Want Some Answers ???Pentecostalism
Thanks for your unexpected reply. I would like to reflect on your comments. I appreciate the e-newsletters and the work you are doing and your website. Hope I can offer some food for thought with this mail. You wrote,
>>We are not to despise prophecy. Whether or not the gift of prophecy is the same today is beside the point. We know that there is prophesy today, and will be prophets to come in the end. Therefore we need to test all prophesy. We would not be told to test it if it does not exist <<
Are you sure “ Whether or not the gift of prophecy is the same today is beside the point”? You go on to say “apostles and prophets are different today”. Surely they must be identical, or not. The fact remains today error and confusion run rampant in churches led by those who call themselves prophets. The verse ‘despise not prophecy’ was written to the first Christians (1 Thes.5:20 AD.49/50) which had Apostles and Prophets instead of the NT. References about ‘end time prophets’ indicate ‘false prophets’ in the end times (1 Jn.4:1 2 Pe.2:1 1 Cor.14:29 Mt.24:24). We should judge all supposed prophesies by shunning false prophets. It’s always important to separate God’s Word from error.
Yes God has given the standard, but when you redefine inspiration and revelation you undermine your ability to receive truth.
The first Christians had a disadvantage without the NT and they lived in a transition period (Judaism to Christianity). So God gave Apostles, Prophets, gifts of revelation and sign miracles for a special purpose. Eg. The sign gifts had a purpose, they confirmed apostolic teaching and revelation (note the words “signs” and “confirmed” Mk.16:17 Heb.2:2-3). When the church foundation was finished there was no need for the signs (1 Cor.13:8-10 Eph.2:20 3:5). But today, tongues has no purpose, but is simply gibberish. And when a Roman Catholic Priest speaks in tongues, is God confirming Catholic doctrine?
As you said “prophets have ceased because no one today meets the biblical criteria”. Yes they were temporary no one today has the credentials or qualifications necessary. They had to have seen the resurrected Lord, been around since John the Baptist, (Ac.1:22) specially called by Christ personally (Lk.6:13) and perform miracles to prove their office (2 Cor.12:12).
The solemn warning of Rev.22:18 shows God has revealed in Scripture all needed for in this dispensation. Every generation of Christians since apostolic time has been given Evangelists, Pastors and teachers. These are the permanent gifts, but they are not miraculous, one must study and exercise their gift.
>>There is true prophecy today, but it is rare. I know people who are prophets who don't consider themselves to be, but because they continue to teach directly from the word, their words become prophesy to the church<<
If “ prophets have ceased” how can there be “true prophecy today”? If it’s rare, Paul desires we have far more 'prophets'? (1 Cor.14:1-6, 22, 39). You confuse prophets with those who ‘teach the word’ with prepared remarks. It’s a fine line between clarifying Scripture and adding to it with an impression God said.
Last time I said most cults and false teaching starts with the idea of true prophets with true revelation. This abandons the principle of Sola Scriptura. You reply,
>>That's what they whole paper is about - sola scriptura. Everything is tested against the written word.<<
And most sects claim their prophets are tested by Scripture. No doubt your idea of prophets is justified by Pentecostal interpretations, or you reject them. So I must ignore common sense while Pentecostals declare what’s true scriptural prophecy.
Yes your e-Newsletter was ‘ about’ testing prophets and prophecy. Sure Scripture’s the standard, which indicates it’s all we need (with some teachers and preachers of course). But your acceptance of modern day Prophets, questions Sola Scriptura and the uniqueness of God’s Word. The Bible’s claim for itself is challenged. Why should I seek revelation for my spiritual walk from the empty ‘prophecies’ of someone’s imagination, instead of God’s Word alone? You write,
>>Does the holy spirit guide you through the word? Does he still guide his church? Of course. That is why true prophesy is tied directly to the Word of God, the word of the prophets, apostles and Jesus Christ. But there is prophesy today, not used to control the church or build a following, but it comes as a result of true exegesis of the word.<<
Yes He guides His church, and doesn’t need modern apostles and prophets because His Word is final (complete ‘perfect’ enough). He guides with teachers and preachers. But ANY modern day prophet must be true, reliable, and inerrant as Scripture itself or we make God a liar. Of course they don’t claim infallibility (or authority), they even admit their prophecy can be false at times. Preachers expound the Word, we shouldn’t think more highly them than we ought (Rom.12:3). But modern prophets speak fabricated guesses and can only pretend to be like NT prophets.
NT Apostles and prophets spoke what was to become Scripture, before the written revelation was “perfect” (1 Cor.13:10). They spoke with divine authority delegated by God; a declaration as God’s Word. The early Jewish converts required guidance and confirmation God was giving His Spirit to Gentiles. So God sent apostles and prophets with signs and miracles (Gal.2:1-2 2 Cor.12:12).
