John Piper responds to John MacArthur’s Strange Fire Conference

John Piper responds to John MacArthur’s Strange Fire Conference November 12, 2013

Just a couple of hours ago John Piper has posted the following to SoundCloud. Highlights below.

  • Piper strongly affirms that he has benefited from MacArthur’s ministry
  • Piper confirms that he does indeed advocate obedience to 1 Corinthians 12:31, “earnestly desire the higher gifts,” 1 Corinthians14:1, “earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy,” and 1 Corinthians 14:39, “earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues,” and personally tries to obey these verses especially when preaching.
  • He believes 1 Corinthians 14:25 can happen in a moment during preaching.
  • He does believe in prophecy for exegetical reasons

Piper has also commented further about what he feels are his exegetical reasons for believing prophecy is valid for today:

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • If you combine any kind of sola or even prima scriptura approach to faith with the explicit NT commands that Piper quotes, there ought to be at least one verse that, just as explicitly, exempts future Christians from obedience. There is no area of theology in which sola scriptura is more turned on its head than cessationism. So much explicit teaching and example in the NT (!) gets overturned by . . . what exactly? Either an odd interpretation of “the perfect” that defies even language in the same sentence, let alone other texts, or an inference that “foundational” means no longer necessary and absolutely will cease. I am glad for the cessationists who have the self awareness and courage to admit that their cessationism comes more from experience and tradition than scripture, because the bible just doesn’t teach it unless you approach it with that conclusion already established. Having someone as prominent as MacArthur say cessationism is biblical doesn’t make it so. If someone can show me another area of theology in which conservative Christians use so few inferences to overturn so many explicit NT commands, teachings and examples, I would love to know–seriously, I would.

    • Seth Eden

      T Freeman, Is scripture as we have it sufficient?

      • Absolutely! Of course that begs the question . . . what are they sufficient for? The scriptures aren’t in competition with the Body, nor with the Spirit. The existence of one doesn’t mean the other isn’t still a big part of the Lord’s work. Furthermore, and perhaps most pointedly, it’s the scriptures that say, nay command, to earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially prophecy. It’s the scriptures that devote chapters of teaching for how prophecy and tongues (in the NT church!) are to be practiced (and not forbidden). It is the scriptures that are giving loads of teaching and examples to follow in regards to the gifts, even for messed up churches like the one at Corinth. It’s the scriptures that say that these, though they are in part, will continue until we see him face to face, and know him as fully as he knows us. Thank God for the scriptures!

        • Christopher Lemons

          Scripture also lays guidelines for the gift of tongues to be used. And how most of these american churches do it is far from those proscriptions. And there is also plenty in the Bible about how to judge a prophet and what is to happen if he is not truly speaking what the word that the Lord has given him to speak..

          • Chris,

            On tongues, Amen! The ignorance which Paul seeks to correct in I Cor. continues. Some people still use tongues and other gifts disruptively or selfishly, others forbid tongues.

            I assume, regarding prophets, you are speaking of stoning/killing a “false prophet.” We are in a different covenant, and prophecy, like the priesthood, like many things, operates differently. In the OT, prophecy was limited to very few with a powerful role for, often, the entire nation of Israel’s guidance. In the NT, the Holy Spirit has distributed prophecy widely (young and old, men and women, slaves and free, etc.). In the new covenant, Paul tells us how to do prophecy in a local church in an orderly way just like he does with tongues, but also how to weigh what is said, keeping what is good. Being a “false teacher” or “false prophet” in the NT isn’t about isolated failures or mistakes, but patterns of conduct and the character of a person and their ministry.

