| NT Prophecy differs from OT Prophecy.....John Piper|
John Piper contends along the same lines as Wayne Grudem that NT prophecy was of a different character than OT prophecy. I appreciate how Piper acknowledges and concedes why people would have a hang-up over such a declaration. He also argues that the NT gift of teaching is fallible and a good analogy of how NT prophecy works:
Spirit-Prompted yet No Intrinsic, Divine Authority
Now ask yourself this question: Did Joel and Peter and Luke think that all the men and womenold and young, menservants and maidservantswould become prophets in the same sense that Moses and Isaiah and Jeremiah were prophets, that is, people who spoke with verbal inspiration and with the very authority of God and who could write infallible Scripture? Is the prophesying of Acts 2:17 that sort of prophecy? Or is there a difference?
I believe there is a difference. I dont think the gift of prophecy today has the authority of the Old Testament prophets or the authority of Jesus and the apostles. Or, to put it more positively, this sort of prophecy is prompted and sustained by the Spirit and yet does not carry intrinsic, divine authority.
One of the reasons that this kind of prophecy is so hard to get a handle on today is that most of us do not have categories in our thinking for a Spirit-prompted statement that doesnt have intrinsic, divine authority. That sounds like a contradiction. We stumble over a kind of speech that is prompted and sustained by the Holy Spirit and yet is fallible. But I am going to try to show this morning and this evening that this is what the gift of prophecy is in the New Testament and today. It is a Spirit-prompted, Spirit-sustained utterance that does not carry intrinsic, divine authority and may be mixed with error.
Now if that makes the gift of prophecy seem insignificant and unedifying, consider the analogy of the gift of teaching.
The Analogy of the Gift of Teaching
Would you not say that, when the spiritual gift of teaching is being exercised, teaching is prompted and sustained by the Spirit and is rooted in an infallible, divine revelation, namely, the Bible? The gift of teaching is the Spirit-prompted, Spirit-sustained act of explaining biblical truth for the edification of the church. And all of us would say it is tremendously valuable in the life of the church. But would any of us say that the speech of a teacher, when he is exercising the gift of teaching, is infallible? No. Would we say it has divine authority? Only in a very secondary sense would we say so. Not in itself, not intrinsically, but in its source, Bible.
Why is it that a gift that is Spirit-prompted and Spirit-sustained and rooted in an infallible revelation (the Bible) is nevertheless fallible, mixed with imperfection, and only has secondary, derivative authority? The answer is this: A teachers perception of biblical truth is fallible; his analysis of biblical truth is fallible; his explanation of biblical truth is fallible. There is no guarantee that the link between an infallible Bible and the church will be an infallible link. The gift of teaching does not guarantee infallible teaching.
And yet, even though the gift of teaching is fallible and even though it lacks intrinsic, divine authority, we know it is of immense value to the church. We are all edified and built up by gifted teachers. God is in it. He does use it. It is a spiritual gift.
Now compare this to the gift of prophecy. It is prompted by the Spirit and sustained by the Spirit and based on a revelation from God. God reveals something to the mind of the prophet (in some way beyond ordinary sense perception), and since God never makes a mistake, we know that his revelation is true. It has no error in it. But the gift of prophecy does not guarantee the infallible transmission of that revelation. The prophet may perceive the revelation imperfectly, he may understand it imperfectly, and he may deliver it imperfectly. Thats why Paul says we see in a mirror dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12). The gift of prophecy results in fallible prophecy just like the gift of teaching results in fallible teaching. So I would ask, If teaching can be good for the edification of the church, could not prophecy be good for edifying as well, just as Paul says it is (1 Corinthians 14:3, 12, 26)even though both of them are fallible, mixed with human imperfection, and in need of testing?
Creating a New Category in Our Thinking
The point of what I have been saying is this: we need to create a category in our thinking for a kind of speech that is Spirit-prompted, Spirit-sustained, revelation-rooted, and yet in need of testing and sifting. We need another category of prophet besides the one of true prophet, on the one hand, who spoke with infallible, verbal inspiration (the prophetic biblical authors and Jesus and the apostles), and false prophet, on the other hand, who is condemned in Deuteronomy 13:3; 18:20 (cf. Jeremiah 23:16). The teaching that we find in the Bible about prophecy is simply not exhausted by these two categories. We need a third category for the spiritual gift of prophecySpirit-prompted, Spirit-sustained, revelation-rooted, but mixed with human imperfection and fallibility and therefore in need of sifting.
