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Cessationism... Part I
Are Miraculous Gifts Of The Spirit For Today?

Carol Brooks

Cessationists hold that although there aren't any verses that clearly and inescapably point to the fact that most of the gifts have ceased, the combined weight of the evidence does. Is this accurate?

Introduction -  Two Points of View

Part 2

Part I - On This Page
 A Question
Are We To Believe That God Works Only Through His Word But Satan has a Free Hand?

The Lists Of Gifts
On What Basis Have We Decided That Only Some Gifts Are Functional Today

The Appeal To Scripture To Show That Many of The Gifts Are No Longer Operational
The Acts Of The Apostles.
History Of Miracles in The Bible
Only Reason For Miracles?

3.) The Texts Used To 'Prove' The Gifts Were Temporary (None Actually  Do)
Hebrews 2:1-4, 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 (When The "Perfect" Comes)
Ephesians 2:20 - Which Apostles And Prophets Was Paul Referring To?

The Office of a Prophet Vs. The Gift Of Prophecy
Two Examples of Genuine Modern Day Prophets

A Word Of Wisdom

 Examples of Genuine Modern Day Prophets

Evidence For Sporadic Continuance of The Gifts
And A Modern Day Miracle

Conclusion... Lets Not Throw The Baby Out With The Bath Water

A Question
How is It Possible That God Works Only Through His Word But Evil has a Free Hand?
It is far from unusual to find orthodox Christians who believe that God "Only Works Through The Word" yet (according to several passages in Scripture) Satan has quite a bit of latitude. The following verses tell us that He can blind the minds of the unbelieving, fill their hearts, beguile and corrupt them, and even take them captive.

    But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?  (Acts 5:3 NASB)

     in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.  (2 Corinthians 4:4 NASB)

    But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.  (2 Corinthians 11:3 NASB)

    and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.  (2 Timothy 2:26 NASB)

Scripture even prophesies that

    "... in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons." (1 Timothy 4:1).

I would love to know how anyone can believe that Satan and his minions are allowed to do all of the above, but God uses no direct influence on anyone.

The Three Lists Of The Gifts
Three of the New Testament books each contain a separate lists of the gifts. The more impressive (or showy) gifts such as prophecy, healing, tongues and miracles are included in one or more of the lists along with the more modest gifts (teaching, evangelists, mercy, helps etc.) that most believe are still prevalent today.

    a) Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:6-8 NASB)

    b) And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:28 NASB)

    c) And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; (Ephesians 4:11-12 NASB)

My question then is - on what basis have we decided that only certain gifts in the lists do not exist any longer?  If the gift of prophecy no longer exists then why haven't the gifts of teaching, exhortation, helps etc. also ceased to exist?

The basis for the belief that many of the gifts are no longer operational has no connection with the lists themselves but ...

Cessationists Appeal To Scripture To Show That
Many of The Gifts Are No Longer Operational

Cessationists hold that although there aren't any verses that clearly and irrefutably point to the fact that most of the gifts have ceased, the combined weight of the evidence does, including the Acts of the apostles, the history of miracles in the Bible, and the reason miracles happened.

Thus it stands to reason that the church should soundly reject any and all claims to prophecy and other supernatural gifts of the spirit. 

The Acts Of The Apostles.
The book of Acts is exactly what the name implies... the acts of The Apostles. Just because the apostles could heal at will does not mean that every believer has the ability to lay his hands on a sick person and heal them.

In fact, not all Christians in the New Testament could heal or perform other miracles. When Dorcas, one of the disciples died in Joppa, the believers did not try themselves to raise her from the dead but instead sent for Peter who was near by in the town of Lydda. Peter came immediately and resurrected her. (Acts 9:36-41).

Therefore the miraculous events described in Acts can not be taken as the standard for the church in all the centuries since. Absolutely nothing says that the supernatural happenings that occurred then are to be duplicated far less exceeded by the modern church.

History Of Miracles in The Bible
Cessationists often refer to Biblical history to show that signs and wonders were not every day phenomena but were concentrated during three critical periods... the times of 1) Moses and the Exodus, 2) Elijah and Elisha and 3) Jesus' and the Apostles. Outside of these periods miracles were isolated incidents. (That there will be extraordinary happenings before and during the future Second Coming of Christ is not disputed). John MacArthur says (Emphasis Added)

    If you study the Old Testament, there really are only two periods of miracles: One, the revealing of the law to Moses; and two, the lives of Elijah and Elisha when God was laying down the platform of prophetic revelation through His prophets. The rest of the Old Testament contains very few references of use of miracles, and none at the end of the Old Testament. Miracles have not been occurring all the time since the first one. And the reason is that God had a specific word to reveal, with limits and boundaries. When God was revealing either His written Word or Christ, His living Word, it was then and only then that He used miracles as a corroborating and confirming sign. [01]

It is true that we know nothing about the short inter-testamental period - that is between the writing of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament. However, even a cursory reading of some of the books of the Old Testament shows that, contrary to what John MacArthur claims, there was an abundance of miracles in many other periods of Old Testament history . Here are some examples.

