22 August 2011

Subjective Impressions, ESP, and Reverse Deja Vu

by Phil Johnson

Intuition and Superstition: An Admonition

Impressions on the mind are like Rorschach tests: Make of them whatever you will, but if you treat them as "prophecy," that's just crazy.

Today we continue the discussion of cessationism vs. continuationism; true prophecy vs. fallible prognostication; and
sola Scriptura vs. modern charrismatic prophets.

(First posted 31 March 2007)

veryone has unexplained thoughts that seem to leap from nowhere into the mind. (Note: When I say "everyone," I mean believers and unbelievers alike; I don't necessarily mean "every single individual." I've met a few less-than-completely sentient people who seem incapable of any original thought whatsoever. They prolly never get spontaneous notions of anything. Let's leave those folks out of this discussion.)


Most people likewise have a sense of intuition, where at times you just feel like you know a thing is true and you can't give an account for how you arrived at that knowledge rationally. It may even seem like you have ESP, or ESPN2, or whatever. It's a lot like deja vu, only backwards. I happen to think that sense of intuition is probably more rational than we can explain. In any case, I'm quite sure it's not really a supernatural spiritual gift from God, because it has such a poor track record. Besides, I had the same intuitive abilities before I was converted as I have now.

My sense of intuition is sort of like a stopped clock that was designed to measure time in months instead of hours. Once or twice a year (on average) it's right. And when it's right, it can seem quite impressive. I've had some moments of intuition that I could have parlayed into a fortune, if I were the type of charlatan who is willing to claim he has a prophetic gift even when he knows he really doesn't. I certainly have no such gift. For the most part, my intuition is grossly fallible and ordinarily wrong. I don't trust it at all, even though my experience is probably a lot like yours: there are times when I feel compelled to follow my intuition.

To be clear: I usually "feel compelled to follow" my intuition only when I don't have a better rational or sensible idea of what to do. Maturity has taught me to hold off on trusting intuition and try to understand facts and reasons and the potential results of my actions before I act. In fact, I'd say that's what maturity is all about, to a very large degree.

But, how do we understand that inner sense, especially when God seems to use it to prompt us to pray, or witness, or duck and run at precisely the right moment? Because let's be honest, here: that kind of thing does happen to most of us from time to time.

As I said in a comment-thread [once upon a time] (see below), we need to regard those occasions as remarkable Providences, not inspired prophecy. God might use a spontaneous thought in my head providentially. In fact, as a Calvinist, I don't hesitate to say that He ultimately controls and uses everything providentially. But that's as true of my sins as it is of the thoughts in my head. God can use them all for His own purposes. The fact that He uses an idea in my mind to achieve some good purpose doesn't make the idea itself inspired.

That's the point we are trying to make in all these various threads about prophecy and cessationism. It's an important point. We're not trying to step on the charismatic air-hose just because it's fun.

So please give these things some serious thought before you react this time.

Four lessons:

  1. If intuition is fallible (and everyone except the out-and-out-charlatan seems to agree that it is), it cannot be considered "revelation," even when it happens to be uncannily right in an instance or two.

  2. Since intuition is so fallible—and most would agree that it is actually far more often wrong than right—we shouldn't make much of it.

  3. Those who think those moments of intuition are God speaking with a private message invariably become extremely superstitious; they foolishly order their lives by their feelings; they commit the sin of trusting too much in their own hearts; and they diminish the more sure Word of prophecy. No one who knows church history, and no one who truly understands the concept of spiritual maturity can deny that Christians who follow the voice in their heads fall into those errors all the time, and it can be (and often is) spiritually disastrous.

  4. Since our intuitive sense is so grossly fallible, and since every sane, biblical Christian would acknowledge that it's dangerous to pay much attention to it, we should not try to elevate it to the level of a supernatural "spiritual gift." It most certainly does not resemble any of the spiritual gifts—much less the gift of "prophecy"—as we see those gifts functioning in the New Testament.
Phil's signature
Here's that comment I made in the meta [once upon a time]:

I'm tied up with meetings today and unable to participate in the blog-discussion, but a couple of people have e-mailed me privately with the same question about this thread. One begged me for an answer; the other accused me of dodging the question.

So here's the question and my short answer:

Q: If God doesn't speak to you directly, how does he "lead" you to do anything? How, for example, did you know Darlene was the right person to marry?; how did you know you were called to ministry?; and how do you explain it when a thought pops into your head and prompts you to pray for someone?

Short answer: I trust the providence of God. I can't necessarily interpret the providence of God infallibly, though.

So if (for example) I suddenly think to pray for the safety or holiness of one of my children, I don't need to interpret that as a prophetic message from God that Pecadillo or one of his brothers is in immediate danger. But I pray for them nonetheless, though I can't possibly understand why that thought popped into my head or even discern correctly whether it originated in my own imagination or was immediately infused into my brain by the Holy Spirit.

If it turns out later that I prayed at exactly the right moment when some specific danger befell one of my kids, I praise God for a remarkable providence.

I DON'T, however, twist it into some kind of quasi-revelation and use it as an excuse to trust my own heart. Scripture says those who do that are fools (Proverbs 28:26).

Here's the thing: I trust Providence enough to believe that God ordained that I should pray, and He will answer my prayer for His glory and my good, even if the thought that prompted the prayer was out of my own imagination.

But it would be a sin for me to claim God "told" me to pray about that particular thing at that particular time when He did no such thing.

Providence, people. Go and learn what that means, and we can avoid having this debate every 6 weeks or so.

Here's a book, written by a good friend of mine, that deals with this issue well.

Phil's signature

11:45 AM, March 29, 2007

111 comments:

Bill Combs said...

"They prolly" sp?

Mel said...

Phil,
Thank you for that kind, thoughtful, and biblical answer to this entire "meme". You've addressed issues that I was referring to and gave me a biblical answer to them without being dismissive or over-bearing.
Thanks for sharing your spiritual gifts of knowledge and teaching with us.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Phil, this is a balanced approach. And I love the word "Providence." I think it a great bridge word for Calvinists and Arminians.

