Prophets
Theology

Does God still raise up prophets?

 

Prophecy is the most frequently-mentioned charism in the whole Pauline corpus: the role of the prophets is preeminent (eg 1Thess 5:20; 1Cor 11:4f; Rom 12:6; Eph 2:20; 1Tim 1:18). If one includes ‘revelation’ (Gal 2:2), it becomes clear that this spiritual ‘gift’ was bestowed not only for the edification of believers, but also for exposing the hearts of non-believers, leading to repentance and salvation. Although certain individuals are recognised as prophets, the charism of prophecy appears to be available to all (1Cor 14:24f, 30f). In this sense, prophets are not office-holders with unaccountable authority, but believers who share their words from the Lord, and submit their message to the charismatic community to be discerned (1Thess 5:21; 1Cor 12:10; 14:29).

St Paul’s concept of charismata is of spiritual gifts given for a particular instance; not talents ‘on tap’ (or Church leadership is by charismatic function). Paul’s teaching to regulate the use of these gifts as an expression of status (1Cor 12:14-26) or attention-seeking (14:26-33) is as relevant in today’s Church as it was in Corinth in the first century AD: for man to appropriate God’s gifts for his self-aggrandisement loses the character of a claim made by the Lord, leading to the self-appointed leadership of those who are fundamentally undisciplined themselves, and to a Church which becomes an arena for competing religious gifts.

It is questionable whether any legitimate practice of Church leadership can be ‘non-charismatic’: ministerial authority is not manifest through a ranked hierarchy, but resides only within the concrete act of ministry as it occurs, because it is only within this concrete act that the Kyrios announces his lordship and presence. It is noteworthy that Paul never addresses the ‘officers’ of the Corinthian church in relation to their problems, lending credence to the possibility that ‘offices’ were a later development. Paul’s understanding of charismata in 1Corintians 12-14 and Ephesians 4 is of vibrant experience manifest through the Body: the Spirit is not constrained to mediate through a single ‘office’.

Perhaps there developed a ‘law’ in relation to Church governance; an onset of institutionalisation which led to the fusion of the charismata with orders of ministry (cf 1Tim 4:14; 2Tim 1:6). This is supported by the variety of functions in Romans 12:4, and the succeeding context of Ephesians 4:11 (4:12f, 16) where the emphasis is on men exercising functions rather than holding offices. Yet there is nothing in Paul’s ecclesiology which rules out organisation: the spiritual gift is not opposed to office and office must be joined with spiritual gift.

To dip into the pages of the New Testament is to observe that the Apostolic Church was far more charismatic than it has been in any age since. Indeed, the evidence from past experiences (Gal 3:4f) and their importance for ongoing ministry (1Tim 1:18; 4:14) is rather persuasive that charismata were an everyday occurrence, and a wholly expected expression of life in the Spirit. For charismata cessationists, the exercise of spiritual gifts became otiose after the NT canon had been completed. Gifts such as healing constituted a sign of Jesus’ divinity, and these ceased at or near the end of the first century AD.

And St Paul clearly states that prophecy, tongues and knowledge ‘shall cease… vanish away’ (1Cor 13:8-12) because they are ‘in part’; they will be rendered unnecessary when ‘that which is perfect’ comes. Is this a reference to the completed canon of Scripture, as some aver, or to the Parousia? The ‘Scripture’ interpretation is exegetically indefensible, not least because Paul expected to survive until the Parousia (1Thess 4:15f; 1Cor 15:51), and gives no indication that he expected the formation of any New Testament canon after his death. More likely is it that ‘perfection’ means ‘maturity’, meaning that these gifts are necessary until the Church attains its spiritual vocational objectives of love and knowledge. This is lexically possible (noting the ‘child’ of 1Cor 13:11), yet elsewhere Paul refers to ‘maturity’ in eschatological terms (eg Eph 4:13), and the gifts are for the building up of the Church until the Lord’s return (1Cor 1:7). There is no indication of a pre-Parousia Church where knowledge is no longer ‘in part’.