You said “true prophesy” was “rare” but now say it’s common as “exegesis of the word”. You say, ‘prophets have ceased” but say we know “there is prophecy today”. Forgive me if I get confused at times.
Are we to mediate on prophecies? Is ignoring them is sin? If so, they are canonized as revelation, if not they are superfluous. There’s a difference between the Holy Spirit’s illumination of Scripture and one speaking as God’s mouthpiece. Scripture is not clarified by listening to someone who thinks he has the gift of prophecy. Scripture is clarified as it’s carefully and diligently studied (Ac.8:28-35). There’s no short cut to interpreting God’s Word, don’t play fast and loose with the issues of inspiration and revelation.
The fact is, so-called prophecy today is really empty nonsense from someone’s imagination and their ‘dreams and visions’ rather than God’s Word. Often the ‘new revelation’ is held as binding on believers as any NT book.
I mentioned the sign gifts "ceased". Tongues, etc " vanished away " when their purpose ended [1 Cor.13:8f]. You replied,
>>Sorry. I don't agree with you. Apostles and prophets are different today, but the Lord still gives gifts. They are used to build up the body of Christ and to serve his purposes. I have seen true gifts on the mission field.<<
‘Different today’? Yes they’re not real apostles or prophets; their prophecy is cancelled and changes with circumstances. And real prophets are always unpopular (Mt.13:57). Regarding ‘gifts ceasing’ if they didn’t, then they remain as our mode of receiving our revelation of church truth until Christ’s return. This is nonsense, for we get our church truth today from the Bible and not miraculous gifts .
You proclaim your experience to me, as the evidence they didn’t cease. Is experience the valid test of truth? Experience can lead in any direction. Your evidence for the gifts isn’t Scripture but experience. Every cult has a multitude of experiences that validate their belief. Pentecostals lean heavily on experience and claim all kinds from the weird to the absurd. Their emphasis on experiences and love of prophecy often means scholarly and careful Bible study is swept aside. They cling to experiences regardless what the Bible says.
But how can “ the body of Christ” be ‘built up’, when minds are switched off to enable tongues to function?
>>You are reacting against all the false things, and discounting the true. I have simpathy for you position as it is easy to jump to extremes, but total cessationism is just not biblical.<<
I’m simply ‘testing the spirits’. The Bible reveals what’s “true”, and what human experiences should be , that's Biblical. And I guarantee you, ‘cessationists’ don’t easily “jump to extremes”. It's Pentecostals who roll on the floor in churches, run around out of control, make animal noises, ecstatic tongues, emotionalism, with ‘demons’ screaming, and endless laughter, snake handling, vomiting and nudity in healing meetings, etc. Neo-Montanism leads to this behaviour, with more damage to Christianity than “cessationism”.
>>Foundational apostles and prophets have ceased because no one today meets the biblical criteria.<<
Yes and scripture says, “prophecies…will cease” and “tongues…shall cease” in the same verse (1 Cor.13:8). You might deny prophets are adding to Scripture, but their views on prophetic utterances, gifts of prophecy and revelation really do just that. As they add – however unwittingly – to God’s final revelation, they undermine the uniqueness and authority of the Bible. If you subvert the uniqueness of the Bible you have no way of distinguishing between God’s voice from man’s. Eventually anyone can claim anything and claim its God’s Word and no one has the right to deny it .
>>But other gifts continue. I believe that the Lord gives gifts when needed. I have experienced that myself in ministry, especially when preaching the gospel. I don't brag about it but I recognize that God empowers his saints to do things that we normally could not do, not so we can spend it on our own lusts, but so that we might glorify him.<<
God gives gifts, but not the miraculous and revelation sign gifts given before the completed NT. I have yet to find Biblical evidence the miraculous gifts didn't cease with the completion of the NT. Where is it? If they didn't cease where does Scripture say, I should seek a 'Baptism of the Spirit'? The real test of spirituality is not having 'gifts' but walking in Christian love [1 Jn.3].
Paul says they "will pass away" [1 Cor.13., an early epistle] but when he writes his later epistles, Ephesians and Romans and discusses "gifts" of the Spirit at length, there’s no mention of the miraculous gifts. In fact, the writer of Hebrews [a later book] regards miracles as past [Heb.2:3-4]. By then, apostolic authority and the apostolic message needed no further confirmation. Before the first century ended, the entire NT had been written and was circulating through the churches. The revelatory gifts had ceased to serve any purpose. And when the apostolic age ended with the death of the Apostle John, the signs that identified the apostles had already become moot [cf 2 Cor.12:12].
The fact remains since the canon of Scripture was completed no genuine revival or orthodox movement has ever been led by people whose authority is based in any way on private revelations of God. Many groups have claimed to receive new revelation but all of them have been fanatical, heretical cultic or fraudulent. You need to seriously consider the parallel between cults and the modern charismatic movement.