I do have a question about Calvin's conception of the "inner witness of the Holy Spirit." What do you think of passages like this from the Institutes:

"But they contend that it is a matter of rash presumption for us to claim an undoubted knowledge of God’s will. Now I would concede that point to them only if we took upon ourselves to subject God’s incomprehensible plan to our slender understanding. But when we simply say with Paul: “We have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is from God…” by whose teaching “we know the gifts bestowed on us by God” [1 Cor 2:12], how can they yelp against us without abusively assaulting the Holy Spirit? But if it is a dreadful sacrilege to accuse the revelation given by the Spirit either of falsehood or uncertainty or ambiguity, how do we transgress in declaring its certainty?"

stratagem said...

The part in the yellow combox is an exceptionally useful, practical teaching, especially. A lot of people I know could benefit from this teaching. Thanks Phil.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

No Amazon reviews for Dave Swavely's book?

donsands said...

Another excellent post. The Holy Spirit is with you and upon you.

I have been learning I have a brain and a mind. My brain seems to be in need of some repair, and at the same time my mind needs to grow in the knowledge and understanding of Christ, who is the truth.

God is sovereign in every aspect of our lives, for sure, if He is sovereign over every sparrow, or even humming bird.

Good to see you reading Calvin Johnny.

John Schlaack said...

Phil, would you say that you and Doug Wilson are saying in essence the same thing? http://goo.gl/vNee1 It seems like both of you have really given some clarity to the often confused understanding of the revelatory gifts. THANKS!

David Sheldon said...

Bingo! Has anyone out there ever read and reported in an article or book what the reformers or someone like Edwards had to say about the Scripture and God's Providence/Gifts and the difference? I know of one good article: Westminster Theological Journal, 2002, by Philip A. Craig: "And Prophecy Shall Cease: Jonathan Edwards on the Cessation of the Gift of Prophecy"

Seems to me the modern day continuationists have hijacked what the Reformers and Edwards have said by reporting something different (or ignoring specifics) and giving an "impression" which isn't really true. A false witness. Both Spurgeon and Edwards were cessationists. As were the Reformers. Per some comments on this blog-site, evidently not very gracious of them.

Your dealing with this issue is most critical in our day. Many churches have been given over to subjectivism in the name of the Spirit. And we certainly wouldn't want to do anything against the Spirit now, would we?

Hold on tight - we are probably in for quite a wild ride in the days ahead!

David Sheldon
Mansfield, Ohio

Samuel said...

Good post, however 'providence' and 'intuition' don't seem to leave me definitively clear as to what they are and how they are contrasted. For the record, I agree.

philness said...

My intuitions / discernments as of late have been centered around the dangers of what is to come from the New Apostolic Reformation movements. Also known as Joels Army and Kingdom Now as well as others.

An influx of "god told me so" and talks about "new revelation's from god" from all the false teachers seem to be a common theme. And now with the mass influx of "seekers" having filled the emergent and mega churches the pump is perfectly primed for its final and most dangerous indoctrinations.

Matt Aznoe said...

I write this comment not because I believe I will find answers here but merely to put into words the struggles I have with this whole issue. Forget for a moment Church history, current crack-pots, and false prophets. Forget the subjective impressions and feelings that can lead to disastrous ends and the fake prophesies that sometimes people settle for. I sit here alone with the scriptures in front of me as the One-Year Bible brings me today to 1 Corinthians 14 by the sovereign hand of God. I read the following verses:

"But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or uninformed person enters, he will be convicted by all, he will be called into account by all. The secrets of his heart are disclosed, and in this way he will fall down with his face to the ground and worship God, declaring 'God is really among you.'" (1 Corinthians 14:25 NET)

I fall back in my chair and grieve: have I ever experienced such a moment in all of my thirty-plus years as a Christian. Have I ever come away thinking "God is among us" in such a moment of direct conviction and wonder? Obviously I have felt the conviction of the Spirit and was moved to accept Jesus as my Savior, but as I compare the record of the early church and writings of the apostles to those early believers, there is a serious disconnect between the Church I read about and the Church I see.

While you may be content to write off the differences as a change in the times, I simply cannot do so. I do not see in scripture any reason why God would not or could not continue to act as He always has with His people -- from Adam to the apostle John. Instead of trying to justify our differences, I feel compelled to wonder if somehow we have quenched the Spirit and grown cold to God. Is our faith so weak that God is no longer willing to work in our midst?

I am not a charismatic in the modern sense of the term. I simply want to have all that God has promised His people in the Bible. More than anything, I want the presence of God in my life transforming me, filling me, and humbling me to be a willing vessel of God's power.

Our churches feel more like morally-minded country clubs than gatherings of God's children to experience the power of the almighty God in our midst. It is times like these that I wonder whether the Bible is simply a work of fiction that we follow for lack of anything better, or if it is truly real and we are just completely out-of-touch with the reality about which it speaks.

Phil Johnson said...

Johnny Dialectic: ". . . a question about Calvin's conception of the "inner witness of the Holy Spirit.""

When Calvin speaks of "the revelation given by the Spirit," he is talking about the objective content of the Scriptures. When he mentions the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, he is talking about a subjective sense of assurance--a specific manifestation of the gift of faith. Calvin did not believe individual Christians receive private revelations.

John Schlaack: "would you say that you and Doug Wilson are saying in essence the same thing?"

I might have thought so, until he virtually bent the concept of feyness completely out of shape by using it to shoehorn Mark Driscoll's Jesus-told-me-secrets-about-you-specifically style of prognostication into the "Valid Spiritual Gift (or close enough)" category.

Phil Johnson said...

Matt "I fall back in my chair and grieve: have I ever experienced such a moment in all of my thirty-plus years as a Christian. Have I ever come away thinking "God is among us" in such a moment of direct conviction and wonder?"

Really? Maybe you should come visit a cessationist church, then, because that kind of thing happens all the time at our church--without anyone ever claiming to receive fresh revelation. You should hear the testimonies in the baptistry week after week.

In one particularly memorable case, for example, one of the prominent leaders of West Hollywood's gay community, having recently learned he was dying of AIDS, walked in and sat near the back of the auditorium. During the Scripture reading (not the sermon, which he testified later, he didn't remember a single point), but during that morning's Bible reading (a text on the forgiveness of sins), he was convicted of the truth of Scripture, fell on his face, and that very day was converted.

God's Word has intrinsic power to produce that result, you know (Hebrews 4:12). Charismatic pseudo-prophecies do not.

stratagem said...

Matt A.

I hear you. I could only point out that everything you struggle with seems to proceed from the statement "While you may be content to write off the differences as a change in the times, I simply cannot do so. I do not see in scripture any reason why God would not or could not continue to act as He always has with His people -- from Adam to the apostle John..."