If the eschatological interpretation of 1Corinthians 13:8-12 is correct, there is a wider and enduring purpose of the charismata. Their purpose is apologetic and soteric: they are intrinsic to the economy of redemption and aim at the restoration of God’s creative work. Scripture is both written in history and created in the present by being mediated to us by the Spirit and within the Church: it is ‘living’ (Heb 4:12). It is received through our hearts and in our minds within a network of canonical materials, persons and practices which work together through charismatic formation to introduce the great truths of the gospel. Is preaching itself not prophecy?

The essence of the prophetic ministry was forthtelling God’s present word to his people, and this regularly meant application of revealed truth rather than augmentation of it. As OT prophets preached the law and recalled Israel to face God’s covenant claim on their obedience…so it appears that NT prophets preached the gospel…for conversion, edification and encouragement… By parity of reasoning, therefore, any verbal enforcement of biblical teaching as it applies to one’s present hearers may probably be called prophecy today, for that is what truth is (JI Packer, Keep in step with the Spirit [Leicester: IVP, 1984}).

For Packer, prophecy is the preaching of Bible truth with application, and while many may demur at the correlation, it is to be observed that there is no scholarly agreement on the duration of NT prophecy. Today, many Pentecostal/Evangelical ‘Charismatics’ opt for a via media, distinguishing infallible biblical prophecy from congregational prophecy. The former provided foundational doctrinal revelation which became Scripture and ceased with the apostolic circle; the latter serves to edify the Church or individuals, and is very much alive in many churches today as a kind of speaking human words to report something God brings to mind.

It is as though prophecy today consists of a claim to divine insight or revelation, which is potentially fallible in its human reception or interpretation. It is more a ‘revelation’ related to the specific needs of the moment. Paul tells us that prophets (and therefore prophetic utterances) may have relative authorities, noting that he subordinates Corinthian prophecy to his own (1Cor 14:37f). He appears to be fully aware of the shortcomings of congregational ‘lesser’ prophecy (1Thess 5:19f).

If St Paul considered deeds of service (Rom 12:6-8; 1Cor 12:28) as charismata, then it would be impossible to deny that such relational, community, ethical charisms have a continuing function today. It is possible, however, to perceive these as ‘fruit of the spirit’, and the ‘gifts’ as the more obvious extraordinary manifestations of the Spirit which were bestowed upon the Early Church at (and for) its foundation. While these charismatic functions may have developed into catholic ‘offices’ (apostles, prophets, teachers [1Cor 12:28], pastors and evangelists [Eph 4:11]), Timothy’s charism (1Tim 4:14) resides ‘within’ him; it is not an ‘office’ per se. Perhaps the distinction between function and office is a false one, not least because the latter emerges from the former, and all ministry was and is charismatic in the sense of being Christ-given and Spirit-empowered.

The Church is an eschatological people blessed by an out-poured Spirit, and the gifts are evidence of His indwelling. They are a soteriological necessity for the making of a new creation (2Cor 5:17 cf Ps 51:10), and also a sign of a cosmic renewal – the first instalment (2Cor 1:22 cf Eph 1:14) of the long-promised eschatological new creation, and a guarantee of what is to come (Rom 8:23). Since the variety of gifts, the multiplicity of members, the headship of Christ, the primacy of love, and the goal of maturity have not changed for today’s Church, we may safely conclude that the charismata are are as necessary today as they were at the Church’s foundation.

But the modern tendency to limit prophecy to the more spectacular ‘looming earthquake’ or ‘imminent revival’ manifestations is clearly erroneous, and so also is the inclination toward the opposite extreme of denying the spectacular and focusing on private ‘God told me’ words of knowledge. The entire functioning of the Christian could legitimately be perceived as charismatic. As Hans Küng observes:

Charisma and diakonia are correlative concepts. Diakonia is rooted in charisma, since every diakonai in the Church presupposes the call of God. Charisma leads to diakonia, since every charisma in the Church only finds fulfilment in service. Where there is real charisma, there will be responsible service for the edification and benefit of the community (The Church [New York: ET, 1967, p394])

If, therefore, the charismata have their origin in God through Christ in the Spirit; are subject to the law of love, and share the same goal of edification of the community, then they are the means of ministry. The diversity of charismata permits all to take part in that ministry, as a single, organic body. This special ministry is as Spirit-endowed as common service.

