Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Do the Same Kinds of Prophets Exist Today as did in Biblical Times?

While all Christians have the ability to prophesy in the sense of speaking forth the truth, there was a group of church leaders in the apostolic church who functioned uniquely as prophets. These were apparently next to the apostles in the order of authority within the church (1 Corinthians 12:28-29 ; Ephesians 4:11). The function of the prophets was to edify, console, and exhort (Acts 15:32;1 Corinthians 14:3).

There are no prophets today in the same sense as there were under the old covenant and in the apostolic church. Before the canon of Scripture was complete, God used prophets to maintain order and teach correct doctrine. After the canon was completed, however, prophecy began to be more of a problem within the church than a help. Eventually, the office of prophet died out completely except among heretical groups such as the Montanists.

Today, however, a prophetic word can be spoken in the church in the sense that God’s Word can be proclaimed based on Scripture and the leading of the Holy Spirit. But there will be no new revelations that will supplant or contradict God’s written Word.

According to 1 Corinthians 14, there are two tests that must be passed by any supposedly prophetic statement. First, verse 29 states that after two or three speak a prophetic message, the others are to “judge” (NKJV) or “weigh carefully what is said” (NIV). In other words, the prophetic message must not disagree with the knowledge of God’s Word and of truth held by the other members of the assembly. Second, verses 37 and 38 demonstrate that just as the apostle Paul submitted his words to the examination of the Corinthians on the basis of their knowledge of the Word of God, any prophecy that is given must be judged by the standard of the truth already known to the church of Christ. In other words, no completely new truth would be revealed, but rather the prophet would expound and explain truths already accepted and recognized by God’s people.

The New Bible Dictionary summarizes the purpose of New Testament prophecy in this way:

It is in this sense that the apostle urged the church of his day, and would urge us also, to desire earnestly to prophesy: not to desire the notoriety of doctrinal innovators, but to contend earnestly for the truth once for all delivered to the saints.

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Is Cursing God Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit?

Jesus issued a solemn warning to a group of Jewish leaders who accused Him of performing miracles by the power of Satan.

“Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:31-32 NKJV).

Jesus knew that there would be many who wouldn’t recognize Him as the promised Messiah. Many would reject Him out of ignorance or false expectations. The first words He spoke from the cross make it apparent that such people could be forgiven:

“When they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do’ ” (Luke 23:33-34 NKJV).

This is why He said that someone who spoke a word against the Son of Man could be forgiven.

Yet because Jesus was approved by the Father (Matthew 3:13-17), was directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1,14,18-21), and cast out demons and performed miracles as signs of the kingdom of God (Matthew 12:28), there was great danger in attributing His acts to the devil. The danger was that rejection of Jesus was an indication not of misunderstanding or ignorance, but of willful, malevolent opposition to the Spirit of God. Such willful opposition could lead to irreversible hardening of the heart.

Sometimes people who curse God in a moment of despair think of Jesus’ warning about the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and are gripped by a satanic obsession that their sin is unforgivable. (See the ATQ article, How Can We Know If Our Guilt Feelings Are from the Holy Spirit or from Satan?) This is a shame, considering the fact that their very repentance (or desire for repentance) is a demonstration of the fact that the Holy Spirit is still working in their lives.

A good example is Peter.

Jesus had given a somber warning to His disciples: “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33 NIV).

Peter was brash and confident that he would never deny his Lord: “Peter declared, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the other disciples said the same” (Matthew 26:35 NIV).

Jesus knew Peter’s weakness much better than Peter did, and told him: “ ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘this very night, before the cock crows, you will disown me three times’ ” (v.34 NIV).

Jesus was right. Peter not only denied his Lord, but he also denied Him with curses. “Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know the man!’ Immediately a cock crowed” (v.74 NIV).

The sin against the Holy Spirit is a consistent and continual denial of the truth, hardening one’s heart against God and His revelation of Himself in Christ. No one has committed the sin against the Holy Spirit if he or she is concerned about having committed it. A person who sins against the Holy Spirit has no love for God or any desire to be reconciled to Him.

If you are concerned about the wrong you have done, you are eligible for forgiveness. Just like Peter, David, and Paul (who were likely greater sinners than you), your sins are forgiven the moment you confess them and cast yourself on the mercy of God through the blood of Jesus Christ.

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Don’t New Testament Passages Say Christians Will Perform Greater Miracles than Christ?

This question refers to several passages, including John 14:12:

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

Jesus wasn’t saying that His disciples would be able to perform all of the supernatural acts that He did through the power of the Holy Spirit (although they did perform miracles). He was speaking of the work that He considered most important: the spread of the gospel. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary contains an interesting explanation of this verse:

He wanted to impress on the disciples that He was not disbanding them in anticipation of His departure but, rather, He was expecting them to continue His work and do even greater things than He had accomplished. Such an expectation seems impossible in the light of His character and power; yet, through the power of the Spirit whom Jesus sent after His ascension, there were more converts after the initial sermon of Peter at Pentecost than are recorded for Jesus during His entire career. The influence of the infant church covered the Roman world,whereas Jesus during His lifetime never traveled outside the boundaries of Palestine. Through the disciples He multiplied His ministry after His departure. The Book of Acts is a continuous record of deeds that followed the precedent Jesus had set. As the living Lord He continued in His church what He had himself begun. He expected that the church would become the instrument by which He could manifest His salvation to all people.

Several other passages, such as Matthew 7:7; 21:22 ; John 14:12-14 ; and 1 John 3:22-23 are often mistakenly understood to mean that God places no restrictions on what we should be able to receive in response to our prayers. But if there were no limitation on the things we could receive from God through prayer, why would Jesus say, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. . . .Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”? ( Matthew 5:4,10 ).

In other words, if our lack of faith is all that stands in the way of our having whatever we want, we should never be mournful, persecuted,or afflicted. But that was not what Jesus promised, and His disciples did not receive everything they might have wanted. Just as Jesus had no permanent place to lay His head ( Matthew 8:20 ), the apostles suffered persecution and hardship ( 2 Corinthians 6 ), and eventually all but John were martyred.

These passages assume that we will pray in humble, childlike faith( Matthew 7:11; 17:20 ), with sincerity, out of genuine love ( Matthew 5:44 ), with good motives (Matthew 6:5 ), with perseverance ( Matthew 7:7 ), and in submission to God’s sovereign will ( Matthew 6:10 ). When we pray this way, we won’t make improper requests. Also, we will be so in tune with God that we will be satisfied when His plans prove to be different than we hoped they would be.

 

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