08 February 2006

It came up on my blog

by Frank Turk


Because I won't let the great continualist drama die, someone asked me on my blog why, if my view is correct, God doesn't spend all day talking to people the way Satan does with his supernatural army via ESP and the supernatural.

I think it's a great question which deserves some TeamPyro time.

One of the premises of this blog is the passage in Jeremiah 23 where God is, well, telling it like it is:

28Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the LORD. 29Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? 30Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who steal my words from one another. 31Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who use their tongues and declare, 'declares the LORD.' 32Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the LORD, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the LORD.
Listen: that's terrifying stuff. God says here that His word is like fire and like a hammer that breaks rock to pieces. God's word is not like the banter in the marketplace; it's not like conversation at the dinner table. So in the first place, when you are asking God to speak to you, you are asking for something you probably have no point of reference to receive.

That's not saying you're stupid or evil: it's saying that what God has to say is beautiful and dangerous; it is powerful and fearful. What God has to say is not something you're going to get via IM or in an e-mail from throne-of-heaven.com.

In the second place, when Isaiah received his call to be the prophet, what happened to him? The KJV said he was "undone". The Hebrew is "damah" and it is the same word used in Hosea 4:5 – "You shall stumble by day; the prophet also shall stumble with you by night; and I will destroy your mother." Personally, if that's the kind of experience I would get by receiving some truth from God, I think I'd be willing to let someone else receive the telegram.

"But cent," says the astute reader of TeamPyro, "what about Jesus? Can't we believe that because Jesus has died for our sins and the Holy Spirit is among us as a helper, we don’t have to fear God the way Isaiah feared God? Isn't your view here, um, in the wrong dispensation?"

Let's see: when Saul sees Jesus on the road to Damascus, Saul is struck blind and must be taken and cared for until God sends someone to heal him and bring him to right faith; when John sees Christ in the final Revelation, all of the images of Him are fearful and glorious.

While our relationship to Him is secure and eternal, we are still sinful men. If God was standing next to us 24 hours a day saying something to us about what we are doing and ought to be doing, I have this suspicion that most of the time he'd sound more like a drill sergeant than like Fred Rogers.

In the last place, it's a lie to think that because Satan is chattering on to anyone who will listen that God ought to do the same thing. What God has done is spoken to us completely and sufficiently in Scripture – and because He is God, we can trust His word to be true at all times and in all places. And because he has said that His Word is a lamp for our feet and a light for our lives, we ought to trust it to be just that rather than a cheap novel which is old news to us.


54 comments:

Matthew said...

Boom goes the dynamite. Well said, centuri0n.

Kim said...

Very well put, Frank.

I like your reference fo "undone," a word in my opinion we don't really experience on a daily basis. It's really a word pregnant with meaning.

BugBlaster said...

Amen centuri0n.

Why would anyone aspire to have a prophetic gift? Ezekiel had the gift and God caused his wife to die as an object lesson for the masses. Do any readers really want to be prophets? Really?? God doesn't change his ways, no matter the dispensation. His message and methods really are beautiful and dangerous. Be careful what you seek.

Jeremy Weaver said...

I see naught here that I should disagree with thee upon, Turk.

Screaming Pirate said...

Kim said.."It's really a word pregnant with meaning." is that like a pregnant chad. just curious(and for those that do not get it yes i know what she means)

Kim said...

Screaming Pirate, I don't get it, but then again, I'm a little slow.

marc said...

If God was standing next to us 24 hours a day saying something to us about what we are doing and ought to be doing, I have this suspicion that most of the time he'd sound more like a drill sergeant than like Fred Rogers.

Actually Frank, I can see God standing at the door and knocking and saying "would you be mine, could you be mine, won't you be my neighbor".

Also, my Boot camp instructor used a lot of profanity, including taking the Lord's name in vain. Plus he'd get drunk at night and smell like booze in the morning when he was yelling in your face. Plus he would sit at his desk, take off his socks and pick at this nasty fungus he had on his foot.

blestwithsons said...

Yeah well, I'm married to a Marine, and I like the imagery.

Fred Rogers always got on my nerves anyway. I need a holy, loving Drill Sergeant. Consider me enlisted like a good soldier...Hey! That's Biblical!

Joe said...

