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Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble:

for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand, Joel 2:1.

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Saturday, 5 July 2014

Errors of the Charismatic/Pentecostal Movement Part 12

These posts stem from a series of fifteen studies conducted, in our Youth Fellowship meetings, at the request of the young people who attend, dealing with the errors of the Charismatic/Pentecostal Movement

Study 1 - Introduction
Study 2 - The Infilling of the Spirit
Study 4 - The Cessation of New Testament Supernatural Gifts - Part one
Study 5 - The Cessation of New Testament supernatural gifts - Part two
Study 6 - The Errors of Tongue Speaking
Study 7 - The Error of Faith Healing - Part one
Study 8 - The Errors of Faith Healing - Part two
Study 9 - The Errors of Demon Possession - Part one
Study 10 - The Errors of Demon Possession - Part two
Study 11 - The Errors of Demon Possession - Part three

Study Twelve - The Errors of Claiming the Gift of Prophecy
A chief feature of the Charismatic/Pentecostal Movement is their claim that the gift of prophecy can be known today. Some would even go so far as to say that the reason the church has failed to carry out the Great Commission is because it neglected these supernatural gifts. They cite evidence showing rapid church growth wherever all the gifts of the Spirit are operational. One of these is prophecy.
Considerable importance is placed upon this gift in the New Testament. For example the word 'Prophecy' is mentioned 22 times in 1 Corinthians chs 12-14. Prophecy is said to be for 'edification', and 'exhortation', and 'comfort', 1 Corinthians 14:3.

A 'Prophet' in Bible times was someone who not only 'forth-told' the truth but also 'fore-told' what was going to happen in the future. They both preached the truth and prophesied the future. There were Prophets both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, cf. Acts 11:27 And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch; Acts 13:1: Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul; Acts 21:10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.

There were 'prophetesses' as well, Acts 21:8,9: And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.

1. Their argument for claiming the Gift of Prophecy can be summarised as:
[1] The Historical Argument. The use of these gifts never ceased. There are Charismatics who argue that the gift of prophecy never completely ceased throughout 2,000 years of church history. Some even quote C. H. Spurgeon in support, some also refer to statements made by some of the Covenanters about future events which then came to pass.

[2] The Experience Argument - There are many within this camp who argue that they know God speaks prophetically today because they have witnessed or even experienced it for themselves. This is often hard to argue against. However, experience is never to be our rule to judge whether anything is right before the Lord. Our experience can be wrong. Even a Christian can be deceived.

[3] The End-Time Argument - Some believe that this gift is prevalent because we are living in the last days. They argue that the increase in the prophetic gift is due to the nearness of Christ's return. Indeed thy would argue that many of the prophecies given today through exercising this gift seem to relate to this event.

4. The Bible Texts Argument - Charismatics quote certain portions of the New Testament in support of their viewpoint:
(i) Ephesians 2:20. The New Testament Church is … built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. Rejecting the argument that the gifts have ceased Charismatics believe that the gift of prophecy should continue. For example, one interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13:9-10: For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away, suggests that the phrase: 'that which is perfect is come', can be translated as 'but when the perfect comes'. They subsequently argue that this refers to the second coming of Christ.

(ii) Acts 21:4-. The prophet named Agabus and some others gave a prophecy warning Paul not to go up to Jerusalem less he be bound by the Jews and delivered to the Romans. Paul did not obey this prophecy and was subsequently arrested.

(iii) 1 Corinthians 14:30, If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace, is used as an example of slightly inaccurate prophecy being nevertheless from God. Although some Charismatics do make a distinction between an Apostle speaking infallibly and an ordinary New Testament saint speaking infallibly.

(iv) 1 Corinthians 14:29, Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. This verse is used to suggest that others in the Church could stand in judgement over what is being said and that this indicates that it was not inspired, or infallible prophecy. This is how many Charismatics view the use of the gift of prophecy today.

2. A Biblical understanding of the gift of prophecy. The Apostles and the early Church did have the gift of prophecy. However, it has ceased. The ceasing of the gift of prophecy is connected with the completion of the canon, and the sufficiency, of Scripture. 

All that God desires to say to us, and what is necessary for salvation and all Christian living is found solely in His Word and infallibly preserved in His Word. This may be summed up by the wording of the Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 1, section 6: 
The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

These statements are based upon the following proof texts: 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Galatians 1:8,9; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; John 6:45; 1 Corinthians 2:9-12; 1 Corinthians 11:13, 14; 1 Corinthians 14:26. 40.

If the whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture, then there is surely no need for any further revelation. 

This we know to be emphatically true for the Scripture clearly states it: And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works, 2 Timothy 3:15-17.

It is Scripture that is profitable. It is 'profitable' for 'doctrine', 'reproof', 'correction' and 'instruction'. The child of God may be 'perfect' or complete through taking heed to Scripture. If this is so and it is, then what want we more? Scripture is all sufficient. There is no need for anything else. With the completion of the canon of Scripture there is no need to seek other prophetic sources. We have all that we need in the Word of God. 

If other revelations or prophecies are permitted to be set alongside the Scriptures and even worse are allowed to override the Scriptures then this is a most serious position to be in. This in reality is an attack upon the sufficiency of Scripture.

We are warned that there is no 'light' in that which is contrary to Scripture, Isaiah 8:20: To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

We are told in the New Testament that the gift of prophecy was going to cease, 1 Cor 13:8: Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. The word 'fail' can mean 'to cease' or 'to abolish'. While 'faith', 'hope' and 'charity' will all remain, prophecies will fail. As we noticed previously 'hope' is something that only exist in this life, Romans 8:24,25: For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. So the 'failing' can't refer to heaven.

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