PROPHECY, A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE

I) INTRODUCTION

[Commentary from Cornerstone Commentaries.

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Styx/4119/spirit/proph3.htm:"A Biblical Analysis of the Gift of Prophesy"]

'''In Romans 12:6 and 1 Corinthians 12:10-28 we read of the office and of the gift of prophecy. As with many issues in Scripture, there is much controversy and confusion surrounding this gift. The most common questions asked are these: Is this a gift for the church today? Or is this a gift that ceased with the close of the Apostolic age?

Now, depending on who or what you consult, you will get quite a different answer. There are many in the church who claim the validity of the gift of prophecy today.

In Fort Collins the Prophecy Club regularly features "prophets" such as Demitre Dooduman who see visions of New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles being destroyed by atomic bombs. In fact one radio preacher identified as brother Staire claimed that on June 6, 1996 there would be widespread destruction of the United States and South America because of nuclear missiles being launched against selected targets. Another man in Ohio claims that he was told by God to squat on church property. All of these men claim that they received their messages from the Lord. All of these men claim to have heard from God.

Rodman Williams wrote in the Logos Journal:

"God does not speak. . . as authoritatively today as He spoke to the Biblical authors. But he does continue to speak (He did not stop with the close of the New Testament canon); thus, he 'moves through and beyond the records of past witness,' for he is the living God who still speaks and acts among His people." (May-June, 1977, p. 35)

There also are many in the church who have concluded that the gift of prophecy is not appropriate for this age. Over 300 years ago, the Westminster Assembly said this:

The ordinary and perpetual officers in the church are "pastors, teachers, and other church-governors, and deacons" since the extra-ordinary officers, "as apostles... and prophets," which Christ appointed for the edification of His church and for the perfecting of the saints have ceased. (quoted in The Form of Presbyterial Church-Government and of Ordination of Ministers)

Which view is correct? To which does the Scripture testify?...'''

II) THE ORIGIN OF THE BIBLICAL GIFT OF PROPHECY

A) GOD AND GOD ALONE IS THE ORIGIN OF PROPHECY

1) [Dt 18:14]:

"The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery of divination. but as for you [Israel], the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so."

[Cornerstone, cont.]:

'''Indeed, rather than listening to Satan, God's people were to listen to God! But How? And in what form?'''

B) GOD WILL RAISE UP PROPHETS FROM AMONG THE ISRAELITES AND HE WILL TELL THEM EVERYTHING GOD COMMANDS ISRAEL TO OBEY

1) [Dt 18:15-17]:

(v. 15) "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers [Jews]. You must listen to Him

(v. 16) For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, 'Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.

(v. 17) The LORD said to me [Moses]: 'What they say is good.

(v. 18) I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in His mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.

(v. 19) If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in My name, I Myself will call him to account."

[John S. Deere states, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Walvoord and Zuck Editors, Victor Books, USA, 1987, p. 296-7]:

"In contrast with the dark magic of Canaanite diviners, witches and spiritists, Israelites were to listen to the LORD's prophet. The Israelites could be sure that a line of prophets would follow in succession after Moses because of their original request at Horeb (Sinai) that God speak to them through Moses as a mediator (cf. 5:23-27). Each prophet God would raise up would be an Israelite, and because the true prophet would only speak the words of the LORD, the people were obligated to obey (listen to) those words.

a) THE ULTIMATE PROPHET IS JESUS CHRIST

The ultimate Prophet like Moses (18:15, 18) is Jesus Christ - the One Who spoke God's words and Who provides deliverance for His people. Not even Joshua could be compared to Moses, for since Moses 'no prophet has risen in Israel like' him (34:10) with such power before men and intimacy with God. However distinguished a future prophet's role might be in Israel, none would be like Moses until the Mediator of the New Covenant, Jesus Christ, came. Moses set the standard for every future prophet. Each prophet was to do his best to live up to the example of Moses until the One came Who would introduce the New Covenant. During the first century A.D. the official leaders of Judaism were still looking for the fulfillment of Moses' prediction (cf. John 1:21). Peter said their search should have stopped with the Lord Jesus (Acts 3:22-23)."

C) SO PROPHECY HAS IT ORIGINS IN OLD TESTAMENT TIMES

[Cornerstone, cont.]:

'''...This is perhaps one of the most important verses [v. 15] we will look at when it comes to understanding the gift or office of prophet. Biblical prophecy-the office and the gift-had its origins in the Old Testament! In fact, by the New Testament the gift of prophecy was well established. Prophecy is not a distinctly New Testament phenomenon, but one which dates back to the most ancient experiences of God's people.

When we think of prophecy as an Old Testament gift, our minds immediately think of what has been called "The Prophetic Age" of the Old Testament with Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah, Micah, Hosea, etc. And yet, from Deuteronomy 18 we discover that prophecy had its origins in the era of Moses! In fact, Old Testament prophecy reached its point of highest glory with Moses! (cf. Deuteronomy 34:10; 2 Corinthians 3:7; Hebrews 3:3)

Now notice something very important as to the origin of prophecy. In the days before Moses, God spoke personally to the covenantal heads of the various patriarchal families - Noah, Abram, etc. This fatherly head would then communicate the word of God to the people entrusted to his care. And yet, when we come to the time of Moses a paradigm shift occurs:"

1) [Dt 18:15-17]:

(v. 16) For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, 'Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.

(v. 17) The LORD said to me [Moses]: 'What they say is good."

D) THE OLD TESTAMENT OFFICE OF PROPHET BEGAN WHEN GOD'S PEOPLE REQUESTED SOMEONE TO RECEIVE GOD'S COMMUNICATION FOR THEM

The Old Testament office of prophet began when God's people requested a substitute for themselves. Communication with God was too awesome a thing!

1) [Exodus 19:16-19]:

(v. 16) "On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled.

(v. 17) Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.

(v. 18) Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently,

(v. 19) and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.

And thus, God was "pleased"

E) THE GIFT AND OFFICE OF PROPHECY TAKES ITS SHAPE NOT IN THE NEW TESTAMENT BUT IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

1) [Dt 18:15-19]:

(v. 17 cont.) The LORD said to me [Moses]: 'What they say is good."

'''...as O. Palmer Robertson wrote:

"The small, simple voice of the prophet [substituted] for all the awesome signs of Sinai." (The Final Word, p. 2)

As with almost every theological issue and institution in the Bible -marriage, the priesthood of the believer, salvation, the sacraments, worship, etc.-the gift and office of prophecy takes its shape not in the New Testament, but in the Old Testament! (Again, by the time of the New Testament, the office of prophet was well established!) Thus, if we are going to understand the Biblical gift of prophecy we must understand it in its original context: the Old Testament!'''

III) THE NATURE OF PROPHECY

A) PROPHECY IS A VEHICLE OF REVELATION OF THE WORD OF GOD TO MAN FROM GOD

1) [Deuteronomy 18:18-20]:

(v. 18) "I will raise up for them [Israel] a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth and he will tell them everything I command him.

(v. 19) If anyone does not listen to My words that the prophet speaks in My name, I Myself will call him to account.

(v. 20) But a prophet who presumes to speak in My name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death."

'''In its most essential form, prophecy is a vehicle of revelation. Revelation is the communication of God's word to man! The people of God, having been redeemed from slavery, were brought to God at Sinai to receive not the word's of a man, but the Word of God! And yet because of the awesome presence of God, the people asked for a mediator! A request that God was pleased to grant. Thus the "thunderous voice of God, the lightening, the fire, the smoke, the earthquake, and the peal of the trumpet were all replaced by the voice of a single Israelite speaking among his brothers." And yet, this single voice was understood to be nothing less than the Word of God- this is the essence of revelation, this is the essence of prophecy!

2) [Compare Ex 24:7]:

Let me show you this from another passage Exodus 24. In Exodus 24 we read of the actual account of God's people at Sinai. When Moses, going in the place of all the people, returned from speaking with God and conveyed the Word of the Lord to God's people, we read verse 7:

[Ex 24:7]:

"Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, 'We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey."

The nature of prophecy is one and the same as revelation-the communication of a word from God!

B) TO DISOBEY PROPHECY WAS TO DISOBEY GOD

1) [Deuteronomy 18:18-20]:

(v. 19) If anyone does not listen to My words that the prophet speaks in My name, I Myself will call him to account.

(v. 20) But a prophet who presumes to speak in My name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death."

'''Because of the nature of Biblical prophecy - that it is the giving of God's Word - to not obey the prophetic word was to disobey God. To disobey God's Word was at the risk of judgment! This would also be the case for the prophet who exercised the gift flippantly.'''