Methinks God speaks to us extra-Biblically less often than certain factions of Christianity would have us believe.

Add up all the times God spoke to individuals in the Bible and compare it to the entirety of the population.

It's not very many.

I am more comfortable hearing from Him through His Word.

Gordon Cloud said...

In the words of the great theologian Ray Stevens, "I wonder if Jesus would claim He's been talking to all those preachers who claim they've been a'talkin' to Him."

Sojourner said...

Frank,

You must be mistaken. It says right here in my hymnal that God:

Walks with me and He talks with me
and He tells me I am His own.
And the joy we share as we tarry there no other has ever known.

So what do you say to that, huh?

Church Dog said...

The Marine Corps doesn't have Drill Sargeants, only Drill Instructors. None of which would pick at anything in front of a recruit.

centuri0n said...

Pastor Brad:

It's funny you should mention that. I'm sitting here with iTunes mumbling in the background, and the Watermark/Shane&Shane version of "In the Garden" just cue'd up.

I'll refer you to Dr. Al Mohler's current series on reclaiming worship rather than run down the whole Baptist hymnal for one or two (or three ... um ...) mistakes in discernment.

And I'll cut you some slack because I know you're very disappointed today that you are not called out by name as a persona non grata in the BHT Rule 40. It's the froggy company you keep, bro. :-)

My word verification is "wogpimps". Sheesh.

Sojourner said...

Frank,

I knew that the hymnals had some problems with textual variants, (cf. "Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed?") but to say that it is totally uninspired?!...bad news come in waves, I suppose.

Ellen said...

Just a little disingenuous of you. I was the one that asked the question and I didn't exactly even hint that God should be speaking "all day".

I'm just asking why He doesn't speak to individuals directly at all.

Ever.

Castusfumus said...

Is I Have Decided to Follow Jesus an Armenian aisle march?

Darel said...

I don't want to use the word "disingenuous", but I think this topic has really missed the mark. I thought "Oh, I'll let it lie for a while...." Eh... I can only stay away so long...

The C-inator et al, point to a lying "prophet" and then claim that all "prophets" are liars. They point to a lying "dreamer" and then say that all "dreamers" are liars.

In the C-Man's quote of Jeremiah, God isn't against prophets (duh, it's a prophet who is speaking) but against the false ones. God isn't against dreams, but against the false dreamers.

When the topic can stick to that, then maybe it's worthwhile.

Don't stereotype. Bad. *thumps nose with rolled-up newspaper*

Also, blogger has this message for you "jdshc".

centuri0n said...

For Ellen:

It was not my intent to misrepresent you, so for that I apologize. I can even revise my opener if it will provide the sufficient proof that I wasn't actually gunning for you personally or trying to misrepresent you.

For Darel:

My point is not about false prophets -- my point is about the nature of God's word. See: we have a pretty deep compendium of God's word already, and most of it reads like this passage of Jeremiah. In that, for people to pine for God to speak to them as a "still small voice" (BONUS Q: who can name that chapter and verse?) is somewhat misguided.

Do we really think that if God was doing the "in the garden" thing with people even half of the reparte would be along the lines of divine "life coaching"?

Gosh: I think is about to turn into a series here at TeamPyro. There's plenty of ground to cover.

Stephen A Morse said...

Um... great post. As I live an breate... why would anyone want God to say anymore?
It reminds me of my children who constantly pester me to do something or say something or give them something. I say to them... "I am not going to do anything else until you... I am not going to repeat myself for the hundredth time... or when you have fully enjoyed what I have already given you then maybe..."
How often do you think that God's response to our prayers etc is "I am not going to dignify that with a new response... look at what I have already said time and time again in verse so & so!"
It is certainly a good thing that He doesn't respond to us in the way we deserve.
His grace is more that I can comprehend!

My word verification is 'epaylg'
Who makes these up?

donsands said...

God tells us the most important thing in His Word, and that is He loves His own- His children-, and He will never forsake us. The Cross is His foremost and most awesome and powerful statement and display of His love- a love that forgives, and a love that grants us, the once ungodly disobedient sons, but now regenerated by His mercy and grace sons, the right to be called sons of the Most High Lord God!

Does God tell us HE loves us, as I do my wife every day, even though I don't need to tell her, she does like to here me say I love you, and I appreciate you.

