Old Doxoblogy

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Who Is Speaking In Prophecy?

This seems like a simple question, but for some it is not. The contention from cessationists is that prophecy must always be infallible because prophecy claims to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. But why do they impose this meaning on prophecy?
If we define prophecy as in the last post, then it is a gift comparable to, evangelist, preacher, or teacher. Are these considered to be infallible? No. Are they considered to be empowered by the Holy Spirit? Yes. So let's remove the idea of infallibilty from the discussion and answer the question at hand. Who speaks in prophecy? The prophet. He speaks on the behalf of God. He gives the message that has been given to him by God.
Is this prophecy separate from Scripture? No. Just as preaching and teaching need to be examined inthe light of Scripture prophecy is to be examined by Scripture. If there is anything contained in the prophecy that does not align with Scripture, throw it away. Scripture is always the final authority.
But it is also God who is speaking in prophecy. And He is speaking in a way that is different than in normal preaching. He speaks to us concerning our sins. Now we know that in the Bible there is not an exhaustive list of does and don'ts. But in Scripture are the principles that teach us right from wrong, even when a specific sin is not mentioned. A quick illustration of this is drugs. Drugs are not mentioned in Scripture, but we know that drugs are wrong. How do we know? Because we have revealed for us in Scripture that our bodies are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, therefore we should not give our bodies drugs that will destroy the body. This is an over-simplification I'm sure, but the idea is that this is revealed to us by the Spirit, not separate from Scripture, but together with Scripture. The letters do not spell those words out, but the Spirit shows us our sin through the words that are written.
Can these intimations be fallible? Yes. Many times it is not the Spirit who speaks something, but it comes from our own imaginations. The burden of the prophet in these matters is on comparing what he would say with Scripture before he says it.
Then there are another group of prophecies that come spontaneously upon the prophet. these are often revealed through meditation on the Word. These are words that many times the prophet is not sure that are needed, but is impressed by the Spirit to speak them anyway. Read Phil Johnson's post. Phil is a cessationist, as is Spurgeon, but those quotes illustrate what I would call prophecy.
Can prophets tell the future? This is the question that comes to mind first when we pseak of prophecy, yet it is not the prophet's primary focus. I would answer the question, yes. It is possible for the Holy Spirit to reveal the future to a prophet. Whether or not this happens often is another question. I would say that it is very rare that the future is revealed through a prophet. But it has happened I believe. One notable prophecy was spoken by John Huss as he was about to be burned at the stake.
John Huss died a martyr's death for preaching the Gospel. At some point inthe proceedings, before he was burned, he said, "You are now going to burn a goose, but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast nor boil."
John Piper records for us in the introduction to The Legacy Of Sovereign Joy, these words of Martin Luther,
"John Hus prophesied of me when he wrote from his prison in Bohemia: They will now roast a goose (for Hus means goose), but after a hundred years they will hear a swan sing: him they will have to tolerate. And so it shall continue if it please God." Piper, John. The Legacy Of Sovereign Joy, (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2000) 10-11.

Prophecy is not contrary to Scripture. It does not open a prospect for further revelation. Let's not balk at this gift that God has given the church.


Bhedr said...

Hey brother some good points here. You know what William Tyndayle prayed when he burned at the Stake for translating the Bible? "Oh Lord Open the King of Englands eyes!" Of course we know that the KJV would come and it would mirror most of the Tyndale translation. it was said to be 80% anyway. Most english translations have followed the similar pattern. It is as if the Spirit of Jesus was crying out that day as he once did on the cross. No brother I am not a cessationist. The Holy Spirit is alive and still at work today.

J. Wendell said...

Jeremy, let me say this respectfully: that was a well written discourse, but where is your chapter and verse? Chapter and verse...

One of the primary laws of a prophet is that his words must come through to fruition 100% of the time. (Deuteronomy 18:20-22) If they don't, the prophecy should be thrown out and the prophet with it.

I don't think John Huss made the claim that his words were prophecy, nor did he claim to be a prophet that I am aware of. If Martin Luther claims the words were about him, that doesn't make it so. ;-)

How does a person giving a new message from God today not "open a prospect for further revelation"?

Was John's Revelation miss-named too? BTW, does Rev. 22:18-19, written by the last living and recording Apostle, carry any more wieght than the "Book of Mormon"?

But I agree with bhedr, the holy spirit is alive and well today.

If I'm challenging you, know that I do it in brotherly love.

Cheerfully in Christ,
brother John

Joe said...

"If there is anything contained in the prophecy that does not align with Scripture, throw it away. Scripture is always the final authority."

How very true!

Those "prophets" with extra-Biblical "revelations" frighten me more than almost anything else.

Jeremy Weaver said...

J Wendell,
Deuteronomy 18:20-22 do not apply in this instance since there is a fundamental difference between Old Testament prophets and New Testament prophets.
the equivalent of an Old Testament prophet in the New Testament is an Apostle. And the Apostles themselves were fallible. Inspiration and infallibility takes place only in the writings of the Apostles.
The verse I cited in the comment on the last post from Acts suggests that prophets were around even when the Apostles were not present. In my opinion, the prophets received revelation from the Holy Spirit about what would happen to Paul in Jerusalem, but they misinterpreted it. This shows the gift of prophecy being reliable, yet fallible because humans are fallible.

Whether or not Hus claimed to be a prophet is irrelevant. We have to look at the words he used though. And the words he used definitely referred to future events.

It doesn't open the prospect for further revelation in the since that the prophet's main duty is to proclaim God's Words. In the Bible is God's authoritative revelation by which He speaks today, the prophet's main duty then is interpretation and application of those Words of God.
Any prophecy that is not an interpretation and application of those Words are also subject to the authority of Scripture.