C) TO MISUSE PROPHECY WAS BLASPHEMOUS AND WORTHY OF DEATH

Brothers and Sisters, in the Bible the gift of prophecy stands for nothing less than a vehicle of revelation. To misuse the gift, is to suffer the same consequence as blasphemy - which was Death!

D) CONCLUSION: PROPHECY IS A VEHICLE OF GOD'S REVELATION CONTAINING FORETELLING AND FORTHTELLING

When we look at the gift of prophecy, we discover that from the very beginning, prophecy was and is a vehicle of revelation! Or in English, the communication of God's word! This cannot be too strongly emphasized to affirm that Biblical prophecy continues in either of its basic forms - foretelling or forthtelling. When anyone expresses belief that revelation continues, or that the Word of God is not complete, or that there is still something that can be added to Scripture is to deny the truth! Often times you hear it stated that the Biblical gift of prophesying is nothing more than preaching - in fact, I have even said this from time to time. Yet, upon my study of God's Word, I retract those statements.

As O. Palmer Robertson wrote:

"While a contemporary preacher may be 'prophetic' in his pulpit ministry, he is not 'prophesying' in the biblical sense..." (ibid., pg. 4)

Now having mentioned the possibility of the misuse of the gift, God qualifies the gift of prophecy- from which we conclude something about its standard.

IV) THE STANDARD OF PROPHECY

A) PROPHECY IS 100% ACCURATE - NO PROPHECY FROM GOD WILL GO UNFULFILLED

1) [Dt 18:21-22]:

(v. 21) "You may say to yourselves, 'How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?"

(v. 22) If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him."

'''These verses establish for us the standard - or measuring stick-against which one can measure the validity of this gift. That standard is nothing less than perfection - since we are talking about God's Word - the prophet must be one hundred percent accurate!

How do we know if a person truly is a prophet? Because he is correct not just fifty percent of the time, seventy-five percent of the time or even like Rush Limbaugh claims ninety-eight percent of the time, but rather he is right one hundred percent of the time. Anything less than one hundred percent of the time is proof that he is a false prophet...

Now this just stands to reason, since a prophet is a mouthpiece of revelation of God's Word, every authentic prophetic revelation must be as true, reliable, and inerrant as Scripture itself. To have it any other way is to either make God a liar, or add to the doctrine of "Revelation" the component of error with the possibility that Scripture itself contains portions of error!

B) TODAY'S PROPHETS PERMIT ERROR IN THEIR PROPHECIES BUT THEN THEY ARE NOT OF GOD

And yet, we hear a different testimony today. Those advocating the continuation of this gift have asserted that the Bible advocates a second kind of revelation, non-canonical revelation.

Or simply put another way, errant revelation.

Bob Jones (not of the University) in his teaching titled The Shepherd's Rod, explains why so many modern prophecies go unfulfilled:

"[God] said, 'If I release the hundred-percent rhema [sic] right now, the accountability would be awesome and you'd have so much Ananias and Sapphiras going on that the people couldn't grow- they'd be too scared.' But He said, 'If it was on target, it would kill instead of scaring the people to repentance'. . . . That is what He told me, so I figure if I hit two-thirds of it, I'm doing pretty good."

And Mike Bickle, the pastor of Bob's church, added: "

". . . when Bob first said [this] I said 'Two thirds?' He said, 'Well, that's better than it's ever been in this nation up to now. . . . That's the highest level it's ever been.'

"In other words the purveyors of this type of thought ignore the fact that when a prophecy goes unfulfilled or is even wrong by saying that this is not proof that it is false. In fact, according to Bob Jones, even if a person's prophecies are wrong one-third of the time or more, the gift of prophecy can still be claimed!

Kenneth Copeland, a self-proclaimed prophet, testified that Christ gave him this message:

"The more you get to be like Me, the more they're going to think that way of you. They crucified Me for claiming that I was God. But I didn't claim I was God; I just claimed I walked with Him and that He was in Me. Hallelujah.! That's what you're doing." (Quoted in MacArthur's Charismatic Chaos, p. 57)

Copeland's "prophecy" is clearly false. Christ did claim to be God (John 8:58; Mark 14:61-64; John 6:16-18; 10:30-33). Yet, thousands continue following him as a true prophet of God! Why? Because today it is espoused that the true gift of prophecy doesn't need to be accurate one hundred percent of the time!

C) CONCLUSION: PROPHESY MUST BE 100% ACCURATE

Let me read once again this passage and listen to the standard when it comes to the accuracy of the prophet's message:

1) [Dt 18:21-22]:

(v. 21) "You may say to yourselves, 'How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?"

(v. 22) If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him."

The standard of Biblical prophecy is that it must be one hundred percent accurate. Anything less is to testify that the prophet is not a prophet of God. The words of the prophet are false.

Now because of prophecy's nature and standard, we are not shocked to discover that God has established a deterrence to the abuse or misuse of the gift of prophecy.

V) GOD'S PROTECTION OF PROPHECY

A) DEATH IS THE BIBLICAL PUNISHMENT FOR ALL PROPHETS WHO HAVE BEEN SHOWN TO BE FALSE

1) [Dt 18:21-22]:

(v. 21) "You may say to yourselves, 'How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?"

(v. 22) If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him."

What does "presumptuously" mean? (verse 20) According to verse 22, it simply means to not have your prophecy be accurate. Death is the Biblical punishment for all prophets who have been shown to be false!

Now the question raised at this point is, "Why?" "Why such a stiff penalty?" The only answer is because of what is at stake.

2) [Compare Dt 13:1-5]:

(v. 1) "If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder,

(v. 2) and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, 'Let us follow other gods' (gods you have not known) 'and let us worship them,'

(v. 3) you must not listen to the words of the prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love Him with all your heart and with all your soul.

(v. 4) It is the LORD your God you must follow, and Him you must revere. Keep His commands and obey Him; serve Him and hold fast to Him.

(v. 5) That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the LORD your God, Who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; He has tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you."

Once again, understand the setting. In his sermon contained in Deuteronomy, Moses describes a scene in which a prophet rises up from among God's people and what he prophesies is attested to by signs and yet he prophesies falsely. Upon a reading of these verses, Moses makes it sound as if the words of this false-prophet are blatantly and obviously wrong. And yet, from the warnings of other passages (i.e., Matthew 24:11; Mark 13:22) we know that this is not the case. Satan's messengers have always been deceptive. And God's children were to be very careful when it came to following a prophet - lest they follow Satan! In this setting of error there is but one penalty for that false prophet: DEATH!

To guard this sacred and holy office, God set up the fence of death to all who would say "Thus saith the Lord" falsely! As we begin analyzing the gift of prophecy from Scripture, we observe that its roots go back to the Old Testament. The Old Testament establishes the foundation upon which we must derive our theology of prophecy. Prophecy is ever and always revelatory- i.e., a proclamation of the Word of God. It is always to be one hundred percent accurate. Its penalty for misuse or falsehood was death!

B) THERE IS GREAT DANGER AND HARM CAUSED BY THE FALSE 'CONTINUATION' OF 'PROPHECY' TODAY

1) CONTINUATION OF PROPHECY LEADS TO CONCLUDING THAT THE BIBLE IS NOT COMPLETE OR SUFFICIENT

Now brothers and sisters, there is a lot of talk about the continuation of this gift in our day. In fact there are whole denominations who have been founded on this supposition: the gift of prophecy continues today. Even in our own denomination there is confusion as to the relevancy of this gift today.

If we believe that the Biblical gift of prophecy is still operative today then we must also believe that the Bible you hold in your hand is not complete or sufficient! Is God still speaking new revelation to us? Is God still adding to His Word? Or Is God's Word complete? The conclusion at which we arrive from just this treatment on the Biblical gift of prophecy is that the gift is not applicable today - it passed away with the close of the apostolic age!

That is why as a denomination we have professed this:

"[That] ...those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people [through those revelatory organs who occupied the extraordinary offices of apostle and prophet have] ceased." (WCF I, i)

Now I have no doubt that there are some listening to me who are saying to themselves, "How unkind." "How unloving." While it is true that often I can be an unloving and mean person, I beg to differ with all who say that to warn of error is in itself unloving. In our comfortable and safe world in which we live under the assumption that the gift of prophecy is passed away we are tempted to say, "What's so bad about brothers and sisters in the Lord saying that the gift continues?" "What's the harm?" "Why be so critical?" "Why not live and let live?"

2) BELIEVING THAT THE BIBLE IS NOT SUFFICIENT FOR THIS AGE LEADS TO BELIEVING IN THE INSUFFICIENCY OF CHRIST - THAT MORE IS NEEDED

Brothers and sisters there is great danger and harm in any theological system that believes in the continuation of the gift of prophecy. It is a slippery slope. To believe in the continuation of prophecy is to believe in the continuation of revelation - the giving of God's Word. To believe in the continuation of revelation is to believe in the insufficiency of Christ and the Scripture. To believe in the continuation of prophecy is to believe that what you hold in your hand is not complete; there is more needed.