I say sifting because in 1 Thessalonians 5:1922 that is what happens. It is not the prophet who is being tested as true or false. It is the prophecies that are being sifted for what is good and bad. Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast to what is good, abstain from every form of evil. This is not an either/or situation where you either have a true, infallible prophet or a false, presumptuous prophet. It is a situation in which some of the prophecy is good and some is not.
Paul says that if we despise it because of this imperfection, we quench the Spirit. I hope you want to avoid that with all your heart. How shall we do that? There is so much more to say. I will pick it up here tonight, give additional reasons, and practical implications. May the Lord himself teach us even this afternoon.
Piper, J. (2007; 2007). Sermons from John Piper (1990-1999) The Authority and Nature of the Gift of Prophecy
March 25, 1990 Desiring God; Minneapolis, MN.
| 2011/1/21 13:37||Profile|
| Re: NT Prophecy differs from OT Prophecy.....John Piper|
Very good article DesertRose,
I would also add that even in the Old Testament Prophecies were not always cut and dry. Consider for example Jonah's prophecy to Ninevah : "Yet forty days and Ninevah will be destroyed." You may say that this prophecy did not take place because the people repented and God relented from His judgment. But Jonah did not say: " Repent or else.." He did not give them any hope whatsoever, yet they reasoned with themselves that if this prophesy was unconditional, God would have just done it without sending any one to say so. The very fact that God sent to them a prophet to tell them of the coming judgment meant that He desired their repentance even if He did not say so.
Another example of prophesies that did not take place exactly as they were prophecied is found in 2 Kings 22:14-22
14 So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. (She dwelt in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter.) And they spoke with her. 15 Then she said to them, Thus says the LORD God of Israel, Tell the man who sent you to Me, 16 Thus says the LORD: Behold, I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitantsall the words of the book which the king of Judah has read 17 because they have forsaken Me and burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands. Therefore My wrath shall be aroused against this place and shall not be quenched. 18 But as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, in this manner you shall speak to him, Thus says the LORD God of Israel: Concerning the words which you have heard 19 because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you, says the LORD. 20 Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place. So they brought back word to the king.2 king 22: 14-22
This prophesy did not happen exactly the same way, for the prophetess said that king Josiah will be gathered to his grave in peace, but when we read 2 chr 35: 20-24 we see that he died in battle because he refused to listen to the word of the Lord from the mouth of the king of Egypt.
20 After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by the Euphrates; and Josiah went out against him. 21 But he sent messengers to him, saying, What have I to do with you, king of Judah? I have not come against you this day, but against the house with which I have war; for God commanded me to make haste. Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest He destroy you. 22 Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself so that he might fight with him, and did not heed the words of Necho from the mouth of God. So he came to fight in the Valley of Megiddo.
23 And the archers shot King Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Take me away, for I am severely wounded. 24 His servants therefore took him out of that chariot and put him in the second chariot that he had, and they brought him to Jerusalem. So he died, and was buried in one of the tombs of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. 2 Chr 35:20-24
| 2011/1/21 17:22||Profile|
| Re: NT Prophecy differs from OT Prophecy.....John Piper|
Thanks for this DesertRose
John Piper brings a breath of fersh air and God given common sense to this subject
| 2011/1/21 19:04||Profile|
| Re: |
And this is the same man who put down David Wilkerson for his Warning?
The same man who shares a pulpit with Driscoll and Warren?
I won't get into the Calvinist debate over him, but this is opening a door to more than you may realize.
| 2011/1/21 20:19|
| Re: |
That is some pretty twisted exegesis if you ask me, and Gruedem's theology is built more on his involvement with the apostolic and prophetic movements over the years than it is actual Scripture. It's a popular theme these days that many in prophetic circles take up. But nowhere is such a thing taught in all of Scripture.