One thing to consider is the verses immediately preceding the Scripture you cited in 1 Cor 14. That is specifically, these verses:

1 Cor 13: 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.

Maybe he did not mean that prophecies will cease only at the end of time - perhaps he meant earlier than that? Maybe "the completeness" to come is the Bible?

Some food for thought.

DJP said...

Phil, what a terrific response.

Discontentment with God's lavish provision fuels both the birth of and careenings into so many errors, doesn't it?

Matt Aznoe said...

Phil,

I have gone to cessationist churches my whole life, and while my current church isn't staunchly cessationist, it is certainly not charismatic. I am not talking as someone from a charismatic background, but from a background very much like your own.

However, your point is well taken. God does indeed continue to move even today, even though it may be harder for me to see right now. Your testimony is a great encouragement to me.

Is is possible the cessation/continuation is not the primary issue here? That just as there can be works of God in a cessationist church, there may be a Pentecostal church that worships God in Spirit and truth? Perhaps we have to look deeper to see what hinders the work of God in so many of our churches.

Matt Aznoe said...

strategem,

Perhaps, though that could also be reading more meaning into those verses than what was intended. The thing that I find strange is that God saw fit to preserve the book of 1 Corinthians with Paul's strong exhortations to desire prophesy. If this is something that was going to go away, why preserve so much writing on the subject? Further, when I read what the result of prophesy is on the church -- strengthening, encouraging, and consolation (14:3), building up the church (14:4,12), and conviction of sin (14:25), why should I not desire and pray that God would raise up true prophets in His church today. Do we really think we are strong enough to no longer require further strengthening by God? I am not doubting the strength and power of God or the work that has been completed in Christ, but as in Philippians 3, Paul points us to ever strive for more of Christ.

I understand the dangers of being swept away by signs for the sake of signs, but should we not desire to see and participate even more in the revelation of God's power for His glory and praise?

Eric said...

"I do not see in scripture any reason why God would not or could not continue to act as He always has with His people -- from Adam to the apostle John."

Matt,

Several points to consider in regards to your quote above:

1) The whole cessationist/continuationist discussion has nothing to do with what God could or could not do, so please don't further memorialize one of the continuationists favorite red herrings. There is no dispute as to God's ability to do and act however and whenever He pleases.

2) Your argument seems to state or at least imply that there was a fairly uniform continuum from Adam to John in how God chose to relate to/interact with his people. I think you need to rethink that line of though a little bit. Are you aware that there were long period of silence in OT times? Are you really trying to assert that all of the ways that God has used historically He has always used similarly in degree, frequency, type, etc.? There has been more variability than you think. What should be the standard by which we should expect God to communicate, if we are to say that if God used it before, He will surely follow that pattern forever? Will God give visions to Obama and cause him to grow long hair and claws as he did Nebuchanezzar?

Also, if your church feels "more like [a] morally-minded country club[s] than gathering[s] of God's children to experience the power of the almighty God", then I pray that you will be able to find a suitable Bible based church or work within your current gathering to achieve significant God-honoring change.

DJP said...

Eric, bless you for your labor, but it isn't that folks haven't responded to Matt, repeatedly and at length. You can't win an argument with an itch, and as I read it, Matt has an itch.

Eric said...

DJP,

Duly noted, and agreed.

Although, who knows what combination of believers and explanations God may use to scratch Matt's itch.

:)

Matt Aznoe said...

DJP,

Yes, I have an itch. I want more of Christ:

"That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, that I may share in His sufferings becoming like Him in His death."

Or I echo the prayer of Habakkuk:

"Lord, I have heard the report of what you did; I am awed, Lord, by what you accomplished. In our time repeat those deeds. In our time reveal them again. But when you cause turmoil, remember to show us mercy!" (Hab 3:2)

Paul clearly commands us: "Do not treat prophesies with contempt. But examine all things; hold fast to what is good." (1 Thess 5:20-21)

In light of all of these passages, I desire to see God's work that He may receive glory and praise, and I look for true manifestations of the Spirit (whether "charismatic" or not) in accordance with God's will and the scriptures.

DJP said...

Yes, Matt, we all know that's what you say. Every time, to any poor soul who will listen. But the fruits don't bear it out, because you keep running down God's [abiding, universal] gifts in the name of propping up God's [temporary, attesting] gifts.

And I still reaffirm that that post nails the real cause you need to see to: not yearning for Christ, but discontentment with what God has already given to all His children in Christ.

donsands said...

Hey Matt, I wonder if quenching the Spirit would be when we are complaining and unthankful, and unforgiving and so forth. (1 Thes. 5:19; Ep. 4:30)
We are to quench the firey darts of the devil though. He is the accuser, and the one who causes strife and pride in order to have our faith in Christ focus on ourselves instead. Satan have many in his army to send out against us.

Seems having a thankful heart, and sharing the gospel is something that is great in the sight of heaven. Even if our walk and testimony is less than Jeremiah's, as long as we trust and obey and seek His will, then all is good my friend.

Seth said...

Excellent post Phil!

Matt, one thing that might help you understand the cessationist position (and I admit up front I'm learning and I'm still a white belt in theology) is this: the gift of miracles has ceased, i.e. the sign gifts, but the fact of miracles has not. For instance, no one has or will have the sign gifts like Jesus and the Apostles did, however, the fact of miracles (that God can suspend the natural laws for His glory) has not ceased.

~Mark said...

"But, how do we understand that inner sense, especially when God seems to use it to prompt us to pray, or witness, or duck and run at precisely the right moment? Because let's be honest, here: that kind of thing does happen to most of us from time to time.

As I said in a comment-thread [once upon a time] (see below), we need to regard those occasions as remarkable Providences, not inspired prophecy."

~Either way, it's nice to see someone acknowledge that it does happen. There seems to be this incredible divide between being able to make this simple and guarded recognition, and responding with "Yeah, but I had someone tell me that God was telling them to leave their wife!"

Which we ALL know is hooey, and not from God because it contradicts His word.

Thanks Phil, for this level-headed post.

puritanicoal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
puritanicoal said...

In finishing his first-class exegesis of 1 Cor. 13, D.A. Carson ends with this excellent and pastoral conclusion:

"There does not appear to be any biblical warrant, at least from this chapter, for banning contemporary tongues and prophecies on the ground that scripture anticipates their early demise. This does not mean, of course, that everything that passes for prophecy or the gift of tongues is genuine . . .


