Airtight Biblical argument against continuing extra-Biblical revelation?

Discussion in 'Pneumatology' started by Jerusalem Blade, Apr 14, 2014.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Is there an airtight Biblical argument – either showing by irrefutable inference (as is the case with the Trinity) or Scriptural statement – that the gifts of prophecy, tongues, healing etc have ceased?


    I know this has been discussed a lot here, but I have found no simple, clear, and concise argument.

    I don't want to be referred to books, or extended argumentation, but prefer a concise answer. Thanks!
     
  2. Ryan J. Ross

    Ryan J. Ross Puritan Board Freshman

    1 Corinthians 13:8-10; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 1:1-2, 2:3-4.
     
  3. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    Steve perhaps if you could define for us what you would consider an "airtight" biblical argument we could expedite the dialogue. Many of us are convinced that sound biblical interpretation yields a solid answer to the question, and yet some brethren would not concede that (to them) it is airtight.
     
  4. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    The doctrines of the Trinity and the Natures of Christ are so airtight that to deny them is to be heterodox. Cessationism and Continuationism are not so.
     
  5. belin

    belin Puritan Board Freshman

    Not sure if this is airtight; but I use this when I am asked this question.

    One minute pitch
    In these last days God has spoken 'finally' through the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ and delivered His message to us 'once for all' (Hebrews 1:1-2; Jude 1:3)
    The Holy Spirit has closed and sealed the canonical revelation attested through these extraordinary gifts to the apostles (Rev 22:18-19; 2 Corinthians 12:12)
    With the end of the Apostles' ministry and the closure of the canon, these gifts faded and eventually passed away. (1 Timothy 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:20; 1 Corinthians 13:8-10)

    Leading Questions
    Why do we need the gift of healing, miracles, tongues today to attest the fully revealed message of the Scripture (that too, for believers, who are already convinced that it is the Sovereign God speaking through the Scripture)?
    Who, in the history of the church after the Apostles possessed these extraordinary gifts (not instances) and administered them with the kind and degree of biblical equivalence and with the end purpose - to bring glory unto God and not man?
    As believers, are we not commanded to be extremely vigilant against counterfeit spirits/devil and examining them (Mark 13:22; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Matthew 7:22-23; 2 Corinthians 11:13-14; 1 John 4:1)?
     
  6. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Thanks, Belin – I will consider what you’ve said (although 1 Cor 13:8-10 is not useful as exegetically a very strong case can be made for this referring to the eternal state).

    Bob, what I mean by “airtight” is that it cannot be reasonably refuted; as Ken put it, “The doctrines of the Trinity and the Natures of Christ are so airtight that to deny them is to be heterodox”. I am looking for an argument so airtight.

    There is a creeping continuationism where I am laboring, and a pastor said to me just that, “Can you show me an airtight argument against it?” Myself, I am thoroughly convinced by the word of God, but others are not convinced. This has serious consequences, in many areas. The primary issue is that of continuing direct new revelation from God to individuals apart from Scripture, and if it is conceded there is, a “Pandora’s box” of counterfeit spirituality is opened, and many fall prey to deception arising therefrom. (Just one example is the Jesus Calling book by Sarah Young [although this can be refuted through its own internal errors]). If allowed, anyone can say of anything, “Well, in principle this may be valid, and in my judgment it is authentic.” It will lead to endless, fruitless wrangling.

    What I seek – if it exists – is a brief refutation based on Scripture. I am able to present a somewhat lengthy exegesis of pertinent Scriptures and arguments, such as are contained in these books,
    but I will lose the attention of those I wish to reach if I go on too long. Nor would I be given a platform to teach an extended class on it. I long for the profound economy of argumentation Jesus exhibited in overturning false teachings. If He were here speaking I’m sure He could do it – and actually He is here by His Spirit, so I am hopeful it can be done.

    I am aware of this book, An Evaluation of Claims to the Charismatic Gifts, by Douglas Judisch, but it is not available anywhere, save for $155+. And besides, I doubt it would conduce to the pithiness I desire.
     
  7. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    Why is our own confession lacking....