The Apostle Paul challenged quite forcefully those who wished to ‘quench the Spirit’, admonishing believers not to repress or prohibit the operation of the charismata in the Church (1Thess 5:19-22). But the Church must have a mechanism by which Scripture may be distinguished from the prophetic words of man – no matter how lofty, trusted and exalted the leader may be. If a prophecy is given as a direct quotation from the Lord, with little room to apply Paul’s injunction to test the spirits, to weigh what is said, it becomes manipulative, if not arrogant and dishonest. Such words from professing prophets have served to malign the Pentecostal/Evangelical ‘Charismatic’ movement generally, especially when accompanied by divine claims of miraculous but medically-uncorroborated healing.

The Holy Spirit works sovereignly, and the lesson of the New Testament is that He also gives discernible direction and guidance. It follows that the Church pastors, leaders and teachers of today are as much in need of the immediate charismata of wisdom, direction and heavenly knowledge as ever they were. Since there is no academic doctrinal or epistemological agreement on when or whether prophecy, tongues or healing ceased, the only claim that can be made with confidence is that our prototypical gifts gradually became marginalised. Perhaps the insights of both the Charismatic and cessationist viewpoints may be combined in the recognition that the gift allowing some of God’s people to do extraordinary works for God at their will has disappeared, but that God may still use human agents to do wondrous works in extraordinary circumstances, and this includes proclamations which might just be prophetic.

  • Anton

    The New Testament is explicit both that prophecy is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and that the gifts of the Spirit are for the church. As we shall be in the “church era” until Christ returns, prophecy should be alive today and cessationism is wrong. I believe that cessationists have adopted their viewpoint out of a failure to observe any prophecy combined with poor reading of scripture. But they are correct that there isn’t much prophecy in Western churches. Why not? Surely, because our churches are not strong and are divided. Read Brother Yun’s books about the Chinese house church movement that sprang up under Maoist persecution and you will see the gifts of the Spirit alive and well in a movement that far outnumbers Western Christians. Anybody who is depressed about the state of the universal church is probably being Eurocentric without realising it.

    Some say that there was a drought of prophecy between Malachi and John the Baptist, because of the absence of prophets in the scriptures during that period. I disagree: God may perfectly well have sent prophets into local situations and synagogues, without speaking any words that all of his people needed to hear.

    Today’s charismatic churches should be more critical about prophetic words, however. Umpteen prophecies have been rattling around for a couple of decades about “revival in this town this year” which didn’t take place. Elders need to keep note of who said what when and tell the speakers of false prophecy that their error was so grave that in ancient Israel they would have been put to death. Words are spoken too lightly, patently out of a combination of wish-fulfilment and subtle egotism. It is an awesome thing to be commissioned by the Holy Spirit to speak the words of God Almighty in the first person.

    • IanCad

      Well, you went first Anton and have said exactly what I think should have written after digesting – or partially so – HG’s very important post.

      The gift of prophecy is very important to our denomination (SDA) Indeed, there would have been little growth within the church without it.

      Your point about the intertestamental years is a good response to those who believe that prophecy ceased then, and did not get started again.

      No prophecy – No church.

  • magnolia

    Your Grace, I think this article is superb, and would like to print it out and keep it; however there are mild issues with the first sentences of #s 10 and 13, where my best guess is a few words have been left out. Any hope of a mild edit? !

    • Done. Bless you.

      • magnolia

        Many thanks.

  • carl jacobs

    If you believe there are still prophets, then write down what they say and put it in the back of your Bible. For that is what would be required of you.

    The Scripture is complete. The revelation is complete. God has spoken in these last days through His Son. We have no further need of prophets.

    • Anton

      We have no further need of prophetic words addressed to all of God’s people ie scripture, but what about local situations?

      • Inspector General

        …then ask the Inspector. He has the answer to most, maybe even all.

      • carl jacobs

        I don’t even know what “local prophesy” is, Anton.

        • Anton

          Some words of God are for all of his people. Those have been collected in the Bible. Some are to deal with situations arising in particular congregations and of no relevance to other believers. That was certainly the case in ancient Israel, for a “school for prophets” is mentioned in the Old Testament. There is no reason to suppose the situation has changed.