    Genesis: While the plagues of Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea were some of the more spectacular miracles in Genesis, in the first few chapters alone Enoch was miraculously moved (Genesis 5:24), All manner of animals were gathered into the ark, The Lord and angels appeared to Abraham and even ate a meal with him (Genesis 18), The men of Sodom and Gomorrah were blinded by angels and the cities destroyed by fire and brimstone. Also Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt (Genesis 19) etc.

    Note: Neither Enoch nor Elijah were 'raptured' as is commonly believed. Not unless Elijah was writing letters from heaven to king Jehoram many years later. See Did Elijah and/or Enoch Ascend to Heaven?

Numbers: is replete with supernatural happenings. Fire consumed some of the children of Israel but was stopped when Moses interceded for them (11:1-3). Miriam got leprosy for criticizing Moses who successfully prayed for her to be healed. (12:10 - 15). The earth opened up and swallowed Dathan, Abiram and their families. Similarly Korah and the men who challenged Moses were killed by 'fire from the Lord' (16:31-35). Aaron the High Priest's rod buds (17:1-9). Water gushed out of a rock that Moses struck (20:8-11). a plague killed 14,700 Israelites (16:46-50) and many others were bitten by snakes for complaining (21:5-9). Last but far from least, Balaam's donkey spoke to him.

    Joshua: The crossing of the river Jordan whose waters ceased to flow allowing the people to cross over on dry ground led by the priests carrying the ark of the covenant. Joshua's vision of the captain of the host of the LORD.

    The miraculous fall of Jericho.

The web site of the Faith Presbyterian Church says "after this miracle in Joshua 10 the Israelites would not see such a thing for centuries to come". [02]

Not exactly.

    Judges: The book of Judges covers the period from after Joshua's conquest of Jericho (Approximately 1,400 BC ) to around 1050 BC . The first judge was Othniel (Caleb's younger brother) who was known as a brave and successful leader in Joshua's lifetime (Joshua 15:16-17).

    Quite a few miracles happened during this period in spite of the fact that although there was a great spiritual decline. Gideon who became a judge around 1180 BC defeated a multitude of the enemy with just three hundred men - this after he was visited by an angel, who caused fire to come up out of the rock and consume his offering (6:21). Later in the same chapter we are told of the double sign of the fleece which assured Gideon that he would be victorious in his coming battle with the Midianites.

    Samson the last of the judges (1118 - 1078) collapsed the temple of Dagon by manually pulling down the pillars although he was very weak at the time. In doing so Samson may have killed as many as three thousand Philistines. (Judges 16:23-31)

    Samuel: The book of Samuel opens with the Lord hearing the prayer of a barren woman who subsequently became pregnant (1 Samuel 1). Later on the Lord spoke to Samuel (1 Samuel 3), and when the ark was captured and set in Dagon's temple (1 Samuel 5) He supernaturally destroyed the statue. A plague of tumors were sent on those living in Ashdod and Gath  who had stolen the Ark (1 Samuel 5:9-12). God went before David's army and struck the Philistines army delivering them into David's hands (2 Samuel 5:23-25)

    The Book of Kings: Elisha supernaturally provided for a widow's financial need by multiplying the single pot of oil she had in the house to the extent that she had enough to sell and pay off her debts. In those days travelers were dependent upon the hospitality of the people in the land and Elisha was no exception.

    Naaman was healed of leprosy (2 Kings 5) by Elisha who lived from about 900 to 800 BC and the Assyrian army was destroyed by a single angel (2 Kings 19:35). The reversal of the forward movement of the shadow caused by the sun was an answer to Hezekiah's question as to whether he would be healed. (2 Kings 20)

    Daniel: And, of course the book of Daniel is not exactly short of some really mind blowing happenings.

Further evidence can be found in the book of Jeremiah (written during the exile), in which the prophet indicated that miracles took place right up to the time of writing

    who has set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and even to this day both in Israel and among mankind; and You have made a name for Yourself, as at this day. (Jeremiah 32:20 NASB)

In other words, although we do not know the frequency with which they occurred, according to Jeremiah miracles did not cease between the events in Egypt and the time he put quill to parchment. Jeremiah prophesied from about 627/626 - the 13th year of King Josiah's reign - to around 582 BC.

Besides which, arguing that just because miracles might have happened less often in some periods than in others in Biblical history, they must have completely ceased in post Biblical times is very bizarre logic.

Only One Reason For Miracles?
Cessationists commonly state that the primary purpose of signs, wonders and miracles in the Bible was to confirm that the messenger came from God. For example, when Moses expressed doubt that the Israelites would believe or listen to him, the Father gave him three different signs to prove He was God sent. See Exodus 4:1-9.

Miracles in the Old Testament: However, many miracles in the Old Testament had nothing to do with validating the messenger. For example

    Lot's wife turning into a pillar of salt, the miraculous answer to Hezekiah's prayer, or the granting of Hannah's prayer request had nothing to do with this kind of revelation.

    The miracles performed by Elisha for two different women was not for the purpose of  God "laying down the platform of prophetic revelation through His prophets" as John MacArthur says [03] The widow for whom Elisha multiplied the oil already knew he was a man of God (She was not only the wife of one of the one of the prophets (2 Kings 4:1) but according to the Targum, she was Obadiah's wife). Elisha's compassion for a woman who's children could have been taken away by the debt collector was the driving force behind the miracle of the oil.