. . . One day all the charismatics who know the Lord and all the noncharismatics who know the Lord will have nothing to fight over; for the so-called charismatic gifts will have forever passed. At that point, both of these groups of believers will look back and thoughtfully contemplate the fact that what connects them with the world they have left behind is not the gift of tongues, nor animosity toward the gift of tongues, but the love they sometimes managed to display toward each other despite the gift of tongues."

"Showing the Spirit," pp. 75-76

trogdor said...

Carson may well be right that the one chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 doesn't specify the ending of miraculous gifts and revelation. If so, good for him. Doesn't change the fact that the miraculous gifts and revelation have ceased, as evidenced by them not happening anymore.

Not really sure what that has to do with this post, either. Unless you're claiming that Carson's quote suggests that mostly-wrong intuition is actual divine revelation. In which case he would be completely wrong, as would you. Still, again.

puritanicoal said...

Trogdor - VERY nice. Thanks for the response. While I respectfully disagree with your position, you succinctly and accurately summed up the cessationists' argument. Well said.

Eric said...

ban: to prohibit especially by legal means (Merriam-Webster online dictionary)

"There does not appear to be any biblical warrant, at least from this chapter, for banning contemporary tongues and prophecies..."

Who is banning (prohibiting) tongues or prophecies? To say that evidence shows that they have ceased is not tantamount to prohibiting them.

DJP said...

The passage has nothing whatever to do with the prohibition of banning current (i.e. fake) tongues and prophecies.

puritanicoal said...

Well said, DJP. Additionally, it has nothing to do with the prohibition of banning current (i.e. genuine) tongues and prophecies either.

Eric said...

My only point was wondering why Carson used the word "banning" in that context, as I don't see people arguing for a "ban" on tongues or propheciess. Perhaps I did not make clear what I was trying to say. Sorry for any confusion.

DJP said...

Half-right. 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 would require prohibition of spiritual fakery such as all those practices in which modern Charismatics distinguish themselves from Biblically-faithful Christians (i.e. fake revelatory and semi-hemi-demi revelatory shenanigans).

DJP said...

For those keeping track at home: my use of "shenanigans" is the Phil Johnson influence.

puritanicoal said...

DJP - does D.A. Carson fall into the "modern Charismatics" category or the "Biblically-faithful Christians" category?

DJP said...

Next time I chat with him, I'll try to remember to ask, and get back to you.

Eric said...

Dan,

I concur. I was thinking of an outright ban.

Matt Aznoe said...

While no one here may be banning prophesies, there seems to be a lot of contempt shown toward prophecy by no longer recognizing how true prophecy can strengthen the church and that true prophets may indeed be present in the church today.

Dan, you are right to warn me not to forget the fundamental truths of the Gospel, and to praise God for His abundant mercy and grace in saving a wretched sinner.

But I have a question: is it right to be content with our walk with God? Certainly we should be content in our circumstances in life, but should we never desire a more intimate walk with God and manifestations of His power and working in our lives? Paul encouraged his readers to desire prophecy and the other spiritual gifts. Why should I not follow his advice (if you will not accept it as an apostolic command)?

Daryl said...

MAtt,

If I may...it is right to want a closer walk with God, it is wrong to wish He would say more than He has said.

To wish that is to tell Him that His previous revelation is insufficient.

Not good.

stratagem said...

Matt:
Sorry I was gone for so long. Reading your comments here leads me to conclude that you believe the reading of the Word is not prophecy. I think that's what prophecy is in the present church age, thats why God spends so much time exhorting us to prophecy in the church.

boydmiller said...

Matt,

If I were to tell someone, "If you will repent of your sins and believe the gospel, you and your house will be will be saved." Have I not prophesied, edified and foretold of a future event?

Matt Aznoe said...

Daryl,

I am not saying that God's revelation in the Bible is insufficient, or even what power or faith that God is given me is not necessarily sufficient if it is God's will that I remain here. Paul could have said that his salvation was sufficient and so there was no need to pray for deliverance of his thorn, but God told him that "His grace is sufficient." That doesn't mean that no should pray for deliverance anymore, but that Paul was to no longer ask for that specific deliverance.

Rather than looking at it as thinking God's Word is insufficient, I look at it that God has proven throughout the pages of scripture and Church history that He is faithful and true and will not lead His people astray. In light of these witnesses, I appeal to God to guide and direct me that I might bring Him glory. It is precisely because of the glorious testimony of the saints that I too press on in pursuit of my Savior and seek the higher gifts with the humility to know that the Spirit only grants as He desires (I may want prophecy, but that does not mean that God will grant it to me).

Is there no value in receiving direction from God on which direction to take a certain ministry, who needs to hear a word of encouragement today, or to be pointed to a specific scripture and given a specific message to convict or correct a wayward brother?

If someone has been abundantly generous in the past, would you not look to them for help if you needed it in the future?

Matt Aznoe said...

stratagem and boydmiller,

(As you both essentially said the same thing...) I see reading scripture as part of prophecy, but I also believe that God can and does lead people by His Spirit just as He led them in Bible. In fact, I believe the majority of the time, God uses scripture to instruct us and teach us, but that is not the only way through which He can guide us. And in everything, we test what we receive against the scriptures and in prayer to verify that it is indeed from God.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

Matt, you ask alot of questions. Here's one: What more can a prophet (the charismatic kind) add to scripture? What's been left out? We've got Jesus, the ultimate revelation of God, we've got the foundation of the church poured, and we've got a closed canon of scripture with a completed doctrine.

DJP said...

Oh, what absolute hyper-pious nonsense, Matt. You believe no such thing. What ONE BOOK has been given by inerrant, Canon-level inspiration since 100 AD? Just ONE book, that's all we're asking, since you (untruthfully) claim to believe "that God ...does lead people by His Spirit just as He led them in Bible."

As to despising prophecy, that you would accuse a group affirming the Bible's teaching concerning itself so that YOU can demote it to "not-good-enough" status is sufficient proof that you have never listened to one word anyone has written in a post or said to you in a meta here.

So, put up, or for the love of God, shut up: name ONE CANON-LEVEL BOOK written post-AD 100, or withdraw your constant carping about "just as in the Bible."

Matt Aznoe said...