          • carl jacobs

            So when Paul writes about very specific instances in very specific churches, is that Scripture applicable only to that circumstance?

          • Anton

            It contains something that all believers need to know, likely because that situation is one that occurs elsewhere. Why should God not give guidance, in particular situations, that has no wider application? We can’t hem him in, and he did that before Christ.

          • carl jacobs

            So then there are local revelations with global application, and local revelations with local application only. It seems to me you have arbitrarily carved out a type of revelation that I wouldn’t need to know. How would I be able to identify this particular type of revelation – since I can’t just examine its locality?

          • Anton

            I agree with you that the canon is closed, so it’s not a problem that you need worry about. If you still do, though, ponder how the same question was dealt in ancient Israel, where for sure there were prophets who didn’t make it into scripture.

          • carl jacobs

            There were words of Christ that didn’t make it into Scripture. What does that prove? These local prophesies have some scope of application. You have created a type of revelation with some sort of built-in time constant that loses its standing as theopnestos over time. Otherwise you have created a need for Bibles with separate appendices for separate groups. How do you validate the prophesy? How do you determine its scope of application – especially over time? When are people allowed to ignore it? There are insuperable problems with this concept.

            Do you have an example from Scripture of a local prophesy?

          • Anton

            Anything that made it into scripture has a lesson for us all, but there are plenty of examples of local prophecies in the messages to the seven congregations of Asia Minor in Revelation 2 & 3.

            Now would you answer a few, questions, please…

            Have you never had private words from God that came true? Or been told by a friend that he had that experience? If so then shouldn’t you, according to your understanding, petition your pastor to have the tale pasted into your pew Bibles?

            And what about the prophets in ancient Israel whose words aren’t in the OT? Do you believe that every prophecy they gave was false? Aren’t their words examples of prophecies not in scripture?

            Paul says that prophecy is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Do you believe that the church no longer has the Holy Spirit?

          • Phil R

            Jim Jones, David Koresh, Mary Baker Eddy etc

            You see the problem?

          • carl jacobs

            there are plenty of examples of local prophecies in the messages to the seven congregations of Asia Minor</i.

            I see you have fallen into my sneaky cleverly-laid trap. 🙂 Those can't be local prophesies by definition. Why? Because they were recorded in Scripture. The way you have defined "local prophesy" you have precluded me from ever knowing about it. This is one of those insuperable problems. The concept can't have Scriptural provenance.

            Have you never had private words from God that came true?

            You have subtly shifted the definition of prophesy in this question? Is it now a universal gift? That does not accord with the idea of spiritual gifts in the NT. You need to define what you mean by prophesy if you are going to separate it from wisdom, insight, and discernment.

            And what about the prophets in ancient Israel whose words aren’t in the OT?

            The Scripture does not contain all things spoken. It contains all things necessary. Those are two very different concepts. John said he did not record everything that the Lord Jesus had spoken. That does not mean those unwritten words were not helpful. It means the Spirit did not judge them necessary.

          • Anton

            “I see you have fallen into my sneaky cleverly-laid trap. 🙂 Those can’t be local prophesies by definition. Why? Because they were recorded in Scripture.”

            Which is why I wrote: Anything that made it into scripture has a lesson for us all, but there are plenty of examples of local prophecies in the messages to the seven congregations of Asia Minor in Revelation 2 & 3.

            “You need to define what you mean by prophesy if you are going to separate it from wisdom, insight, and discernment.”

            *WE* need to define it if this is to be a constructive dialogue. Any definition that says it represents God’s words for all his people is too narrow, because what is at issue between us is whether prophecy is given that does not make it into scripture, and we agree that scripture contains all of God’s words that all of his people need to hear. For starters, everybody described as a prophet in the Bible spoke in the first person as if God. I’ve checked that.

            I asked: And what about the prophets in ancient Israel whose words aren’t in the OT? You replied: “The Scripture does not contain all things spoken. It contains all things necessary. Those are two very different concepts.”

            Agreed 100%! Why then are you so zealous that the situation BC, in which prophetic words existed that were not suitable to be scripture, does not hold AD?