3) BELIEVING IN THE INSUFFICIENCY OF CHRIST & THE SCRIPTURES IS TO REJECT WHAT THE SCRIPTURES TEACH LEADING TO REJECTION OF GOD'S WORD COMPLETELY

To believe in the insufficiency of Christ and the Scriptures is to reject portions of God's word. And to reject portions of God's word is to eventually reject God's word completely.

The following letter was written by a person claiming to have been given the gift of prophecy:

"I do not feel the need for study of the Scriptures, for I know Jesus as He has revealed Himself to me within; and as He dwells in me, there is the Word.

"I go to scripture, and scripture is vital and necessary- but neither central nor crucial, for I have Him- rather He has me. Scriptures are a secondary source.

"Through the baptism of the Holy Spirit the Word in me (the very spiritual body of Jesus Christ) is primary. I say this as a living experience out of what he has given me to say." (Quoted in MacArthur's Charismatic Chaos, pg. 84)

Lest you think that this person who has gone over-board, I ask you if the gift of prophecy is still operative today then what is it to discount this man's prophetic Word? (As extreme as it may sound.) Is there really a difference between the assertion of this letter and any who say, "God told me to do such and such?"- a difference in degrees perhaps, but not in content!.....'''

VI) PROPHECY'S MODE OF RECEPTION

A) GOD SPEAKS TO THE TRUE PROPHET IN A VISION OF A DREAM

1) [Numbers 12:6-8]:

(v. 6) '''He [the Lord, (v. 4)] said, "Listen to My words:

'When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal Myself to him in visions, I speak to Him in dreams.

(v. 7) But this is not true of My servant Moses; he is faithful in all My house.

(v. 8) With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?' " '''

This is the account when Miriam and Aaron began complaining against Moses. You will recall that Moses' wife was not an Israelite which lead Miriam and Aaron to thinking that Moses mustn't be "that good." (Numbers 12:2) In fact "they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it." They were in essence saying "Why should Moses be the one to lead the people of God?"

At this point, God invited all three to come to the "tent of meeting" where He spoke as follows:

1) [Numbers 12:6-8]:

(v. 6) '''He [the Lord, (v. 4)] said, "Listen to My words:

'When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal Myself to him in visions, I speak to Him in dreams.

(v. 7) But this is not true of My servant Moses; he is faithful in all My house.

(v. 8) With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord.

Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?' " '''

...notice what this passage says about the true gift or office of prophecy: God speaks to the true prophet "in a vision [or] in a dream." In fact, the passage contains two parallel statements in the original: "In a vision... unto him... I shall make myself known..." and "In a dream... to him... I shall speak."

In other words, visions and dreams are the two words that describe the reception of the prophetic Word. And it is these two words that would characterize the reception of all prophetic Words throughout Scripture.

2) [Compare Isaiah 2:1]:

"The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem."(KJV, emphasis mine)

3) [Daniel 7:1]:

"In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters." (KJV, emphasis mine)

4) [Amos 1:1]:

"The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake." (KJV, emphasis mine)

5) [Micah 1:1]:

"The word of the LORD that came to Micah the Morasthite in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem."(KJV, emphasis mine)

6) [Habakkuk 1:1]:

"The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see." (KJV, emphasis mine)

7) [Rev 1:1-2]:

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw." (KJV, emphasis mine)

Throughout the Bible, when the gift of prophecy is exercised, the mode of reception is always through seeing visions and dreams!

B) FALSE PROPHETS ARE SAID IN SCRIPTURE TO SPEAK OUT OF THEIR OWN HEARTS

Now, in contrast to this visionary reception of God's Word, the false prophets in Scripture are said to speak out of their own hearts

1) [Jeremiah 23:16]:

"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." (KJV)

C) THE TRUE PROPHET RECEIVES REVELATION FROM GOD AS HE SEES IT IN VISIONS AND DREAMS; THE FALSE PROPHET AS IT RISES OUT OF HIS HEART

The contrast couldn't be more [clear]: The true prophet of God receives the Word of God as he SEES it communicated to him in VISIONS and DREAMS; the false prophet receives his message as it rises out of his heart. The false prophet has a burden or message that arises from the compulsion of his heart. The genuine prophet has a message that is communicated to him from God through theophanic revelation!

O. Palmer Robertson commenting on Numbers 12 wrote:

"Although the context indicates that distinctive favor will be shown to Moses in that God will speak to him 'face to face,' there can be no discounting of the fact that all the prophets will receive their message by a revelatory experience. That is the meaning of the Word's coming through 'dream' and 'vision'." (The Final Word, p. 7)

Now based upon this, let me read to you some of the words of self-professed modern day prophets and see how their mode of reception fares with the Biblical mode.

In 1989 when Oral Roberts closed down his Tulsa-based City of Faith medical center, this is what he said, "As clearly in my spirit as I've ever heard Him, the Lord gave me an impression. 'You and your partners have merged prayer and medicine for the entire world, for the church world and for all generations,' He said. 'It is done.'" (Quoted in MacArthur's Charismatic Chaos, p. 47)

Larry Lea, a popular charismatic author and pastor, wrote: "Recently, when I was in Chicago preparing to preach, the Lord's Spirit came upon me. He spoke in my heart: 'I'm going to tell you now the name of the strongman over this nation.'" (Ibid., p. 49)

J. Rodman Williams said, "In prophecy God speaks . . . it comes not in a 'heavenly language,' but in the native tongue of the person speaking and with his accustomed inflections, cadences, and manners. Indeed, the speech may even be coarse and ungrammatical; it may be a mixture of 'King James' and modern; it may falter as well as flow- such really does not matter. For in prophecy God uses what He finds, and through frail human instruments the Spirit speaks the Word of the Lord." (Ibid., p. 55)

It should be obvious that if the true gift of prophecy were operative in our day (which it cannot be because the Canon is closed) these men could not have the gift because they do not only not meet the standard of perfect accuracy in their prophecy (which we discussed last time) but they also testify to receiving their "prophetic word" in a way that is discordant with the Biblical mode of reception!...

VII) PROPHECY'S MODE OF EXPRESSION

A) FORTHTELLING ABSOLUTELY ACCURATELY AND AUTHORITATIVELY THE WORDS OF GOD

1) [Ex 4:14-16]:

In Exodus 4, we find Moses standing in the presence of God before the burning bush where God instructs him as to Moses' upcoming mission of deliverance in Egypt. Because of his speech problem, Moses withdraws and requests that God send someone else. (Exodus 4:10-13). Our passage picks up at this point:

[Exodus 4:14-16]:

(v. 14) "And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.

(v. 15) And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.

(v. 16) And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God." (KJV)

This text captures the essence of the work of the prophet: forthtelling the Word of God. As Aaron was to be Moses' mouth- his prophet- he was to speak Moses' words! And it is this requirement that we see throughout the Bible when it comes to the prophet: The office or gift of prophecy is primarily concerned with speaking forth the Word of God authoritatively.

2) [Dt 18:18]:

"I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him." (KJV, emphasis mine)

3) [Isa 6:8-9]:

"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not." (KJV, emphasis mine)

4) [Jer 23:28]:

"The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD." (KJV)

Thus, as we have seen, the prophet would be measured by his faithfulness to accurately communicating God's word.

O. Palmer Robertson in The Final Word wrote concerning Exodus 4:14-16:

"'Mouth to mouth': the descriptive phrase underscores the immediacy of the relationship that exists between God's Word and the prophetic word. The divine revelation goes directly from the mouth of God to the mouth of the prophet. The word of the prophet is the very Word of God. God does not communicate his revelation to the prophet 'thought to thought' or 'mind to mind', but 'mouth to mouth'. Prophetism, by definition, is concerned not merely with the reception of the Word of God, but with its communication as well." (p. 6)

And so, the primary mode of expression when it comes to the gift of prophecy is forthtelling God's Word.

Once again, we can't put too much emphasis on this a prophet is not one who has "a word from the Lord." But rather a prophet is one who has the Word of the Lord - as he speaks, he speaks forth Scripture. Forthtelling is the primary significance of the office or gift of prophecy. Yet, this is not to say that the gift of prophecy does not include foretelling: the prediction of future events.