  • J Vernon Magee

    I appreciate the graciousness in which Piper responded to MacArthur. I have learned much and grown in my faith and understanding of the sovereignty of God from John Piper. Yet, his answer left me with questions. He prays often for God to give him the gift of prophesy so that as he
    preaches it can be exercised in such a way that 1 Corinthians 14:25 is
    fulfilled. What is the gift of prophesy as he defines it? Does he have two or three prophets speak at his church that are judged by other prophets with the gift of discernment? He talks about wanting these thoughts given to him by the gift of prophesy to be subjected to Scripture. Does he subject these thoughts he prays that God gives him to speak by the gift of prophesy to other prophets in attendance as we see in 1 Corinthians 14?

    Prophesy in the context seems to be divine revelation (1 Corinthians 14:30). The gift of prophesy being exercised is someone speaking divine revelation that has been given to them. This revelation is able to reveal the secrets of the heart and cause an unbeliever to fall on their face in conversion to worship God and recognize God is there. It is also able to edify the saints. Is not Scripture sufficient for this?

    • Jared Thirsk

      “This revelation is able to reveal the secrets of the heart and cause an unbeliever to fall on their face in conversion to worship God and recognize God is there. It is also able to edify the saints. Is not Scripture sufficient for this?”

      I think God could use Scripture (booming voice from the sky reading it aloud? Or hearing it on TV while flipping channels, etc.) and the Holy Spirit to bring conviction to an unbeliever.

      And I think God can and still does use prophecy or words of knowledge to get one believer to expose the secrets of the heart. “How did you know that!?!? Nobody could know that about me!” “God told me. He loves you and wants you to turn to Him.” “Oh!! Wow! Ok!”

      Why would God no longer move that way? Scripture is amazing, but when Scripture itself says this is a good thing, I think the onus is heavily on cessationists to explain why something Scripture says is good is no longer good, or no longer necessary.

      Also there are many times I have been encouraged by fellow believers’ encouraging prophetic words, and it has been a blessing that is of different form than hearing promptings of God myself or from reading Scripture. I would say it is not as important 90%+ of the time as praying with God myself or meditating on Scripture, but once in a while, I it is really beneficial to hear certain things from God through the lips of a fellow believer to strengthen my faith, if only to know that God loves me enough to go to the trouble of prompting someone else to encourage me, but sometimes it can also encourage me to step out in faith in a way I believe God is calling me to do.

      One reason I believe God speaks to us through each other is to build unity through fellowship in the church. Why do we need teachers or pastors or worshippers? If the canonization of Scripture has fulfilled so much, why do we have teachers who add their own interpretations and applications to Scripture, and pastors who apply Scripture to believers’ lives, and worshippers who come up with new songs that are not already in the book Psalms. Why not just have the saints assemble and quietly read the Bible? Or just read a passage aloud verbatim and stop? Or sing only from Psalms? Is not Scripture sufficient for these things?

    • Jared Thirsk
    • Here are a couple of examples from scripture which I think fall under the banner of prophecy: Jesus telling the woman at the well the well about her husbands, Jesus telling Nathaniel that Jesus saw him under the fig tree, the elders prophesying To Timothy about his gifts. There are more but these will suffice. What these have in common is that they are all personal and none are even doctrinal, though they all had great significance to the individuals to whom they were directed. They are also part of what I think Paul has in mind about the secrets of unbelievers hearts being laid bare and acknowledging that God is among us. Indeed, Nathaniel and the woman at the well seem perfect examples of that. Scripture isn’t the same as prophetic work. All scripture is prophetic in origin, but not all prophetic work is intended to be scripture. Indeed, scripture is a very, very small and unique subset, intended to be doctrinal for all God’s people for all time. Most of prophecy, by contrast, “reveals little.” It is often much smaller, much more personal, even surgical sometimes, in scope and content. Hope that helps.

  • Vsk House

    Piper is confusing ILLUMINATION (which occurs today, and is done by the Holy Spirit) with INSPIRATION (which is a theological technical term derived from 2Pe 1:20-21). The Canon of the Bible is closed, there is no more inspired words from the Holy Spirit — even if it’s a repeat of what’s been said, as that would alter the weight of the words across all Scripture.