I remember hearing an interview with Piper where he talked about the gift of prophecy in his sermons. He would find himself saying things from the pulpit that he had not intended to say only to find out afterward that what he said in that moment had the biggest impact on some of his listeners. He believes it is God speaking through him to encourage his church. That is another example of prophecy.

As Jesus said,

"When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you."
(Matthew 10:19-20 ESV)

This, again, is prophecy.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Hi Matt Azone:

I do fall in line with Pyro’s position of the gifts not being in effect today, and firmly believe first and foremost it is the Bible’s position.

What I have found pretty typical of many Pentecostals and some, but not all Charismatics, is that they tend to compartmentalize/segregate all three persons of the Trinity and the Word of God. Many who I have talked to over the years put all the power into the work of the Holy Spirit at the expense of the Word of God, God and Christ; they forget that the entire Trinity plus God’s Word all work in tandem with each other.

Many of this theological bent will in fact tell you that God’s Word is of secondary importance to the Holy Spirit’s work. They entrust all power and revelation to the Spirit and deny God’s Word by making it subordinate to the Holy Spirit. This always leads to trouble. And most every Pentecostal, and many, but not all Charismatics, have been of the same persuasion that Canon is NOT closed. Which leads ample room to say, “Thus God revealed to me.” If it cannot be verified by what is written in the Word of God, toss it out!!!

I know you mentioned of wanting “more” of God. The only way to know more of God is to immerse oneself in His Word, prayer and obedience. We can try for short cuts such as current prophecies, but God tells us to not exceed what is written (1 Cor 4:6). Plain and simple.

If you go to “If My Word Abides in You” January 4, 2009, a sermon of John Piper, even he, being a charismatic, concedes that God’s Word is sufficient and nowhere else do we need to look for further revelation. BTW, it is one of my all time favorite sermons.

Matt Aznoe said...

DJP,

I think a good case could be made for many of the hymns that we sing in Church as a modern book of Psalms. "Pilgrim's Progress" is a book that comes to mind. Some of the autobiographies (Hudson Taylor, George Muller) would also come to mind (Fox's Book of the Martyrs?) as they are similar to Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and Acts in describing God's working amongst His people.

It is an interesting question: if a book is not worthy of the canon of scripture, is it actually worthy of being read? Is it worth our time when we have the very words of God in our Bibles? How many false doctrines and divisions would have been avoided if we had held each work to such a standard?

If the Bible is truly sufficient and complete (God need speak no further), then why should we read anything else?

As for calling a group "not good enough", I think the prophets of the Old and New Testament would have more than a thing or two to say about our modern church in America. In fact, the letter to Laodicea might as well be addressed specifically to the church in America as its message fits perfectly. ("I am rich and have acquired great wealth, and need nothing"... not even a word from God)

I also see the book of Habakkuk speaking clearly to modern-day America in ways that are too close for comfort.

DJP said...

EVERYONE please STOP and read Matt Aznoe's 3:47 comment, before interacting any further with him. Read it again. Think it over.

Matt Aznoe said...

Mary Elizabeth Tyler,

I believe the canon is closed in the sense that there is no new revelation required for salvation. The interesting thing is that the Bible itself does not close the canon, though there is certainly nothing wrong with limiting ourselves to scripture (in fact, George Muller argued that we should do just that -- and I am inclined to agree with him).

And I am not looking for any shortcuts. I have poured myself into Bible study, prayer, and obedience more in the last year than ever, and by God's grace, I will do so even more in the days to come. But as I draw near to God, I see His hand at work and I feel His presence more and more. I feel His guiding hand on my life, and so I want to learn how to lean on Him and trust Him even more.

DJP said...

So, Matt, you are saying that some hymns, "Pilgrim's Progress," autobiographies of Hudson Taylor and George Muller, and Fox's Book of the Martyrs are inerrant, God-breathed, and binding on the conscience of all Christians for all time?

Which hymns? Which version of Pilgrim's Progress?

And so you believe that all those should be added to the Canon? Are they bound in your Bible? Is your Bible, let's see, 71 books long?

Folks, see, when you've been taking Matt's comments so seriously and trying to answer, this is what you're dealing with. This is what continuationism can lead to: you either acknowledge what Christians have acknowledged for nearly 2 millennia, or you really have to go to some strange, desperate, dangerous places.

I have failed to pray for you as I should, Matt, and I will try to do better. But this isn't a good place to peddle that stuff.

Matt Aznoe said...

(And by the George Muller I comment, I mean that his library consisted only of the scriptures -- he read no one else.)

DJP said...

I believe the canon is closed in the sense that there is no new revelation required for salvation

Ah, now you wiggle. So you DON'T believe that "that God ...does lead people by His Spirit just as He led them in Bible." Or you do. But the Canon is closed. But it isn't. Because the Bible is sufficient. Because it's not.

What absolute nonsense, what a sad, sad detour you've taken. God grant no one follows you there, seeing where it leads.

Matt Aznoe said...

DJP,

What I am saying is this: the Bible does not close itself. In fact, it says that we have the Living Word. It is not a dead, finished book like the Quran. But God is also unchanging, and He will not contradict Himself. You simply cannot support a closed cannon from the pages of scripture.

Are you saying that the canon was closed by prophecy? Was the selection process a divine act of God?

I do not know if those books would stand up as God-inspired scripture, but I think it would be interesting if we would put them under the same scrutiny that the early church did to the scriptures in the Bible (as well as other books that are held so dear by many such as Calvin's Institutes).

While you may say you believe in a closed canon, do you not appeal to the Church history to support cessation? Are you not, in practice, living by an open canon by using quotes by Spurgeon and Calvin and others to support your arguments?

DJP said...

No, and again, what puerile nonsense. Seriously, you should take a vow not to talk anymore, and just listen, maybe for a year. If not here, then somewhere. You have no idea what you're saying; it is simple, irresponsible nonsense.

So, class, what we've learned about Matt Aznoe and the absolute train-wreck that continuationism can enable:

1. Does AND does not believe the Canon is closed

2. Some (he still hasn't told us which) hymns should be added to the Canon as inerrant, God-breathed Scripture binding on the conscience of all Christians

3. "Pilgrim's Progress" should be added to the Canon as inerrant, God-breathed Scripture binding on the conscience of all Christians

4. The autobiography of Hudson Taylor should be added to the Canon as inerrant, God-breathed Scripture binding on the conscience of all Christians

5. The autobiography of George Muller should be added to the Canon as inerrant, God-breathed Scripture binding on the conscience of all Christians

6. Fox's Book of the Martyr should be added to the Canon as inerrant, God-breathed Scripture binding on the conscience of all Christians

Right, Matt? Or are you going to retract your central untruth, that God must do exactly as He has always done, at all times, and in all places?

