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Should Christians Expect Miracles Today? Objections and Answers from the Bible, Part 3, by Wayne A. Grudem

In conclusion, prophecy today is merely human words reporting what God has brought to mind, while the prophecies that were written down in the Old Testament were men speaking God’s words to report what God had brought to mind.

In addition to the verses we have considered so far, one other type of evidence suggests that New Testament congregational prophets spoke with less authority than New Testament apostles or Scripture: The problem of successors to the apostles is solved not by encouraging Christians to listen to the prophets but by pointing to the Scriptures.

So Paul, at the end of his life, emphasizes “rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), and the God-breathed character of Scripture for “teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Jude urges his readers to “contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Peter, at the end of his life, encourages his readers to “pay attention” to Scripture, which is like “a lamp shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19-20), and reminds them of the teaching of the apostle Paul “in all his letters” (2 Peter 3:16). In no case do we read exhortations to “give heed to the prophets in your churches” or to “obey the words of the Lord through your prophets.” Yet, certainly prophets were prophesying in many local congregations after the death of the apostles. It seems that they did not have authority equal to the apostles, and the authors of Scripture knew that.

17. But won’t any new revelation today have to come in words from God that are perfect and inerrant and equal to the Bible in authority?

This objection is made, for example, by John MacArthur, who assumes that all revelation from God must be accompanied by inerrant reports of that revelation, as it was in the writing of Scripture. He says,

God’s revelation is complete for now. The canon of Scripture is closed …the close of the New Testament has been followed by the utter absence of new revelation in any form.40 He says there cannot be prophecy today because “every authentic prophetic revelation will be as true, reliable, and inerrant as Scripture itself.”41

MacArthur does not realize the Bible itself talks about “revelation” from God that has other results. For example, whenever someone comes to know God personally in salvation, it is because that person has received a revelation from Christ. “No one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27). And whenever God gives people up to self-destruction because of their sin, God’s wrath is revealed. “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18).

Even today, whenever God convicts someone of sin, it is a form of revelation as well, because Paul says, “If in anything you are otherwise minded, God will reveal that also to you” (Philippians 3:15). When God gives Christians deeper understanding of the Christian faith, that is a kind of revelation, because Paul prays that God “may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1:17).

But new Scripture does not result from any of this. When a new Christian tells how he or she came to know God, that testimony is not new Scripture. When someone tells of conviction of sin, or of deeper knowledge of God, that testimony is not new Scripture. Similarly, when God gives a spontaneous revelation that results in prophecy, this does not result in new Scripture. MacArthur’s assumption is simply incorrect.

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Category: Pneuma Review, Spirit, Summer 2000

About the Author: Wayne A. Grudem is Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary, Phoenix, Arizona. He has authored over twenty books, including Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (1994), Politics According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture (2010), The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution (2013), The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism, and "Free Grace" Theology: 5 Ways It Diminishes the Gospel (2016). He was also the General Editor for the ESV Study Bible (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Book of the Year, 2009).

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