to die in their unbelief. They can fight us all they want, just as the Israelites resisted the leadership of Moses and contradicted the faith of Joshua and Caleb. God will see to it that they die in their unbelief, but those who have faith will enter into his rest.
When Gabriel announced the "good news" (Luke 1:19) that John the Baptist would be born, Zechariah doubted him, and so the angel said, "And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words" (1:20). His speech was restored when he aligned himself with God's program and named the child according to Gabriel's message (Luke 1:13, 63-64).
Peter was already experiencing a miracle when he doubted and began to sink. Jesus held him up and said, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:31, ESV). Peter was told that he could come walking on the water, so it was demanded of him that he would have the faith to do it.
Even a little hesitation irritated Jesus. A man came seeking healing for his child and said, "But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us" (Mark 9:22, ESV). Jesus returned the burden for the miracle back to faith and exclaimed, "'If you can'! All things are possible for one who believes" (Mark 9:23, ESV). This approach to faith and miracles is the very thing that many mainstream preachers and theologians condemn today, but they do not have the forthrightness or demonic courage to blast Jesus himself, and so they attack those who agree with him and teach the same thing.
The disciples had learned the lesson, and so James wrote that when a man prays, he must believe and not doubt, and that a man who doubts should not think that he will receive anything from the Lord (James 1:6-7). Again, this is the exact doctrine that numerous Christian leaders oppose today, and those who expound on it are often castigated as false teachers and heretics. And James said, "The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well" (5:15). This is also fiercely opposed, and those who agree with James are mocked, criticized, interrogated, and persecuted.
Sometimes cessationists complain that they are misrepresented. They claim that they do not reject God's power, but as long as they are cessationists, it remains that they reject God's power and the Spirit's operation as these are taught in the Bible. If the Bible teaches it one way, and they teach it another way (making adjustments so that the doctrine becomes something that their feeble faith can live up to), then they reject God's power and the Bible.
Cessationists, hypocrites! If you truly believe the Bible, then stop making excuses. Go out and pray for the sick in faith like James told you to, so that they may be healed and offer thanks to God. But you offer all kinds of reasons to explain why you are not doing it. And when you are finally shamed into going through the motions, you offer all kinds of reasons to explain why it does not happen for you. So you are still arguing, and still making excuses.
The truth is that you are weak in faith, if you have any faith at all, but you are too proud to admit it, and it seems easier to argue and delay, argue and delay, than to face your own unbelief and tradition. You are angry with us, because we are on to you, and we are telling people about it. You want people to think that you are scholarly and spiritual, but no matter what you say, we know that you are not, and we are going to tell it to the world. We realize that this makes you very angry, probably angry enough to conspire with unbelievers to crucify Jesus Christ.
For a long time, churches, seminaries, and denominations have conspired against the power of God and spread hostility against the manifestations of his Spirit. They have systematized their doctrines of unbelief and codified them in their creeds, so it has become a test of orthodoxy to affirm unbelief and tradition. Nevertheless, God is sovereign. When he decides to unleash his power, it will happen even when his enemies fight it. If you doubt that something will happen by God's miracle power, it will still happen, but he will rub it in your face when it does, and he will stampede you to death as his people rush out to embrace his deliverance.
God would not endlessly contend with the unbelief of this official. After a while, no argument was necessary. The refutation was their feet on his face. Just as he has never ceased performing miracles, and never ceased endowing his people with gifts and powers, he has never ceased rebuking and punishing unbelief. To preach the gospel is also to condemn unbelief in the name of Jesus Christ. The claim that God's power as it is taught in Scripture and enjoyed by the early Christians has ceased or changed is not a topic that should be restricted to detached and polite academic discussion. It is a demonic doctrine, one of Satan's most effective schemes, and we must incite God's people to despise it and condemn it.
Christians, take the side of faith and power. If you listen to those who teach unbelief and rebellion, you are the ones who will continue to suffer a lack of God's power, who will continue to starve for his Spirit, who will have to endure needless failure and frustration. Therefore, heed the good news of God's power and his Spirit, and rush out to embrace his deliverance. That keeper of the gate, that defender of the faith, might not believe, but what is that to you? Why should you care what he thinks? What is he to you, that you should share in his unbelief and suspicion? Why do you owe him any respect or allegiance? Do not let his sophistry tarry you. Answer him with your words, but then answer him with your feet as you trample his face and body. Go! Seize the spoils of war that Jesus Christ has won for you. God can deliver you in a day. Pray, believing, so that you may receive. And the God of peace will soon crush critics under your feet.