B) FORETELLING - THE PREDICTION OF FUTURE EVENTS

1) THE PREDICTION OF FUTURE EVENTS WAS A NECESSARY PART OF THE TRUE GIFT OF PROPHECY

a) THE PROPHECY MUST HAVE A SCRIPTURAL PURPOSE AND MUST COME TO PASS

i) [Dt 18:22]:

"When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that [is] the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, [but] the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."

ii) FORETELLING OF EVENTS TO BRING ABOUT REPENTANCE IN CONTEXTS OF SIN

In contexts of sin, the prophet often would foretell future events to bring about repentance and faith. (cf. Jonah 1, 3)

iii) FORETELLING OF EVENTS TO STRENGTHEN AND ENCOURAGE IN CONTEXTS OF DIFFICULTY AND DESPAIR

In contexts of difficulty and despair, the prophet often would foretell future events to strengthen and encourage. (cf. Is. 9)

iv) PROPHECY BEING REVELATION FROM GOD MUST BE ON A LEVEL WITH THE REST OF SCRIPTURE

Yet once again it is important to note that it too was nothing less than a revelation of God on level with the rest of Scripture.

C) TODAY'S PROPHECY IS NOT BIBLICAL AND NOT OF GOD

'''...We must compare what is occurring today with what Scripture identifies as the true gift. And when we do this, we discover that what is occurring today in the name of prophecy just is not Biblical prophecy.

1) TODAY'S PROPHECY LACKS THE AUTHORITY OF THE WORD OF GOD

Rather than receiving the Word of God and using foretelling as a means to verify the validity of the prophetic word, that which is exercised in our day lacks authority.

2) TODAY'S PROPHECY IS TOO VAGUE AND TOO BROAD TO BE VALID

Rather than using prophecy to encourage warn and or rebuke others (as the prophet Isaiah did -in the whole book of Isaiah) prophecy is so vague and broad that it is impossible to judge its validity.

3) TODAY'S PROPHECY IS OFTEN IN ERROR

Rather than using prophecy authoritatively to clarify questions of doctrinal error as James did in Acts 2, the present day "prophecy" lacks authority because when it is specific it is incorrect more than a third of the time. A true prophet would use the Word of God to clarify doctrinal questions, and to reprove, rebuke and exhort.

4) TODAY'S PROPHECY CLARIFIES NOTHING IN THE MIDST OF A MESSED UP CHURCH

Think about it. If what is occurring today is a Biblical expression of the true gift of prophecy, then in light of the mess the church is in today theologically, socially - not to mention morally - we would expect some clarifying statements as in the Bible when the prophets spoke to clarify and rebuke! The gift of prophecy primarily is a forthtelling of the Word of God. And yet, the "Prophecy Movement" today has produced no such clarity- just confusion!

5) TODAY'S PROPHECY IS OFTEN HERETICAL

There could be no better illustration of this than an article that appeared this past week in the Wall Street Journal this past Friday, June 14, 1996 entitled A 'Charismatic' Church Deals With a Preacher Who Finds New Faith.

"The Rev. Chuck Bell was a longtime preacher of charismatic fundamentalism when he informed his congregation one day that God had called him to a radically different brand of Christianity - Eastern Orthodoxy. Then he announced that God wanted them to join it, too."

In 1993, God supposedly told Pastor Chuck Bell of the San Jose Vineyard Church to lead the church into Eastern Orthodoxy - Bell was a self-proclaimed charismatic fundamentalist. Brothers and sisters, the folly of this claim is seen when you understand that Eastern Orthodoxy has anathematized the Gospel. Let me quote from a recent publication of an Eastern Orthodox Church. Speaking of Protestant Christianity of which we would be included, it says:

"Turning to Protestants, listening to their 'missionaries', getting so-called baptism from them is a shame for a person; it is blasphemy, crime against faith, excommunication from the Church and Salvation, rejection of Christ our Lord!" (Quoted from a statement by Svyato-Upensky of the Men's Monastery of Odessa)

6) CONCLUSION: TODAY'S PROPHECY IS NOT TRUE PROPHECY AT ALL

Now I have just one question of those involved in the so-called "prophecy" today, "What is God doing telling a pastor to lead God's people to a church that anathematizes the Gospel for which Jesus Christ died?"

Thomas Edgar's criticism of the modern "Prophecy Movement" is well taken- he writes:

"Apparently the Holy Spirit is not concerned with communicating any information to correct all [the theological differences plaguing the church today], many of which are crucial and some of which are incorrect. All this direct communication with the Spirit has apparently done nothing to correct even basic errors. It has not produced unity among charismatic regarding the nature and purpose of many of the gifts. This movement has solved no theological issue [and has] produced no advance in biblical knowledge. Would such an effusion of the genuine Spirit of God produce so little?" ("The Cessation of the Sign Gifts", Bibliotheca Sacra [Oct-Dec 1988], pg. 385)

Brothers and Sisters if the true gift of prophecy were operative today, we would expect, by way of forthtelling, authoritative proclamations designed to clarify, rebuke, unite, and/or build up the kingdom of God. This would be consistent with what the prophets exercised in the Bible. Yet this manifestation of the Spirit is amazingly silent from a movement that claims to be a Biblical expression of prophecy.

Gary North wrote of the modern prophecy movement:

"It's more like safe entertainment, like snake handling with non-poisonous snakes. We hear... pseudo-King James English, but devoid of any specific content: 'I the Lord telleth thee that I want my people to be holy. My people hath departed from me, etc. etc.' It is non-authoritative and non-specific. It is never, 'Pastor Jones has been committing adultery with Mrs. Smith for the last three months. If this is not dealt with soon by the elders, I will bring a plague on all of you.' That would be prophetic." (Position Paper, May 1996)

Indeed, if the mode of expression when it comes to prophecy is forthtelling and foretelling the Word of God, we could expect nothing less. Now all of this brings us to one more important characteristic of the true gift of prophecy, its verification.

VIII) PROPHECY'S VERIFICATION = THE MIRACULOUS

A) THE ABILITY TO DO THE MIRACULOUS IS THE HALL MARK OF ALL TRUE PROPHETS

1) [1 Kgs 18:36-39]:

On account of Elijah's ministry, King Ahab of Israel was moved to anger. ( 1 Kings 18:17) Thus when he saw Elijah, he rebuked him for the trouble that had come upon Israel - they were in the three year drought that Elijah had previously prophesied. ( 1 Kings 17:1) To which Elijah responded saying that the drought was the result of Ahab's apostasy in following Baal. ( 1 Kings 18:18) Then Elijah proposed a competition between himself and 450 prophets of Baal. (1 Kings 18:19) The prophets of Baal were to prepare a sacrifice and pray to their god. If the god of Baal sent fire to consume the sacrifice, then the people were to follow Baal, but if God sent fire to consume the sacrifice the people were to follow God.

As you know, the prophets of Baal failed. All the beating of themselves, and crying unto their god produced no miraculous sign. Elijah on the other hand then made the prophets of Baal soak his sacrifice with water which brings us to our text, 1 Kings 18:36 -39.

1) [1 Kgs 18:36-39cont.]:

(v. 36) "And it came to pass at [the time of] the offering of the [evening] sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou [art] God in Israel, and [that] I [am] thy servant, and [that] I have done all these things at thy word.

(v. 37) Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou [art] the LORD God, and [that] thou hast turned their heart back again.

(v. 38) Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that [was] in the trench.

(v. 39) And when all the people saw [it], they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he [is] the God; the LORD, he [is] the God." (KJV)

This text clearly is a testimony of the genuineness of Yahweh. It asserts unequivocally that God is the only God. It states unabashedly that there is none like Him. God and God alone should be worshipped. Nevertheless, it also gives us insight as to that which would VERIFY the validity of the prophet - the miraculous.

Notice again the text 1 Kings 18:36,

[1 Kgs 18:36]:

"Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou [art] God in Israel, and [that] I [am] thy servant and [that] I have done all these things at thy word." (KJV)

Elijah could have chosen any number of tests to verify his prophetic claim that he was God's servant, but he did not. Instead he chose a test that required a miraculous intervention on the part of God. Why? Because the ability to do the miraculous- "Miraculous Intervention"- is the hallmark of all true prophets.

B) THE VALIDITY OF MOSES AS A PROPHET PARTIALLY RESTED ON THE MIRACLES THAT HE PERFORMED

The validity of Moses as a prophet partially rested on the [things] that he performed.

1) [Ex 4:1-2]:

"And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee. And the LORD said unto him, What [is] that in thine hand? And he said, A rod." (KJV)

C) THE VALIDITY OF CHRIST AS PROPHET PARTIALLY RESTED ON THE MIRACLES THAT HE PERFORMED

And the validity of Christ as THE PROPHET - the ultimate fulfillment of the promise in Deuteronomy 18:18 - partially rested upon the signs that Christ performed.