    • No; you are confusing “prophecy” which was practiced widely by many in the NT, the vast bulk of which was not nor intended to be scripture or even doctrinal, with “scripture.” I assure you that Piper knows the difference.

      • Vsk House

        Actually, he appears to have a different definition than what scripture gives. From what I’ve gathered of your responses, you’re quite the student (minister?) of Piper’s teachings – which isn’t a bad thing; certainly Pas. Piper teaches many things correctly! However, 2Pe 1:21 declares that “prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” Prophecy was not “a word for the person at that time” (that’s what Mohammed claimed to receive – ‘Allah’s will is for you to have this 13 y/o as your wife’); it is the declaration of the eternal Word of God, relevant throughout all time. Prophecy is a foundational gift (Eph 2:20), and you only lay one foundation, Jesus being the chief cornerstone. After Pentecost, only a handful of NT prophets are mentioned; this is hardly “widespread”. The NT declares that tongues in particular are a sign (1Cor 14:22), and that Satan is allowed to come with lying signs (2Thes 2:9, same Gr. word). If widespread ecstatic utterances, not identifiable as any real foreign language, isn’t a huge lying sign, then what is? True prophecy (declaring the Word of God) is also finished, per Rev. 22:18 and nearly 2,000 years of Church history. This subject has become an issue only since the Azusa Street movement in 1906.

        Obviously one can’t cover the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in an online post; nor do I wish to be perceived as inflammatory with additional postings. Should you (or others) desire further dialogue, feel free to email me at I reiterate that Pas. Piper is a sound preacher for the most part; but in this area, he is quite erroneous, standing in a minority position among the faithful. Lord’s blessings!

        • I don’t take you as being inflammatory. My main issue with emailing is that I think there is value in speaking publicly about this issue, though I completely agree that it should be done charitably! With that in mind, I will reply here, but I understand completely if you would rather not. I wish you the very best regardless.

          I would only give a couple responses. First, you rightly quote Peter and say that prophecy can acurately be described as “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” But note that such is not at all the same thing as saying that prophecy is “the declaration of the eternal Word of God, relevant throughout all time.” In other comments, I’ve given plenty of NT examples that make it clear that holy men of God can be moved to speak by the Holy Spirit and that such speech can be personal in nature. Both Jesus’ revelation to Nathaniel and to the woman at the well were very powerful and also perfect examples of Paul’s statement that prophecy can lay the secrets of the unbeliever’s heart bare, causing them to believe and declare God’s presence and work. God can lead holy men of God to speak as they are moved by the Spirit . . . in any way and on any topic he so chooses. Further, and similarly saying that prophecy is foundational is great! I agree! It’s another assumption/inference to then conclude that it does not continue now, and such an inference is not required by the text at all. When Paul does discuss timing of the end of tongues and prophecy, which he does, he ties the end, not to when the foundation is complete, which he could have done, but when “completeness” comes; when we see face to face and know Him as fully as He knows us. At that time, even “knowledge” itself, as we have come to conceive of it, will pass, because our new knowledge of him will be so complete. I could go on on tongues, but I think any straightforward reading of I Corinthians makes it very likely that tongues will often be prayers which are not understood by anyone, even the speaker, and as such should be continued quietly when in a larger gathering so as not to disrupt the meeting, but it should be continued and not forbidden. Your reading turns Paul’s encouragement for praying quietly or in private in tongues when no one can interpret on its head. A dangerous thing indeed. Again, if you don’t want to respond here, I understand. Best to you regardless.

  • James Swader

    I was Southern Baptist raised and licensed to preach. When God spoke to me one day, my Baptist theology answered Him in this way: “Oh Lord, you don’t do that anymore.” The thing is, He baptized me with the Holy Spirit withj the evidence of speaking in tongues. The fact that John McArthur and others are attacking Christians like me is because they themselves are empty of God’s Spirit. It is a dangerous thing they do in their ministry of condemnation. They partake of communion and turn around and attack people like me who also partakes of the Lord’s table. We are not judges of the Lord’s body so why are they doing it anyway?