I don't think God does that, but I do believe the Holy Spirit does something to impress me that my Father in heaven loves me, and that Jesus Christ my Savior and Lord loves me with an eternal love.
And that one Day I will see Him face to face, and then I will hear clearly, Well done, come an enter in to the joy of your heavenly Father's kingdom.
Those are my thoughts. Open for correction if needs be.

Darel said...

C-Dog,
(1 Kings 19)
I'm not even arguing that point. I will say, for the record, you are absolutely correct in your assertion.

But you pulled in all your other blogging on this topic at the beginning of this post, so I'm saying... In general you seem to want to dismiss the whole matter on the basis of the extremes.

That is, since some portion (large, small, whatever) thinks God should be talking to you about what color dress to wear that day, therefore anyone who thinks God has revealed something to them is cut from the same cloth.

I guess what I'm getting at is this:

Give me a definite line.

I *think* you are wanting to draw the line at Scripture only Scripture. Am I right? But when I point that out, you then claim that you weren't trying to make that point....

(I realize I'm boiling this all down to what it sounds like to me, so feel free to point out where I'm off track)

Another way to say it... let's see...

Your (very honorable) assertion is that God speaks in big ways with dire consequences. That when He deigns to speak at all it is in large ways about big items. The IMPLICATION is that since no big ticket revelations have been forthcoming since John's Revelations, God has chosen to let Scripture do all the speaking and hasn't bothered to speak through His Spirit to His people except in Scripture.

Does that sum it? Have I oversimplified?

Also, "onlacn"... I'm not even sure why I do that....

Phil Johnson said...

Darel: The C-inator et al, point to a lying "prophet" and then claim that all "prophets" are liars. They point to a lying "dreamer" and then say that all "dreamers" are liars.

Uh . . . no.

What I did was point out that all the best-known dreamers and prophets are either out-and-out phonies, or else completely unreliable, and I challenged continuationists to name one reliable prophet or dreamer whose dreams and prophecies stand up under any kind of careful scrutiny.

Seriously, if true dreams and prophecies are as common as the modern continuationists suggest, this should not be such a terribly difficult task.

It's one thing to complain that all we have done is "point to a lying prophet" (as if there were only one or two isolated and outlandish examples); it would be a completely different discussion altogether if anyone could point out even one truly reliable prophet.

centuri0n said...

Darel:

Since today's a good day to apologize in general, I apologize if I was painting you as some kind of miscreant.

To try to tidy up on the questions you have asked, let's see ...

I think the definite line is the cessationist view. That is to say, the canon is closed, the revelation is made; Christ was born and died and was risen; Christ will come again, and until then we have the thousands of verses of the actual Bible to "tide us over" (so to speak). God is not going to tell you who to marry by name or whether to go to the prom or to the competing non-prom your church is throwing.

And while God loves you, it's important to remember He loves you in spite of who you are, not because you are such a splendid ruby on the crown of creation. In that, it's a little much to ask that God be involved in your life as if he was Dr. Bob Hartley and you are Eliot Carlin. He loves you; He created you; He died for you; He left you a LOT of notes that you (like me) have not actually read and understood very well. Try the notes out before you feel like He hasn't said enough to you.

Let me give you two very good examples, both of which will call down some flack.

(1) Pornography. Let's assume for a minute that, unlike all other men in Christendom who have no problem with porn because they are all godly men in Christ's image, I have a problem with pornography. Now: what should I do about it? For example, should I pray and pray and pray and pray and hope that the telephone rings or the still, small voice clears its throat and then I can find out if what I am doing is wrong and what I should do about it? Or does the Bible already tell me it is wrong and that the first thing I should do about it flee from temptation?

The problem is not God's silence: it is my fingers in my ears.

(2) Let's say that, unlike all other men in Christendom who have no problem with their marriages because they are all godly men in Christ's image, I have a problem with my marriage -- that I am not happy with it and I don't like being unhappy. And just for the sake of really making this a tough one, let's say it's not my fault: let's say that (and if she's reading this, understand that this is a hypothetical wife and not my actual wife who is my help-mate and not half the burden on our marriage that I am) I am married to an unfaithful wife. What do I do?