    In the same chapter Elisha received warm hospitality from a Shunammite woman who knew that he was a man of God and invited him into the family house, making a space for him with a bed, a table, a chair and a lamp stand so that he would be comfortable (2 Kings 4:9-10). When he wished to repay her she refused but when his servant pointed out that this woman had no child, Elisha called her and prophesied that she would bear a son, which she did. However the son died and the woman asked for help from Elisha who returned with her and raised the child from the dead. (2 Kings 4)

Jesus' Miracles: While it is true that many if not most of Jesus' miracles were performed to authenticate His person and mission (He was doing things that the prophets predicted would be accomplished by the Messiah at the coming of the Kingdom) not all of them were. He also healed to acquaint people with both sides of God's nature - His power AND His compassion.

    The death of Lazarus: But when Jesus heard it, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby. (John 11:4)

    The man stricken with palsy: But when the multitudes saw it, they were afraid, and glorified God, who had given such authority unto men. (Matthew 9:8)

    He saw a great multitude and felt compassion for them, and healed their sick.(Matthew 14:14)

    The miracle of the loaves and fishes happened because of Jesus' compassion for the multitude, because they had stayed with Him for three days and had nothing to eat: Jesus did not want to sent them away fasting, lest they faint on the way. (Matthew 15:32).

The Apostle's Miracles: The signs and wonders worked through the apostles confirmed the truth of the gospel to multitudes of Jews and Gentiles. In the book of Acts almost every instance of miraculous signs was either accompanied by the preaching of the gospel or is implied in the immediate context (e.g., Acts. 2:14-39; chapter 3; 4:8-12; 5:12-16; 6:8-10; 8:5-7; 9:33-35, 40-42; 14:3; 19:11-20).

    However, the apostles also performed some miracles out of sheer compassion. Paul was speaking to company of believers when Eutychus fell out of the window and was raised from the dead by the apostle. (Acts 20:7-12)

    In any case, some of the books of the New Testament were written by men who never performed any miracles that we know of (Ex. Mark, Jude, Hebrews etc.) which does not mean that their books have any less authority. On the other hand several of disciples performed supernatural feats but did not write any of the NT books. Ex. Stephen (Acts 6:8) and Philip (Acts 8:6-7)

The Texts Used To 'Prove' The Gifts Were Temporary
Cessationists often refer to a few New Testament passages to 'prove' that the gifts were foundational and temporary. None actually do.

Hebrews 2: 1-4
is sometimes used to uphold the assertion that miracles took place only to confirm new revelation which is reading far more into the text than it says

    For this reason * we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. (NASB)

All the author was saying is that Lord's message was conveyed by those who had heard it directly from Him. The miracles that accompanied their preaching was God's way of bearing witness to these early evangelists. What the verse does not say is that this is the only reason that miracles ever happened. Nor does it give any indication as to whether or not miracles would continue.

Also note that God used "signs, wonders and various miracles" along with "gifts of the Holy Spirit" to confirm the Apostles. It doesn't specify any particular gifts therefore if miracles no longer happen, the other gifts must have also ceased,

    * The first three words refer back to chapter one in which the author showed the superiority of Christ over any other being, including the angels. Angels are particularly mentioned because although the Old Testament Law was given by the Father, it was believed to have been mediated by angels (See Acts 7:53 and Galatians 3:19). In the New Testament, revelation came through the Son of God Himself who was vastly superior to the angels.

1 Corinthians 13:8-12 - When The "Perfect" Comes
The book of I Corinthians was written to a rather unruly and disorderly church. However, Paul did not prohibit the use of the gifts but gave instructions for using them in a orderly fashion (Chapter 12). He explained that although each person had a different gift, they were all given for the common good and played an important role in the functioning of the body of Christ if used as intended.

In chapter 13 Paul went on to say the gifts such as prophecy, tongues and knowledge will be done away with when "the perfect comes"

    (8) Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. (9) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; (10) but when the perfect (Gk. teleios) comes, the partial will be done away. (11) When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. (12) For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.

Cessationists often maintain that "perfect" refers to the completion of the canon. In other words, now that the Bible is 'complete' or 'perfect', we have no need of the 'partial' or the supernatural gifts. However, the Greek word teleios is derived from telos which in several New Testament passages refers to Christ and/or His second Coming in

    who will also confirm you to the end (Gk. telos), blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (1 Corinthians 1:8 NASB)

    then comes the end (Gk. telos), when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. (1 Corinthians 15:24 NASB)

    'He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end (Gk. telos), to Him I will give authority over the nations; (Revelation 2:26 NASB)

    Then He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Gk. telos). I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. (Revelation 21:6 NASB)

    "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end (Gk. telos)." (Revelation 22:13 NASB)

In other words, the imperfect and partial shall be done away with at the second advent of Christ.

Nonetheless, the only way to be be sure we have an accurate understanding of what Paul meant is by letting Scripture interpret Scripture. There are two points we need to examine more carefully. The apostle said two things will happen when "the perfect" comes - a) We shall see face to face and b) we shall know fully as we have been known,

a) Face to Face:
The first half of verse 12 says “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face”

The phrase "face to face" is used quite often in both the Old and New Testaments - always in regard to a personal encounter with another human or God Himself. (Note: the Greek stoma pros stoma literally means 'mouth to mouth' but has been translated 'face to face' in some versions because they both mean exactly the same thing).

    Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ-- I who am meek when face to face (Gk. prosopon  pros prosopon) with you, but bold toward you when absent! (2 Corinthians 10:1 NASB. The KJV uses the word "presence")

    Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak mouth to mouth (Gk. stoma pros stoma), so that your joy may be made full. (2 John 1:12)

    but I hope to see you shortly, and we will speak mouth to mouth (Gk. stoma pros stoma), Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends by name. (3 John 1:14)

Therefore when Paul says "When the perfect comes...then we shall see face to face", it is logical to infer that He is speaking about a personal encounter with Christ when He returns.

b) Know Fully:
The second half of verse 12 reads..

    now I know (Gk. ginósko) in part, but then I shall know (Gk. ginósko) fully just as I also have been fully known (Gk. epiginóskó)

The following verses use exactly the same Greek word when speaking of salvation as knowing or being known by God. (All Emphasis Added)

    "My sheep hear My voice, and I know (Greek ginósko) them, and they follow Me;  (John 10:27 NASB)

    "This is eternal life, that they may know (Gk. ginoskosin) You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3 NASB)

    "I am the good shepherd, and I know (Gk. ginósko) My own and My own know (Greek ginósko) Me (John 10:14 NASB). Literal translation - "I am known (Gk.ginoskousi) by Mine"

    By this we know that we have come to know (Gk. ginoskosin) Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; (1 John 2:3-4 NASB)

The unbeliever is not known by Jesus

    "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew (Gk. ginósko) you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.' (Matthew 7:21-23 NASB)

Therefore when Paul says "When the perfect comes - then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known", it is logical to infer that He is speaking in terms of the 'completeness' of salvation that will take place when Jesus returns and we receive our resurrection bodies. Childish thoughts and reasoning will give way to completeness or maturity.

See Summary of Events At The The Sounding Of The Seventh Trumpet

We will no longer see Christ through the Word but "face to face". As the apostle John said.. "we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as He is".

There is little doubt that 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 says the spiritual gifts will cease when Jesus returns.

Ephesians 2:20... Have Apostles And Prophets Ceased To Exist?
Cessationists believe that since Ephesians 2:20. describes "apostles and prophets" as the foundation that the church was built on, both ceased to exist once the church was established because foundations need not be laid more than once.

    (19) So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, (20) having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, (21) in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, (Ephesians 2:19-21 NASB)

Richard B. Gaffin, a contributing author to the book Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? states that Ephesians 2:11-21 pictures the church as (Emphasis Added)

    "the construction project of God, the master architect-builder, underway in the period between the ascension and return of Christ (cf. 1:20-22; 4:8-10,13). In this church-house the apostles and prophets are the foundation, along with Christ as the 'cornerstone' ( v. 20). In any construction project (ancient or modern), the foundation comes at the beginning and does not have to be re laid repeatedly (at least if the builder knows what he's doing!). In terms of this dynamic model for the church, the apostles and prophets belong to the period of the foundation. In other words, by the divine architect's design, the presence of apostles and prophets in the history of the church is temporary" [04].

The underlined portion of the quote indicates that the author is speaking of the first century apostles and prophets who laid the foundation of the church". However a little digging will show Paul meant otherwise.

The "Apostles"
As we all know, the New Testament Apostles did far more than just preach. They represented God on earth with considerable authority and power. They bore on their backs the entire weight of the mission of the Gospel leading innumerable people, both Jew and Gentile, back to God. They established the fledgling church wherever they went, instructed them in God's law and appointed elders to feed and shepherd the flock. (See Footnote I for the connection between the words 'apostle' and 'missionary')

Additionally, they completed the second half of the Canon with no books added after John finished writing Revelation. In doing so they defined doctrine and provided guidelines that not only steered the church of their day, but has since provided a lamp to the feet of those that actually read and follow what they had to say. And finally, it was these men that told us exactly not only what to expect at the end of the age but described the circumstance that will surround the second advent of the Messiah.

The "Prophets"
As said on Bible.org

    The role of Biblical prophets was much broader in scope than just predicting the future. In fact, the Old Testament prophets often did more forth-telling than foretelling. In other words, although they often foretold the future they also had the authority to speak on God's behalf. They revealed the nature and attributes of God, made His laws known, warned men of Divine judgment upon sin, called people back to obedience and foretold the coming of the Messiah. They also recorded both the history of God's dealings with men and the Word of God in the Holy Scriptures" [05]

In other words ... what the Apostles did under the New Covenant, the Prophets had already done under the Old. Both endeavored to steer the nation of Israel in the right direction with the Apostles adding believing Gentiles to the flock. The Prophets of the Old Testament prophesied the first advent of the Messiah - the Apostles the second. They were partners, instrumental in carrying out two phases of God's plan of salvation.

