Gospel-Driven Prophecy: Understanding the Differences Between OT and NT ProphecyMonday, October 16, 2006
Introduction to the Series
Over the last couple of years as God has graciously and patiently led me along the path of what I believe is a Bible-mandated, gospel-driven approach to the charismatic, I have tried to carefully work from my experience as a former cessationist through the greatest obstacle or point of confusion and frustration for them, which is the subject of prophecy. The fact that biblical and/or reformed charismatics cling to it so tenaciously drives their reformed non-charismatic brothers and sisters crazy at times. I've found this to be the case time and again with even my closest cessationist friends.
But this article, broken up into a series of blog posts, is an attempt to answer that confusion and frustration by pointing out that the differences between OT and NT prophecy are clear enough that they obviate many if not most of the objections proferred against the biblical-charismatic view of prophecy. In other words, a closer observation of OT and NT prophecy will show that the preconceived necessities which cessationism propounds regarding the subject of biblical prophecy are not necessarily true as they apply to NT prophecy in the local church.
So now to the real question as this series opens. Why is something like this appearing on a blog which is dedicated solely to the gospel? Because this blog is precisely about that - the gospel and everything which connects to it and flows from it. NT prophecy is one of those things. Consider two important texts which make this connection so clear.
The first is 1 Corinthians 12 which begins with a gospel confession of Jesus as Lord. Such a confession flows from a belief which is guided by the Holy Spirit (v. 3). The Lordship of Jesus Christ is the essential message of the gospel. And the Holy Spirit's work of empowering one to acknowledge this point is also directly connected with the Spirit's work of empowering one to serve the body of Christ with spiritual gifts.
The second is the most important and helpful passage on the subject in all of Scripture - 1 Corinthians 14. It begins with the doctrine of love which was previously exposited in great detail in chapter 13. Prophecy results from a pursuit of love, as Paul commanded in 14:1. That love, as expressed in chapter 13, is nothing more than an embodiment of the gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed.
From the very beginning of the discussion on spiritual gifts, then, Paul is out to show that any discussion about them, including a discussion on two in particular (tongues and prophecy), should be guided with the understanding that the Holy Spirit is at work to exalt the Lordship of Jesus Christ through His body in the local church. The highest reflection of this work of the Spirit is the love which the saints have for one another. And this gospel-driven love for others is, therefore, what guides and guards the usage of the gift of prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14. Without gospel-driven love, prophecy could not be given to people "for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation" (14:3). It is only as it is driven by love that prophecy is able to focus upon and accomplish these primary gospel-driven objectives in the local church.
In the following posts I will attempt to differentiate between OT and NT prophecy in an attempt to answer objections against it while also giving biblical NT prophecy is proper place among the saints in the local church today. Tomorrow, I will begin by further introducing the subject so as to build a foundation for observing the two major distinctives regarding OT prophecy.
Read Part 2
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Conclusion