Should I wait for God to take me to lunch in order to figure out what a husband in Christ's image ought to do in a marriage to a wife who does not honor the covenant? See: I think half the problem in this case is that we think this is a difficult process but an easy answer, when in fact the Bible says it is the exemplary example of what Christ does, and most men would never try to be "that" Christ-like.

But do I wait for God to plug me into His Tungsten E in order to sort out what He intends in marriage, or can I already sort out what He has said and, in spite of its dire personal consequences, live it? Not "live with it" by the way, but live it.

Those are the actualy "big decisions" in our lives, readers -- and God has told you what He thinks about them. So waiting for Him to say, "Yeah, I said that, but in your case ..." is saying that the Bible is not really very helpful, not really able to fully equip, not really able to be the full armor, not a two-edged sword, no put above God's own name.

Now, there's one case that I haven't quite touched on yet, and that's the case where someone is spiritually alone. It's not the one that occurs to "us" (meaning: Christian apologists) very often because I know I don't personally feel spiritually alone ever -- at least, not since I was saved.

For that person, who may legitimately be crying out to God, "why are you not standing right here telling me where my life has gone wrong?!" let me say two or three things.

The first is this: when God decreed that His word would stand forever in the Heavens, He knew that you would be where you are right now. He knows every hair on your head; He knows your birthday; He knows the day you will breath for the last time. He knows everything about you -- and in that, He wrote His word for you. I don't want to be all Max Lucado here, but if you;re a believer in Christ, there is no doubt that the Bible is for you specifically. He may not have stamped your name on an NASB calfskin edition and left it in your french fry warmer when you were a tater tot, but when He gave His word, He gave it for you.

The second thing to say is this: when He gave His word for you, He gave it in order for it to do something to you and for you. He gave it to guide your ways, you change your mind, to comfort you in trouble and to humble you when you get a little big for your britches. What do you think He was talking about when He said, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and its Righteousness, and then all the other things you think you need will be given to you"?

Last of all, the most ancient lie about God is that He has left you spritually alone, and that whatever it is He has already today you isn't the whole story. If you have any suspicions that Adam and Eve is a fable, ask yourself why the exact same thing they believed -- which caused them to sin -- is the same thing you are willing to believe? God has not left you spiritually alone, and will never leave you spiritually alone even if He does not pencil Himself into your Franklin left-hand page.

I'm talking about the witness of the Holy Spirit on my blog, and that's probably the next place this discussion ought to go.

Thanks for asking.

DJP said...

Whoa; that is really well and pithily put, Frank. It almost gets me over being miffed about how you usually put your posts up five minutes after I put up mine.

Almost.

PS - seriously, that is so good, it's worth working it up into a main post. No kidding. (Just not right after my next one, okay? Give it... I don't know, an hour?)

ib.carlos said...

sniff, sniff...

Frank, from your words I can't help but be convinced that you are a man of God (or Man-a-god, as "we" Pentacostals usetah say). I'm quite sure Phil & youre other esteemed co-bloggers realized that long before I.

I sincerely thank you for your even-handed writing; they way you seem to so effortlessly balance sound Biblical logic, experiential (wisdom), and humor!

Though I'm not sure she'll read it, I'll be copying your post into an email to my wayward spouse in just a few moments...

¡SBGTFA!

ib.carlos said...

[...not that I don't realize the immense value of heading this wisdom shared PERSONALLY.]

¡SBGTFA!

Darel said...

Quickly, Mr. Centurion with a 0:
Thank you. I sincerely appreciate the time you took to answer my question.

Phil,
I will try to be as gracious as possible:
You deny -
"Uh . . . no."

Then you say exactly the same thing -
"It's one thing to complain that all we have done is "point to a lying prophet" (as if there were only one or two isolated and outlandish examples); it would be a completely different discussion altogether if anyone could point out even one truly reliable prophet."

There is the implicit meaning that unless Darel can personally take you by the hand to someone who you regard as a prophet that there are no more prophets. That unless Darel can personally take you by the hand to someone whose dreams that you will admit are from God, that there are no dreams from God.

You are saying exactly what I already said you were saying. (that's a lot of saying... sorry about that)

I will point this out to you though. You probably have met and listened to a prophet most every week. You yourself have probably prophesied on more than one occasion.