DJP said...

PS - and still, that leaves some fifteen centuries or so in which God was silent. So Matt really has to come up with a lot more books to prop up his position.

Or renounce it.

wordsmith said...

Now who among us is saying "closed canon" = "dead scripture"?

Strawman alert - no cessationist would make that assertion.

Deal with the arguments at hand, instead of making up stuff as you go along.

joel said...

Or an even scarier thought is that Matt holds the scriptures to have as little authority as the other sources he sites.

DJP said...

Well, Wordsmith, as I said at 3:33, it proves that Matt has never listened to one word anyone has written in a post or said to him in a meta here. It is a basic, basic lie. You are absolutely correct.

I just hope folks get it about Matt, and we can move on.

Most of all, though, I am praying Matt gets it, for his and his family's good.

DJP said...

Of course you're right, Joel. It is obvious.

How many times have I said: no one makes a case for continuationism without at the same time making a case for the insufficiency of Scripture? You have to despise genuine prophecy to prop up fake prophecy. You have to Clinton down the real deal to puff up the phony.

Matt Aznoe said...

DJP,

I did not say that God must do "exactly as He has always done, at all times, and in all places?" That is nonsense, but is, in fact, closer to your own position -- that God can only speak word-for-word what He has expressed in scripture -- that He will never utter a word that is outside of the canon.

I also have not said that God's work is consistently distributed throughout time. As I mentioned above, there were often lengthy times of silence.

The Bible is the foundation on which the Church is built, but that does not mean that God cannot continue to build upon that foundation -- only that what is built will lie atop that foundation.

DJP said...

Yes, Matt, your position is nonsense. Countless patient folks have pointed that out to you over and over.

So you are retracting your statement "God can and does lead people by His Spirit just as He led them in Bible"?

Then there is still the matter of all the books you add to the Canon, noted above. And you haven't named the hymns that we must add.

Of course, you could just stop talking, and start learning and re-thinking and re-building.

Matt Aznoe said...

Where is the support for the sufficiency of scripture. Our sufficiency is in God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

"Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."
(2 Corinthians 3:5-6 ESV)

DJP said...

Now you're going back to 19th century Germany to split God from His Word? OK, so you deny the sufficiency of Scripture flat-out, Matt? Anything to save the theory.

Like everything else, this bifurcation of God and His Word has been flat-out decimated so many times it's amazing to hear you announce it like a discovery.

I just can't believe it's taken this long to flush you out.

DJP said...

(19th for full flower, 18th for roots.)

Matt Aznoe said...

And I have spent the past four years rebuilding, rethinking, and letting the Spirit teach me through the Word of God and prayer. And by God's grace, it will continue.

If it seems that I am not listening, it is because I have heard the same rhetoric for most of my Christian life -- and much of it does not actually have a foundation in scripture. The charismatics are not the only ones who have added and taken away from God's Word.

stratagem said...

Matt
To your 3:47 comment, it is exactly as I told you last week: the certainty with which you feel you have to believe the miraculous accounts written by Taylor, Carmichael, and other heroes of the faith's writings leads you to a lot of confusion on many other points. This 3:47 comment is a confirmation of that. Only the bible is worthy of absolute credibility, everything else written by anyone else, is potentially a lie. Not necessarily a lie, mind you, but potentially a lie (or just an honest mistake, which still makes it untrue).

DJP said...

No, that's not true, Matt. You've been getting in a deeper and deeper mess. We're all witnesses, and it's just gotten more and more tragic.

So here's where it stops. You're not just going to wiggle on, easing back into hyper-pious nonsense.

Your next published comment will be to answer all of the questions in these comments:

3:53 PM, August 22, 2011

4:15 PM, August 22, 2011

Renounce, or name. Straight answers. We don't just wiggle on from here.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

So typical, DJP, so many believe that the Bible somehow comes from some other source than God. The fact that God's Word (in the Bible) is God breathed OUT, makes no difference to them.

Matt needs to listen to J. Piper's sermon I mentioned.

He points out that He whom God has sent (Jesus) utters the Word of God (John 3:34).

You cannot segregate God from His Word, the Spirit from His word, or Jesus from His Word.

They all work in tandem.

DJP said...

No ma'am, exactly right. Neither Jesus nor the apostles ever did. "God says" and "Scripture says" were the same affirmation.

Jason M. Woelm said...

This is disheartening, I'll tell you. Continuationism didn't creap into reformed circles because of painstaking exegesis and because they found God saying in the text, "Fan 'gifts' that have no correspondence whatsoever to the 1st century gifts into flame." No, they caved to multiple, seemingly legit "experiences."

God help us.

DJP said...

Well, and some of the neatest people are some kind of continuationists. I don't say that with a speck of snark or sarcasm, it's just true. You can't criticize the position without having Dr. This and Pastor That thrown at you.

It's like, "Every time you criticize continuationism, God kills a kitten," or something.

Just Jules said...

When we say, "Yes, I have an itch. I want more of Christ," what we're effectively saying is that there is not enough of Christ to be found in Scripture.

DJP said...

Not very Colossians 2:10, is it?

Just Jules said...

No, it's not DJP. Either the Scriptures are sufficient or they're not. Either Christ alone is sufficient or He's not.

DJP said...

...and, as I point out in that linked post (above), Satan's method is always to direct attention away from God's lavish provision, and towards the just-out-of-reach, which (he absolutely guarantees) is the very thing we need.

Thus becomes the doomed quest away from God and His fullness... sometimes in the name of searching for God and His fullness.

Matt Aznoe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Just Jules said...

As you know DJP, I came out of the Charismatic movement so this topic hits particularly close to home.

I believe that the danger in the "just-out-of-reach" and "fresh-word-from-the-Lord" approach is much greater than many Christians want to acknowledge.

DJP said...

Straight answers, Matt, not subject-changing or repeating oft-refuted nonsense.

DJP said...

I think you're right, Jules. It's the folks who are dabbling, who are just at the edges and viewing it theoretically, who don't see that. They don't see what a treadmill it is, what an endless and bottomless and edgeless nightmare it is to leave God's full, robust provision in Christ and His Word in the desperate pursuit of the illusory chimera of "just over there" and "right around the corner."