    1. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence doso far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave meninexcusable (Rom2:14–15; 1:19–20; Ps 19:1–3; Rom 1:32–2:1); yet they are not sufficient to give thatknowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation (John 17:3;1 Cor 1:21; 2:13–14).Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, toreveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church (Heb 1:1);and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and forthe more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption ofthe flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same whollyunto writing (Prov 22:19–21; Luke 1:3–4; Rom 15:4; Matt 4:4, 7, 10; Isa 8:19–20):which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary (2 Tim3:15; 2Pet 1:19); those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his peoplebeing now ceased (John 20:31;1 Cor 14:37;1 John 5:13;1 Cor 10:11[SUP][/SUP];Heb 1:1–2;2:2–4).
     
  8. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    Why is our own confession lacking....

    1. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable (Rom2:14–15; 1:19–20; Ps 19:1–3; Rom 1:32–2:1); yet they are not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation (John 17:3;1 Cor 1:21; 2:13–14).Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church (Heb 1:1);and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing (Prov 22:19–21; Luke 1:3–4; Rom 15:4; Matt 4:4, 7, 10; Isa 8:19–20):which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary (2 Tim3:15; 2Pet 1:19); those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased (John 20:31;1 Cor 14:37;1 John 5:13;1 Cor 10:11[SUP][/SUP];Heb 1:1–2;2:2–4).

    ?
     
  9. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Thanks, Patrick! What you quoted from the Confession is not at all lacking in my eyes (and this is good to show a pastor I’ve been talking with), but I am also mentoring some who have come out of non-Reformed backgrounds, and are not yet members, neither subscribe to the Standards – this is why I want Scriptural proofs of cessationist doctrine. First, I must show them the Confession indeed reflects the word of God.

    I will be teaching a class soon, “What’s so great about Reformed theology?”, as there are many folks who are members of our church who have little clue about what it means to be Reformed and Presbyterian – and I wish to remedy that, seeing as the Doctrines of Grace were spiritual health and life to me, and gave me to understand the goodness and greatness of our God. I have a passion to teach on these things, for in the days I was under Wesleyan and Finneyesque influence my spiritual life was in ruins and I was in bondage to sin.

    This business of combatting continuing revelation (and the Wesleyan has some of that in it) has occupied me for years. I’ll give close attention to the Scripture proofs in your post.

    (I’ve sought to obtain the Judisch book mentioned above from my Interlibrary Loan system.)
     
  10. nicnap

    nicnap Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    You may want to check out Dr. George W. Knight's work, Prophecy in the New Testament. It's pretty solid. Dr. Knight is a very godly man and astute scholar.
     
  11. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    An air tight argument is difficult because it would also have to cut through the testimony of personal experience. For most in that movement, giving up "the gifts" is not just a rational debate over Scripture but one that forces someone to re-examine and reinterpret what they previously thought were "normal" experiences of God. That disturbing question... "if it wasn't God, then what was it?" is often too difficult to face, especially if those experiences felt very positive. The argument is important to develop because it's the truth that sets you free. But often the lies are beautiful and hard to give up. Their beauty needs to be supplanted by something even more beautiful.
     
  12. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    If I had a decent scanner and a copy of the book that wasn't scribbled on, I could send it to you.

    Robert L. Reymond's book, "What About Continuing Revelations and Miracles in the Presbyterian Church Today?: A Study of the Doctrine of the Sufficiency of Scripture", is also very good. From what I remember, he shows how periods of new revelation accompanied by miracles are discrete in Scripture, not continuous.

    There is a case to be made that ongoing revelation by prophets as posited by pentecostals and charismatics, assaults the sole Mediatorship of Christ, in that an aspect of that Mediatorship is as our Prophet. Just as we no longer divine grace and rule mediated to us by priest or king in the Church, as did the OT Church, because Christ is our priest and king, so we no longer have mediatorship of God's Word by prophets.

    The Romish priests interpose between God and man in one way; the Pentecostal prophets do in another. The liberty of God's people is threatened.
     
  13. Shawn Mathis

    Shawn Mathis Puritan Board Sophomore

  14. elreydelospecadores

    elreydelospecadores Puritan Board Freshman

    When I was a Baptist, I would say, "Show me a verse in the Bible where an infant was baptized."

    Maybe that is why there are different views on different topics in scripture. Our presuppositions play a big part and the Bible is not as clear to all of us on differing topics. We have Amils, Pre, Mid, Post, 7 Day, New Cov...etc.