          • carl jacobs

            [Out and about at the moment with only my phone. Pls Standby for awhile] 🙂

          • carl jacobs

            We can agree on this, I’m sure. Prophesy is a public gift given for the benefit of the church. It is also an office that is not given to every man. So if a prophesy is received, it must be communicated to the greater church for whose benefit it was given. So why wouldn’t I write it down? That’s an exceptionally good way to communicate it to those it is intended to benefit. But what have I done when I write it down? I have instantiated an autograph. It has exactly the same ontology as any other revelation. Where do we go to find our collection of manuscripts derived from the autographs? The Scripture. Now, you agree with me that the Scripture is complete. So what then do we have in this autograph? Scripture with an expiration date? Should I put a “sell by” date on it? That’s essentially how this concept comes across to me.

            “I am a prophet. Here is my prophesy. It is good until a week from next Tuesday, so please include it in your Bibles until then.”

            You must answer those questions about scope and temporal applicability, Anton. To whom is the prophesy given? For what reason? When does it lose its ability to bind the conscience? Beyond what boundary does it lose its ability to bind the conscience? Those questions all proceed from the public nature of prophesy as a gift intended to benefit the church. You must define the scope of “church” to which these private revelations are given.

          • Anton

            I’ll gladly do that, by example. “Believers living in Smithville, do not lose heart at the many difficulties you face in buying this derelict property. It is where I have decided you will meet in future. Keep in faith and the impossible sum you need in an impossibly short time will come in.” And it happened.

            If you consider that this response does not address some of your questions, please put them again, in its light. Please also answer my question: Why are you so zealous that the situation BC, in which prophetic words existed that were not suitable to be scripture, does not hold AD?

          • carl jacobs

            And it happened.

            Certainly you are not going to claim that as an ex post facto basis for establishing prophesy, are you? It’s not a valid test. Validate the claim of prophesy before the fact. What if the prophet says “Buy a lottery ticket, and you will surely receive the money for I will take from the profligate even what he has and deliver it to you.” Do you buy the ticket? When you don’t win (and you won’t) will you decide it wasn’t a prophesy after all? In which case, prophesy has been reduced to “Things I said would happen that later came true.” Jack’s Papal statement above is a good example. It could hardly be falsified since it is so broad, any number of circumstances could be said to have fulfilled it.

            In addition, how can you say your Smithville example is not applicable to the whole church? It is functionally no different from the prophesy given to the Hezekiah when the Assyrian Army stood before the gates of Jerusalem. That prophesy was given to a very specific group of people. But the specificity does not preclude the general lessons of God’s power and faithfulness. I would assert that your example of private prophesy is exactly the kind of prophesy applicable to the whole church.

            Why are you so zealous …

            Because this whole concept undermines the closure of the canon. Assume I have received a revelation. Let’s not even talk about validating it, which is itself a huge issue. Let’s simply presume its valid. How then do I know it is not applicable to the whole church? If it is applicable to the whole church, then I have undermined the concept that the Canon is closed. How? Because I have received an extra-biblical revelation that is applicable to the whole church and any revelation that is applicable to the whole church is potentially part of the Canon That means the Canon couldn’t have been closed by definition. The only way this wouldn’t be true is if this revelation isn’t applicable to the whole church. I am not going to arrogate these decisions to myself.

            So we return once again to the question I keep asking. How do you determine the scope and applicability of this private revelation? Your example above manifestly does not answer that question.

          • Anton

            The example I gave is manifestly for the congregation at Smithville alone. How could it be otherwise?

            While the coming true of a predictive prophecy doesn’t prove it came from God, it is suggestive of that if it was predicting something highly unlikely. I’d also look at the person who spoke it: does he or she have a track record of accuracy when claiming to have spoken prophetically; do they live a clean lifestyle; do they speak histrionically (that’s a red flag)?

            You seem to want me to provide a flowchart methodology for determining infallibly whether a prophecy is authentic or not. But the same problem arose in ancient Israel, for they had no idea whether the canon was complete at any given time. Even with their intense legalism they never constructed an infallible methodology, and it is obviously impossible to capture the Holy Spirit in such a way. You cannot do more than assemble some rules of thumb.

