NT prophecy is for today and is NOT authoritative

NT prophecy is for today and is NOT authoritative February 14, 2013

None of these reasons listed below are unique to me, but I thought I would collect and restate them here for you. One of the best writers on this subject is Wayne Grudem, and though I have not gone back to his writing in producing this, I am sure that his influence will be seen in this list. For more on the outworking of all this practically, please see my series on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. To be provoked to pursue God wholeheartedly for all that he has for us, watch Tope’s recent sermon at Desiring God.

  1. In the OT prophecy is reserved for a select few who provide spiritual authority and direction to God’s people. In the New, prophecy is available to all Gods people (Acts 2). It is not possible  that everbody’s prophecies are authoritative for every other person.
  2. In Acts 2 (and in passage from Joel that Peter is quoting) we are told that this outpouring of the Spirit is for “all flesh” and takes place in the “last days.” If the Spirit has since been withdrawn (at least in this sense) then we are now living in days after the last days which makes no sense!
  3. It is surely the above passage that is the context for Peter’s promise of the “gift of the Spirit” which in verse 38 and 39 is promised for “you and for your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord shall call.” Surely this applies to us too!
  4. It seems the purpose of the gift of the Spirit in Acts 2 is to in some measure restore the relationship of God’s people with himself. If God is going to communicate with us in some way today, what are we to call this if not prophecy?
  5. The purposes of prophecy are defined as “upbuilding, encouragement and consolation.” (1 Corinthians 14:3),  these purposes do not seem to overlap at all with the purposes of Scripture which are “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16)
  6. It is clear that even in the OT prophecy is not always equated with Scripture. Just for starters the following biblical figures are described as having prophesied or being prophets and yet some or all of their prophecies are not included in the Scripture: Abraham (Gen 20:7), Saul (1 Samuel 10:11), the prophets with Saul (1 Samuel 10), Michiah’s other prophecies about Ahab, the many of Matthew 7:22, Anna (Luke 2:42), four daughters of Phillip (Acts 21:9), the people referred to in Romans 12:6 with the gift of prophecy, the Corinthians who prophesied, the elders who laid hands on Timothy (1 Tim 4:14), etc…
  7. Clearly many people in the Bible other than the Apostles prophesied.
  8. In the OT the authority rested with the prophets. In the NT the authority rested instead with the Apostles, although there were also Prophets around.
  9. Prophecy is not always 100% reliable in the Bible. Nathan told David to go ahead and build the temple before telling him that he was wrong (2 Samuel 12), Balaam in Numbers 22 was both a false prophet and spoke for God on occasion.
  10. In Acts 21 we see Paul ignoring the pleas of those who urged him “by the Holy Spirit” not to go to Jerusalem.  We also see a minor error in Agabus prophecy, and the wrong application by Paul’s friends, unless we feel Paul directly disobeyed a prophetic word!
  11. If prophecy is equivalent to authoritative, inerrant scripture why does 1 Corinthians 13:9  say “For we know in part and we prophesy in part”
  12. If prophecy is due to cease when Scripture is complete why does the Bible never tell us that?
  13. Why does the Bible instead in 1 Corinthians 13 tell us that prophecy will cease when we see Jesus face to face?
  14.  What are we to make of the following direct commands of Paul if prophecy and other gifts have cased, why are they in the Bible?
  15. 1 Corinthians 14:1  “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” Why are we not meant to do that now?
  16. 1 Corinthians 14:5  “Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.” If prophecy has ceased, then the church can’t be built up in this way now!
  17. 1 Corinthians 14:24 “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all” Again, if prophecy has ceased this effect is no longer available.
  18. 1 Corinthians 14:31  “For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged” Why would God not want us to do the same today?”
  19. 1 Corinthians 14:39  “So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.”  Has anyone told the SBC about this verse?
  20. 1 Thess 5:19-21 “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good”
  21. Note that we are meant to test prophecies, rather than the prophet. In other words it is possible for a godly man to prophecy  both good words, and words that he believes to be prophecy but are in fact not.
  22. On what biblical basis can we pick and choose which commands of Paul to obey and which to disobey? If we reject all these commands why would we not for example also reject his commands about say the role of women, or indeed lots of other matters?
  23. Throughout church history many have spoken about “strong impressions” from the Holy Spirit, about receiving a “call” to preach, about being guided by God in various ways, and in some cases receiving supernatural knowledge (Spurgeon being a case in point).
  24. If we are to accept that prophecy is going to continue and be available to all God’s people it stands to reason that this gift would need to be secondary to an objective measuring stick to weight it by. Otherwise the result would be chaos as people would rush after one prophecy and then another and have no means of knowing which were accurate.
  25. Prophecy guides us only on specific, non doctrinal matters, that are not addressed by the Bible. It is part of God’s mercy to us to provide leadership to his people. It is only one means by which God speaks to us, and it is subordinate to both the voices of Scripture and reason.

Over to you: Which of these reasons do you find convincing (or not!) What other reasons have I left off? What reasons are there to come to a different view?

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