    • Cal Koe

      You want to know how loving charismatic are ? Check the history of the charismatics in Asia and 3rd world countries and you will be ashamed to think that charismatics are the victims of attack. I have witnessed first hand how the charismatic overthrew Baptist pastors in ugly unchristian fights and took over congregations and assets of churches in Malaysia previously established by the faithful Southern Baptists missionaries .They caused disunity and split the body of Christ and unashamedly took control of assets, that which was first built and financed by Southern Baptist mission. They say all manner of things against non charismatic. Before we accuse others , charismatic should first take a look at themselves.
      And talking about tongues, most tongues are questionable if you see how they come about, we will see that it is so different from how the Holy Spirit administer them in Acts. Teaching people to speak n tongues and telling them to speak out in faith whatever is in their minds or worst still to keep repeating words at a fast space until your tongues roll, these are manipulative ways so different from the real thing in Acts.And they are not languages. they sound alike and can be copied or learnt. And who is there to say who is speaking the real tongue and who is a fake. As far as I can see everyone accepts everybody’s tongues as the real thing.

    • Christopher Lemons

      John MaCarther is empty of God’s spirit and you are not? To quote you, “We are not judges of the Lord’s body so why are you doing it anyway?”

  • Cal Koe

    Jesus and the Apostles had persistently warned us to beware of false prophets,
    many coming in sheep’s clothing. Now if prophecies of a true prophet are also fallible, then God’s prescribed yardstick of 100% accuracy is no longer a valid basis to distinguish the true from the false prophets. Anyone can prophesy and make countless errors but cannot be accused of being a false prophet since John Piper says prophecies are not infallible. So how do we objectively spot the numerous false prophet that Jesus and the Apostles warned us to beware of. Seems like the false prophets are going to have a field day deceiving the very elect. John Piper seems to be trying to do repair works as he goes along , not realising that he is adding more chaos to the charismatic chaos that John MacArthur wrote about. He will need to keep on repairing. But I am still pondering why Jesus and the apostles kept up the warning about false prophets. Who are they ? I no longer can tell but I know the circus will become more interesting and amusing.

  • Seth Eden

    If this is the best that John Piper can offer on such an important topic, then I am very disappointed. I have never seen JP so shaken in his responses. So he will go on preaching the truth to charismatics until their experiences come around to truth? But is John MacArthur not preaching that truth? Finally, I can say, thanks JM for the strange fire. I see that the Calvinistic-continuation position is untenable.

  • jb

    The fact that charismatic is splitting churches around the world tells you its origin. Matthew 7:13, “… broad is the way that leads to destruction, …”

    • jb, the fact that people are dividing over the gifts tells us nothing about their origin. People, even families, divide over Jesus. What does that tell us? Corinth was dividing over the gifts, as well as personalities. Paul didn’t say, therefore, that the gifts were from the devil. Quite the opposite. Please don’t misrepresent the scriptures because you have a point you’d like to make.

    • holywreck

      Splittness comes from within as james puts it. Do we ever learn how to treat each other on differences. It’s more an issue on maturity then theological correctness. The holy Spirit does as he pleases and hasn’t stoped since the Bible appeared. Hitler appeared because the church did splitt on the same issue. In Europe we still recover from that Berlin Decleration. Don’t repeat history will you please.

  • Stephen Mogagabe

    I am NOT a pentecostal (but I speak in tongues of fire as the Holy Ghost gives utterance), I am not a ‘MacAuthurnist’, I not a charismatic, I am not an evangelical or an ana-baptist, nor a puritan, or a Cessationist, nor Baptist. I will never be a Trinitarian, or Unitarian, or any group that classifies believers. I don’t believe in groups of “Christianity”. I have never believed in groups OF CLASSIFICATIONS MADE BY “movements” and people or “theologians”. That is why I wrote a book GOD IS GOING TO MARRY YOU (Click this link:….

