Why cessationists are wrong about prophecy

Later today the Strange Fire conference hosted by John MacArthur begins. A few weeks back I expressed my concern about some of the publicity for this event seeming to accuse all charismatics of being blasphemers. This event also prompted Terry Virgo to share a video about how Lloyd-Jones encouraged him as a young charismatic.

I will be watching at least some of the event online. But one thing I am not expecting to hear is a novel or convincing argument from Scripture. I just want to state clearly today that I am a charismatic because I believe the Bible strongly supports the charismatic position. Over the years many have demonstrated that every objection the cessationists raise is simply invalid. As just one example of this, you can check out a relatively new blog I heard of recently.

Of course I do not expect every Christian to agree with my analysis of this issue. Indeed there is a broad spectrum of views on this matter in the church today. I just want us all to disagree as brothers. Like a writer from Charisma News yesterday, I hope and pray that MacArthur and co will moderate their tone later today. I’m also grateful that at least some who are not charismatics have also aired their concerns that charismatics not be tarred with one brush.

It was interesting then when I turned to the Bible today to discover that the next passage I was due to read in 1 Samuel 18-19 totally debunks one argument I hear often from some cessationists: namely that prophecy in the Bible is always inerrant, always authoritative, and should always be added to Scripture. The claim is that we are inconsistent as charismatics if we don’t staple modern prophecies into the back of our Bibles. This passage alone disproves that assertion.

First let me set the scene for an extraordinary event. We see David’s popularity and success increasing, because as we explored yesterday, The Lord was with him.

Meanwhile Saul, in what at first appears to be an attempt at “keeping your enemies closer” is intent on marrying one of his Daughters to David. David’s simple humility is seen in not seeking greatness for himself. But Saul has another agenda: providing a way for the Philistines to kill David. Whether he was aware of these plots or not, David simply obeys the requests of the king without similarly scheming. There is also a tender love story woven in which culminated in David’s wife risking her own life to save him from her father.

But the events in question surround Saul’s comical attempts to capture David. He sends three groups of soldiers and then finally himself. Each time the Spirit of God falls on those sent to capture David and they prophecy. This is far from the only time in the Bible that prophecies are not recorded and inscripturated.

20131016-094815.jpgIn Acts 2 Joel’s promise is repeated that in the last days the Spirit would be poured out on “all flesh” and as a result large numbers would prophesy. These words are not in the Bible, to say nothing of the odd state of affairs where if this passage was only fulfilled in NT times, we would be living in days after the last days!

There is of course much more we could say about prophecy, and indeed I have already written quite a few more posts on prophecy that might be of interest to you.

Please pray with me that there will be no return to the days of the 1960s and 1970s where there was great division and hostility in the church on this issue. As I said earlier, I really don’t expect everyone to agree with my own position. But I do urge us to see this issue in the same way as we do say water baptism. There is nothing wrong with holding strong views on such things, but our differences on ot definitely do not get to limit and define what is a Christian, or for that matter what an Evangelical is. Let’s disagree by all means, but we do so as Children of God, and the World is watching.

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock is a medical doctor, a writer, and a member of Jubilee Church, London since 1995, where he serves as part of the leadership team alongside Tope Koleoso. Together they have written Hope Reborn - How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus, published by Christian Focus. Adrian is also the author of Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything, published by Crossway. Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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