Gift of prophecy

Continuationist view

The gift of prophecy in the N.T. is a supernatural revelation or insight (Matt.26:67-68, John 4:16-19), it may involve predictions (Acts 21:10-11), it is not infallible (1 Cor.13:9), it must be tested and yet not despised (1 Thess 5:19-22, 1 John 4:1), it is subject to scripture (1 Cor.14:37-38). It is to be used for edification, exhortation, comfort of others (1 Cor.14:3). It is to be especially desired among spiritual gifts (1 Cor.14:1). For example whereas not many should become teachers (James 3:1), Paul wished everyone had the gift of prophecy (1 Cor. 14:5). It is to be exercised according to the proportion of the faith of the person (Rom.12:6).

The gift of prophecy was not limited to apostles only (Acts 19:6, 21:9, 21:10), and is available to both men and women. Possession of of it does not signify leadership position, and is not a requirement for leadership (1 Tim 3:1-11). Unbelievers/false prophets might possess it as well (John 11:51, Mark 13:22, also Deut 13:1-3). The test for the genuineness of the prophet is the fruits of his/her ministry (Matt 7:15-20).

Cessationist argue that since the canon of scripture is closed (Rev.22:18) therefore prophetic gifts must have ceased, otherwise the bible would be continually growing. In regard to this, continuationists argue that not all prophecies were considered scripture to begin with. In fact, not all prophecies of all genuine prophets were included in the bible, not in the O.T. and not in the N.T., yet the bible is not incomplete. And in fact, even being an apostle does not guarantee contribution to scriptures (very few of the apostles actually contributed to scripture), even being Paul doesn't mean everything he said or wrote were scripture (not all of his letters/ preaching were included into scripture yet the bible is not incomplete).

Some Examples in Pentecostal/ Charismatic Culture

Prophecy in contemporary Pentecostal/Charismatic culture, could refer to a wide range of supernatural experience, and can vary greatly from person to person (although persons in the same congregation or who are in a discipler-disciple relationship are more likely to have similar gifts). Note that in any case, discernment is always an issue, whether the experience is from the Holy Spirit or just natural (body affected by anxiety, fatique, excitement or strong desire) or deception from Satan (especially when one is in sin or isolated from fellow believers). That is why Paul says to exercise prophecy according to the measure of faith of the individual (a practical personal awareness of how much or powerful or what is the range/nature of one's gift of prophecy is, and not to carelessly go/ believe beyond that).

\1. Dreams - a dream that has a strong sense of conviction about it. For example a dream about a certain person, that that person is in need or is angry with you, or wants to hear the gospel. A symbolic (not realistic) dream and may come with a strong sense of interpretation about it. For example a dream about (ridiculously) big waves of water swallowing up the person, but the person survived holding on to a building. Then in a short time, that person experiences a really bitter fued at church, financial problems at home, slanders from enemies, one after the other. But in the end his ministry grew even more.

\2. Visions - seeing things (whether real or symbolic)), it is accompanied by a strong sense of conviction or interpretation. It can happen during times of corporate worship where more than one person reports seeing the same thing (for example: angels or white light). Another example is while praying for an individual, the person praying (really) sees something like a mark being removed (symbolic of a problem the person has, though the person praying did not know about previously). Sometimes while praying a person will see the face of a certain person, and it turns out that that person was experiencing trials at that time.

\3. A sense of direction or calling. Sometimes so strong the person can't do anything (can't work/ can't sleep right/everything messes up) until he/she heeds to it (like go back to this church you left because of a fight). Sometimes it's just a light sense (go talk to this person about this or that).

\4. Some measure of awareness regarding current events closely related to the individual (but has no way of naturally knowing). Such as a strong sense that such and such person wants to talk you, or is angry with you, or needs help. Or a confidence that certain things planned will turn out right, or maybe a strong sense that it won't. It could be a strong sense of the intention or nature of certain persons around you.

See also

By John Piper