When God speaks through men, (or their dreams) it will always agree with Scripture. Always. Have you ever said something that was 100% true and agreed with Scripture and yet the words you used were not actually Scripture? Well, my friend, as Jesus once told Peter "this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven." That's what is known as direct inspiration from God. In fact, the most basic utterance of a new Christian agrees with that of Peter ("You are the Christ, the son of the living God"). Therefore, every true Christian is directly inspired by the Spirit of God.

They may even be inspired by words that are spoken by a mere man who isn't even quoting Scripture.

And to add to that, you can take the time to read the entire Bible to the unregenerate man and to interpret every verse with profound and Godly insight, yet without the Spirit of God directly working in that man, he will not come to saving faith.

But you already know all these things. They are spelled out in Scripture for you, and just seeing them here you know that you agree with them and can probably envision some of the verses that tell you these truths.

And before you complain that I'm not using the normal definition of prophet, here's the one I'm using that comes straight from a modern American English dictionary:
"A person who speaks by divine inspiration or as the interpreter through whom the will of a god is expressed." -courtesy of the American Heritage Dictionary, copyright 2000.

You like the last part of that definition? That's my favorite.

Given that definition, would you now say that there are no prophets?

ib.carlos said...

[Okay, I know I'm like a tiny kid about to rush the train tracks, but]

'"A person who speaks by divine inspiration or as the interpreter through whom the will of a god is expressed." -courtesy of the American Heritage Dictionary, copyright 2000.'

A more ancient definition of the word "inspiration" comes from (and I admit I am borrowing heavily from words of others, but) Scriptures themselves, which make it clear (in the original Greek language) the clear thought of beign "God-breathed." I think it accurate to assert that this would not describe an affirmation of words already "god-breathed," or otherwise directly delivered in the Scripture themselves, as would be the case in the examples given.

Further, Peter's words were God-breathes, insomuch as they were recorded and are now canonized in Scripture.

No?

¡SBGTFA!

ib.carlos said...

[Phil: hope I didn't steal (part of) your thunder!]

¡OVWSSBGTFA!

Darel said...

Yo Carlos,
How about that second part of the definition... the part the starts with "or"...

And I address the whole definition of "inspiration" or one that *mumble, mumble can't find the book* was "theopneustic" in my blog.. that is.. "God breathed".

Again, I have to ask: If the Spirit of God didn't directly breathe into you personally as an individual, how did you become regenerated in order that you could have faith in Christ? How did the Words of Scripture, whether you read them or heard them preached, have an effect on your heart in order to bring you to faith in Christ unless you were guided directly by the Holy Spirit?("This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.")

This is not a general enabling... ask the Reformers here and they will all affirm that truth. Therefore, it is an individual inspiration of God into that individual person's life. That is, a breath of life directly from God upon your soul. A breath, from God, for life. There is no better description of inspiration than that.

While we were still sinners and enemies of God, He condescended to change our hearts so that we could come to have faith in Christ. Faith in Christ because while we were still in that decrepit state, he died in our place, making atonement for our sins. And not just in concert for all believers throughout time, but also for a single individual. A personal as well as corporate sacrifice whose acceptance requires a personal, individual revelation and inspiration from the Spirit of God.

Sorry... when I start thinking about the topic I get carried away, but I'll leave the mini-gospel-story in place, since it can't be told too many times.

ib.carlos said...

Hm...I could answer your rebut, Darel, but I think I'd be stepping a bit out of my league (of knowledge)...

I agree that you're on-point about the Gospel message never growing wearisome.

¡SBGTFA!

scooter said...

darel,

You said,

And before you complain that I'm not using the normal definition of prophet, here's the one I'm using that comes straight from a modern American English dictionary:
"A person who speaks by divine inspiration or as the interpreter through whom the will of a god is expressed." -courtesy of the American Heritage Dictionary, copyright 2000.

You like the last part of that definition? That's my favorite.

Given that definition, would you now say that there are no prophets?
____

By your definition and explanation, any Christian would be a prophet. How do you explain the gift of prophecy then? Clearly only some believers were/are given this gift.

Phil Johnson said...

Darel: "There is the implicit meaning that unless Darel can personally take you by the hand to someone who you regard as a prophet that there are no more prophets.

Not quite, Darel.

