Chris Rosebrough is a cessationist. This means he believes and teaches that the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit have ended, as have speaking in tongues, healing and miracles.
He says that these ended some time in the fifth century after Christ when the canon was ratified by the catholic church.
Therefore he has a different set of values to Pentecostal preachers. When he scrutinises their teaching on his ‘Fighting for the Faith’ program at Pirate Christian Radio it’s from the perspective of an unbeliever when it comes to the gifts. Remember this as we go through a teaching he produced recently, and very usefully transcribed for us by chookwatcher.
Here’s what Chris teaches when
interrupting reviewing a preacher who states that all believers can prophesy…
‘Does God’s Word teach that all can prophesy? No it does not, let’s take a look at the clear passage first. 1 Corinthians chapter 12 verse 29 “Are all apostles? No. Are all prophets? No. Are all teachers? No. Do all work miracles? No. Do all possess gifts of healing? No. Do all speak with tongues? No. Do all interpret? No.”
Now you might be thinking, “well my Bible doesn’t have the word ‘no’ in it. Yes, well it’s there in the Greek, by the way. Untranslated particle “me” means the question being asked to be understood as being answered in the negative. “Me pontus apostolo” – are all apostles? No! Are all prophets? No. In fact the whole point of 1 Corinthians 12 is that God, the Holy Spirit, gives all kinds of gifts. Differing gifts and that we together are the body of Christ and there are different gifts given for different people to serve different functions within the body of Christ. Straight up! And this is one of the false teachings of the charismatic and Pentecostal movements, that all receive the gift, of the Holy Spirit, that all can prophecy. Scripture does not teach that at all. You know, it does not make it so that everybody receives the same gifts. In fact the whole point of 1 Corinthians 12 is that everybody receives different gifts, that’s why not all are apostles, not all prophesy.
Now let’s take a look at what’s going on in 1 Corinthians 14, here [he] makes it sound like ALL can prophesy. No that’s not what it says. Ok, here’s what it says when we do this in context, verse 29, 1 Corinthians 14:29 “Let two or three prophets speak, let the others weigh what is said. For revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent, for you can all prophecy one by one so that all may learn and be encouraged”. Aha! It doesn’t say all can prophesy, it says two or at the most three. Alright? That’s what it’s saying, and you can all prophecy one by one, that’s his point.’
This is a marvellous example of taking scripture out of context to attempt to prove a flawed doctrine.
In fact, scripture does tell us that all Christians can and should prophesy. Rosebrough takes 1 Corinthians 12:29 out of context with the rest of the canon. It doesn’t say ‘can all prophesy’. It says, ‘are all prophets’, meaning the office of prophet. There is a difference.
This has to be taken in context with the previous line which says ‘are all apostles’. Well, no, not all are apostles, and, of course, not all are prophets, and the apostle is an office bestowed by Christ. Paul also talks of other offices.
But this is not saying that all cannot prophesy. That would be stretching the meaning of this passage. Otherwise Paul would be contradicting the rest of scripture which tells us that all can prophesy, which was the encouragement being given by the speaker being reviewed.
All can prophecy, but all don’t
How do we know that all can prophesy? Well the first five verses of 1 Corinthians 14 tells us that we should be zealous to prophesy. This is an admonition to all believers.
1 Corinthians 14:1-5 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.
But 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. 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.
So Paul would like all believers to speak in tongues, but prefer, in the assembly, that all believers prophesied because prophecy brings encouragement, edification and comfort to the hearer, who can understand the speaker in their own language. Tongues is fine, as long as there is an interpretation.
This is, of course, talking about speaking in the assembly before a congregation by the manifestation of the Spirit.
These are the gifts of the Spirit. They are not our gifts. They are His. He distributes them severally as He wills. We cannot simply conjure them up.
We need to be willing vessels ready to be used at His will. But it is talking about the way public meetings are conducted, not private prayer or worship.
Zealous to prophesy
Notice that we are to be zealous for prophecy. The NKJV uses ‘desire’, but the Greek word is zeloo, which is to burn with zeal in a good sense. It is a very strong word. Who is Paul addressing? The whole church. Everyone who is born again.
