Bible Questions – VBVM Staff – September 25, 2013

Q. Do the offices of apostle and prophet still exist in the church?

A. The title “apostle” means one sent with a message, and it is a special office in the history of the church. Apostles were men who were personally appointed by Christ to hold the office. Only those who witnessed Christ in the flesh and received a commission directly from Him carry this title. The last apostle to die was John, therefore no apostles exist today.

Nevertheless, men may try to appropriate the title for themselves, just as false apostles existed in the early church. In all cases, false apostles are shown to be counterfeits because they cannot perform the miracles required to validate their title. All apostles were given unique gifts of the spirit to validate their positions of authority. Christ told the apostles they could cast out demons, heal the sick and even receive fatal snake bites but not die. These are not normal powers; they are unique to apostles.

You can read more about why the Lord established the office of apostle in the early church (and why it no longer exists) in the following articles and teachings:

Apostolic Powers Today

Acts of the Apostles

The office of prophet is also misunderstood. The Bible uses the term prophet to describe a man gifted to deliver God’s revelation to men. A prophet’s words were recorded and eventually made a part of the canon of scripture. The office of prophet carries significant responsibilities and burdens, according to scripture. Specifically, the Bible says this concerning the office of prophet:

Deut. 13:1  “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder,
Deut. 13:2  and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘ Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’
Deut. 13:3  you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is  testing you to find out if  you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deut. 13:4  “You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and  cling to Him.
Deut. 13:5  “But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be  put to death, because he has  counseled  rebellion against the LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of  slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk.  So you shall purge the evil from among you.

The Bible taught Israel that anyone claiming the office of prophet was required to be 100% correct in ALL prophecies. If a supposed prophet was ever incorrect in their prophetic utterances – even just once – then they were to be put to death, according to the word. Many churches fail to understand this rigorous standard for prophecy required by scripture, and therefore we are tempted to assign this title too easily to those who wish to claim it. In reality, the biblical office of prophet no longer exists in the church, since the canon of scripture has been completed.

Nevertheless, the Lord may bring supernatural insight concerning future events to anyone at anytime, but such a moment doesn’t mean the person has become a prophet in the biblical sense. It simply means God has chosen to reveal something to them at a point in time for a certain purpose. This type of prophecy shouldn’t be mistaken for the office of prophet.

Many men and women go around in the church proclaiming themselves to be prophets, but if we apply the test God gives us in Deuteronomy, we quickly find these people to be frauds deceiving believers.  Remember this exchange in Jeremiah:

Jer. 14:13  But, “Ah, Lord  GOD!” I said, “Look, the prophets are telling them, ‘You  will not see the sword nor will you have famine, but I will give you  lasting  peace in this place.’”
Jer. 14:14 Then the LORD said to me, “The  prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name.  I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a  false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own  minds.
Jer. 14:15 “Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who are prophesying in My name, although it was not I who sent them — yet they keep saying, ‘There will be no sword or famine in this land’ —  by sword and famine those prophets shall  meet their end!

In the church today, we find no evidence of apostles nor prophets operating as the Bible requires. Instead, we may find an occasional person given insight of future events on an occasional basis, but mostly we find frauds claiming to have powers they cannot validate in the way the Bible requires.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Shelley Benton says:

    You are using a test from Deuteronomy to judge prophets sent in this day to God’s New Testament Church. While the Old Testament is indeed relevant to today’s Church, the book of I Corinthians 10:11 tells us that all of the events of the Old Testament were written for our example for those upon whom the ends of the world have come, you still have to account for what the New Testament tells us about prophets for this time. Ephesians 4 tells us that God gave some apostles, prophets, and some evangelists and some pastors and teachers. That is the list of “gifts” from Him to the Church of the New Testament. Matthew also warns in Chapter 7 of his gospel to beware of false prophets. Surely this indicates that there are prophets given to the Church. The office of apostle is completed because Jesus appointed his 12 apostles and there are no more. We know that because they answer to the 12 in Revelation. However, we are also told in Ephesians 2 that anyone who builds upon the foundation of the apostles should be careful how they build thereon. Who else but a prophet of God could build further upon the foundation that has been laid by the apostles? The problem with the organized Church is that you focus on the Old Testament and on prophecy for the end times that move into the 70th week territory when

    God goes back to the Jews and never hear what God is saying to the Church today. Jesus is still speaking to this church, that is why he says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

    • Thank you, Shelley, for your comment. This is a very important topic for the church today and I really value your thoughts.
      What do you think should be the qualifications and/or tests of a modern day prophet?
      If he/she does pass those qualifications, should we re-open the Canon of Scripture to record for all time their prophetic words?