Additionally, the words and teachings of the prophets of old were given considerable weight and referred to over and over again in the New Testament. For example,

    "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant— As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old (Luke 1:68-70 NASB)

    "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. (Luke 16:16 NASB)

    And He said to them, "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! "Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?" Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. (Luke 24:25-27 NASB)

    that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. (2 Peter 3:2 NASB)

    When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening.  (Acts 28:23 NASB)

So when Paul said the foundation of the church was laid on the shoulders of the Apostles and Prophets, there is no question that he was speaking of the Old Testament Prophets and the New Testament Apostles

But what about those who prophesied in the New Testament?

The Office of a Prophet Vs. The Gift Of Prophecy
There is no question that many of the functions of the old time prophets are done for all time - God's nature has been revealed, His laws noted for posterity, and the first advent of the Messiah is well in the past.

But that does not mean that prophecy is now defunct.

    But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying. (1 Corinthians 14:3-5 NASB) Also see 14:26

The above verse makes it plain that the gift of prophecy was a very important gift of the Spirit - one that would commonly be manifest when believers came together. Potentially, each believer would contribute something that strengthened and built up the entire body so as to glorify God.

However, 'the office of the Prophet' and the "one who prophesies" were two distinct functions.

There is no evidence that those with the gift of prophecy occupied any positions of authority in the church and none of their prophecies became part of the canon. Neither are there any instances of anyone in the New Testament using the gift of prophecy to rebuke and reprimand as the Old Testament Prophets and the New Testament Apostles did. Rather the gift was to console, strengthen and edify or 'build up' morally or spiritually. It was revelation relevant only to the person or persons to whom it was directed and communicated specific information or instruction needed at that moment.

This had to be especially vital in those unstable days - possibly why Paul told the Corinthians to "desire earnestly to prophesy" (14:39). As said by an Assemblies of God position paper...

    Prophets in the New Testament are never described as holding a recognized office or position as in the case of pastors and evangelists. They spoke prophetically to the Body for edification and admonition. When they prophesied under the inspiration of the Spirit, their ministry was noted, but they were not ordained to hold a position, title, or office. They could indeed have been called prophets without designating them as filling an office. [06]

Agabus' prophecy about Paul's imprisonment in Acts 21:10-11 was relevant only to Paul himself. Agabus also foretold a coming famine (Acts 11:28-30) which the congregation took seriously and begin preparations for the relief of the brethren living in Judea where the famine was particularly severe. See Footnote II

So there is absolutely no reason that those who have a genuine gift of prophecy, cannot continue to function into the present time towards the building up of believers - this until the second advent of our Lord.

A Word Of Wisdom
from Gregory Koukl of 'Stand To Reason Ministries'. (Excerpt from Do Not Despise Prophecy, But...)

    …. when a prophecy is given, if we are to test prophecies, what that means is, at least minimally, that you have got to write the prophecy down and pray about it a little bit. How many churches do you know that give prophecies regularly that have a log of the prophetic words uttered in their services--or the alleged prophetic words--so that they can pray about them and test them to see if they are from God, or if it is prophetic in a futuristic sense, to wait and see if it actually comes true? I have never heard of a single church that did that. I wonder why they don't do it ...

    ... I think we should also put the name of the person who gave the prophecy in parenthesis at the end of the prophecy. Put down their address and phone number, too. Most people don't even know whether a prophecy is fulfilled because they don't write it down; they just forget about it next week because it doesn't matter what God says in a congregation from week to week the way most people treat prophecy. It doesn't really matter. We just say, Hallelujah. Praise the Lord. Glory. Then everybody forgets about it. If we wrote it down we wouldn't forget about it, and six months later we would find out that it was bogus. [07]

Two Examples of Genuine Modern Day Prophets
I have met not one, but two people who conveyed message directly from the Father. They were spokes persons of the Lord although neither of them called or even considered themselves a 'prophet'. Both their messages were very specific to the situation I found myself in. Both were delivered with quiet confidence. Both were preceded by the statement ... "The Lord said to tell you". And both incidents happened in a city far away from home where neither they nor almost anyone else knew me.

The first man certainly had never seen me before, therefore what he said to me was something he could not have possibly have known through any human agency. While away from home, staying with family I had heard of an inter denominational prayer meeting and the urge to attend was overwhelming. We arrived a few minutes late so the meeting was already in progress thus did not have any interaction with any one. However, after the meeting a youngish man walked up to me and said "The Lord said to tell you that your faith is being refined and tested with fire". At that time I was very far from home in a very difficult situation - The Lord had led me to where I was but I felt like I had been banished from home. What made it worse was that although my young daughter was with me my twelve year old son was living with his grandmother and I hated being away from him.

But after this message from the Father I at least had the comfort of knowing that there was a reason this was happening. Incidentally three months later I felt 'released' free to return home and only then realized what it was all about - a deeply personal story.

The second incident (in the same city) came about through the young pastor of the church I attended for a few weeks. It was the last time we got together before I returned home. In this case he told me what was going to happen (or rather what the Lord was going to do). Neither of us really understood what the Lord meant and it even occurred to me that the pastor must have been mistaken because circumstances were pointing in exactly the opposite direction. I soon found out differently.

An Awesome Gift and Responsibility
There is however one important aspect common to both those that filled the office of the Prophet and those that are given the 'gift of prophecy'. Whether the person was foretelling the first or second advent of Christ, the rise of the Babylonians, the antichrist, or simply delivering a message designed to edify believers, both Prophet and prophet are in direct contact with God in a way that most others are not. A truly miraculous gift.

