Sunday, March 30, 2014

How can I prove that the gift of prophecy has ceased?

[This is the third instalment in a series of blog posts in which I am answering questions posed by my Facebook "friends" who are between the ages of 15 and 25. I took a rather long break due to other demands on my time but I am now back. This was actually the first question that I got, but I did not want to make it the first one to get an answer. So, SS, you actually made it. You were the first!]

QUESTION: “Hi Pastor. I was hoping I could be the first to ask a question. Hehe! I have a friend from school and we are always at each other necks when it comes to the topic of prophecy. He says they still exist and I say they no longer exist. I have been trying to convince him for a while now but it seems like it is not working. I need help on how I can solidly prove to him that those things stopped existing immediately the Bible was complete. He is always saying stuff like the Bible is not complete and asking me why those other books were not included in the Bible. That is another point were I zone out and fail to answer.” (From SS)

ANSWER: There are few areas in the Bible that Christians will always disagree on like the area of prophecy. Partly, this is because prophecy normally speaks about the future and we are not sure whether we are there or not. Hence, how to interpret prophecy will remain a point of contention until the Lord returns.

Another area that Christians will differ on until Christ returns will be the continuation or cessation (ceasing) of the extra-ordinary revelatory gifts that God gave to the early church. This includes the gift of prophecy. It is this matter that you are now asking me to address. This is easier to prove than the first.

When it comes to spiritual gifts, the best place to start is simply to state, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” What do you do if someone says he is gifted as an evangelist? Put an empty tomato box at a busy public square, ask him to get on it, put a Bible in his hands and stand aside. If he stammers into confusion and sends everyone to sleep, suggest to him that perhaps his gifts lie elsewhere. However, if he brings the place to a standstill as he declares the unsearchable riches of Christ and sinners are brought to repentance and faith, who are you to doubt God’s call upon his life? “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”.

Similarly, Moses said in Deuteronomy 18 that if someone claimed to be a prophet but his words did not come to pass then he was not a true prophet and the people were not to listen to him. That is the proof. Are there individuals in our churches today who are so gifted by God that they are foretelling the future and edifying God’s people? If they are there—and their prophecies are coming to fulfilment—then who are we to say that the gift of prophecy has ceased?

However, if the person you are arguing with will be referring to someone in far way in Nigeria who seems to be foretelling the future or if he is referring to his church pastor who is calling himself a prophet but has nothing to show for his title, then what he is referring to has nothing to do with what was happening in the New Testament. In the Bible, many of the churches had a number of prophets. Paul would urge them to wait on each other and take turns. Let your friend show you where this is happening today and why it is not the case in so many other churches? The burden of proof must lie with him rather than you.

There are other theological and biblical arguments but since this series is meant for those below the age of 25, I am reluctant to kill a fly with a ten-pound hammer. This should suffice for now. Let me know what your friend will say.


  1. I wonder how an Evangelical can even entertain the idea that the Bible is not complete. Even a classic Pentecostal would shrink from such a low view of Scripture. The battle for the Bible still rages on. Whereas in the 16th century it was about the Authority and Infallibility of the Scriptures and in the 19th century about the Inerrancy of Scripture, in the 21st century it is about the Sufficiency of Scripture.

  2. I wish all Zambian Brothers and Sisters in Christ blessed and full of joy Easter.

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