      • Shelley Benton says:

        Of course we do not re-open the canon of Scripture. However, you are assuming that the “Canon of Scripture” is closed. Do you not believe that the Lord is still speaking from heaven? From that very canon? No, no new scriptures are being written, the apostles were the last to write scripture. The scriptures that they have already been written are God’s treasure chest and in due season, as in Now since these are the last days, he is opening that chest up to reveal previously hidden truths. Jesus tells us in two gospels, that there is nothing covered, or hidden, that shall not be revealed. To whom do you think he is revealing those hidden secrets? Last days’ prophets that he has sent. Hebrews 12:25 tells us to “refuse not him that speaketh.” From where is he speaking? it goes on to say, “if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven.” To whom do you think he is speaking? To his prophets. The test for the last days’ prophets are not if what they say comes to pass, but are they rightly dividing scripture and telling us truths that are backed up by scripture. Let’s take your supposition back to Deuteronomy. Deut. 18:15 says, “The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him shall ye hearken.” About whom is this scripture speaking if not about Jesus, our last days’ prophet? He speaks today by his Holy Spirit who has been sent to “lead us and guide us into all truth and show us things to come.” If that is the case, then he must send prophets to speak his words to his

  2. Shelley Benton says:

    I am having problems completing the lines on my computer and there is no “edit” option. The last word should be church. I have not completed my response:
    In Ephesians 2:20 says, “and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;” The Church, until now, has taken this scripture to mean the Old Testament prophets, but why would it group them with the apostles when Jesus is the chief cornerstone for the Church? It is referring the to last days’ prophets that God would send in the Church age to give information and insight into the scriptures for the Church. Think about it….if God, who never changes, sent prophets to exhort and inform his people then as to what was about to befall them, why would he not do the same for his Church? Jesus is alive and well and speaking today from heaven. He repeats the scripture, “he who has ears to hear, let him hear.” In addition to Jesus repeating this in the gospels, In Revelation he repeats it 8 times but with a singular “ear” because the hearing of the church at this time is reduced by half. And he adds ” hear what the Spirit says to the Churches” The Holy Ghost is speaking to his church…today. Hebrews 3:15 says “While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hears, as in the provocation: If Jesus was not speaking from heaven today, why would he admonish us not to harden our hearts if we hear his voice? It is not the ministers who preach the word that he is talking about, it is the prophets. All ministers are not his. Just as he warns us against false prophets. If he was not sending prophets to the Church, he would warn against false preachers or false ministers. God is very specific and when Jesus walked the earth, he was also very specific. Why? because he constantly said, what the Father tells me, that I speak. One more note, Amos 3:7 says, “surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” Surely God is now revealing secrets to his servants, the prophets. All truth is by revelation from God and he has not abandoned his body, the Church to figure out what he is going to do next from Old Testament scripture but he is revealing truths to his prophets built upon the foundation of the apostles and his preachers and evangelists are to take it further from those truths from the prophets to his Church.

    • Thank you again, Shelley for your well thought out comments.
      I’m going to post in this reply a series of people who disagree with you and I’m just curious what you would say to them to defend your positions.

      John MacArthur:

      There is no fresher or more intimate revelation than Scripture. God doesn’t need to give us private revelation to help us in our walk with Him. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16 – 17; emphasis added). Scripture is sufficient. It offers all we need for every good work.

      Christians on both sides of the charismatic fence must realize a vital truth: God’s revelation is complete for now. The canon of Scripture is closed. As the apostle John penned the final words of the last book of the New Testament, he recorded this warning: “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and from the holy city, which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18-19). Then, the Holy Spirit added a doxology and closed the canon.

      When the canon closed on the Old Testament after the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, there followed four hundred “silent years” when no prophet spoke God’s revelation in any form.

      That silence was broken by John the Baptist as God spoke once more prior to the New Testament age. God then moved various men to record the books of the New Testament, and the last of these was Revelation. By the second century A.D., the complete canon exactly as we have it today was popularly recognized. Church councils in the fourth century verified and made official what the church has universally affirmed, that the sixty-six books in our Bibles are the only true Scripture inspired by God. The canon is complete.

