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

But here the question must be: Are abuses necessary to the functioning of the gift of prophecy? If we are to argue that mistakes and abuses of a gift or function make the gift or function itself invalid, then we would have to reject Bible teaching (for many Bible teachers have taught error and started cults) and church administration and offices too (for many church officers have led people astray or have abused the privileges of their office). The abuse of a gift does not mean that we must prohibit the proper use of the gift unless it can be shown that there cannot be proper use—that all use has to be abuse.

Moreover, specifically with respect to guidance, it is good to note how cautious many in the charismatic movement are about the use of prophecy to give specific guidance. Several quotations will illustrate this point.

Don Basham:

Personally, I feel most comfortable with prophecies which do not predict or offer direction since I’m aware of the tremendous dangers inherent in such messages. . . . I believe God is very sparing in His use of them. My personal experience has been that I’ve heard eight or ten times as many erroneous prediction prophecies as valid ones. . . .

What should our response be when someone prophesies over us? If the prophecy contains predictions or direction we should neither accept it nor reject it. We should rather place it in our “pending file” and pray and trust the Lord to confirm it out of the mouths of at least two other witnesses if it is of Him. We should never act hastily on the basis of an unconfirmed predictive or directive prophecy, regardless of how inspired it may sound.16

Michael Harper:

Prophecies which tell other people what they are to do—are to be regarded with great suspicion.17

Dennis and Rita Bennett:

We should also be careful of personal, directive prophecy, especially outside the ministry of a mature and submitted man of God. Unrestrained “personal prophecy” did much to undermine the movement of the Holy Spirit which began at the turn of the century. . . . Christians are certainly given words for one another “in the Lord” . . . and such words can be most refreshing and helpful, but there must be a witness of the Spirit on the part of the person receiving the words, and extreme caution should be used in receiving any alleged directive or predictive prophecy. Never undertake any project simply because you were told to by presumed prophetic utterance or interpretation of tongues, or by a presumed word of wisdom, or knowledge. Never do something just because a friend comes to you and says: “The Lord told me to tell you to do thus and thus.” If the Lord has instructions for you, He will give you a witness in your own heart, in which case the words coming from a friend . . . will be a confirmation to what God has already been showing you. Your guidance must also agree with Scripture. . . .18

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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). WayneGrudem.com

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