    To grow up believing in a 'secret rapture' and then hear that there are Christians who reject that, is like 'wooooh' I hope you go when the rapture happens.

    I think we learn best when we study the other perspective views on subjects, not just our own. May the Lord use you, Steve, to get him to read the other perspective. May the Lord grant eyes and understanding on this subject.
     
  15. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    This is the right track. When one understands the purpose of the gifts of the Spirit in the NT, then one will recognize why they are no longer valid today. I believe it is Kim Riddlebarger who states "you don't pour concrete in the attic". The meaning of this quip is that concrete is poured for the foundation of a home - it would be silly, and harmful, if concrete were poured in the attic. The foundation of the home has already been established. In a similar way, the apostles in the NT were forming the foundation of the early church. God used them and the gifts of the Spirit to confirm their authority they had received from God.

    Now, however, God has given us the closed, complete canon of Scripture. We don't have (or need) Apostles today because we have God's Word. Scripture is completely sufficient and God does not speak to us through any other way than this. Again, because of the time we live in, God has chosen to speak to His people through the Scriptures, which is what WCF 1 is conveying.
     
  16. Rev. Todd Ruddell

    Rev. Todd Ruddell Puritan Board Junior

  17. belin

    belin Puritan Board Freshman

    Nicely said, Andrew. Like that nice quip!

    The challenge usually is due the fact that the presuppositions are different. Either there is an aversion to confessional standards or an under-developed understanding of the totality of scriptural revelation (usually comes forth as "show me the proof text" question as Javier mentioned). So in the limited one minute we usually have to respond, the options are to explain and leave them with a few questions to ponder or prove that standards are based on Scripture or direct them to a book with prayers trusting in the Holy Spirit's work, In my humble opinion.

    To the OP, I am still keen on a concise and convincing answer/summary that could be articulated in a moment. Thanks.
     
  18. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    The problem is also connected to other more basic presuppositions other than just the role of the gifts, like how you experience ordinary communion with God. Is it through the ordinary means of grace by faith, whether you "feel" God or not? Or must communion always be an extraordinary experience of the Spirit? An airtight argument needs to integrate that more basic presupposition into it. Even in the apostolic age, the ordinary means of communion with God was through the ordinary means of grace.
     
  19. belin

    belin Puritan Board Freshman

    Even in the apostolic age, the ordinary means of communion with God was through the ordinary means of grace.

    :up:
     
  20. reaganmarsh

    reaganmarsh Puritan Board Senior

    Amen.
     
  21. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Gentlemen, thank you for these very helpful remarks and suggestions! I find them good grist for my mill.

    Todd, at your suggestion I was going through Robertson's The Final Word again en route to and from the Apple Store to get my wife's laptop fixed, and find much useful material there.

    If I come up with a concise presentation I'll share it. A lot of what y'all have shared has been of great use to me!
     
  22. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    This is a work-up I’ve done re an “airtight” argument against continuing prophecy (which essentially includes tongues). It is presented in a dynamic form – conversational – rather than propositional, so as to show its use in action. If anyone wants to play “devil’s advocate” or is instead a genuine holder of continuing prophecy views and wants to modify the (blue) continuationist responses, please feel free, and I will try to modify the cessationist remarks.

    I have lifted a couple of sentences almost verbatim, and a couple of phrases, from O. Palmer Robertson’s, The Final Word: A Biblical Response to the Case for Tongues and Prophecy Today (BOT, 1993) in the (black print) Reformed cessationist part of the conversation, and in the (blue print) continuationist’s part I gathered from OPR’s interaction with Wayne Grudem’s book, The Gift of Prophecy and Tongues in the New Testament and Today (1993; though Grudem has issued a revised edition – Crossway, 2000 – interacting with OPR). His interaction is also available in this pdf article here. In light of some of Grudem’s cogent responses I have modified my use of OPR’s work. I have also considered Vern Poythress’ well-known essay, Modern Spiritual Gifts As Analogous To Apostolic Gifts, and as well PyroManiac’s (Dan Phillip’s) incisive critique of that.

    --------



    Seven brief conversations on prophecy


    Conversation #1

    You believe in prophets and prophecy now?

    Yes.

    Are they equal to Old Testament prophets and prophecy?

    Almost, though not exactly.

    Are they equal to the canon of Scripture? Are they the true and infallible word of God?

    In some respects, yes.

