What is the gift of prophecy? Should we use it today? There is wide disagreement among Christians on these questions. Among my Pentecostal or Charismatic pastor friends they would readily affirm the importance of this gift. For my friends who come out of a reformed or dispensational background, they might say that the use of such a gift undermines the uniqueness and authority of the Bible.
Let me once again, affirm my unwavering commitment to the authority of the Bible in relation to personal prophecy. Like any other gift that uses words to convey a message from God (teaching, evangelism, pastoring, etc.), there is the possibility of misuse and bad theology. So, it goes without saying, simply because there is the possibility of misuse, this doesn’t give us liberty to condone non-usage. Thus, I believe in the authenticity of this gift and endeavor to show the development of the gift throughout biblical history.
“The main function of Old Testament prophets was to be messengers from God, sent to speak to people with words from God.” (Wayne Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy). The title “messenger of God,” often follows the name of the prophet. (See Haggai 1:13; Obadiah 1:1). In fact, true prophets in the Old Testament were men “whom the Lord has truly sent.” (Jeremiah 28:9). Their words carried the authority of being the very words of God. This was not limited to the general idea or content of their prophecy, but were the exact words from God. Hence, they could say with authority, “Thus says the Lord,” when they spoke. Indeed, these prophets wrote most of the books of the Old Testament. Their very words, were God’s very words, in every detail.
New Testament Apostles
In the same way of the Old Testament prophets, were the New Testament apostles. Both spoke with absolute divine authority and wrote God’s words into Scripture. The readers of Second Peter 3:2, are instructed to, “Remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior, through your apostles…” Again, in Luke 11:49, “I will send them prophets and apostles.” Thus, in the context of our discussion, we would see the prophetic among the apostles as likened to the Old Testament prophets: speaking the very words of God. (Refer to 1 Thess. 4:15; 2 Thess. 3:6; 2 Peter 3:2; 3:15-16, NASV.)
In the next blog, I will look at how the gift of personal prophecy is different from the Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles.
On the Road Less Traveled,
Steve Holt D.D. MA