Concerning the Book of Mormon, false prophets do not disprove the fact of true prophets. It confirms their existence. If there is a falsehood, then there is also the opposite of that falsehood, truth.

Caontinue challenging me, brother. I want to get to the bottom of this, which is why I have posted these articles. If I am wrong, show me. If the gifts have ceased, show me by Scripture and not by Joseph Smith, David Koresh, etc.

candyinsierras said...

I don't agree that the prophets misrepresented the word of prophecy concerning Paul going to Jerusalem. He was compelled by the Holy Spirit to go, and they were telling him he would suffer many difficulties. They just personally didn't want him to go out of care and concern for Paul. He went anyways.

Bobby Grow said...

Jeremy said of Huss,

"One notable prophecy was spoken by John Huss as he was about to be burned at the stake.
John Huss died a martyr's death for preaching the Gospel. At some point inthe proceedings, before he was burned, he said, "You are now going to burn a goose, but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast nor boil."

I don't agree Jeremy, this is not prophecy (foretelling), this, if anything, would be a prediction based upon Huss' confidence in his own belief that what he had "stumbled" onto (the truth of the gospel/contra Roman Catholic soteriology)was a fundamental flaw in the teaching of the church at his time in history. For this to be a prophecy (in the foretelling sense) he should have had Luther's name and said thus saith the Lord (as Isaiah did with Cyrus for example, see Is 44; 45).

Jeremy said:

"In my opinion, the prophets received revelation from the Holy Spirit about what would happen to Paul in Jerusalem, but they misinterpreted it. This shows the gift of prophecy being reliable, yet fallible because humans are fallible.

You mean in Wayne Grudem's opinion, sense your view is a direct affirmation of his line of reasoning surrounding the prophecy in Acts (21:11), this passage says:

10. While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11. And coming to us, he took Paul's beld and bound his own feet and hands and said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit, 'This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the an who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'

Fulfillment of above Prophecy

Acts 21:27 says:

27. When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, seeing him (Paul)in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, . . .

Acts 21:33 shows the exchange from the binding of the Jews to the Gentile soldiers,exactly as Agabus' prophecy stated; note:

33.The the tribune came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. He inquired who he was and what he had done.

Exact correspondence between the prophecy made by Agabus and fulfillment of the events that indeed took place. I'm not sure how Grudem or Jeremy can consistently make the case that the prophecy in Acts was misinterpreted (although I've seen Grudem's argument/very unconvincing and contrived).

Jeremy Weaver said...

In verse 4 of the same chapter Paul is warned against going to Jerusalem because of what would happen there. The prophet warned against it, but the Holy Spirit may or may not have warned against it. It is my (and Grudem's evidently) opinion that the Holy Spirit only revealed what would happen to Paul in Jerusalem, which prophecy came true. The prophet misinterpreted in this instance by warning Paul against going to Jerusalem, but the prophecy was only that Paul would be taken captive.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Thanks for visiting,candyinsierras.

Bhedr said...


This was the risk Jonah faced as well as credibility knowing that God might relent and His prophecy not come to pass. But hey lets be clear here. We are not talking new revelation of Scripture here. We are talking of the Holy Spirits work and gifts. Consider much of Tozers writings and warnings that have now come to pass. Honestly sometimes you wonder if Tozer was writing. in much the same way I wonder about Spurgeon. What Spurgeon warned of in the downgrade was prophetic as well. The discerning edge and warnings of the Holy Spirit as well as His many other gifts must not as Jeremy said, Be balked at. Also I agree with him, the burden of proof is really on you in denying what Paul wrote of in Corinthians. Are you ready to deny that Scripture?


Bobby Grow said...

Jeremy thanks for the clarification--I was too hasty in my response here. You also don't align with Grudem's argument, he tries to show discrepency between Agabus' prophecy and what actually took place with Paul and the Jews.

My bad.

I still disagree with you on the Huss' "prophetic utterance" though. This seems suspect to me because we don't hear from Huss'utterance that he is speaking for the Lord at this point--although I must admit it is an amazing impression to say the least.

J. Wendell said...

brother Brian,
If I warn my children that if they continue to make noise past 9 o'clock consequences will fallow, am I a prophet when it comes to fruitarian? If they quiet down they are safe and my "prophecy" stands. If they don't quiet down and are punished my "prophesy" stands, if that is "prophecy". :)

Bobby Grow said...

Actually Brain, God already had made a condition for the supposed dilemma that you find in Jonah--see Jer. 18:8; this resolves any problem with the Jonah passage.

Bhedr said...

Folks I never said the passage was problematic. I said Jonah stood at risk as he was the mouthpiece of this prophecy. What did ^Yisrael think after Jonah's plight? He wanted to die. Why? Was it all just bitterness or did he understand that he might be a laughing stock to Israel and a point of jest. It did eventually come to pass though and Ninevah was destroyed years later. Its all in the perception of one. or in the perception of One!

Jonah was merely an instrument. God is not concerned with our credibility as so many think. All we are is conduit through which the Holy Spirit goads others to truth and Himself. He can lift or abase according to His purpose. Even the false prophet is His instrument-Duet 13.

The question we must ask ourselves is, "Does this draw me closer to truth or away from it?"

The gifts of the Holy Spirit will draw us closer to Him and His truth as Jonah's prophecy did. The Holy Spirit is not mute but is actively pursuing the revelation of Yeshua while craving a blameless bride. He has to move in order to complete this task. I don't understand why Calvanists are cessy's. it would seem to me that they would not be more than any other believer type as they presumably believe everything is a result of the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit. Do they truly believe this? I do!