There is nothing to support in the entire council of God's word in either New or Old Testaments that somehow the gift and ministry of prophet is "different" in any respect, or that somehow prophecy is somehow lesser than it was at one time. You will never find such a thing taught or even implied.
What you have here is an attempt to uphold a reformed and cessationist view of sola Scriptura in an attempt to keep it from getting hijacked from modern day prophetic utterances. But in doing that, you have the debasing of a very precious gift of the Holy Spirit in order to do that. The gifts of the Holy Spirit, including the gift of teaching, are perfect and without error. None of the gifts of the Holy Spirit today are any less inspired or authoritative than they have ever been, even in the writing of sacred Scripture.
But what about some of the error we see in teaching, or in prophecy? Well, as much as Piper and Grudem might not like the idea, Biblically speaking the only reason error enters into the equation is because the prophet or the teacher has not truly yielded themselves to saying what the Holy Spirit has given them to say. Or because they have decided to say something in addition to what the Spirit would have them say. Or becaue they have decided to not say something the Spirit would have them to say.
If somebody has missed it in their teaching or their prophetic utterance, the Holy Spirit is not to blame in this. The gift is not somehow less. Rather, the problem is with the individual giving the utterance-- not the gift or the Giver of the gift. And if the Lord gives you a gift of the Holy Spirit, He fully enables you to operate in that gift perfectly every single time, and without error.
| 2011/1/21 20:40||Profile|
| Re: |
And if you ever wonder where the popular theology comes from amongst many in these circles of where you can learn to develop your gifts of the Spirit, and be more accurate, it all comes from theology like this. After all, if you just get more spiritual, and sit under the right prophets, and get them to mentor you, pray for you, and release you (after taking their certification classes), then you too can prophesy more and more accurately!
| 2011/1/21 20:59||Profile|
| Re: |
King Jimmy, you criticize Piper unjustly. Your own critisism shows that you actually agree with him. You write
"The gifts of the Holy Spirit, including the gift of teaching, are perfect and without error. None of the gifts of the Holy Spirit today are any less inspired or authoritative than they have ever been, even in the writing of sacred Scripture."
"the gift of prophecy. It is prompted by the Spirit and sustained by the Spirit and based on a revelation from God. God reveals something to the mind of the prophet (in some way beyond ordinary sense perception), and since God never makes a mistake, we know that his revelation is true. It has no error in it".
And about the error we see in teaching and prophesy, you write:
"Biblically speaking the only reason error enters into the equation is because the prophet or the teacher has not truly yielded themselves to saying what the Holy Spirit has given them to say. Or because they have decided to say something in addition to what the Spirit would have them say. Or becaue they have decided to not say something the Spirit would have them to say."
"But the gift of prophecy does not guarantee the infallible transmission of that revelation. The prophet may perceive the revelation imperfectly, he may understand it imperfectly, and he may deliver it imperfectly. Thats why Paul says we see in a mirror dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12). The gift of prophecy results in fallible prophecy just like the gift of teaching results in fallible teaching. So I would ask, If teaching can be good for the edification of the church, could not prophecy be good for edifying as well, just as Paul says it is (1 Corinthians 14:3, 12, 26)even though both of them are fallible, mixed with human imperfection, and in need of testing?"
Personally, I believe he is saying that it is not prophesy or the gift from God of prophesy which has changed since OT times, but the VESSEL God uses is has changed. The OT prophet was told exactly the words to speak, no more, no less. For some (Jeremiah), sore judgement was threatened if they exceeded His words, or they were made dumb after delivering their message. They were certainly filled with God's Spirit to deliver His message, and some had tremendous visions of the glory of God, which made them blind and dumb to anything else.
The NT prophet is not like this. He is a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus. He has been washed from sin and baptised by the Holy Spirit into the church, the body of Christ. He has received a blessed gift from his Lord to build up his brothers and sisters in their faith, and he must exercise this gift according to the measure of his faith, which may be little or great. As Paul says: "we have this treasure in earthly vessels that the excellency of the power might be of God and not of us". His brothers and sisters in the church who love him dearly, and know him well are instructed to: not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast to what is good, abstain from every form of evil.
And this they do, not in judgement of their brother, but in love.
| 2011/1/22 19:13||Profile|