1) [Acts 10:38]:

"How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him." (KJV)

2) [Mt 11:4]:

"Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:" (KJV)

D) GOD USES THE MIRACULOUS TO VERIFY HIS WORD SPOKEN BY THE PROPHET

Now all of this together testifies as to that which verified the true prophet: the miraculous. The true prophet of God is one who is able to do incredible things - miraculous things. Why? Because this attests that God is God. Elijah did not ask that God perform the miraculous just to show that Elijah was telling the truth, but to show that God told the truth. Elijah was not speaking on his own, but for the Master. It is God's character that is at stake, not the prophets. That is why God uses the miraculous to verify His Word spoken by the prophet.

E) THERE WILL BE FALSE PROPHETS WHO WILL ALSO PERFORM MIRACLES BUT THEY WILL CONTRADICT OR DOWNGRADE SCRIPTURE

And yet, we must be careful. Recall that what Christ says in Mark 13:22, "For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if [it were] possible, even the elect." (KJV) In fact, these miracles will be so good that, if it were possible, these false prophets would even deceive some of God's children. In light of this, how then are we to discern between the true and false prophet? The false prophet is one who either contradicts Scripture or leads people away from Scripture. (cf. Deuteronomy 13:1-5)

Based upon this, I say to everyone who accepts the gift of prophecy as operative today - BE CAREFUL! When some of the most influential leaders of "Christianity" say things like:

"Ultimately [the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture] is demonic even [though] Christian theologians have been used to perfect it." (cf. Charismatic Chaos, p. 140)

Their colors should be obvious! Let us take seriously the warning as found on the lips of Jeremiah.

1) [Jeremiah 23:31-32]:

(v. 31) "Behold, I [am] against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.

(v. 32) Behold, I [am] against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD." (KJV)

IX) PROPHECY'S CONTINUANCE

A) INTRODUCTION

This past week I read an article that had been copied from the Pentecostal Evangel. This article describes a woman who had been called by God to a very difficult ministry: homeless drug abusers and alcoholics. Throughout the article, God is described as carrying on a conversation with this woman regarding the people to which she is seeking to minister. For example, the article reads:

"The work God has called this dear old saint to do is not easy, but it is richly rewarding. One day as she was praying, she related, the Lord spoke to her. 'Daughter. I have called you to a hard work. Will you do it?' 'Yes. Lord, if You will go with me.' [The Lord responded,] 'I will never leave you nor forsake you as long as you do My will...' The Lord continued, 'I have children in trouble, and no one cares. I am asking you to help them...'" (Taken from Pulpit Helps, Vol. 21 Num. 1, January 1996)

Now I doubt that there are few of us who have not met people who testify to God speaking to them in this manner. It is not unusual for us to hear: "The Lord told me to quit my job" or "The Lord told me to buy this house." Yet when we question the person further and ask "How did the Lord speak to you?" the response is that of "I had a feeling." Does God still work in this way? Is God still speaking to man in a revelatory way? Is the Gift of Prophecy still operative today? Does the Old Testament gift of prophecy continue in the New Testament?

B) THE OT BIBLE PREDICTS THAT ALL PEOPLE WILL HAVE THE OT GIFT OF PROPHECY AFTER THE SECOND COMING OF OUR LORD

1) THE RETURN OF PROPHECY TO ALL MEN IS SET AFTER THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST

a) [JOEL 2:28-32]:

(v. 28) "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

(v. 29) And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.

[And the signs preceding the above Day of the Lord including the Second Coming

(cp. Is 13:9-10; 24:21-23; Ez 32:7-10; Mt 24:29-30)]:

(v. 30) And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.

(v. 31) The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

(v. 32) And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call." (KJV)

The impetus for the book of Joel was a devastating swarm of locusts which came through the land of Judah in the days of Joel. Making full use of this tragedy for the kingdom of God, Joel likens God's coming judgment to the swarming of locusts. (Joel 1) If God's people did not turn back to God then God would send forth His judgment - a judgment that would resemble all the misery and horror of the present pestilence-yet with much greater intensity. (Joel 2) Now in the midst of this warning, God promises a day of restoration and blessing for His people. Joel 2:28 contains a portion of this promised blessing - though judgment may come, God nevertheless will bless His people.

2) PROPHECY IS ALWAYS AS DESCRIBED IN THE OT

a) [Joel 2:28]:

"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions." (KJV)

In light of the prophecy of Joel 2:28, what did Joel expect by way of fulfillment? What is the anticipated experience of God's people with respect to this prophecy? To answer this, I want you to notice two observations about this passage. First the word that Joel uses for prophesy is the same word used throughout the Old Testament to denote the office or gift of prophecy that we have already discussed. Thus when Joel mentions prophesy, he means the Old Testament gift - with the same standards and characteristics as found throughout the Old Testament. Joel's prophecy anticipated the same mode of reception as found throughout the Old Testament - dreams and visions. ( cf. Numbers 12) Joel was an Old Testament prophet. Thus, all that we have said about the gift of prophecy in the Old Testament not only pertained to Joel, but also would have been Joel's expectation and standard for the fulfillment of this prophecy about a future age when the gift of prophecy would be poured out on all kinds of people.

And so, by way of fulfillment of the Joel 2:28 passage, we would expect that at a later time and place, God would pour forth His Spirit upon His people by extending the Old Testament gift of prophecy to many!

3) THE GIFT OF PROPHECY WILL BE BESTOWED UPON ALL MEN AFTER THE SECOND COMING

a) [Joel 2:28]:

"And it shall come to pass afterward, [after the Second Coming, (vv. 31-32)] that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions." (KJV, emphasis mine)

In other words, the day would come when the gift of prophecy (which in the Old Testament was limited to certain few individuals) would be experienced by all.... people.

O. Palmer Robertson wrote:

"Joel predicted a widespread manifestation of prophetic revelation in the future. The consummation of the ages would be accompanied by extensive revelatory experiences. . . . Old men would 'dream dreams' and young men would 'see visions'. Both phrases describe experiences of a revelatory nature, drawing on the context of Numbers 12." (The Final Word, p. 12)

And so, we are left with the conclusion that when Joel 2:28 is fulfilled, the Old Testament gift of prophecy will once again be manifested in all its fullness!

C) NT PROPHECY IS THE SAME AS OT PROPHECY

1) INTRODUCTION

"There are many today like Wayne Grudem who have suggested that in the New Testament, the gift of prophecy had two expressions: a revelatory and authoritative gift-as in the Old Testament - and a non-revelatory, non-authoritative gift given for the edification of the church, but not for the completion of the canon. And yet, this view ignores the fact that the New Testament gift of prophecy is nothing less than a continuation of the Old Testament gift!

Thus we must conclude that the gift of prophecy as found in the New Testament is nothing less than an authoritative speaking forth of God's word. The gift of prophecy is revelatory, and thus canonical. And this is borne out by the rest of the New Testament as it describes the gift of prophecy in a way that comports with the prophecy in Joel.

2) THE NT ABILITY TO PROPHECY IS THE RESULT OF THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, OF PERFECT ACCURACY AND AS OBJECTIVE AS IN OT PROPHECY

a) [ACTS 11:27-28]:

(v. 27) "And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.

(v. 28) And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar." (KJV)

This is the first description of the exercise of this gift in the New Testament after Pentecost. Now brothers and sisters, this passage corresponds with the standards and characteristics that we have come to expect of the Biblical prophet: the work of the Holy Spirit and perfect accuracy. Agabus' ability to prophesy is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit - it is objective, and not subjective as in the case of the false prophet. ( cf. Jeremiah 23:16) Agabus' prophecy was fulfilled with perfect accuracy as a famine occurred during the reign of Claudius (cf. Deuteronomy. 18:21-22; Jeremiah. 28:9; 1 Sam. 3:19-20). Agabus is here functioning as a spokesman of God - one through whom God spoke - and thus, his prophecy immediately became the basis for concrete action on the part of the disciples at Antioch. (cf. Acts 11:29-30; Deuteronomy. 18:19)

3) NT PROPHECY'S MODE OR RECEPTION IS SAME AS OT: DREAMS & VISIONS

a) [ACTS 13:2-3]:

"As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid [their] hands on them, they sent [them] away." (KJV)

Notice the Old Testament characteristics of the true prophet in this text. Once again, the prophetic word came by an act of the Holy Spirit. If you are asked , "How did the Holy Spirit relate this?" The only answer we can give is that which serves as the mode of reception in all Biblical prophecy, "dreams" and "visions."

And yet, some might say, "But the text doesn't say this!" To which the Bible answers, neither did Deuteronomy 18. The standard when it comes to Biblical prophecy is that dreams and visions are the mode of reception in light of the rest of the Old Testament.