    But God said, “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” (Prov 30:6). The Scriptural canon of prophetic and apostolic words is closed.

    No – it is more nuanced than that – they are not fully equal; the prophecies of New Testament contemporary prophets are true when they come from God, but the prophets themselves may misinterpret or add error into them, so they are to be weighed and discerned.

    It is written for the Old Testament times, “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak. . . even that prophet shall die” (Deut 18:20); in the New Testament church the death penalty for certain sins was changed to excommunication from God’s people. Is that done when a prophet speaks falsely?

    No.

    Why not?

    Because it is just a mistake, mere human error, not sin.

    If a contemporary prophet prophesies a command from God to an individual, is it to be obeyed?

    It is to be weighed, and judged.

    Does this not cause confusion? And does it not take away the liberty of Christians to make mature decisions based on the authorized canon of Scripture, subjecting them instead to uncertain pronouncements, or alleged commands?

    Not necessarily; the people are used to weighing and judging. This is common in all of life.

    Has not God bound His people together by requiring that they seek His will from a single source objectively known to them all, rather than through thousands of different individual sources, the “contemporary prophets”?

    -----------


    Conversation #2

    Why is contemporary prophecy so attractive and important to you?

    Because we know God is with us and is guiding us on an ongoing basis. It is a great comfort to know He speaks to us today.

    Do you not know this from the Bible?

    Yes, but our prophets and prophecies give us the present reality of God’s immediate presence, and His love and care for us, in a way that supplements the Bible.

    Is the written word of God then not sufficient to meet your needs for spiritual life, guidance, and practice?

    If God has given us this prophetic gift, is this not part of His sufficiency for us?

    Not if God has explicitly stated that, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim 3:16,17).

    -----------


    Conversation #3

    When God spoke to His people in the days before Christ, through His prophets, were these men not mediators of God’s word to men, tacitly showing He did not speak directly to them, and was separated from them because of their sin? Are not contemporary prophets likewise mediating between God and men, making a distance between Him and them that Christ – the true Word of God – had closed when He cleansed and adopted them into His own heart?

    No, because they are having Christ speak through them.

    If these prophets can err and add their own thoughts, is this a sure word from Christ?

    We weigh and judge what is of Him and what is not.

    Is your weighing and judging infallible?

    No, but we are given grace to discern.

    But you may err also?

    It is possible.

    His living word in Scripture can never be in error or doubt. He tells us He is with us always (Matt 28:20) and will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). He says, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).

    ------------


    Conversation #4

    Are your contemporary prophets and their prophecies of a lower order than the Biblical prophets and prophecies?

    Slightly. Biblical prophecy and contemporary prophecy are really different categories of gifts. The one is infallible and the other not. The authors of New Testament Scripture are no longer called prophets but apostles, and NT prophets are not the same as the writers of Scripture, Old and New, but may be fallible in their interpretations or presentations of prophecy: “a ‘prophet’ in New Testament churches is not assumed to be someone who speaks the very words of God.” (Wayne Grudem article, p 4).

    Compared to the prophets who spoke the very words of the Most High God, and revealed His glory and majesty, are these not more like little “Christian” fortune-tellers?

    That’s not a fair comparison!

    Why not?

    Being different categories they should not be compared as though equal.

    But you have claimed God speaks through you. Why should we depart from that perfection given us in the Scriptures for lesser, degrading, and uncertain sources of seeking Him and His will?

    -------------


    Conversation #5

    Which is better, using our mature judgment – with the help of other believers – to make responsible decisions informed by the Bible for our walks and lives with Christ, or subjecting ourselves to fallible, lesser messages which might or might not be from God and which could possibly lead us deeply astray?

    We are used to weighing and judging.

    We all of us “weigh and judge” as to what God’s will for us is as we pray, read the Scripture, and seek counsel from others. His Spirit illumines us in the means of grace. But purported words from the Lord carry great weight for some, and human nature being what it is, they may depend more on “the word of a prophet” than good counsel or godly judgment.

    The real question is, is it better to flirt with uncertainty and transgression, than hold to that which is certain and holy, and the universal standard for faith and practice among all followers of Jesus Christ?