      Related Resources (free):

      Prophecy and the Closed Canon, Part 2
      Prophecy and the Closed Canon, Part 3
      Does God give us personal direction through a still small voice?

      R.C. Sproul, Jr.

      Are There Still Prophets in Our Day?
      FROM R.C. Sproul Jr. Apr 09, 2011 Category: Articles

      Yes, and no. Too often we in the evangelical church see the prophet as a sort of white witch, a godly soothsayer that can see into the future and tell us what is going to happen. Not only do we not have anyone filling such an office in our day, there was never anyone filling such an office. Foretelling the future never was and never will be the calling of the prophet. The prophet, instead, is called to speak God’s Word to God’s people.

      The beginning of that Word from God always looked back rather than forward. That is, the prophet served as a kind of lawyer bringing suit for failure to keep covenant. Thus the beginning of the message was “You agreed to this covenant. You said you would honor it.” It moved from this glance backward to an assessment of the present, “You are not keeping the covenant. You are breaking this provision and that one.” Finally, the prophet gives this typically general vision of the future, that God had revealed, “If you don’t repent, judgment will come. If you do repent, God will spare you and bless you.”

      Because God spoke directly to the prophet in the Old Covenant, there certainly could be greater specificity to the prediction: your descendants will be slaves in Egypt for 400 years; the son of your adultery will die; the Assyrians are going to wipe the floor with you; you will return from exile; a prophet greater than Moses will come. This was God’s message, and either implicitly or explicitly it always carried the notion of forgiveness for repentance and judgment for failure to repent.

      Does God still speak this way? Yes, and no. No, because we have the complete Word of God. Yes, because the Word of God is God speaking in this way. We do not have new prophetic messages, but we do have the prophetic message. It is complete, and speaks with all the thundering glory, all the refulgent promise of the prophets of old. As individuals, as families, as churches, as nations the message is the same- if we repent God will bless. If we do not, God will judge.

      Prophets in our day then do not receive new revelation from God. They do, however, continue to proclaim the Word of God. Husbands prophesy to their wives when they wash them with the water of the Word (Ephesians 5:26). Parents prophesy to their children when they speak to their children of the things of God when they lie down and when they rise up and when they walk by the way (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Churches prophesy to the world when they proclaim the faith once delivered (I Corinthians 11:4-5).

      It is important that we affirm the overlap between Old Testament prophecy and prophecy in our own day. In both instances God’s Word is being proclaimed. In both instances God’s people are called to repentance. It is important also to note the differences. God spoke directly to the prophets of old. Now, His Word is complete. Those who claim to hear directly from God now besmirch the fullness of the Word, and mislead the people of God. On the other hand, those who refuse to speak His Word besmirch the power of the Word, and fail to lead His people. Speak. His Word.

      Charles Spurgeon:

      Spurgeon, Impressions, and Prophecy

      by Nathan Busenitz

      Spurgeon2I recently received an email asking a question that I have been asked from time to time. It pertains to the topic of spiritual gifts and cessationism. In today’s article, I’ve summarized the question and provided my response.

      Question: You mention Charles Spurgeon as an advocate of cessationism. But Spurgeon confessed that on several occasions, while he was preaching, he received impressions from the Holy Spirit that gave him extraordinary insights to expose specific sins in people’s lives with incredible accuracy. From my perspective, those impressions seem to align with the gift of prophecy. How do you reconcile Spurgeon’s impressions with your claim that he was a cessationist?


      It is important, at the outset, to note that Scripture – and not Spurgeon – is our final authority in these matters. I’m confident that Charles Spurgeon would agree with us on that point. Whatever we conclude about Spurgeon’s experiences, we need to remember that our convictions must ultimately be drawn from the Word of God.

      Having said that, I do think it is helpful to think carefully about the issues you raise in your question. With that in mind, I’ve summarized my response under the following three headings.

      A) Was Spurgeon a Cessationist?

      Yes. The nineteenth-century ‘Prince of Preachers’ taught that the miraculous gifts of the apostolic age (including the gifts of tongues, prophecy, and healing) had passed away shortly after the first century.

      In a sermon entitled, “Final Perseverance” (March 23, 1856), Spurgeon spoke of the spiritual power that was available to his congregation with this qualification: “Not miraculous gifts, which are denied us in these days, but all those powers with which the Holy Ghost endows a Christian.”

