Considering their insistence on the integrity of the Word of God it’s quite amazing to hear the doctrine of cessationists like J D Hall.
You would think that Sola Scriptura exponents would be sticklers for the accuracy of the canon, but it seems they are the most cherry-picking of souls.
In a message featured and lauded over at the chookdom J D makes an astonishing declaration.
“Prophecy has ceased because the Word is complete!’
Well, that’s news to the Holy Spirit, J D, not to mention the Word.
Just in case anyone misheard what he has just said, I listened to the whole message, and there was no other conclusion that could be reached but that Hall has announced the end of prophecy, even though the testimony of Jesus is said in Revelation to be the Spirit of prophecy.
The Word is sacrosanct
Now anyone who adheres to the Word as the canon of scripture not to be tampered with will know that we have to live by everything the Word of God says to us unless it states otherwise, say, where Old Testament commands are superseded by the New Covenant. Even Sola Scriptura exponents like Hall say that we live by the Word.
What, then, does the Word say about prophecy? Has it ended?
Let’s start with the beginning of the Church which is generally accepted to be at Pentecost when the outpouring of the Spirit takes place.
The disciples, all 120, including the women, were in the Upper Room praying, waiting for the outpouring as Jesus had commanded them, when He told them, “you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The baptism with the Holy Spirit, also called the outpouring or the Promise of the Spirit, would be upon them all, and, indeed, as prophesied in Joel, upon all flesh, including, again, male and female.
Acts 2:17-18 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.
So, as they awaited the outpouring, the Spirit came and they were all filled and all began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave utterance.
The Promise of the Spirit continues
This outpouring has never ended. As Joel declared, it would be one of the signs of the last days; ‘it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh’.
Are we still in the last days? Of course, because if Pentecost was in the last days then every day since is also part of the last days. In fact, Peter, letting people know how they should be saved, told them that the Promise was to all generations.
Acts 2:38-39 “Repent, and let every one of you be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
Part of this promise was that ‘Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy’. So not just the men but also the women would prophesy, and it would be ‘to all who are afar off’. This alone tells us that prophecy has not ended.
However, Hall goes to great lengths to convince his audience that prophecy is no longer necessary to the Church because we have the Word. But this is the Word. I have just shared the Word which tells us that prophecy has not ended, and is, indeed, a sign that the outpouring is yet with us.
Zeal for prophecy
Paul gives us an instruction, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that tells us how to treat prophecy.
1 Corinthians 14:1 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
Paul has just been talking about the operation of the Spirit in the Church. He gives the motive, which is love, then he speaks of the method and the means – by the will of the Holy Spirit. So here he gives an important summary of the previous chapters that leads into the next: Pursue love, desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
Remember Sola Scriptura? This is the scripture. This is instruction in the Word of God. This is what we live by under the New Covenant.
Desire prophecy. Desire is strong word. The Greek word is zeloo, meaning ‘to zealously affect, or to burn with zeal, to be zealous in the pursuit of good, to desire earnestly, to strive after, in an energetic way’. This is an instruction in the Word for all saints.
Does this sound as if prophecy has ended? Certainly not. We are yet to be zealous and strongly desirous to prophesy. That is the reason we have to get this right. We need sound teaching on this.
We cannot have cessationists telling us the gift or the sign has passed away when the Holy Spirit, through the Word, is telling us to be zealous to prophesy. We are told to pursue prophecy above all spiritual gifts.
This is not an option. It is an instruction. Remember all scripture is profitable for instruction.
1 Timothy 3:16-17 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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
All scripture. Including the scripture that tells us that God’s menservants and women-servants will prophesy, and that we are to be zealous to prophesy. All scripture.
We are not to prevent people from prophesying, nor quench the Spirit by whom we prophesy.
1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies.
There is no scripture to tell us that prophecy has ended. The need for it will go, as will the need for knowledge, but we still need knowledge, do we not, so we have not reached that point yet. In fact, Daniel prophesied that knowledge would increase as we draw near to the second coming.
Paul says he wishes that we all spoke in tongues, but rather that we prophesy, especially in the assembly, so that all can be edified by the gifts of the Spirit.
1 Corintians 14:5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
God the Holy Spirit uses the gift of prophecy to help build up the Church. We do not neglect preaching the gospel, or teaching the Word, but there is also the ministry of the Spirit that helps build up the Church.
1 Corinthians 14:3 He who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church
Clearly the Word is teaching us that we are to be desirous of prophecy, and how to do it decently and in order.
Love is the motive for zeal for prophecy
By the way, love is not the greatest of the gifts. It is not a gift at all, as in spiritual gifts and manifestations. We are told to pursue love and be zealous for the gifts. If we pursue love the gifts will follow.
Love is the nature of the Spirit. The gifts and manifestations are His to operate through us in love. God is love. His love enters us when we recieve Christ. It is not optional. It is an imperitive.
Love is not listed amongst the gifts of the Spirit. It is listed amongst the fruit of the Spirit, because it highlights the character of the Spirit that should be produced in us when we are filled with the Spirit.
The gifts and fruit work hand in hand. Love is the motivation for the gifts and manifestations. Without love the gifts are clanging gongs. If you love your brothers and sisters in Christ you will allow the Holy Spirit to operate through you to bring edification, comfort and encouragement through prophecy as He wills.
It is not extra-Biblical revelation as the cessationists claim. The Holy Spirit will never contradict what He has said in the Word. But HE does tell us in the Word that in the assembly there are those will come with a word, with a prophecy and with a revelation.
1 Corinthians 14:26 Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
And there is the important element in this. Let all things be done for edification. These things are not revelatory in that they are separate from the canon. Even the New Covenant is based on the Old, especially on the Abrahamic Covenants, and on the Promises of God.
These manifestations of the Spirit have not gone away. He has not stopped being the Holy Spirit. He is God. He does not change. He has not stopped working in and through the Church. He still operates as He wills with each believer individually according to His leading.
Cessationists look through these teachings for ways in which to diminish the role and importance of the gifts of the Spirit in the assemblies, but to do so they have to ignore those instructions that tell us how and why we should be zealous for spiritual gifts and especially to prophesy.
There is much more we can say about this, and maybe I’ll add to this contribution, but surely it is already clear that prophecy has not ended because the Word has entered, but, rather, the Word tells us how prophecy is an important part of New Testament theology and we need to know how and when to prophesy as the Spirit leads.