    ----------


    Conversation #6

    It is maintained by us that the inscripturated word of God compiled by Him for us as our Bible, is alone the word of God. And that to add to it (or diminish from it) is both a grave transgression and a doorway to false prophecies and satanic spiritual deception. We have said that what God has revealed to us in the Bible is inspired by God, delivered and preserved intact by Him, and sufficient for all our needs: for doctrine, correction, guidance, and instruction in righteousness, that the man and woman of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Tim 3:16,17). Having His word “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16), and the compilation of all that prophecy He determined would enable us to make our way through this evil world and arrive safely to His celestial city.

    By us it is maintained we have what you have, plus the added benefit of His direct guidance, and the assurance of His continuing immediate presence with us.

    We have said this is transgression (detracting from the revelation of the glory of Christ by alleging this low-level prophecy / “fortune-telling” is from Him; plus adding to His words, and that admittedly uncertain by you, such as would have been severely punished in the old dispensation).

    We deny that, on both counts; we are comfortable with our understanding and our practice.

    This is not Biblical prophecy, but another genre altogether, a human invention. Know you not your Master’s voice? These take you away from His true voice in the Scripture.

    We agree this is “another genre” or category, and also that there may be some human fallibility involved in such prophecy. But “His true voice” comes through also, though possibly not always. This practice is normative in multitudes of churches.

    What you call normative for today is a “category” which would have been punishable by death under Moses – at God’s command. In other words, when you say of the new “prophecy” – which is normative in many churches – that it is godly, it is certain it would have been subject to capital punishment in ancient Israel, and this disparity is too great to be credible.

    ---------


    Conversation #7

    We have in the Book of Revelation the ultimate vision of the glorified Son of God to be experienced by man in his present state; nothing is to be added to it and nothing subtracted from it.

    Jesus Christ gave John the full and final prophecies for this age; He has revealed Himself in His glory and majesty, and things to come in sufficient clarity for us to see our way. The prophetic storehouse for the church age has been emptied for our use. We are made rich with vision and discernment by Christ.

    How does this inspired and infallible revelation compare to the content of your prophets’ sayings?

    Well, we are not Christ!

    But you say He speaks through you.

    He speaks differently through us.

    This is an invention of man, and not Biblical prophecy. Know you not your Master’s voice? These take away from His true voice in the Scripture.

    At the very end of the final prophecy that Revelation is, the Holy Spirit gives a warning not to add to the words, a) of the Book, and b) of the revelation of Christ’s glory shown to John. Are you not adding to the revelation of the glory of Christ given John? And in a way that detracts greatly from His glory and majesty?

    We do not see it that way! He speaks to comfort and guide His people.

    The only words we are given to know with absolute certainty are the words of the LORD are those approved by the Jews of old and the apostles of Christ; where is it written that the LORD would add to the words of the revealed way He gave through His authorized men after the revelation of the Bible was sealed? There are many voices claiming to be Christ, even as Jesus foretold. But they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.

    It is not as if the great (and final) Prophet (it was He who spoke by John in Revelation) had not foretold these developments:

    Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. . . For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before (Matt 24:4, 5, 24, 25).​

    Will it be said that this was referring to big false prophets, and not the “little” congregational prophets who claim prophecy continues? Does it not refer to all who prophesy visions of their own hearts – whether demonic or “well-meant” – and not out of the mouth of the LORD Himself?

    We maintain we are true prophets of God in the name of Christ even though we are not of the stature of the Bible’s prophets.

    Jeremiah gave the LORD’s mind on this:

    Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD . . . I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings (Jer 23:16, 21, 22).​

    You fail us and Christ, for you do not stand in His revealed counsel, His sure word of prophecy, which is not “of any private interpretation” (2 Pet 1:20). I repeat from earlier,

    What you call normative for today is a category of prophecy which would have been punishable by death under Moses – at God’s command.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2014
  23. Cymro

    Cymro Puritan Board Junior

    In reading Owen on Heb 1:2 ,"hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son,"
    he writes, 'in opposition to this gradual revelation of the mind of God under the Old Testament ,
    the Apostle intimates that now by Jesus, the Messiah,The Lord hath at once begun and finished
    the whole revelation of His will, according to their own hopes and expectation. So Jude3,"the faith
    was ONCE delivered to the saints", not in ONE day, not in ONE sermon, or by ONE person, but at
    ONE SEASON, or under ONE dispensation, comprising all the time from the entrance of the Lord
    Jesus Christ upon His ministry to closing of the canon of scripture; which period was now at hand.
    This season being once past and finished, no new revelation is to be expected, to the end of
    the world. Nothing shall be added unto nor altered in the worship of God any more. God will not
    do it, men that attempt it, do it at the price of their souls."
     
