Gospel-Driven Prophecy: Understanding the Differences Between OT and NT Prophecy, Part 6Friday, October 27, 2006
3. For NT Prophecy to be Genuine Today, Must it be Enscripturated?
Finally, the last perceived necessity of cessationists is that those who claim to experience prophetic messages in the NT church today must enscripturate their prophecies like prophets of the NT church did. Cessationism claims that if one has received and given a prophetic word he or she believes has come from God, then that prophetic word should be considered equal to the words of Scripture and therefore ought to be recorded in the Bible. To this a simple question would seem to resolve this dispute. Was every prophecy of every NT prophet enscripturated? How about every prophecy of every OT prophet?
The illogical nature of this argument is seen when we return to the first facet of NT prophecy. The Spirit promised to pour out His gift of prophecy on all people. The fact that some NT prophets had their messages recorded as Scripture does not necessitate that all NT prophets’ messages must also be recorded there. God’s sovereignty is the determining factor here, so that only He can explain why Agabus’ prophecies are recorded and not the prophecies of Philip’s three daughters, for example. A prophecy was recorded in Scripture when God sovereignly determined that it should be. So we can safely assume first, that any prophetic message which God wanted recorded in Scripture was in fact recorded, and second, that those which were not enscripturated are not necessarily unbiblical or ungodly. Therefore, what we do have today in the Scriptures is a repository of teaching, instruction, doctrine, narrative, history, and prophetic messages that serve as the doctrinal cornerstone of the universal and local church.
Further, returning to the second facet of NT prophecy – its nature – almost seems to negate the enscripturation of NT prophecy from the start. As the Bible teaches, NT prophecy was about encouraging, strengthening, and comforting, and not necessarily about doctrine, though it obviously included it that. Demanding of NT local church prophets today that their prophetic messages must be of a doctrinal nature like the ones recorded in the NT is to ignore the plain fact that in light of the sheer amount of NT prophecy occurring in the NT (especially in light of the promises of Pentecost) it was rare for a NT prophet to deliver a doctrinal message on par with Scripture such that it should be recorded there. Yet when they did, it was recorded in Scripture.
The conclusion is that the NT prophecies given today encourage, strengthen, and comfort based on the sound doctrine and faith delivered to us in the Bible. Part of the fruit of a prophet and his/her message will be its faithfulness to the Word of God. Another part of that fruit is whether it adheres to the expressly designed purpose of NT prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14:3. As far as I am able to tell, the prophetic experiences I have had, whether I have received them or given them, have been rooted in the Scriptures and are guided by them, so that the content, force and message of the prophetic word is in harmony with it. This is only possible, of course, when the believer abides in Christ and Christ’s words abide in them (John 15), when the Word of Christ dwells richly in us (Colossians 3:16). This is why the inspired Scriptures must be the foundational element in the believer’s life else genuine prophetic activity cannot occur with any degree of faithfulness to what God has already given us to guide us in faith and life.
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Conclusion