    I wrote it TO BRING USA AND BELIEVERS WORLDWIDE BACK TO THE POINT OF SEEING THAT YOU ARE ESPOUSED (ENGAGED) TO BE THE BRIDE OF CHRIST. Christ did not die for you to be espoused to any ‘movement’. PAUL a true apostle strongly rebuked the followers of movements by saying: “Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius,so no one can say that you were baptized in my name.(1 Corinthians 1:12-15). If your apostle preaches classification, he is not a true apostle like Paul the apostle. The bible is not for “movements”. MOVEMENTS BAPTIZE PEOPLE IN THIER NAMES, not the name of Jesus Christ (your ONLY Saviour). Jesus Christ is the ONLY TRUE SAVIOUR you must believe in everyday of YOUR life. THAT IS WHERE THE PROBLEM IS with movements- they take people away from JESUS CHRIST. Movements give you names of their ‘false beliefs’, and chains you to them as a slave. Movements always disagrees with the bible, to make their own doctrines and teachings. I am not a Marian, or Orthodox, or Anglicanism, I will never be a Calvinism, or Presbyterianism. I dont belong to groups of any movement. I am not a Methodist, I will never a Continental, or Jewish Christian, I wont join all these groups that fight over “categorization”. I am not an Adventist, I will never be a Universalism or Swedenborgianism. All these groups never shed their blood on the Cross. I am not a Eucharist, of a Sacramentist, I will never be a Liturgicalist, or Kosovo Protestant. All these are names which people use to ‘de-classify the classified and classed’. IT IS A CONFUSION of “war-nism”. A true believer does not ‘fight over’ movements.

    APOSTLE PAUL asked a very serious question to you (a believer): “Is Christ divided?”. LET ME ASK YOU A BIG QUESTION: “why are so many churches fighting and diving each other over movements and categorization?” Paul the man of God asked: “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? THE ANSWER IS NO. Any movement which divides the body of Christ should re-consider why it was formed. THE BIBLE SAYS: “until we ALL reach UNITY in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ(Ephesians 4:13). DOCTRINE ought not to “divide the body/churches”.

    That is why a loved apostle of Jesus Christ named apostle JOHN said: “If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement”(2 John 1:10). JESUS CHRIST IS OUR DOCTRINE. Stop fighting over names and groupings and clubs and fraternity or socialism doctrines. GOD never send movements to shed the blood on the CROSS. ONLY JESUS shed the blood. ONLY JESUS. That is why the apostle John says: “If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home”.

    GOD did NOT ask “his disciples” to be classified by sinners or ‘fellow believers’. I don’t belong to any “movement”. That is why believers hate and fight each other, they “fight over movements”. GOD DID NOT SEND MOVEMENTS TO DIE FOR SINNERS OR PEOPLE. Jesus CHRIST(the only TRUE GOD as per 1John 5:20b) is the only one we are to be unified in and by. JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY ONE WE SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT. Not movements and classifications. I wont join the pentecostals, holiness, charismatic, pentecostals, catholics, puritans, trinitarian and all the groups or any group in the world that says it has “shed the blood on the cross”. GROUPINGS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH GOD’S WILL. It is our own “way” of segregating against other believers. AND I WONT STAND FOR ANY MOVEMENT WHATSOEVER.

    WRITE THIS DOWN AND REMEMBER IT AS LONG AS YOU ARE ALIVE: “we are the body of Christ”(1 Corinthians 12:27 ). The “bride” of JESUS CHRIST. We are not the body of any movement or ‘class’ or ‘grouping’. We are espoused [ENGAGED] to “Christ”(2 Corinthians 11:2). MORE THAN 100 MOVEMENTS HAVE SEPARATED THE BODY OF CHRIST.