  24. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Thanks, Jeff – that’s a great quote by Owen!

    --------

    What follows are two further attempts to distill the arguments against continuing revelation in the NT era after the completion of the canon of Scripture. I have tried to reduce it to its essence, which is that contemporary prophecy is not in the category of the Biblical, as it violates the standard that all prophecy must come directly from God and contain no human error or interpretation.

    This essence is the “airtight argument”. Anyone see any holes in it? Or footholds by which to gainsay?


    --------


    SUMMATION

    According to the prophet Joel, and quoted by Peter, in the last days – which began at the time of Christ and His apostles – God will pour out His Spirit on His people and they shall prophesy (cf Acts 2:16-18), and in the mouth of Joel this prophesying referred to that infallible speaking the words that came “out of the mouth of the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:16), nor could it mean anything less coming from an Old Testament prophet under the law of Moses, by whom God said, “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die” (Deut 18:20).

    It is admitted by proponents of so-called contemporary New Testament prophesying, “a ‘prophet’ in New Testament churches is not assumed to be someone who speaks the very words of God” (Wayne Grudem, in an article here, p 4). In other words (they say), NT prophets are not the same as the writers of Scripture, Old and New, but may be fallible in their interpretations or presentations of prophecy, of speaking God’s words.

    They freely admit they are not equal to Old Testament prophets and prophecy, nor are their words equal to the canon of Scripture, the true and infallible word of God. They also agree to what is written, “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” (Prov 30:6), for the Scriptural canon of prophetic and apostolic words is closed. They say this in order to exempt themselves from the strict Old Testament standards for prophecy, claiming theirs is prophecy of another category than the Biblical.

    But this they call normative for these days is a “category” which would have been punishable by death under Moses – by the LORD’s decree. In other words, when they say of the new “prophecy” – which is normative in many churches – it is godly, and at the same time certainly would have been subject to capital punishment in ancient Israel, the disparity between these two types of prophecy reveals what is obvious: the fallible “prophecy” can only be false. For how can falsely reporting God’s word be a capital crime in ancient Israel yet in our day be deemed righteous?


    --------


    A brief conversation on prophecy

    Do you believe in prophets and prophecy now?

    Yes.

    Are they equal to Old Testament prophets and prophecy, and their words equal to the canon of Scripture, the true and infallible word of God? For it is written, “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” (Prov 30:6). The Scriptural canon of prophetic and apostolic words is closed.

    They are almost equal, though not exactly; it is nuanced: they are not fully equal; the prophecies of New Testament contemporary prophets are true as they come from God, but the prophets themselves may misinterpret or add error into them, so they are to be weighed and discerned.

    It is written for the Old Testament times, “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak. . . even that prophet shall die” (Deut 18:20); in the New Testament church the death penalty for certain sins was changed to excommunication from God’s people. Is that done when a prophet speaks falsely?

    No.

    Why not?

    Because it is just a mistake, mere human error, not sin. We are not held to the standards of the infallible prophets.

    If a contemporary prophet prophesies a command from God to an individual, is it to be obeyed?

    It is to be weighed, and judged.

    Does this not cause confusion? And does it not take away the liberty of Christians to make mature decisions based on the authorized canon of Scripture, subjecting them instead to uncertain pronouncements, or alleged commands?

    Not necessarily; the people are used to weighing and judging. This is common in all of life.

    If these prophets can err and add their own thoughts, is this a sure word from Christ?

    We weigh and judge what is of Him and what is not.

    Is your weighing and judging infallible?

    No, but we are given grace to discern.

    But you may err also?

    It is possible.

    His living word in Scripture can never be in error or doubt. Has not God bound His people together by requiring that they seek His will from a single source objectively known to them all, rather than through thousands of different individual sources, the “contemporary prophets”?

    We do not see it this way; we also have the Bible.

    So your contemporary prophets and their prophecies are of a lower order than the Biblical prophets and prophecies?