See, I fully realize the argument I'm making above doesn't prove there are no more prophets. So the "implicit meaning" you want to impute to my words is your invention, not anything germane to the argument I am making.

My only point here is that the claims of the continuationists are moot (and the whole debate is therefore a terrible waste of time for us all) unless someone can actually point out an inspired prophet or other reliable source of new revelation.

The stubborn refusal to acknowledge that point--or even to recognize that that IS the point--is really quite stunning.

So is the trick by which you equivocate on the kind of "prophecy" you are defending.

centuri0n said...

Carlos: you used to be a mac-daddy Billy Dee Williams lookalike and now ... what's that? Cubby Martinez?

Ellen said...

It reminds me of my children who constantly pester me to do something or say something or give them something.

I (personally) love it when my kids come to me for advice.

ib.carlos said...

Once, again, another sanctifying (read: humbling) "compliment" (?) from Frank.

Fact is, time expired on the Billy Dee image license agreement, so uh...yeah, I was forced to switch to...the young Martin...

...you know what...this joke ain't even gonna work, cuz even after Googling I still have no idea who Cubby Martinez is!

[Ooooh: 'nwfmopig' sounds like a machine-generated epithet!]

¡OCSSBGTFA!

centuri0n said...

Phil:

He doesn't know who Cubby Martinez is.

Can we ban him?

Moo Zuba said...

Phenomenal. Simply mind-blowing. This is far and above some of the best original online material I've run across. (I just found Phil's old PyroManiac blog and its redirection here. Seems I have some catching up to do.) I find myself in hearty agreement with everything you've said. It was the fire and the hammer of God's already-revealed word that set the world on fire in the days of the Reformation and again during the ministries of Whitefield and Spurgeon. We ought to tremble before the Word of God. Luther and Calvin had no new revelation. They were merely taught by the Spirit concerning the revelation which had already been given by apostle and prophet. May God make us to tremble at His word. We need more "undone" men and women in our churches.

ib.carlos said...

...'s he from 'you white people are all alike' fame?

...stil don't know who he is. [though I'm (sort of) ashamed to say I chuckled aloud when i read that over at the Cent-fort.]

AND...well said, moo zuba!

¡SBGTFA!

Gummby said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gummby said...

God doesn't speak to us anymore like He did in the OT.

Is that surprising? It shouldn't be. This is exactly the point made by the opening lines of the book of Hebrews:

"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature..." (Heb 1:1-3a, ESV).

His Son came as His final revelation...to fulfill all the of things only hinted at in the OT. We don't need prophets because we have the one of whom they prophesied; we no longer need a human high priest because we have a heavenly one; we are no longer subject to the law because it has fulfilled it's job as our tutor, to lead us to Christ.

ib.carlos said...

Matt: yeah, that seems pretty clear cut to me. (Man, if you're a preacher, you must give like the shortest expositions in Reformed History...)

MattDarel: I see, now, how (brown cow (C:) the following part of my comment seemed grist for your mill, as it were:

'I think it accurate to assert that this would not describe an affirmation of words already "god-breathed," or otherwise directly delivered in the Scripture themselves, as would be the case in the examples given.'

Please forgiv me; the latter part - from ' or otherwise directly delivered...' on - was an admittedly pointless addendum to an otherwise sound line, I think...had I thought it through a bit more, I would simply have left that part of the statment off.

¡SBGTFA!

ib.carlos said...

Uuum...that's 'Darel: I see, now, how (brown cow (C:)...'

[...for those of you even bothering to pay attention to the itty brown tyke in the florally flappy shoit...]

¡SBGTFA!

centuri0n said...

Gummby: Scooby snacks for you, side-kick.

When are you going to be in Siloam again? You told me and I forgot.

4given said...

Marc said, Actually Frank, I can see God standing at the door and knocking and saying "would you be mine, could you be mine, won't you be my neighbor"
.... That's... ummm... okay, I am speechless. But that is ridiculous. Made me laugh, though.

Centurion... I don't live far from you. About 30 minutes. I have been to your bookstore. You have 3 rows of "POPULAR CHRISTIANITY" books and one row of meaty stuff. Actually you are the first Christian bookstore that actually seemed to carry an entire row of anything meaty so I was wowed by that. But I certainly wanted to cry out "HERESY, HERESY!" in the other 3 rows. Would you dare label those rows "HERETICAL CHRISTIANITY"? I guess you have to make money so you can have that one row... and eat. You are quite funny.

