The Gift of Prophecy

First, an addendum to The Gift of Tongues, a Distinction.

I mentioned how the Continuationist is also in error, but I didn’t say what that error was. Pentecostalism is built on a special event that happened on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. This is the day when the gift of tongues was first manifested. They use this as a starting point for speaking in tongues of angels. 

But, as I’ve already stated, this isn’t true. Acts 2 was a specific miracle for a specific moment in time. It could happen again, as the Spirit wills, but to my knowledge, nothing like it has ever occurred in the New Testament. 

1 Corinthians 12-14 is a type of tongues that needs interpretation in a church or crowd setting. I myself use this type of tongues during personal prayers to the Lord. I do not speak it in church.

This makes it distinctive from Acts 2 which was a miraculous moment where various types of human languages were spoken by people who did not know them. 

This is not the type of tongue that Pentecostals profess. Continuationists who use that passage for the tongues of angles are in error.

Now, on to Prophecy

When the word Prophecy comes to mind, we think of the old testament prophets who foretold future events. But the truth is they did not do anything. 

Daniel 2:19

19 Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. 

God did it. He did it all. He told them what to say… and they said it.

Why is there so much confusion with this? Well, secular dictionaries like the Cambridge dictionary define prophesy as:

A statement that says what is going to happen in the future, especially one that is based on what you believe about a particular matter rather than existing facts.

How does the bible define it?

In Greek it means: 

The gift of communicating and enforcing revealed truth.

In Hebrew it’s even more generic: 

To proclaim, mention, call, summon.

So a prophet speaks the truth as God reveals it to him… this does not always mean to speak the future.

All this must be kept in mind when reading about the spiritual gift of prophecy. Let’s see how Paul puts it. 

First the warning:

1 Corinthians 13:2

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

So, without the love explained in 13: 4-7 and the first part of verse 8… prophecy means nothing. The same goes with all of the spiritual gifts. It must be measured in godly love.

In fact, there are a few verses on love that point directly to this gift. 13:6 says: “[love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” 

All of this sets up what Paul says in chapter 14:

Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5 Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.

So, prophecy is for upbuilding and encouragement and consolation… Why doesn’t Paul mention the telling of the future like the Old Testament prophets did? Has prophesy changed?

No.

Prophecy was always used for upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The Old Testament prophets spoke what God told them to say. They began every prophecy with “Thus says the Lord.” Like Daniel, they would prayer and fast and overtime hear God’s word and speak it. So, God would tell them words that spoke of the future and the present and the past. 

These words were written to build up the Israelite’s faith. It was an encouragement to them. But it was also a consultation to them. Love hates wrong and loves the truth. The Old Testament prophets gave warnings to the people of that time. They let them know when God was angry with them and why. They showed them how they can repent and turn back to God.

A Balance of the Gifts of the Spirit

So, in the New Testament, Paul is asking us all to seek after prophesy. This means pray like Daniel to hear from the Lord.

And we have God’s very words right in front of us. 

Read your bible brothers!

As much as I disagree with the Cessationist on spiritual gifts… they have the correct mindset for God’s Holy word. But the spiritual gift of prophecy hasn’t passed away.

Anyone who reads the bible is hearing from God. Any who speak passages of the bible to those around are speaking God’s words. Any usage of the bible is prophetic.

Remember the Greek meaning of the word: The gift of communicating and enforcing revealed truth.

Paul and the early churches had many wonders and miracles, more than we have today. Why? Because the Spirit willed it to be so. It gave glory to God. Do miracles still happen today? I think so, but only as the Spirit wills and only for His glory. We cannot drum it up. And there are many false prophets who do.

But what we have is so much more! Paul and the apostles only wish they could have had the complete Word of God to bring to all the early churches. 

God has greatly blessed us!

This means that every sermon preached according to the truths from the Word of God is prophetic. The bible is very much for upbuilding and encouragement and consolation

If you believe the bible is God’s perfect Word then you believe in the gift of prophecy!

Can we hear from God outside of the scriptures? 

That is a very difficult question for a Continuationist to answer.

I’ll attempt this.

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