Evidence For Sporadic Continuance of The Gifts
The unscriptural beliefs and often flamboyant claims of many Charismatics and tele-evangelists are not only an embarrassment to the church, but have already done untold harm to the people of God. This leads me to wonder whether the effort to avoid being linked with this side of contemporary Christendom has led to a less than objective reading of the Scriptures. Reformed Presbyterian pastor Brian Schwertley writes,

    that as heresy and superstition increased in the Papal church, so did the account of "miracles.” These miracles were obviously fraudulent, because they were associated with gross heresy, idolatry and superstition (e.g., being sprinkled with Mary's breast milk, or touching a piece of the "cross,” or placing the Eucharist on a person's forehead). The Reformation with its solid biblical theology, discarded all such nonsense and pointed people back to the pure, infallible, sufficient Word of God. [08]

A Modern Day Miracle
Not everyone who has experienced a miracle has placed a Eucharist on their forehead or touched a piece of the 'actual cross.

    I certainly hadn't when at the age of three or four my daughter came down with back to back attacks of malaria. After many days on the malaria drugs the doctors were afraid that she would not be able to endure another round of either the malaria nor the medication. they were debating what to do but I suspect they had given up and she just lay there like a limp rag neither eating nor speaking with the horribly high fever wracking her little body every second day.

    We moved her to my mothers flat because mine was too noisy thanks to an adjoining kindergarten. The next day I had something that I needed to do and had to leave the little one with my mother and the woman who had helped look after her from the time she was six weeks old. They later told me what had happened. In desperation my mother went to her knees at the foot of the bed and asked the Lord to do something.

He did.

    They next thing the two woman knew was the little one had raised herself up, slid off the bed, and staggered a few steps like a little drunk and declared that she was hungry. When asked what she wanted she said "eggy". She never looked back and in spite of no more medication she slowly and steadily gained back her strength. Today she is a beautiful and healthy young woman.

While the reformation rightly distanced itself from the heresy and rank superstition of the Catholic church, they threw the baby out with the bath water in their effort to 'discard all such nonsense'. It is a crying shame that not more of them have personally experienced the power and/or kindness of the Father - this perhaps because they believe it to be “nonsense“ and He doesn't honor disbelief..

In any case, the leaders of the reformation did not necessarily point "people back to the pure, infallible, sufficient Word of God". They introduced a whole new set of false beliefs into the church that have continued to this day. See Footnote III

Besides which, for someone to state that they have made a historical study of miracles and conclude that they ceased after the death of the apostles is about as absurd as the atheist claiming there is no God. For the atheist to make such a claim, they would have had to "exhaustively searched every part of every universe and dimension with an infallibly accurate method of detecting every non-physical entity that could possibly exist". Similarly people who claim that miracles have ceased entirely could not possibly have any way of hearing about every single miracle that might have taken place over the centuries in churches and homes around the world.

Although I do not know much about Sam Storms what he says here is indisputable.

    We simply don't know what was happening in the thousands upon thousands of churches and home meetings of Christians in centuries past. I cannot say with confidence that believers regularly prayed for the sick and saw them healed any more than you can say they didn't. You cannot say they never prophesied to the comfort, exhortation, and consolation (1 Cor. 14:3) of the church any more than I can say they did. Neither of us can say with any confidence whether countless thousands of Christians throughout the inhabited earth prayed in tongues in their private devotions. That is hardly the sort of things for which we could expect extensive documentation. We must remember that this was long before the printing press or the advantages of mass media. The absence of documented evidence for spiritual gifts in a time when documented evidence for most of church life was, at best, sparse is hardly good grounds for concluding that such gifts did not exist. [09] 

In fact, the writings of more than one of the early Christian theologians, teachers, and/or bishops indicate that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were alive in the early church. Although I am extremely wary of the so called "church fathers" whose teachings were often not only anti-Scriptural but whose practices indicated the genesis of the Catholic church, to say nothing of traces of Greek philosophy however, the quotes in Footnote IV only refer to what was happening at the time.

Conclusion... Lets Not Throw The Baby Out With The Bath Water
Much of the charismatic movement is anti-intellectual, with people literally being told not to think or study but to simply feel and experience. They believe that God supernaturally guides them through their lives and that the only part of His Word that they actually need is the occasional verse - regardless of whether it is in context or not. Using discernment or even comparing what is being said and taught with the Scriptures is seen as 'quenching the Holy Spirit' and 'putting God in a box'. 

They have completely forgotten that the gifts of the Spirit are to build up and encourage the church, not to make a show of ecstatic experiences, benefit anyone financially, or prove one person is more spiritual than another.

On the other hand, let us not attempt to replace the fluff that all too commonly emanates from modern pulpits with doctrine that, equally, finds no place in the Scriptures. Although it is true that Charismatic's often give a higher priority to experience over knowledge, orthodox Christians have all too often done exactly the opposite giving a higher priority to knowledge over relationship. One is reminded of Jesus' words to the scribes and Pharisees, when He told them that they enter not into the kingdom of Heaven themselves and neither allow anyone else to enter. (Matthew 23:13). Like the Sadducees of old, they know not the Scriptures, nor the power of God (Matthew 22:29).