Sir Aaron said...

All this talk about watered down prophecy and I can't find my sheepskins anywhere!

donsands said...

"..letting the Spirit teach me through the Word of God and prayer."-Matt

Do you mean the Scriptures Matt. Peter warned us of those who would twist Paul's epistles and the OT as well. 2 Peter 3

We need to fear adding, or taking away from God's truth: His Word is truth.-Jesus John 17:17

The way you talk Matt, Joseph Smith could have been a saint of our Lord.

My goodness, don't you love the Bible? i do. It's a treasure from our Savior and our Father to us, His beloved.

I pray we would all have a great hunger for His Word, and His whole Word, for we can not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God: From Genesis to Revelation. Amen.

Susan said...

It looks like Blogger has once again eaten up my Pyro comment. Oh well. Just wanted to say, Phil, that this has got to be one of the clearest explanations on God's providential leadings I've ever read. Thanks for reposting this!

Matt Aznoe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sir Aaron said...

Matt:

With the number of posts you have here, it's really hard to think of you in terms of Proverbs 17:27.

You come here alot, so you must respect both Phil and Dan. So if one of them tells you that you are babbling, don't you think Proverbs 17:28 would be a better approach than to keep arguing?

Just Jules said...

Matt:

I'm a former Charismatic so I know the drill. Lets be honest. Lets get real.

Charismatics all claim that Scripture, "is the authority against which all spirits are tested", but we know that's not true. You and I both know that Charismatics test everything against their feelings and any claim to the contrary just isn't true.

It's time to for honesty brother. It's time to put away childish things.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Matt:

You do remember George Mattern from Shepherd's Fellowship? I know you do. Remember what he said about men who do not listen to other sound men of the faith?

"But, if a person stumbles at the very easiest point of perception, and persists in error after a number of godly men have examined his conclusions and found them to be faulty in the light of the simplest Scriptural objectivity, then that person would do well to interpret that as a warning and a good reason to examine the motives of his heart. He should ask himself, "Am I so stubbornly set in my opinion that I am eager to mutilate the meaning of any Scriptural word, verse, or passage until it agrees with me, or am I approaching the Bible as the authoritative pronouncement of the God of the Universe, before whose majestic revelation I must always bow in reverent submission and constant willingness to change my opinions when corrected by it?"

In other words, "Am I shaping the Bible with my opinions, or am I shaping my opinions with the Bible?" King David solemnly acknowledged to the Lord, "You have magnified Your ***WORD*** according to all Your name" (Ps. 138:2). Therefore, since "the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His NAME in vain" (Ex. 20:7), the same penalty certainly awaits all who would take His simalarly exalted WORD in vain by misusing it. Let every man sincerely examine himself in this very serious matter!"

George is right! Listen to Phil and Dan, they care about your soul.

DJP said...

Matt, here's where you are.

As I said, any post that is other than a straight-up response to that post will be deleted. Keep up the same old, same old and I'll just make it simple and ban you.

boydmiller said...

The problem continuatist have is apostle envy. They want the cool gifts(without the persecution the apostles had), they need proof to feel special.

Far Talk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Johnny Dialectic said...

"It is not for us then to select some gift, and then look to the Holy Spirit to impart the self-chosen gift; it is not for us to select some field of service and then look to the Holy Spirit to impart to us power in that field which we, and not He, have chosen. It is rather for us to recognize the Divinity and sovereignty of the Spirit, and put ourselves unreservedly at His disposal; for Him to select the gift that “He will” and impart to us that gift; for Him to select for us the field that “He will” and impart to us the power that will qualify us for the field He has chosen." - R. A. Torrey

Thomas Louw said...

Matt Aznoe.

Exhibit A.

1. That the “slippery-slope” is effective.

2. Proof that sometimes a desire for “more” of Christ becomes more “than” Christ.

3. Proves that sometimes people move beyond the gospel and only the gospel and fall off the other side.

4. Proof that you can be sincerely wrong.

Robert said...

Just going to post a couple of things from Scripture because I can't really speak better than it does...

"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world." (Hebrews 1:1-2)

"Aftere it was at 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." (Hebrews 2:3b-4)

"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone" (Ephesians 2:19-20)

Emphasis (for obvious reason, I hope) is mine for all of these.

puritanicoal said...

It's ironic how many cessationists argue their point from experience. Those who supposedly revere the Word stay as far away from it (i.e., 1 Cor. 14) as they can.

"I grew up a Charismatic, and they are a crazy bunch...."

"Benny Hinn is crazy. Benny Hinn is a continuationist. D. A. Carson is a continuationist. Therefore, D.A. Carson owns the craziness of Benny Hinn."

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Another good source of information from a Cessationists point of view, is Professor Nathan Busenitz's article over at cripplegate.com, titled "Are There Still Apostles Today?"

I mention it for two reasons. It is excellent and biblical, and he uses Wayne Grudem's very own words, who is a Continuationist.

You can find it on page five at the bottom of the page.

DJP said...

Here's puritancoal, thoughtfully illustrating the point of today's post.

Robert said...

Puritanicoal,

I just gave you three Scripture references over half an hour before your comment, yet you did not see fit to address any of those. I'm not saying to adddress me, but the Scriptures. Not one mention of experience.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Dear puritanicoal,

You said: ""Benny Hinn is crazy. Benny Hinn is a continuationist. D. A. Carson is a continuationist. Therefore, D.A. Carson owns the craziness of Benny Hinn."

I would be very careful with a statement like that, while it is true that continuationists are in error, not all c's are as extreme as Benny Hinn. To compare the two is just not a responsible thing to do. I have learned a great deal from D.A. Carson as I have John Piper.

puritanicoal said...

Mary, I couldn't agree more with your last paragraph. I wasn't the original author of that thought, and I don't agree with it - that's why it was in quotes.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Sorry, puritanicoal. :( I just think it is important when we do have a quote to try and give the author. Glad you're on the Pyro team. :)

trogdor said...

Back from a hectic evening, finally getting a chance to catch up on comments here. Did I miss anything?

....WHAAAAA???

DUDE! What... how.. huh? WOW!

I mean, I knew theoretically there had to be people who held that kind of belief. I just never imagined I'd ever actually encounter anyone insane enough to express it (other than perhaps Roman cultists who believe something becomes God's Word when the grand poobah says it is).