And so likewise, we conclude the same here. The prophecy here was authoritative and binding. Thus in verse three, God's people obeyed and sent out Barnabas and Saul.

4) NT PROPHECY IS AUTHORITATIVE & VIA THE HS

a) [ACTS 21:10-11]:

(v. 10) '''After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.

(v. 11) Coming over to us, he took Paul's belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, "The Holy Spirit says, 'In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.'

(v. 12) When he heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem.

(v. 13) Then Paul answered, 'Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.'

(v. 14) When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, 'The Lord's will be done' "

Once again, notice the Old Testament characteristics of the true prophet: prophecy that comes by the Holy Spirit, and that is authoritative. Agabus' ability to prophecy is a result of the work of the Spirit. (verse 11) This is precisely what God said a prophet would do.

b) [DT 18:18]:

"I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him." (KJV)

As the true gift of prophecy always was in the Old Testament, Agabus' prophecy was authoritative - God's people respond. (verse 12)

c) [ACTS 21:4]:

"Finding the disciples there, we stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem."

It could be asked: "What about Acts 21:4 where Paul apparently disobeyed the prophetic word?" "Doesn't this prove that in the New Testament, there was an unauthoritative gift of prophecy - as Wayne Grudem suggests?"

The answer is that Acts 21:4 is an ambiguous text on the surface. Is it that the Spirit of God told Paul through the disciples "not to set foot in Jerusalem" - as it is usually translated? Or is it that the Spirit of God told the disciples of the fate that awaited Paul and that the disciples therefore were urging Paul "not to set foot in Jerusalem?" Based upon the message that Paul received from the Spirit in Acts 20:22 that he should go to Jerusalem, the message that the prophets received from the Spirit everywhere else concerning Paul at this time indicates that the latter understanding is what Acts 21:4 teaches. (cf. Acts 20:23; 21:11) The response of the disciples to this message - that they pleaded for him not to go (Acts 21:12) - also leads us to conclude the latter. In fact, some of the most able commentators of this age have concluded the same. (cf. Munck, F.F. Bruce, J. A. Alexander, Calvin, Robertson) Acts 21 bears the marks of the Old Testament gift of prophecy.

5) NT PROPHECY: 2 OR 3 UTTERANCES MAX, ONE AT A TIME AND IN THE ORDER PRESCRIBED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT

a) [1 COR 14:29-32]:

(v. 29) " Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.

(v. 30) If [any thing] be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.

(v. 31) For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.

(v. 32) And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets." (KJV)

1 Corinthians 11-14 contains the fullest treatment of the gift of prophecy in the New Testament. Throughout this text, the gift is presented as the product of the Holy Spirit (just as in Acts 2, 11, 13, 21) and thus we conclude that the phenomenon in Corinth is a further manifestation of the fulfillment of the promise given by Joel.

Now in these four chapters the gift of prophecy is mentioned ten times. (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:4-5; 12:10; 13:2; 13:8; 14:3-4; 14:5-6; 14:22; 14:24-25; 14:29-33; 14:37-40) Of which 1 Corinthians 14:29-32 emerges as Paul's most sustained treatment on the gift of prophecy.

Let me summarize the teaching of this text. Paul requires that prophets speak one at a time. (verse 31) Ordinarily the prophets would come with messages that God had revealed to them. Thus, they would have a prearranged order in which to speak. (verses 29, 30)

[1 Corinthians 14:29]:

"Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge." (KJV)

To judge has been greatly misunderstood today. Most immediately assume that it references the words being spoken. And yet, the Greek term diakrino has the basic meaning of to separate, to sever, to make a distinction. Most frequently it is used to make a distinction among PEOPLE.

Thus, if we keep the regular use of the term for judge, we conclude that the judgment here is not to be made about what is said, but who should speak! Because God is a God of order (verse 33) - and the Corinthians had perverted all semblance of order in their worship services - Paul exhorts the Corinthians that the prophets were to discriminate between persons as to when each prophet should speak.

Now, this prearranged order would be maintained unless God gave a revelation to one of the other prophets seated. (verse 30) In this case, the prophet who was slated to be "first" should "stop" so that the one who is receiving a revelation from God could speak. (verse 30) Now notice the crucial theme that resonates throughout this text - the product of the prophetic gift is revelation!...

...It is this term that is used to describe the gift of prophecy exercised by Agabus in the book of Acts. And it is this term that Paul uses to summarize all that the prophet does in 1 Corinthians. 14. (cf. verses 26, 30) Before we leave this text, notice also another characteristic of the prophet that Paul references in verses 37-38: they must comport with previously given revelation (which is what was prescribed in Deuteronomy. 13:1-5).

6) NT PROPHECY IS THE WORD OF GOD THE SAME AS THE OT & NOT OF ANY PRIVATE INTERPRETATION

a) [2 PETER 1:20-21]:

(v. 20) "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

(v. 21) For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost." (KJV)

With this verse, we have in effect Peter's definition of prophecy. In Peter's definition of prophecy we find that he says that there are no exceptions - "that no prophecy of the scripture." And thus, which serves as the standard for ALL Biblical prophecy whether New Testament or Old Testament! Now the significance of this statement is compounded when we recognize that Peter was the one who in Acts 2:18 said that Joel 2:28 was being...[referred to]***

To those who might say that the gift of prophecy as evidenced... in the New Testament "differed" from Old Testament prophecy, Peter unequivocally declares the product of the prophetic gift - that which also was manifest at Pentecost - to be nothing less than the Word of God - whether written or spoken! The words of the New Testament prophet were of no less authority than his writings. The words of the New Testament prophet were equivalent to all Biblical prophecy. And the words of the New Testament prophet were authoritative for the body of Christ.

7) CONCLUSION

Each of these five New Testament passages... ...clearly teach that the New Testament gift or office of prophet was one and the same with the Old Testament gift or office of prophet.

O. Palmer Robertson wrote:

"The prophetic experience that had brought God's word to the old covenant community now communicated the truth about this new era to God's new covenant people." (Ibid., pg. 18)

And thus when it comes to prophecy in the New Testament, we conclude that the characteristics that governed the true gift of prophecy in the Old Testament are one and the same as in the New Testament. As such the NATURE of New Testament prophecy was that it is revelation: a speaking forth of the Word of God. The STANDARD of New Testament prophecy was that it must be one hundred percent accurate: to be wrong just once is to not only prove that you are not a prophet according to the New Testament standard, but also that the message you have supposedly received from God is not from God at all. The DETERRENCE of New Testament prophecy likewise was death: which in the New Covenant was equivalent to excommunication. (For an example of physical death, the account of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) could be referenced as an example of two people "lying" to the Holy Spirit: the essence of false prophecy!) The MODE OF RECEPTION of New Testament prophecy was through "dreams" and "visions." The MODE OF EXPRESSION of New Testament prophecy was that it is an authoritative proclamation of the Word of God. The VERIFICATION of New Testament prophecy was the doing of the miraculous.

Now last time we compared these areas to what is occurring today in the name of Biblical prophecy, and concluded that what is occurring today is NOT the true gift. And thus, based upon the authority of the Word of God, we reject the testimony of all today who claim that God has personally spoken to them and/or has told them to do any number of things. And yet, don't misunderstand, I am not for a moment saying that God doesn't still speak today - in fact, this very morning it is my prayer that God has given each of us a message. Yet, the only Divine message that we could receive from God today comes not subjectively through a "small voice whispering to our heart, " but objectively through the word of God - as the Holy Spirit enlightens our minds and grants illumination to understand His word!

As we close a correct theology of the Biblical gift of prophecy will result in a longing after the God of the Word as He has revealed Himself to in the Word of God! It is only by and with the word that we can commune with God.

X) PROPHECY AS A MEANS OF COMMUNION WITH GOD

A) THE OT PROPHET SERVED AS A CONDUIT THRU WHICH THE NATION ISRAEL HAD WITH GOD FAR LESS EFFECTIVELY THAN THE BELIEVER OF THE CHURCH AGE WITHOUT THE GIFT OF PROPHECY

1) AFTER THE FALL THE OT PROPHET WAS ESTABLISHED AS AN INDIRECT AND LESS THAN PERFECT CONDUIT THROUGH WHICH THE NATION ISRAEL HAD COMMUNION WITH GOD

a) [DT 18:15-17]:

(v. 15) "The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;

(v. 16) According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not.