It would also be foolish to insist that every report of the manifestation of a gift is spurious or the fruit of demonic activity. See Two Examples of Genuine Modern Day Prophets above.

A God who works only through the structures set in place by the early church and no longer directly intervenes in our affairs, is a far cry from the Biblical image of a living God who not only upholds the world day by day through his sovereign power, but who also listens to the prayers of his people and works all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). With the establishment of the early church, God the Father and God the Son did not go into temporary retirement, waiting for the time for the Son to come back to earth.

We are not 'thinking machines' but people created with emotions and feelings who cannot always (or even very often) separate our heads from our hearts. The facts alone can not satisfy the longings of the human psyche, and it sometimes takes more than the written word to handle a crisis or despair. On the other hand, emotions alone can be very deceptive and can not be allowed to control what we believe.

Emotion is neither to be avoided nor feared provided it is coupled with Biblical knowledge and a good dose of common sense. 

But, that is what is so tragically missing.

Continue On To Part II - Although there is no question that genuine prophets exist today and genuine miracles do take place, false prophets and apostles are running rampant in the modern church. Many have been  led astray because occult techniques and manifestations are being erroneously assumed to be one of the gifts of the Spirit. Also sadly, there be a 'down-side' to even genuine miracles and physical healing.  HERE

Foot Note I:
The word missionary comes from the word apostle. When the New Testament was translated from Greek into Latin, the Greek word apostolos (sent on a mission) was rendered as missio - the base of the word missionary. Certainly most missionaries are sent by their churches or other organizations. So, if the basis for judgment is a simple word study, then missionaries are apostles.

However, there is a very important distinction - apostles in the modern world exist in the form of those that take to Gospel to unreached people and establish churches where none existed. However, Apostles in the mold of the New Testament ones simply can not exist, because their work has already been done. {PLACE IN TEXT}

Footnote II 

    Note: Agabus apparently did not say exactly when the famine would occur. But Luke, writing many years after the event, inserts the parenthetical statement that, "This happened during the reign of Claudius" (Acts 11:28). Emperor Claudius rules from A.D. 41-54.

    In speaking of a severe famine that will spread over the entire "Roman world,” Luke uses the Greek word oikoumene. It literally means the " inhabited world," and is commonly used to refer to the Roman Empire, in Latin the orbis terrarum. We have no record of a single famine ravaging the whole empire in the time of Claudius. However, there is good supporting evidence from secular historians that extensive famines did occur throughout his reign. Agabus may mean that a series of famines in various parts of the empire would strike at different times. Taken together, the Roman Empire as a whole suffers from famine.

    A number of Roman historians refer to various crop failures and famine conditions during the reign of Claudius. (Suetonius, Life of Claudius 18.2; Tacitus, Annals 12.43; Dio Cassius, History of Rome 60.11; Orosious, History 7.6.17.) Josephus writes of a severe famine that hits Judea in what is thought to be about A.D. 45-47. (Antiquities 20:49-53, 101; 3:320-321.)

    F.F. Bruce says, "We know from other sources that Claudius's principate was marked by a succession of bad harvests and consequent scarcity in various parts of the empire — in Rome, Greece, and Egypt as well as in Judaea.” [230.] This includes famine conditions in Rome itself at the beginning of Claudius’ rule, in Egypt during his fifth year, throughout Greece in his eighth or ninth year, and in Rome again between his ninth and eleventh year. Suetonius speaks of "a series of droughts" that cause "a scarcity of grain" that hits Rome especially hard. (Claudius 18.2.) [10] {PLACE IN TEXT}

Footnote III - Calvinism

    John Calvin: A 16th century influential French theologian who tried to persuade people that two diametrically opposing and completely contradictory points view were both Gospel truth. And guess what? He succeeded to quite a large extent. Meet John Calvin

    Augustine: I cannot fathom  how someone who was so deeply and obviously Catholic in his beliefs and even considered a Catholic saint, has become such as icon in the Protestant Church. His writings were the actual source of most of what is known as Calvinism today - his faulty doctrine swallowed hook, line and sinker by Calvin and, in turn, by us. See Sins of Augustine

And of course there is the almost hero worship (possibly not the right choice of words, but like the ancient Israelites we do so love and clamor for a king) of ....

    Martin Luther: Not many devotees seem to be aware that his idea of grace and faith alone differed from ours, and that several Catholic doctrines remained firmly entrenched in his belief system. And that is nt the worst of it. He expressed very antagonistic, virulent and hateful views towards the Jews stating that they "were a "base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law, must be accounted as filth... "". He advised that "their synagogues be set on fire, and their homes that perpetrate the same doctrines, "be broken down and destroyed".

    He called the Anabaptists not men possessed by demons, but demons themselves possessed by worse demons, took the side of the nobles in The Peasants War in which anywhere between 60,000 and 100,00 peasants were mercilessly slaughtered. He ignored the commandment about making idols or likenesses of anything on earth and not worshipping or serving them, upheld infant baptism, and never denied the existence of purgatory.