Scooter said, "By your definition and explanation, any Christian would be a prophet. How do you explain the gift of prophecy then? Clearly only some believers were/are given this gift."
My pastor gave an excellent sermon one time regarding gifts. Wish I could remember it. I know, "obtain... retain"... I'll get back with you.

This was quite a discussion. I am, however, quite biased towards the MANIACS and what they say. They have a reputation for actually counting the horses teeth before debating about how many they have so if you are out there thinking they are just throwing out opinions... beware.

Gummby said...

Carlos: LOL. Maybe someday.

On my blog, Doxo said:
I tend to agree with you Gummby, except for one little thing...
There were prophets after Christ perfectly revealed the glory of God. Following your reasoning here would seem to suggest that all prophecy would have ceased with Christ's arrival on the scene.


This is a valid criticism. Unfortunately, what we really need to discuss is the role of prophets and prophecy, but every time Phil has tried to do that, he's been shouted down by others, so I fear we'll never get to it.

Darel said...

Yikes... a man has to sleep sometime...

I'm only defending prophecy as defined in Scripture. Your answer that "any Christian could be a prophet" is exactly my point!

What do you think God meant by "Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy." You think he meant only a handful? Obviously he's saying that something different that what had been going on was going to happen... what had been going on? Only select people were able to prophesy... but the change is that every servant of God will prophesy.

That's exactly why I think saying "Well, prophets are only those people who predict earthquakes and the like" is just a large bucket of apple-butter, if you'll pardon my language.

Why should I listen when someone reads from and interprets the Scripture? If he isn't speaking from the Spirit of God, then why would I even bother? The truth is, if he has the Holy Spirit (iow, is a Christian in truth) then he IS prophesying, he is speaking truth from God, he is relating the very words of God and delivering to the listener the will of God.

What else could you possibly want from a prophet? If you need someone to tell you that next week your girlfriend will leave you, then you should call a psychic. If you really want to hear the words of God, then you go to a prophet.

This is not a vague nor equivocating definition of prophet. This is a very precise definition. Someone who relates the words of God to others. You might say, someone who speaks for God. Or someone who tells the people the will of God. However you want to phrase it, the meaning has never changed. It's what the prophets did in the Old Testament, it's what they do today.

Bottom line, every single adoptee into the family of God is granted the Holy Spirit. There is no doubt as to this reality. His job is to help you understand the will of God. There is no Christian without this ability. If you do not have the Spirit to guide you into all knowledge (John 16:13) by relating to you the words of the Father.

Let's not pretend it is anything else. Let's not pretend that true prophecy is something other than relating and interpreting the words and the will of God. Let's not say "This man calls himself a prophet, and he says that if you don't give him a million dollars he will die" and then pretend that somehow that is the definition of a prophet. That those kind of un-spiritual, selfish utterances define prophecy.

Here is a true prophecy, that everyone that truly has faith in Christ, believes that God raised Him from the dead, and confesses this truth, God will save him.

You may now search the Scriptures to see if this prophecy is true.

also, before I forget, "osmpta"... that's not a prophecy of any kind, btw ;)

ib.carlos said...

Yeah, there's definitely a "defintionalistic" issue underlying this particular discussion...

[Look, mah: I can turn my own phrases!]

¡SBGTFA!

Glenn said...

Pyro, love your work, but..., um, for once, in my opinion , Darel is making the better argument here Pyro.

Specifically, I like Darel's quote:
What do you think God meant by "Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy."

To me, it kinda of leaves your "show me a real prophet and i'll bother talking about it" (my paraphase obviously) position a little untenable.

Ok, now I feel like a goldfish eating shark fin soup and listening to the Jaws theme song, I did qualify it with an "in my opinion"

Is there a difference been Prophets and prophets?

Also, Centurion: love the way you write, great work.

Finally ... xxixkxby ... almost had it coverted from roman numerals ...

Phil Johnson said...

Glenn: "Is there a difference been Prophets and prophets"?

As a matter of fact, I happen to agree with Darel's point that someone can be a "prophet" without being a conduit of new revelation. All Spirit-empowered preaching is prophecy in that sense of the term, and that is one of the legitimate biblical meanings of the word. So at times, even I function as a prophet—in that sense of the word.

