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

These quotations illustrate a cautious and hesitant view toward receiving guidance through prophecy. They indicate an awareness among many in the charismatic movement that the primary function of prophecy is not guidance or prediction but “upbuilding, encouragement, and comfort” (1 Cor. 14:13) (see chapter 7, above) as the Holy Spirit brings to mind things that by themselves may seem quite ordinary and hardly unusual or dramatic, but that are meeting specific needs of the moment in the congregation and are being “quickened” or made unusually effective in the hearts of God’s people by the same Holy Spirit.

On the other hand, even among very “Reformed” cessationists, there is a willingness to admit some kind of continuing “illumination” by the Holy Spirit in believers’ lives. For example, Richard Gaffin says:

Often, too, what is seen as prophecy is actually a spontaneous, Spirit-worked application of Scripture, a more or less sudden grasp of the bearing that biblical teaching has on a particular situation or problem. All Christians need to be open to these more spontaneous workings of the Spirit.22

And Robert Reymond defines “illumination” as “the Holy Spirit’s enabling of Christians generally to understand, to recall to mind, and to apply the Scriptures they have studied.”23

But if these writers will allow for the present activity of the Holy Spirit enabling Christians to understand, or recall to mind, or apply, or grasp the teachings of Scripture, then there does not seem to be such a great difference in principle between what they are saying and what many in the charismatic movement are doing (even though there will probably be some remaining differences over the precise way guidance functions—yet this is not so much a difference about prophecy as about guidance generally, and particularly the way guidance from Scripture relates to guidance from advice, counsel, conscience, circumstances, sermons, etc.). The larger point is that what Gaffin and Reymond here call “illumination” it seems the New Testament would call a “revelation,” and what they would call a “spoken report of such illumination” it seems the New Testament would call a “prophecy.”

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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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