      In a longer section, from a sermon entitled “Receiving the Holy Spirit” (July 13, 1884), Spurgeon reiterated the fact that he believed the miraculous gifts to have ceased in church history. He said this:

      You know, dear Friends, when the Holy Spirit was given in the earliest ages, He showed His Presence by certain miraculous signs. Some of those who received the Holy Spirit spoke with tongues; others began to prophesy and a third class received the gifts of healing — so that wherever they laid their hands, disease fled before them. . . .

      [The remaining] works of the Holy Spirit which are at this time vouchsafed to the Church of God are, in every way, as valuable as those earlier miraculous gifts which have departed from us. The work of the Holy Spirit, by which men are quickened from their death in sin, is not inferior to the power which made men speak with tongues! The work of the Holy Spirit, when He comforts men and makes them glad in Christ, is by no means second to the opening of the eyes of the blind!

      Spurgeon’s point was that, even though the gifts of tongues, prophecy, and healing are no longer available to the church — Christians still experience the work of the Holy Spirit in a way that is just as profound and supernatural (e.g. the miracle of regeneration, or the ministry of spiritual comfort).

      I could provide several additional examples from Spurgeon’s sermons. For the sake of space, I’ll move on …

      B) What about Spurgeon’s Impressions?

      It is also true that Spurgeon reported occasions in which he experienced a subjective impression of some kind. Phil Johnson has catalogued a couple of those incidents at this link.

      However, before we accuse Spurgeon of being a closet charismatic, it is helpful to keep a few things in mind.

      1) Spurgeon warned against making too much out of subjective impressions:

      Charles Spurgeon (sermon, “A Well Ordered Life”): To live by impressions is oftentimes to live the life of a fool and even to fall into downright rebellion against the revealed Word of God. Not your impressions, but that which is in this Bible must always guide you. ‘To the Law and to the Testimony.’ If it is not according to this Word, the impression comes not from God — it may proceed from Satan, or from your own distempered brain! Our prayer must be, ‘Order my steps in Your Word.’ Now, that rule of life, the written Word of God, we ought to study and obey.

      2) Spurgeon also warned against associating with people who put great stock in subjective impressions:

      Charles Spurgeon (sermon, “Enquiring of God”): I was once in conversation with two friends, one of whom was guided by his judgment, while the other was swayed by impressions, and I could not help noting that the man who was guided by impressions was, as such people always will be, “unstable as water.” If I am impressed in one way one day, I may be impressed in another way the next day, so impressions are unreliable guides. There was a young man, who was impressed with the idea that he ought to preach for me one Lord’s day; but as I was not impressed to let him do so, it stood over, and probably will continue to stand over for some little time. He had no gifts of speech, but he thought his impression was quite sufficient.

      3) Spurgeon instructed his congregation to live by the Scriptures and not by their impressions:

      Charles Spurgeon (sermon, “Intelligent Obedience”): Others, too, judge of their duty by impressions. “If I feel it impressed upon my mind,” says one, “I shall do, it.” Does God command you to do it? This is the proper question. If he does, you should make haste, whether it is impressed upon your mind or not; but if there be no command to that effect, or rather, if it diverges from the line of God’s statutes, and needs apology or explanation, hold your hand, for though you have ten thousand impressions, yet must you never dare to go by them. It is a dangerous thing for us to make the whims of our brain instead of the clear precepts of God, the guide of our moral actions. ” To the law and to the testimony,”—this is the lamp that shows the Christian true light; be this your chart, be this your compass; but as to impressions, and whims, and fancies, and I know not what beside which some have taken,—these are more wreckers lights that will entice you on the rocks. Hold fast to the Word of God, and nothing else; whoever he shall be that shall guide you otherwise, close your ears to him.

      4) Spurgeon did not regard these subjective impressions as being prophecy or as consisting of the gift of prophecy. He did not believe that he was receiving inspired revelation from the Holy Spirit. Rather, Spurgeon regarded these impressions as a rare, subjective, and fallible way in which God sometimes guides His people.

      Charles Spurgeon, “The Holy Spirit in Connection with Our Ministry” from Lectures to My Students: I need scarcely warn any brother here against falling into the delusion that we may have the Spirit so as to become inspired. . . . [Faithful preachers] only consider themselves to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit, as one spirit is under the influence of another spirit, or one mind under the influence of another mind. We are not the passive communicators of infallibility, but the honest teachers of such things as we have learned, so far as we have been able to grasp them.