            Paul tells us that prophecy is a gift of the Holy Spirit. What is your biblical mandate for saying that it ceased with the closing of the canon?

          • carl jacobs

            Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14

            And this prophesy was manifestly given to Ahaz. That doesn’t mean it is only applicable to Ahaz.

            You seem to want me to provide a flowchart methodology for determining infallibly whether a prophecy is authentic or not.

            No, I am asking you to tell me how I would determine to whom the prophesy is given. I am asking you to tell me how long the prophesy would maintain temporal authority. You are suggesting that there is such a thing as limited prophesy that does not have universal applicability. That is the basis for your claim that this does not threaten the Canon. I want to know how to limit the scope of this prophesy such that I can know it is not universal in scope.

          • Anton

            God makes it clear to whom a prophecy is given by whom he directs a prophet to speak to, and by its content. Some of these prophecies have proved to be part of the great revelation to all mankind that is scripture, but we know by faith that there are no more of those.

            Paul tells us that prophecy is a gift of the Holy Spirit. The church has the Holy Spirit. So what is your biblical mandate for saying that prophecy ceased with the closing of the canon?

          • carl jacobs

            God makes it clear to whom a prophecy is given by whom he directs a prophet to speak to, and by its content.

            And how does your Smithville example establish this claim? How would you prove that this prophesy is not intended to be “part of the great revelation to all mankind that is scripture”? For this is what you must do to avoid the possibility that it is supposed to be included in the Canon.

            So what is your biblical mandate for saying that prophecy ceased with the closing of the canon

            The Scripture is sufficient as it stands. Now you claim that further revelation is received. Is it universal in scope? That either A) undermines the sufficiency of Scripture since additional extra-biblical revelation was required or B) undermines the closure of the Canon because further Canonical revelation was received. So you say it is local. OK. What are the limits of its locality? To whom and for how long does it apply? And how do I recognize “local” from “universal”? Scripture cannot help me in this because there is no such concept in Scripture. There can’t be, for it becomes universally applicable by its canonization. So to whom do I turn for understanding?

            Understand I am going to be very suspicious of subjective arguments at this point. It’s the “Christmas ghost as boiled beef” thing. I don’t trust subjective feelings. I want the authority of Scripture – which by definition I cannot receive. So where?

          • Anton

            I don’t trust subjective feelings either; please see the final paragraph of my bottommost comment below.

            The Smithville hypothetical example is manifestly for the congregation at Smithville because it is an address to them; I should have added that it was delivered to the pastor by an old Bible college friend of his who was as surprised as the pastor. It is manifestly not for the universal church because the canon is closed. If it is for anybody else then God will have made that clear by its content (not in this case) and by the way it reaches the members of that congregation.

          • Phil R

            I’ll gladly do that, by example. “Believers living in Smithville, do not
            lose heart at the many difficulties you face in buying this derelict
            property. It is where I have decided you will meet in future. Keep in
            faith and the impossible sum you need in an impossibly short time will
            come in.” And it happened.

            If it didn’t……

            Then what?

            I think you are confusing God answering prayers to prophesy.

            As I have said your way is Jim Jones, Koresh and (even perhaps..) Gilles Frazer.

          • Anton

            You raise a genuine problem, namely how to tell if a predictive prophecy is a true prophecy or a false prophecy ahead of time. But this was a problem even for the prophecies that made it into scripture, so it’s not the same issue.

          • Martin

            Anton

            Christians are adequately supplied to make that sort of decision without a prophecy.

          • Inspector General

            Do you mean different congregations as in different races? If you do, one would be rather surprised at you and what would turn out to be as purely PC contempt you have dished out to the Inspectorate of late…

          • carl jacobs

            *facepalm*

          • Inspector General

            Alright. We’ll put it as the bible puts it. “The nations of the world…”

          • carl jacobs

            And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

            Revelation 5:9-10

          • Inspector General

            Well, for what it’s worth, where Anton is going is a bit of a mystery and not just for you…

          • carl jacobs

            It’s mysticism. Jack will come along soon and tell me I’m too rationalist. Anton will tell me that Fatima isn’t private revelation … or perhaps it is? And what of the Dolorous Passion? Is that private revelation as well? What should I make of it?