However, that point has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the actual question under debate between continuationists and cessationists—i.e., the question of whether God is still giving new revelation.

Darel's argument seems to be that if it's a form of "prophecy" to preach in the power of the Holy Spirit, then prophecy is ubiquitous in the church today and that proves continuationism.

Bosh. No cessationist would argue that the non-revelatory form of prophecy (forth-telling, as opposed to foretelling) has ceased. (Well, it hasn't ceased yet, anyway. Some of the Emerging anti-preaching, anti-certainty crowd are trying to put a stop to it, but that's another thread.)

Darel's line of "reasoning" commits one of the most fundamental continuationist fallacies of all: He (she? What's that picture about, anyway?) is pretending that cessationists are in effect claiming that the Holy Spirit is no longer active at all.

For the umpteenth time: That is not what cessationists believe.

The cessationist argument regarding prophecy is simply this: There is no one in the church today who can legitimately claim to have the spiritual gift of being a conduit for new revelation from God.

Hence my challenge to continuationists to give us the name of a prophet whose revelatory utterances can be examined and verified using the biblical criterion for testing prophets. If, on the other hand, no such person exists, the continuationist claim is simply a waste of everyone's time.

Ellen said...

I hope that part of the problem is that Pentecostals abuse and misuse a lot.

Those who receive real guidance from the Holy Spirit are not flamboyant about it. The three times that I've had such experiences, I told very few people. One time only the individual involved knew. Another time only my pastor's wife knew. The third, I told my family and they mostly just nodded (and thought I was off my rocker).

Two of the instances, it would have been inappropriate for me to make a public announcement.

Question: is the intense feeling of God working in me included in full cessationism as well? I've had a very memorable experience with that as well.

Moo Zuba said...

Dear Phil,

I would agree whole-heartedly with your stance that there is no new revelation. But I've run into a situation with a pentecostal acquaintance of mine that I've found almost impossible to overcome. There are a lot of factors, but the core of it relates to the challenge of providing evidence of a modern-day prophet. He claims that Charles Finney was such a prophet--not in the end-times, Jack van Impe (sp??) sense, but in the sense of revealing more of God's truth to the Church. He views Martin Luther in the same way. Now, I have little respect for Finney myself, but my friend has a deep respect for him. What argument can a person make against someone who is convinced that a man like Finney is proof-positive of modern-day prophecy and the continuationist stance (I like that term, by the way--first time I've run across it). He's also mentioned someone by the name of Wigelsworth (sp??) but I know absolutely nothing about him.

Befuddled,
moozuba

Glenn said...

Phil, thanks for clearing that up - it makes much more sense to me now.

Rick Potter said...

1 Corinthians 14: The Goal of the Spirit (Oikodomë)
a. 14:1-3. Paul wishes the ardor, which apparently the Corinthians did not lack, to be spent in the pursuit of the kind of life he has just described. At the same time, the Corinthians should eagerly seek gifts, “especially that you may prophesy” (v.1). It appears in this chapter that Paul sees the highest expression of spiritual gifts in the free, helpful discussion of Christians together and their contribution in thoughtful speech to each other. (It is, in fact, our impression that expressions such as “thoughtful speech,” “testimony,” or even “counsel” better translate the word rendered now somewhat archaically “prophesy”) Berkhof believes that “we badly need a study of the content and the theological relevance of New Testament prophecy. In this context I cannot say more than that in my opinion prophecy is the gift of understanding and expressing what the will of God is for a given present situation.”
Paul favorably contrasts intelligible testimony to unintelligible tongues: “he who prophesies speaks to men for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation” (v.3). This important sentence defines prophecy. “Upbuilding” (Oikodomë) then becomes the theme of this chapter (vv.3, 4, 5, 12, 17, 26). As the undivided Godhead is the source of the graces (ch. 12), and as love is their manner (ch. 13), so upbuilding is their goal. In Pauls thought the ultimate criterion for a gift of the Spirit is this: Does it upbuild the Church?

Page 297 –A Theology of the Holy Spirit: The Pentecostal Experience and the New Testament Witness by Frederick Dale Bruner

Also see: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit By Louis Berkhof – Page 91