      Charles Spurgeon (sermon, “Enquiring of God”): Sometime, too, but rarely, God guides us by very vivid impressions. I have seen so much of people who have been impressed this way, and that way, and the other way, that I do not believe in impressions except in certain cases.

      For those in the mainstream charismatic movement, the first three points listed above are vitally important; since many mainstream charismatics make a great deal out of subjective opinions and live accordingly. Spurgeon would have rightly denounced their way of thinking as being “unstable as water.”

      For those in the more-conservative continuationist category, point 4 is especially pertinent. Spurgeon classed subjective impressions as one of the many ways in which God providentially leads and guides His people. Spurgeon did not equate them with any miraculous or revelatory gift from New Testament times. He did not seek subjective impressions (as many continuationists seek “prophecy”); he did not regard them as a normal part of his Christian experience, nor did he consider them to be either authoritative or infallible.

      All of that to say: Spurgeon considered the subjective impressions he experienced to be categorically different than the New Testament gift of prophecy. That is why he was a cessationist. And modern cessationists would wholeheartedly agree with his assessment.

      It is only by completely redefining the New Testament gift of prophecy — so that it primarily involves subjective impressions, rather than direct revelation from God — that modern continuationists can make any claim on Spurgeon as being an unwitting advocate of their position.

      C) Conclusion

      From the cessationist perspective, modern charismatics and continuationists have redefined the New Testament gifts in order to fit their contemporary experiences.

      Biblically speaking, the gift of tongues consisted of the supernatural ability to speak authentic foreign languages. The gift of prophecy consisted of the authoritative and infallible reporting of revealed messages from God. And the gift of healing resulted in immediate, undeniable, and miraculous healings of real diseases.

      None of those things is still happening today.

      By contrast, those within the charismatic movement has completely redefined the gifts. Continuationists have redefined the gift of tongues to make it a non-rational private prayer “language.” They have redefined the gift of prophecy as a fallible, errant, subjective, non-authoritative word of spiritual advice or encouragement. And they have redefined the gift of healing to consist of either the failed efforts of faith-healers (like Benny Hinn) or the sincere prayers of believers who intercede for the sick and wait to see if God heals them over time. While praying for people and waiting on God is a good thing, it is not the same as the gift of healing that is depicted in the New Testament.

      In the end, modern charismatics use New Testament terminology to describe their spiritual experiences. The problem is that those experiences simply do not match what was actually happening in the first-century church. To acknowledge that point is to be a cessationist.

      Gary Gilley:

      Modern Revelations

      Continuationists, those who believe that the miraculous sign gifts, including prophecy, are still available to believers today, define their supposed revelations in different ways. There are two broad categories that could be acknowledged, the first of which claims prophetic messages from the Lord. Such messages would be direct, clear words from God or angels, perhaps in dreams or visions or through audible voices. Such claims have long been common in Pentecostal and charismatic circles and are increasing among non-charismatic evangelicals. Extremely popular conference speaker and author Beth Moore is well known for her claims of hearing from God. In a DVD she states, “Boy, this is the heart of our study. This is the heart of our study. Listen carefully. What God began to say to me about five years ago, and I’m telling you it sent me on such a trek with Him, that my head is still whirling over it. He began to say to me, ‘I’m going to tell you something right now, Beth, and boy you write this one down and you say it as often as I give you utterance to say it.’”10 Such statements coming from evangelicals are far too common to need much documentation. Moore is claiming a direct word from the Lord that sets the future agenda for her ministry. The source of authority is her own experience.

      From a more doctrinal base we turn to theologian Wayne Grudem, who has had a massive impact on the evangelical world concerning modern prophecies. Grudem has written the definitive book on the subject, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today, in which he claims that church age prophecy is different than Old Testament prophecy. While the Old Testament prophet was held to the standard of infallibility when speaking a word from the Lord (Deut 18:20-24), prophecies beginning with Pentecost are fallible and imperfect. He writes, “Prophecy in ordinary New Testament churches was not equal to Scripture in authority, but simply a very human—and sometimes partially mistaken—report of something the Holy Spirit brought to someone’s mind.”11 Modern prophecy then is impure and imperfect. By way of example and documentation Grudem quotes the Anglican charismatic leaders Dennis and Rita Bennet who claim,

      We are not expected to accept every word spoken through the gifts of utterance…but we are only to accept what is quickened to us by the Holy Spirit and is in agreement with the Bible…one manifestation may be 75% God, but 25% the person’s own thoughts. We must discern between the two.”12
      One of the most disconcerting aspects of Grudem’s position is his uncertainty as to how we can distinguish between our own thoughts and those supposedly from God. This is such an important and disturbing feature of the conservative continuationist’s system that I will quote Grudem at length.