Is it inappropriate to suggest that those godly men and women would be absolutely aghast at the thought that someone would regard their writings as God's Word, binding on all men everywhere, condemning to an eternity of torment all who disobey and reject?

Manfred said...

I just the entire list of comments. Wow!

Bottom line, "Every time you criticize continuationism, God kills a kitten," is the cat's meow! As if there's something wrong with killing kittens - they are good tamale fixins :-)

One of my favorite stories about the sufficiency of Scripture is the story of William Haslam. Taken from: http://www.williamhaslam.org/ It's a glorious testimony to how God works through His Word, for the glory of His name.

One Sunday in 1851 following a period of deep conviction of sin, Haslam ascended into the pulpit of Baldhu church near Truro with the intention of telling his congregation that he would not preach again to them until he was saved and to ask them to pray for his conversion.

However, when he began to preach on the text 'What think ye of Christ' he saw himself as a Pharisee who did not recognise that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. At that moment, the Holy Spirit breathed new life into him and the effect was so obvious and marked that a local preacher who was present stood up and shouted 'the Parson is converted' and the people rejoiced 'in Cornish style'.

Others were also converted on that day, including members of his own household, others fled from the church in fear. A revival followed that blessed Sunday that lasted for three years during which time souls were saved weekly, often daily.

DJP said...

Manfred, thanks for noticing. (c:

Trogdor, excellent hammer-dropping, as usual. I am convinced that most continuationists really don't think through their own position. Matt is an unfortunate example, and an example that no matter how many patiently (more so than I) say again and again "Wake up! Wake up!", it just isn't happening.

So yes, you're absolutely right. The implication of Matt's position comes off of John 14:15 and 15:14 and all the rest. It means that if we reject anything in the hymns he still hasn't named, or the autobiographies he did name, or Pilgrim's Progress, we are marking ourselves as unregenerate, not loving Christ, and still under God's wrath.

It's serious stuff.

Matt Aznoe said...

Dan,

Perhaps I have overstated the case. I hold the Bible (the 66 books that we now have) as the absolute standard of truth, the very words of God with all authority. Given your understanding and definition, then I must renounce what I said. No writing since the formation of the scriptures by the eyewitnesses of Christ can be considered scripture in that sense. The Gospel is once-for-all delivered to the saints.

But you have stated before that the prophecy referred to in the New Testament is exactly the same as that of the Old Testament. If this is true, what am I to do with Paul's exhortation to desire prophecy in the church or his command to not despise prophecies? These commands were directed toward churches whose people were not witnesses of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, so their prophecy, while not scripture in the strict sense, would still be words from God. Am I to simply ignore these portions of scripture? Is the prophecy that he is talking about different from the prophecy of the Old Testament in a clearly defined way?

DJP said...

Nope. As you have had the opportunity to read here again and again and again and again, what you should do is:

1. Believe what Paul said.

2. Believe that the Corinthians should value prophecy.

3. Repent of despising prophecy yourself as you do when you apply the word to non-prophecy.

4. Repent of despising prophecy yourself by constantly "yeah-but"-ing the complete, sufficient prophetic Word of God.

5. Value the prophecy that is the completed Canon of Scripture, to the point of being content with it, and starting your thinking there, rather than starting it with your restless, discontented itch for other than what God has given.

6. Close your ears once and for all to the Serpent's constant whisper to you that what God has provided is not enough, and repent of not having done so much, much earlier.

Queue said...

Phil,

I have a question regarding your position here: Were the Corinthians Paul instructed to prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:29-33) speaking the infallible Word of God when they did so? If so, why were they not captured and preserved for us in the canon? If not, why was it permitted and encouraged by Paul?

Sincerely,
Q

Robert said...

Why does everybody always point to 1 Corinthians 14 and not use the rest of Scripture to interpret Scripture? I'll offer the same three portions of Scripture I did earlier and see if anybody tries to do so...

"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world." (Hebrews 1:1-2)

"Aftere it was at 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." (Hebrews 2:3b-4)

"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone" (Ephesians 2:19-20)

Emphasis (for obvious reason, I hope) is mine for all of these.

NCH said...

Q-
I'm not Phil, but a good reason is that prophets were given along with apostles for the foundation of the church so that the church would "build up...to a mature man" (see Eph. 2:20 and Eph. 4:11-13). So the church at Corinth was told to desire the gift of prophecy to be present within the body as whole. (I say this just in case you're unaware that it's not individuals who should be the ones earnestly desiring.) During the foundation stage of the church the NT wasn't around in a completed fashion. Therefore, prophets were given for the good of the church during its infancy. If this interpretation is accurate of the office of the prophet, then what we have of their ministry and their words are minimal, namely, the gospels of Luke and Mark, and the letters of Acts (Luke), Hebrews, James, and Jude (forgive me if I've missed one).

I hope this helps you and I'm not overstepping my boundaries.

Matt Aznoe said...

NCH,

That actually makes a certain degree of sense to me, and it would actually correlate with the testimony of Christians overseas. Wycliffe, for example, talks about how they see the gift of tongues manifest when they first come into an area, but once the Bible has been completely translated, the gift disappears. From your explanation, the same could happen in regard to prophecy.

So the gifts could continue even until the present day in areas where the Gospel has yet to be translated, but is virtually absent (at least in its true form) from the places where the whole of scripture is widely available.

This still would not completely negate the possibility of future prophecy or messages from God to His people in those areas, but it would be extremely rare.

If my theory is correct, then the commands not to despise prophesies would still apply to us today when hearing testimonies of the works of God overseas. God may very well be using visions and signs to draw people out of Islam, for example, due to the great difficulty in getting access to Bibles in the Middle East. It is food for thought.

DJP said...

No, Matt, it is not food for thought. It is food for distraction, food for itching ears, food for those for whom Christ and His Word are not enough.

Have you not learned one thing, even yet?

There is "food for thought" in Scripture you haven't even begun to deal with, or you wouldn't have come a breath away from total shipwreck in this very thread.

Join the apostles, who were utterly uninterested in fascinating stories (even true ones!) in comparison with the more sure word of prophecy we have in Scripture. Stop despising prophecy, by moonily sighing over mists and illusions. Get in to the word, stay there, be content with God's lavish provision.

This thread's done. If Phil wants to open it and manage it, answer Queue's question again, he of course is welcome to.