    Yes. Biblical prophecy and contemporary prophecy are really different categories of gifts. The one is infallible and the other not. The authors of New Testament Scripture are no longer called prophets but apostles, and NT prophets are not the same as the writers of Scripture, Old and New, but may be fallible in their interpretations or presentations of prophecy. One of our main teachers, Wayne Grudem, wrote in an article (here, p. 4), “a ‘prophet’ in New Testament churches is not assumed to be someone who speaks the very words of God.”

    This is not any kind of Biblical prophecy, but another genre altogether, a human invention. Do you not know your Master’s voice? These take away from His true voice in the Scripture.

    We agree this is “another genre” or category, and also that there may be some human fallibility involved in such prophecy. But “His true voice” comes through also, though possibly not always. This practice is normative in multitudes of churches.

    What you call normative for today is a “category” which would have been punishable by death under Moses – at God’s command. In other words, when you say of the new “prophecy” – which is normative in many churches – that it is godly, it is certain it would have been subject to capital punishment in ancient Israel, and the disparity between these two types of prophecy reveals what is obvious: the fallible “prophecy” cannot but be false. It cannot be that the falsely reporting God’s word was a capital crime in ancient Israel yet now in our day is deemed holy!

    That’s a very serious charge! We are not held to those standards!

    We have in the Book of Revelation the ultimate vision of the glorified Son of God to be experienced by man in his present state; nothing is to be added to it and nothing subtracted from it; specifically we may not to add, first, to the words of the Book, and second to the content, the revelation of Christ’s glory shown to John. Are you not adding to the revelation of the glory of Christ given John? And in a way that greatly detracts from His glory and majesty?

    We do not see it that way! He speaks to comfort and guide His people. We are true prophets of God in the name of Christ even though we are not of the stature of Bible prophets.

    The only words we are given to know with absolute certainty are the words of the LORD are those approved by the Jews of old and the apostles of Christ. Where is it written that the LORD would add to the words of the revealed way He gave through His authorized men after the Bible’s revelation was sealed? There are many voices claiming to be Christ, even as Jesus foretold. But they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.

    The final Prophet foretold these developments:

    Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. . . For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before (Matt 24:4, 5, 24, 25).​

    Will it be said He was referring only to big false prophets, and not the “little” congregational prophets who claim prophecy continues? Does it not refer to all who prophesy visions of their own hearts – whether demonic or “well-meant” – and not out of the mouth of the LORD Himself?

    I repeat, we are true prophets of God in the name of Christ even though we are not of the stature of the Bible’s prophets.

    Jeremiah gave the LORD’s mind on this:

    Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD . . . I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings (Jer 23:16, 21, 22).​

    You fail us and Christ, for you do not stand in His revealed counsel, His sure word of prophecy, which is not “of any private interpretation” (2 Pet 1:20). I repeat from earlier:

    What you call normative for today is a category of prophecy which would have been punishable by death under Moses – at God’s command.
     
  25. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Another tack would be to ask if these prophets have been called by God and when and how did they receive their calling, and also if they have seen any visions or are they just speaking out of their own hearts:

    If they are capable or error they have not received an authoritative vision and are prophesying out of their own hearts.

    How do we judge true prophets from false if all true prophets are now capable of error? What is a true prophet, then? Are there true and false prophets in this era, or is what the Word of God says on this subject in places like Jeremiah and Ezekiel superfluous?

    :2cents:
     
  26. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I would summarize the argument as follows:

    It is fairly easy to make the case for the closing of the canon of Scripture and the cessation of further canonical-standard revelation, but the continuationists – beloved brethren though they be – seek to avoid being held to that standard by claiming their contemporary revelation is a different category than the Biblical (i.e., not infallible as far as the prophets interpreting and conveying the from-God-infallible word) and thus should not be judged by the Biblical standard.

    They seek to do this by claiming that instances of prophecy in the New Testament were also fallible, which Robertson, Waldron, Budgen, et al debunk. Waldron points out that the key verse showing NT prophecy is the same as the Old is Joel 2:28, 29 and Peter’s reiteration of it in Acts 2:16-18.

    This then leaves them open to the charge of prophesying “a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD” (Jer 23:16), and subject to excommunication (which in the OT was execution: Deut 18:20) for falsely speaking words as though from the LORD.

    This is the “Achilles heel” of the claim to continuing prophetic revelation: it wickedly transgresses the Biblical standard for prophets and prophecy, and calls righteous what was a capital crime in Israel.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page