      But how would a person know if what came to mind was a “revelation” from the Holy Spirit? Paul did not write specific instructions; nonetheless, we may suppose that in practice such a decision would include both an objective and subjective element. Objectively, did the revelation conform with what the prophet knew of the Old Testament Scriptures and with apostolic teaching?13
      With this quote cessationists partially agree. The Holy Spirit cannot contradict Himself and anything allegedly spoken by the Holy Spirit which is in disagreement with Scripture is naturally spurious. The continuationists, however, are rarely claiming new doctrines that supplement Scripture; they are claiming specific, personal words that guide them in decision making or knowledge of the future. It should be mentioned in passing that contrary to what is often stated by continuationists, many espousing modern prophecies do in fact add numerous doctrines not found or taught in the Bible such as specific demonic warfare techniques, insights on heaven or hell, “word of faith” authority that releases the power of God, dominion theology, novel views on the atonement, inspiration and ecclesiology. While more conservative continuationists such as Grudem, Piper, and Mahaney would not be guilty of such theological additions, many others are.

      Turning back to Grudem we read of his subjective element of prophecy,

      But there was no doubt also a subjective element of personal judgement: did the revelation ‘seem like’ something from the Holy Spirit; did it seem to be similar to other experiences of the Holy Spirit which he had known previously in worship…Beyond this it is difficult to specify much further, except to say that over time a congregation would probably become more adept at making evaluations of prophecies, and individual prophets would also benefit from those evaluations and become more adept at recognizing a genuine revelation from the Holy Spirit and distinguishing it from their own thoughts.14
      When we contrast Grudem’s view of prophecy with Scripture we find nothing remotely resembling what Grudem teaches. Nowhere in the Bible is one receiving a message from God left to wonder if God is speaking to him (with the temporary exception of the young boy Samuel). No one had to ask if what they were hearing “seemed like” the Holy Spirit or matched previous subjective experiences that also “seemed like” the Holy Spirit. They knew without question when God was speaking to them. This is essentially the same teaching that Dallas Willard exerts in Hearing God: “How can you be sure God is speaking to you? The answer is that we learn by experience.”15 Therefore subjective experience becomes the test of authority concerning revelation from God. This is a far cry from what we find in Scripture.

      The second half of Grudem’s quote moves into the realm of the incredible. After two thousand years of church history, the best this world-class theologian can offer is that “over time a congregation would probably become more adept at making evaluations of prophecies…” This is a statement of speculation and hope that at some point the church will begin to figure out when a word of revelation is actually coming from the Holy Spirit and when it is the imagination of the speaker.

      Let’s put Grudem’s hypothesis to a test. Sister Sally stands up in church and says the Holy Spirit has just revealed to her that an earthquake will flatten much of the city sometime within the next eight weeks. The congregation needs to add earthquake insurance to their properties, pack all their belongings, leave their jobs behind and head to the countryside. What is to be done? Given Grudem’s theory, the congregation knows that at best this prophecy is impure and most likely contains elements that are not from God. The people are then left to evaluate the validity of the revelation just received based on their own experience or other purely subjective means. In the Bible, if a true prophet of God warned of an impending earthquake there would be no doubt as to what to do, but Grudem’s New Testament prophet is unreliable. I have to ask, of what value is such a prophecy? It has no authority or certainty, and may actually lead to bad and even disastrous decisions. These modern prophecies do not have the ring of “thus says the Lord.”

      When the different views on modern revelation and prophecies collide, continuationists attempt to pacify cessationists by assuring them that their messages from the Lord are not on par with Scripture. Grudem quotes George Mallone saying:

      Prophecy today, although it may be helpful and on occasion overwhelmingly specific, is not in the category of the revelation given to us in the Holy Scripture…. A person may hear the voice of the Lord and be compelled to speak, but there is no assurance that it is pollutant-free. There will be a mixture of flesh and spirit.16
      Since almost no one within Christianity (save the cults) is claiming revelation that is equivalent to the Bible, we are left with a dilemma. Is it possible for God to speak in a non-authoritative way? Is it possible for Him to speak something less than His inspired word? The continuationists seem to have invented a novel type of divine revelation, one that contradicts Scripture and defies reason. In the Bible, and logically, either God is speaking or He is not. There is no such thing as partially inspired revelation or the true words from the Lord polluted by the misunderstanding or imagination of the prophet. This is not to say that all of God’s divine words are found in Scripture. John is careful to inform us that Jesus did many things, and certainly said many things, that are not recorded in his Gospel (John 20:30), or the other New Testament books for that matter. Yet all that Jesus said were the words of God. He never expressed an impure or untruthful thought. He spoke with authority. Undoubtedly the Spirit also spoke through various men and women in biblical times whose words were not recorded in the Bible. The point, however, is that, while the Holy Spirit has not included every prophecy that He spoke through humans in Scripture, everything that He inspired people to say carries with it the infallible authority of the Word of God. Nothing that He said through people is less than God’s word. A polluted or partial revelation from the Holy Spirit has never been uttered.

      This means that modern prophecies, words of knowledge, and other claims to hearing the voice of the Lord, if they are truly from the Holy Spirit, must be equal to the Scriptures in both inspiration and authority. God cannot speak with other than purity and inerrancy. Modern claims of the Lord speaking but with a “mixture of flesh and spirit” simply are not possible and are never attested to in Scripture. Those who are claiming divine revelation today must wrestle with the fact that what they are supposedly hearing must carry the same authority of the divinely inspired authors of Scripture.

      • Shelley Benton says:

        It seems obvious to me that you did not bother to check out the scriptures that I gave in my comment. I guess because I cannot boast the credentials of those you quoted. None of the scenarios outlined by the Scriptural giants that you quoted fit the point that I made. I do not argue with the completion of the canon. I am not advocating adding to it. I point out that it has depths that we have not plumbed and can only do so by direct revelation from God by way of His prophets. We restrict God to one level of truth, when even video games take you to deeper and more complicated levels. Give God credit for being at least as clever as video game masters.

        I will give one further example and then I rest my case. I Cor. 12:28 “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles…” Surely Paul has set forth the hierarchy that God has established in the Church. The first, apostles, are now gone to be with the Lord. Who is second? Old Testament prophets? Does that make sense to you? God has appointed real, true, scripturally based prophets to his Church and the Church pastors, who have made themselves next in line after the apostles, have decided to ignore that truth because there have been so many crazy, false so-called “prophets” who think that term means fortuneteller. When God speaks in Revelation 1:16 of the 7 stars that he holds in his right hand, we know that he is speaking of his ministers in each Church age. God is able to speak to his ministers directly to illuminate the scriptures. Why do pastors feel that he is not able to do that today? All of those men whose comments you cited are indeed respected men learned in the Word. However, it is possible to become so rigid and dogmatic in your own opinions that you fail to hear any truth that contradicts your tradition. God is not static, he is very much a part of this time, meaning he will update truths to those with ears to hear.

        The lack of humility on the part of many of these “giants” tends to block their ears unless the truth comes from another “giant” that they have heard of and respect. God forbid it comes from a nobody. They forget that our Savior’s birth was announced to unknown shepherds whose names don’t even appear in scripture. Or that Paul was helped to escape by ropes and those men’s names do not appear. God can give deeper truths to any of his believers with ears to hear his voice and who continue in his word. He has indeed given prophets to His Church to tell them what is about to happen to it, but they have become “rich and in need of nothing” (no further truth from God’s word) and they don’t know that they are “poor, miserable, wretched, blind and naked.” Not my words but Jesus’ words. He goes on to say “I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eyesalve that you may see.”

        It would be nice if you would examine the scriptures that I gave you previously and see if the Holy Spirit speaks to you out of them. I greatly respect knowledgeable men of God in the Word, and I also respect my pastor who has been guiding me through the scriptures for the past 30 years and has not veered from the “canon” in shedding more light on scriptures that have been previously “hidden” from the Church. It is a shame that “pillars in Jesus’ body will not be moved to hear more truth from God’s Spirit. God Bless you and thank you for giving me space to respond.

      • Shelley,

        You have been most gracious in your responses. Thank you for that.

        Also, I did read, very carefully, all of your responses and Scriptural references.
        I’m afraid you and I will remain in disagreement about the topic of modern prophesy and prophets.

        I am so grateful for our discourse and the others who will have a chance to learn from it.

        Sometimes, as you know, we will have to leave things where they are…but I appreciate your being able to disagree without being disagreeable.

        Many Blessings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s