It’s fascinating to read that Chris actually says, ‘In fact the whole point of 1 Corinthians 12 is that God, the Holy Spirit, gives all kinds of gifts. Differing gifts and that we together are the body of Christ and there are different gifts given for different people to serve different functions within the body of Christ. Straight up!’
Straight up indeed. Yet Chris doesn’t even believe that the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12 are for today. Oh, except for the ‘gift of discernment’, which, of course, doesn’t exist in this list. It is the gift of discerning of spirits, which is quite different from discerning doctrine, and is a manifestation of the Spirit, which Chris otherwise teaches has ended with the canon.
So we find that Chris is part of the contingent of cessationists that state that the gifts have ended, and yet, here he is saying that the Holy Spirit, in 1 Corinthians 12, gives all kinds of gifts. This is why not all prophesy – they are taught not to, but not by scripture.
The doctrinal context Chris is referring to here is ironically in line with the unfortunately incorrect teaching of C Peter Wagner and Rick Warren who teach that there are many, many kinds of gifts in the New Testament, listing them willy-nilly, and saying we have certain combinations of these gifts including those in 1 Corinthians 12, setting up seminars to determine what gifts each believer might have, when, in fact, these manifestations in 1 Corinthians 12 are not ours to possess, but His to administer through us at His descretion, when He wills.
The actual context of 1 Corinthians 12 is the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit, which are not our gifts at all, but His, and He distributes them. He doesn’t give them. He operates them through whomsoever He chooses that is ready to be used.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all…
Different gifts, differences of ministries, diversities of activities. The KJV says ‘operations’. The same God works all in all. He works all – gifts, ministries and operations. In all. They constitute the manifestation – the showing forth – of the Spirit. He shows Himself forth through us by the manifestations.
Manifestation – phanerosis – ‘to render apparent’, ‘to appear’, ‘to show’, ‘to make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden or unknown, to manifest, whether by words, or deeds, or in any other way’. (Strongs)
They are not like the gifts mentioned in Romans 12 which are given to us by a measure of faith.
Included in this list of manifestations is prophecy. Paul would that we all prophesy. If that is the case then it must be possible, even desirable, that we all prophesy.
And they shall prophecy
Of course, the cessationist would deny this. Not only deny it, but seek to interpret scripture in a way that demonstrates that these things have ceased.
The truth is that they have not ceased and we are indeed told that we can all prophesy. And it started right at the beginning of the Church in the Book of Acts after the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples gathered in the Upper Room and they began to speak in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 2:16-18 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
‘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.
Who shall prophesy? Those who call on the name of the Lord and are saved. The men and women of faith. The outpouring is for everyone. ‘On all flesh’. All flesh. All people. All who believe. It has not ended. We are still in the last days, which began on the Day of Pentecost when this outpouring began.
So we know that prophecy is for all believers, not for a few. We have to understand scripture in the light of the whole canon not in single sentences or verses.
Paul is not condemning speaking in tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 as some would have you believe, but he is teaching how to run the local assembly decently and in order. He says that all can speak in tongues and all can prophecy, but he gives order to it.
1 Corinthians 14:22-25 Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind?
But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.
Then he says, as Chris points out, that everyone has a revelation, a psalm, a tongue or an interpretation, but not all should give it. Notice he says ‘each one of you has a psalm, a teaching, a tongue, a revelation, an interpretation’.
Each one. So all may be used. But he says it should be structured so that only two or three speak during one meeting. Well this is because the Holy Spirit is well able to get His message across through two or three. We don’t need all day and everyone getting up to say the same thing. He gives order to the service.
This isn’t, as Chris implies, saying that only two or three can prophesy. It is saying that only two or three can speak – by permission from the overseer in the assembly. And it could be any two or three on any given meeting day.
1 Corinthians 14:31-33 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
‘You can all prophesy’, but it’s best that all don’t in that assembly on that day – for the sake of order and expediency.
The wierd thing is that here Chris says only two or three can prophesy, trying to prove a point by missing the point, yet he doesn’t believe, being a cessationist, that any can prophesy now that we have the canon.
Do you see how Chris changed the context of what is being said? He gave the cessationist’s slant on things and missed the reality of what Paul is teaching the Church.