(v. 17) And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. " (KJV)

Let us review the historical context of this verse: in the days before Moses, God spoke personally to the covenantal heads of the various patriarchal families - Noah, Abram, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, etc. This fatherly head would then communicate the word of God to the people entrusted to his care. And yet, when we come to the time of Moses an important shift occurs which we find in Exodus 19:16-19.

b) [EX 19:16-19]:

(v. 16) "And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.

(v. 17) And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.

(v. 18) And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.

(v. 19) And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice."(KJV)

God's people have just been delivered from slavery in fulfillment of God's plan to redeem a people to Himself. And Moses brings them to Mount Sinai to commune with their God as a redeemed people. This was in fulfillment to God's plan of redemption found throughout Scripture. Before sin entered into the world, man enjoyed a relationship with God in which God walked among His people. (Genesis 3:8) With the coming of sin, this blessed communion between man and God was destroyed. (Genesis 3:24) And this separation- this breach of fellowship- would give way to God's plan of redemption. And thus we read in Genesis 17:7:

i) [GEN 17:7]:

"And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee." (KJV)

In essence, this was the promise of a restored relationship between God and man in which the communion once again would be enjoyed. In light of this notice Exodus 19:16-19:

(b cont.) [Exodus 19:16-19 cont.]:

(v. 16) "And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.

(v. 17) And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.

(v. 18) And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.

(v. 19) And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice."(KJV)

Now something occurred at this point that the text in Exodus does not include, but only later do we learn of it through Moses' commentary in Deuteronomy:

ii) [DT 18:16-17]:

(v. 16) "According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not.

(v. 17) And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken." (KJV)

And thus Exodus 19 continues:

c) [EX 19:20-21]:

(v. 20) "And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.

(v. 21) And the LORD said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish." (KJV)

It is here that we learn of God's design behind the office of prophet: communion. At Mount Sinai the prophetic office was instituted as a means of fulfilling God's plan of a restored communion! Through which God's people would vicariously enjoy God's plan of redemption: restored fellowship!

2) THE ULTIMATE PROPHET JESUS CHRIST REPLACES THE NEED FOR A FINITE HUMAN PROPHET BY INDWELLING THE CHURCH AGE BELIEVER THROUGH THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT - A DIRECT AND FAR BETTER COMMUNION WITH GOD

a) JESUS CHRIST IS THE ULTIMATE PROPHET AND MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MAN BEING GOD HIMSELF AND NOT JUST A MAN

And yet, here notice the importance of our Savior:

i) [ACTS 3:22]:

"For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you." (KJV)

In Acts 3:22, Peter quotes Deuteronomy. 18:15 in reference to Christ! Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of the Mosaic promise! God's plan of redemption in which He would be our God and we His people! And thus, while we still have a Mediator between God and man, our Mediator no longer is a man like you and me, but God Himself!

Now in view of this, we conclude so long as the office of prophet as established in the Old Testament serves as a conduit through which to fellowship with God, God's people have yet to enjoy the fullness of their salvation! Or put another way, the prophetic office is the next best thing to direct fellowship with God - recall the context of Mount Sinai.

b) TO RESURRECT THE GIFT OF PROPHECY THROUGH YET ANOTHER FINITE MAN IS TO TAKE A STEP BACKWARDS IN ONE'S RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IN THE CHURCH AGE

To resurrect this gift and say that it is for the church today is to turn back the clock to that time when man's fellowship with God was much less than is possible in this economy! As ones who now enjoy an intimate relationship of communion with God through Christ, to resurrect the gift of prophecy is to take a huge step backwards in relation to God's plan of redemption and our relationship with Christ.

c) THE GIFT OF PROPHECY THROUGH JUST A MAN IS PARTIAL AND INCOMPLETE BUT WITH THE INDWELLING PROPHET JESUS CHRIST THROUGH HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISM COMMUNION IS WITH GOD VIA GOD HIMSELF ALL THE TIME

i) [Compare 1 COR 13:8-10]:

(v. 8) "Love never fails; but where there are gifts of Prophecy, they will be done away with; where there are Tongues, they will cease; where there is knowledge, it will be done away with.

(v. 9) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part

(v. 10) but when that which is complete comes, the partial will be done away with."

"and we Prophecy in part" = 'And we forth tell or prophesy only part of what God has for us to know with respect to the completed Bible. At the time when these gifts were being exercised the entire New Testament was not yet fully revealed or completed. God's New Testament revelation was available throughout the world only in part as a direct revelation from Him to the individual who possessed the gift. So the gift of Prophecy was also characterized by a direct revelation from God on a par with Scripture - later to be part of the 27 books of the New Testament.

"the partial" - "the imperfect" - "to ekmerous" can be translated as "partial" or "imperfect", (NIV), and is best rendered there as it literally means: "that in part" or that which is not complete. The temporary sign and wonder gifts of Prophesy and Word of Knowledge are that which are used to relay a knowledge of the Word of God - 'in part'. The completed Scriptures are that which will thereafter be used to relay the whole counsel of the Word of God.

Further details available from the study of 1 Cor 13 to verify this conclusion: {short description of image}

See when prophets walk the land as a vehicle of communion with God our fellowship with God is partial and incomplete. When prophets walk the land as a vehicle of communion with God this means our redemption is not full but is still in infancy. When the prophets walk the land as vehicle of communion with God this means that we as God's people have yet to participate in the fullness of our salvation. Why? Because while the prophetic office was an advance in Old Testament, compared to what we have in Christ, the prophet office is inferior. O. Palmer Robertson wrote this:

"God's purpose in the covenant was to be one with his people. In establishing a covenant relationship, the Lord binds himself intimately to his people. But that closeness of relationship which God intended by the covenant cannot be achieved so long as a prophetic mediator must stand between God and the people. So long as a mediator must run from the top of the mountain to the people below, covenantal unity has not been fully realised [sic]." (Final Word, pp. 4-5)

While the office of prophet was designed to enhance the communion that man could experience with God under the old dispensation, in Christ we enjoy fellowship with God that far surpasses God's design for the prophetic office! And thus, the need for the office of prophet is now considered to be obsolete. Why? Because Christ has fulfilled that office.

To all who desire the gift of prophecy or the resurrection of this gift: be careful! To desire the gift today is to reject the giver of the gift: Jesus Christ! Ultimately, it is He to whom the gift points in Deuteronomy 18! And yet, the office/gift of prophecy was still operative after the death and resurrection of Christ. Is there another design behind the office/gift of prophecy?

XI) PROPHECY AS A MEANS OF FOUNDING THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH

As we saw last time, the gift of prophecy as operative in the New Testament was nothing more than a continuation of the Old Testament gift and thus governed by all the characteristics of Old Testament prophecy. And yet for sake of emphasis, I want you to notice that each time prophecy is mentioned in Ephesians, Paul clearly is referencing the New Testament expression of this gift. (cf. Ephesians 4:11; 3:5; 2:20) And thus, what we glean from Paul's statements about prophecy from Ephesians, we have no other option but to apply them, at least, to the New Testament gift.

A) NT PROPHETS ARE A ONCE-FOR-ALL-TIME AND NEVER TO BE REPEATED PART OF THE FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH (SINCE FOUNDATIONS ARE ONLY BUILT ONCE)

Now with this, notice what Paul teaches regarding the design of the gift of prophecy in Ephesians 2:19-20.

1) [EPHESIANS 2:19-20]:

"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner [stone]." (KJV)

This is a crucial passage for understanding God's design for the office of prophet in the New Testament. Notice that it links with Christ, the cornerstone of the Church, the office of apostle and prophet as the foundation. The foundation - which by definition does not change, is unmovable, and inalterable. And so we note that just as Christ is a once-for-all and never to be repeated Cornerstone that was laid as part of the foundation of the Church, so also, the apostles and prophets are a once-for-all and never to be repeated aspect of the foundation.

In fact, it is this truth that has lead most Protestant churches to reject the theory of Apostolic Succession. As the office of apostle was foundational to the church now that we are beyond the foundation (not above it), we no longer have need of the office of apostle- and likewise prophet.

Now this raises the question: In what way is the office of prophet foundational to the Church? What does this mean? The answer is found in Ephesians 3:5.