    If he were alive today we would consider him a very detestable man. See Martin Luther {PLACE IN TEXT}

Foot Note IV - Early Verification
The early Church did not subscribe to the idea that the supernatural or 'miraculous' gifts of the Spirit ceased after the death of John. Although, their theology was often skewed (Especially Origen who was known for introducing Greek philosophy into Christianity which eventually resulted the doctrine of the trinity) several of the early Christian theologians, teachers and/or bishops indicate that the gifts of the Holy Spirit continued well into the late 2nd century, not that they necessarily had these gifts themselves. A few of the many examples

Justin Martyr: (103–165 AD.) was an early Christian apologist

    "For the prophetical gifts remain with us, even to the present time. And hence you ought to understand that [the gifts] formerly among your nation have been transferred to us. [11]

    Others, again (the Montanists), that they may set at nought the gift of the Spirit, which in the latter times has been, by the good pleasure of the Father, poured out upon the human race, do not admit that aspect [of the evangelical dispensation] presented by John's Gospel, in which the Lord promised that He would send the Paraclete; etc. but set aside at once both the Gospel and the prophetic Spirit. Wretched men indeed! who wish to be pseudo-prophets, forsooth, but who set aside the gift of prophecy from the Church; acting like those (the Encratitæ) who, on account of such as come in hypocrisy, hold themselves aloof from the communion of the brethren. We must conclude, moreover, that these men (the Montanists) can not admit the Apostle Paul either. For, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, he speaks expressly of prophetical gifts, and recognizes men and women prophesying in the Church. [12]

Irenaeus.. Bishop of Lyons: (2nd century AD – c. 202) studied under bishop Polycarp, who in turn had been a disciple of Apostle John.

    In like manner we do also hear many brethren in the Church, who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men, and declare the mysteries of God, [13]

    those who are in truth His disciples, receiving grace from Him, do in His name perform [miracles], so as to promote the welfare of other men, according to the gift which each one has received from Him. For some do certainly and truly drive out devils, so that those who have thus been cleansed from evil spirits frequently both believe [in Christ], and join themselves to the Church. Others have foreknowledge of things to come: they see visions, and utter prophetic expressions. Others still, heal the sick by laying their hands upon them, and they are made whole. Yea, moreover, as I have said, the dead even have been raised up, and remained among us for many years. And what shall I more say? It is not possible to name the number of the gifts which the Church, [scattered] throughout the whole world, has received from God, in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and which she exerts day by day for the benefit of the Gentiles, neither practising deception upon any, nor taking any reward from them [on account of such miraculous interpositions]. For as she has received freely from God, freely also does she minister [to others]. [14]

Tertullian: (160–220 AD.),

    The clerk of one of them who was liable to be thrown upon the ground by an evil spirit, was set free from his affliction; as was also the relative of another, and the little boy of a third. How many men of rank (to say nothing of common people) have been delivered from devils, and healed of diseases! [15]

Origen of Alexandria: (185-254 A.D.):

    Traces of that Holy Spirit who appeared in the form of a dove are still preserved among Christians. They charm demons away and perform many cures and perceive certain things about the future according to the will of the Logos.” [16]

    And the name of Jesus can still remove distractions from the minds of men, and expel demons, and also take away diseases; and produce a marvelous meekness of spirit and complete change of character, and a humanity, and goodness, and gentleness in those individuals who do not feign themselves to be Christians for the sake of subsistence or the supply of any mortal wants, but who have honestly accepted the doctrine concerning God and Christ, and the judgment to come. [17] {PLACE IN TEXT}

End Notes
[01] John MacArthur. The Temporary Sign Gifts -- Miracles. http://www.biblebb.com/files/mac/sg1856.htm

[02] Miracles Joshua 10:1-15. https://www.faithtacoma.org/joshua/2014-03-09-am

[03] John MacArthur.The Temporary Sign Gifts, Part 1. http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/1856

[04] Richard B. Gaffin. Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? Four Views, Zondervan (October 10, 1996) Pgs. 42-43

[05] Matthew Finlay. What Is A Prophet? Bible.org, http://bible.org/seriespage/chapter-three-what-prophet

[06] Assemblies of God Position Paper. Prophets and Personal Prophecies.

[07] Gregory Koukl. Do Not Despise Prophecy, But... Stand To Reason Ministries. http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5216

[08] Brian Schwertley. Spiritual Gifts. Reformed online library.

[09] Sam Storms. Gifts in Church History. Enjoying God Ministries. http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/gifts-in-church-history/

[10] Paul Kroll, Studies in the Book of Acts.  Grace Communion Seminary. https://learn.gcs.edu/mod/book/view.php?id=4475&chapterid=90

[11] Justin Martyr,  Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter LXXXII  http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.viii.iv.lxxxii.html

[12] Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho. Chapter XI.

[13] Irenaeus. Against Heresies, Book 5. Chapter 6:1. http://www.textexcavation.com/irenaeusah5.html#chapter6

[14] Irenaeus. Against Heresies, Book 2. Chapter 32:4. http://www.textexcavation.com/irenaeusah2.html#chapter32

[15] Tertullian. To Scapula (Proconsul of Carthage), Ch. 4, https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0305.htm

[16] Origen Against Celsus, Book I Chapter XLVII

[17] Origen Against Celsus. Book I. Chapter LXVII.


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