1 Corinthians 12:1 - 31
ESV - 1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led.
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I would say, first of all, that, although God would certainly be capable of sending authentic prophecy today, why would He do so (or need to do so)? Prophecy (in the Biblical sense) was necessary prior to the end of the first century because believers did not have the completed canon of Scripture. But God has now provided all the knowledge that is in the Bible (including the coming events of the end times), which Christians believe to be His full revelation, and which has been closed for almost 2,000 years. So why would additional prophecy now be necessary? Also, nothing that a purported prophet would say today would contradict, add to, or take away from what is already in the Bible (Revelation 22:18-19). So that is the means that should be used to test anyone who claims to be speaking on behalf of God today (1 John 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21). If what is said contradicts the Bible, ignore it. If it agrees with the Bible, ask God for wisdom and discernment in how to apply it (2 Timothy 3:16-17; James 1:5). But it would not replace or add to what is already in Scripture.
Let's first be clear what prophecy is? Two dictionary definitions are: 1) a person regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God, 2) a person who is believed to have a special power that allows them to say what a god wishes to tell people, especially about things that will happen in the future. In a biblical sense, prophets were individuals chosen by God to deliver messages from God, that He wanted either his people corporately (the nation of Israel, the universal church of Jesus Christ) or individual leaders, to receive a revelation of God's will. These people served in the "role" of prophet and their messages are recorded in the Holy Bible. In the New Testament times, Jesus Christ and his apostles were the only people who served in this role. But with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, prophetic messages continue through the "prophetic" spiritual gift given by the Holy Spirit. The difference between the person who serves in the biblical role of the prophet and someone who uses the prophetic spiritual gift is the application. The prophetic messages contained in the bible have universal application and authority for all Christians for all time until Jesus comes again. However, the messages delivered through the spiritual gift of Prophecy have application and authority only for the local church or individual that they are directed to. Such messages are not infallible like the prophetic messages in the bible. The person using this gift may not fully understand the message they are receiving and, as such, God's will may not be crystal clear to the recipients. As a result, the recipients are called to exercise discernment when receiving such messages and to compare them with the clear teachings of scripture. Any portion of a message that conflicts with a clear teaching of scripture is to be disregarded. The portion of the message that agrees with scripture should be prayerfully considered and acted upon as this is God's will for the local church or an individual Christian. The apostle Paul does a good job of helping us understand the use of the prophetic gift of Prophecy, in these passages: 1 Corinthians 14:1-40 (excerpts)...eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy... the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort...the one who prophesies edifies the church...I would rather have you prophecy...what good will it be to you unless I bring some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction...since you are eager for gifts of the spirit try to excel in those that build up the church...prophecy is not for unbelievers but for believers...if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God exclaiming "God is really among you." Some Christians believe that these Spiritual Gifts died out once the Christian church had been established and the contents of the Holy Bible had been canonized. Personally, I don't accept this position. Consider Jesus's prophetic messages in the book of Revelation to the seven churches in Asia Minor as recorded in Revelation 1:17 to 3:22. This revelation was given to the apostle John and these seven churches were under his spiritual authority. The number "seven" is God's number for completeness. These message examples clearly tell us that Jesus has messages to deliver to ALL of his churches ALL the time. The real question is: Will there be people in each local church who eagerly desire the spiritual gift of prophecy, so the Holy Spirit has willing messengers to communicate God's will for each local church or individual. Personally, I have experienced the spiritual gift of prophecy. I have delivered several messages for the local church and I received many messages for myself, to guide development of a new ministry that God had called me to establish.
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