B) THE PURPOSE OF THE NT PROPHET WAS TO REVEAL GOD'S NEW REVELATION ABOUT THE CHURCH

1) [EPHESIANS 3:5]:

"Which in other ages [referring to the mystery of God's administration of grace, the Church Age, (v. 2)] was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit." (KJV)

Notice the function that Paul ascribes to the prophets in their foundational role in the church.. Paul does not speak about a prediction of the future when he refers to the "mystery" that has been "revealed". Instead, he describes the prophetic office as giving insight about a theology of the church. In other words, the prophetic office was to serve the role of clarifier of the truth in the apostolic age. And thus, we see another design behind the office of prophet: information. Information, or as we have said throughout this study, revelation.

a) REVELATION ABOUT THE CHURCH AGE WAS INCOMPLETE AT THE BEGINNING

To appreciate this design of the prophetic gift more fully, let me place the New Testament Church in its context for you. Upon the death and resurrection of Christ, God's people were in a time of transition. They were in the era of the New Covenant - the time prophesied in the Old Testament when God would write His laws on their heart. (Jeremiah 31:33) The heart of stone would be replaced with a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 11:19) And yet they were still functioning solely according to Old Testament revelation. Now don't misunderstand. It is not that the Word of God as found in the Old Testament is inferior - it is just incomplete! In fact, the Word of God that would be needed to fully direct God's people during this time wouldn't be completed for another sixty years!

b) GOD DESIGNED THE OFFICES OF PROPHET & APOSTLE TO FOUND AND INITIALLY DIRECT THE CHURCH UNTIL THE CHURCH WAS ESTABLISHED AND THE NT BIBLE WAS COMPLETED

How then would God direct His church? How would God's New Covenant people fully know what God wanted them to do and be? Answer: Enter the prophetic office. It was the design of God that the prophetic office (together with the apostolic office) be used to found the Church until the completion of the canon. Thus in the New Testament God sent prophets to direct and lead His church. And so we see the office of prophet being used by God throughout the New Testament to direct His church. Paul and Barnabas were sent out by a prophet. (Acts 13) Moneys were raised on account of a famine predicted by a prophet. (Acts 11:28) People were warned of impending doom by a prophet. (Acts 21:10) Theological controversy was decided by the declaration of a prophet. (Acts 15)

[O. Palmer Robertson wrote this]:

"The first letter to the Corinthians was composed at a time when very little of the New Testament had been written. The church at that stage needed an authoritative word from the Lord to direct the pattern of their life under the new covenant. Very likely none of the inspired manuscripts of the New Testament were available to the Corinthians at this point in time." (The Final Word, p. 18)

c) CONCLUSION

And so we see another design behind the gift of prophet: direction for the founding of the Church. Without this gift operative in the apostolic Church, the foundation of the New Testament church could not be laid. It was this gift that was used to direct the Church until the canon was closed.

Now brothers and sisters, as ones possessing the completed Word of God, let me ask you this: If a question were raised regarding Church order, the ministry and mission of the Church, or how we ought to respond to a certain problem, or deal with an unrepentant brother or sister; where should we look for authoritative direction today? Should we do as Hillary Clinton and consult a spiritist or medium? Or should we seek out a prophet as some advocate? Or is the Word of God sufficient?

The answer is obvious! To go to any other source today but the Word of God is to not only testify to a heart of rebellion against God's divine authority, but most certainly brings us into all sorts of error! God's Word alone is sufficient to direct and guide us into the will of God - we need nothing more!

And all of this naturally leads to a final design behind the gift of prophecy: it was a means of completing the canon.

XII) PROPHECY AS A MEANS OF COMPLETING THE CANON

A) REVELATION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT WAS FRAGMENTARY AND INCOMPLETE

1) [HEBREW 1:1-2]:

(v. 1) "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, (v. 2) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds." (KJV)

This contains an explanation of the greatest transition from the Old Testament form of revelation to the New Testament form of revelation. This passage also explains the transition from the Old Testament gift of prophecy to the New Testament office of prophecy founded in Christ. Now pertaining to the Old Testament prophetic gift this passage says that God spoke to the prophets, "in many portions [as of books] and in many ways [as in the forms of the prophet's dreams and visions]." (NAS) Now the implication with this phraseology is that revelation in the Old Testament was fragmentary and incomplete!

For example, to Noah was revealed the quarter of the world from which Messiah would come. To Micah, the town where He would be born was revealed. To Daniel, the time of His birth was revealed. To Malachi, the forerunner who would come before Him was revealed. To Jonah, His resurrection was typified. Now this is not to say that the Old Testament prophetic word was erroneous. Rather, as I just said, it is to say that it was incomplete.

And yet, with the advent of Jesus Christ this "incompletion" is dissolved! Notice the text once again:

B) WITH THE ADVENT OF CHRIST GOD SPOKE A FINAL TIME. ONCE HIS MESSAGE IS RELAYED & RECORDED DOWN, PROPHECY WILL CEASE IN THIS AGE

1) [HEBREWS 1:1-2]:

(v. 1) "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, (v. 2) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [His] Son, Whom He hath appointed heir of all thing, by Whom also He made the worlds."

["in these last days spoken" = "ep' eschaton ton hemeron touton elalesen hamin en huio" = "has spoken" is a very important word in the original. It is in the aorist tense which is a past tense of completed action, rendering the literal translation to be "has spoken ONCE FOR ALL") unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds."

2) OUR LORD'S FINAL MESSAGE WAS TO BE MADE KNOWN TO THE DISCIPLES VIA PROPHETIC REVELATION BY THE HOLY SPIRIT

a) [Compare Jn 16:13-14]:

(v. 13) "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.

(v. 14) He will bring glory to Me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you."

3) THE APOSTLE PAUL RECEIVED REVELATION OF THIS FINAL MESSAGE OF OUR LORD FROM THE LORD HIMSELF

a) [COMPARE GAL 1:11-12]:

(v. 11) "I [Paul] want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up.

(v. 12) I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ."

With the advent of Christ, God spoke a final time. Thus, no longer would the prophetic word be partial and incomplete. With Christ and His commission to the apostles to record God's Word (John. 16:13-14), revelation now is complete; the Canon is closed! And thus we read in the last written book of the New Testament these words:

4) NO NEW REVELATION FROM GOD IS FORTHCOMING SO THE REVELATORY GIFTS HAVE CEASED INCLUDING PROPHECY

a) [REV 22:18]:

"For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book." (KJV)

Many think that because God has repeatedly used this formula throughout the Bible to protect His word (Deuteronomy. 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs. 30:6) a referencing of Revelation 22 is meaningless when it comes to the issue of a closed Canon. Yet, listen. This text indeed teaches that man cannot add to God's word: ONLY GOD CAN! And if God does, as in every other age in the Bible where Scripture was written, then we expect that those men through whom God chooses to speak will manifest perfectly the eight characteristics of the Biblical prophet!

And so with the advent of Christ, the design of the prophetic gift came to a head: the Scripture was completed! Man now has available to them all that he needs in order to know God. And thus we see a final design for the prophetic office: the completion of the canon.

Now brothers and sisters, this is good news! And yet, I have no doubt that this series has caused some a little grief. If the gift of prophecy passed away with the close of the Canon, then God doesn't speak individually to me in a silent voice, and some of my favorite teachers who claim to be prophets are not, and my desire and expectation for God to talk to me personally and individually with a message appropriate to my situation is false. What a horrible series this has been!

And yet listen. The "many portions" and "many ways" of the Old Testament is not something to be longed for- as if being a child of God during those times stood as the climax of one's relationship with God. Indeed, God does not speak in this manner any longer - He has spoken once for all in His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Thus to know Christ is to know God. To know His Word likewise is to Know God. O. Palmer Robertson has well spoken when he wrote this:

"The end-goal of 'revelation' is not the perpetual experience of revelation itself. Revelation instead is a means to an end. It is the way by which the eternal God makes himself known to sinful men who are hopelessly lost apart from his Son the Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation has as its end the making known to men of the one and only God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent. Viewed from this perspective, the 'end' of revelation is not something to be regretted. As a matter of fact, 'the sooner the better' might be the more natural attitude toward the 'end' of revelation." (The Final Word, pp. 52-53)

And so let us not grieve the cessation of this gift- let us rejoice! To those who will not listen - who will nevertheless insist on their own personal vision or revelation from God-in other words prefer the charismatic's approach to prophecy, I exhort you thus:

"The charismatic's' acceptance of modern 'prophecy' represents a turn down a perilous road. The marker may read 'Something More,' but the road of new revelation is really a path to something less. It is filled with detours, dead ends, giant chuckholes- and very little else." (Chaos, p. 81)

...To advocate a spiritual gift where no spiritual gift is given is indeed a road of detours. To advocate a working of God where God is not working is to advocate a road of chuck holes. To advocate a mode of Christianity whose tendency will be to forsake the written Word of God for an experience, impression, or a message beyond the Scripture is to travel a road of dead ends. Let us not long for something more from God, but rather let us be content with His living and written Word. For if we follow God's Word in the power of the Spirit, God certainly will lead us to the fullness of life in Christ!

b) [2 PETER 1:3]:

"According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue." (KJV)

Why settle for a picture, when we can have the Person? Why settle for the gift, when we can have the Giver?'''