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The Duration of Prophecy: How Long Will Prophecy Be Used in the Church? (Part 3) by Wayne A. Grudem

Furthermore, aside from the question of current practice or belief, we have seen in chapters 3 and 4 that ordinary congregational prophecy in New Testament churches did not have the authority of Scripture. It was not spoken in words that were the very words of God, but rather in merely human words. And because it has this character, there is no reason to think that it would not continue in the church right up until Christ returns. It does not threaten or compete with Scripture in authority but is subject to Scripture as well as to the mature judgment of the congregation.

Moreover, the functions of apostolic teaching and congregational prophecy were different. The cessationist view depends on the supposition that the function of prophecy was to provide the church with divinely authoritative guidance until such guidance could be derived from a collection of apostolic writings. But in the examples of New Testament prophecy that we have looked at in chapters 5–8, it was evident that the function of congregational prophecy was often to provide very specific, localized information that was needed for the edification of the church and that could only be acquired through a revelation from the Holy Spirit. Access to the major doctrinal teachings contained in the apostolic writings would not make this sort of prophecy obsolete or useless.

 The question of guidance

Yet one more concern comes up. It can be argued that even if those who use the gift of prophecy today say that it does not equal Scripture in authority, in fact it functions in their lives to compete with or even replace Scripture in giving guidance concerning God’s will. Thus, prophecy today, it is said, challenges the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture for guidance in our lives.

Here it must be admitted that many mistakes have been made in the history of the church. John MacArthur points to the way in which the idea of further revelations has given rise to many heretical movements in the church.15

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Category: Fall 2001, Pneuma Review, Spirit

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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