            This is just a rat’s nest of unanswerable questions.

          • Then there’s the Vision Of Pope Leo XIII on October 13, 1884.

          • carl jacobs

            Yes. Exactly. I expected you to oppose me on this, Jack. But here you are offering examples that support me. I underestimated you.

          • All private visions and revelations about the future given to Catholics, approved by the Church, can be relied upon as being free from error.

          • carl jacobs

            A private revelation approved by the church …. Is it still private if the church validates it? How exacly do they valudate it? And how do individuals have a chrism of revelation when the Magisterium does not? It’s all very curious.

          • Martin

            HJ

            It sounds like a load of nonsense.

          • Anton

            Catholics themselves don’t trust that:

            http://www.ewtn.com/v/experts/showmessage.asp?number=367591

          • Well quite.

          • Anton

            Inspector, the fact that I think you talk twaddle about race doesn’t mean that I hold you in contempt…

          • Inspector General

            You are most kind, sir.

    • bockerglory

      Jesus told us to scrutinise leaders who hold out that they are prophets that must be followed by judging the fruit. Samuel was a prophet but he had faults (we are all Sinners) and his own sons were corrupt. Samuel and Paul were great individuals loved by God but still Sinners.

      Therefore there are Prophets and prophecies: and the two are different things.

      Prophecies can be made by anyone – Christian or non-Christian. Prophecies should come from God via the Holy Spirit. Also Prophecies lead to good fruit and should affirm the plan God has for us laid out in the Bible.

      Some prophecies are not from God and are from “man” or Satan. These types of prophecies should be tested – will they result in good fruit? Do they fulfill God’s plan for humans or plans for our individual lives?

      As Christians we should be in tune with the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit should dwell in us. But this only happens by reflection, prayer and repentance.

      This is what Paul means. This is in part about seeking the truth. As Christians with the help of the Holy Spirit we should scrutinise what our leaders Christian and non-Christian tell us to do.

      In the history of the Christian churches we have had people who believe they have a prophecy from God to amend/clarify God’s plan but in reality they are fulfilling their own desires and lack courage (because God’s plan means Christians will offend and be offended by others).

      So:

      should women be bishops? Will that lead to good fruit in the future?

      Same sex marriage? Will this lead to good fruit?

      Saying that Jesus would approve and celebrate sexual acts between people of same sex? Will this lead to good fruit ?

      Does God now want polygamy ( thinking Mormon and Islam prophecies)? Does this lead to good fruit?

      Priests being required to be celibate? Will this or has this produced good fruit?

      Translating scripture into other languages? Has led to good fruit?

      Confessions to only be taken by priests? Good fruit?

      Etc

  • Inspector General

    Were any of the prophets as Christ? Did any come near to him and what his message was about? At least one of the bald headed bearded things was downright unpleasant…

    So no, their job done, it would only complicate the issue.

    • carl jacobs

      John the Baptist was a prophet.

      • Inspector General

        Yes, technically he was…

        • carl jacobs

          No, factually he was – in the spirit and power of Elijah. John was the last Old Testament prophet.

          • Matt A

            Paul (and others) were prophets, see start of Acts 13

          • carl jacobs

            Because the Scripture was not yet complete.

          • Matt A

            Agreed. Scripture is complete. If it was not then the end of Revelation makes no sense. The point I was making was that prophets existed and were recognised after Christs return to heaven.

          • carl jacobs

            Yes, I agree. I was simply pointing out that John was a prophet who came near to Christ.

        • John the Baptist was the last of the Messianic prophets.

  • Ian G

    This is a link to a prophecy. Tell me if it is wrong and/or how local it is supposed to be.

    http://thealmondrod.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/the-text-for-those-who-have-trouble.html

    I say that the Living God is never silent, it is we who are deaf.

    • carl jacobs

      Prophesy can be falsified, for that is the test of a prophet. How would you falsify the statement you presented on the weblog?

      • Ian G

        Falsification or verification do not mean that a statement must be falsified or verified. They simply mean that a statement is capable of being falsified or verified e.g. The moon is made of green cheese. Once we were able to test the statement it turned out to be false. If a prophecy is proved false it is not a prophecy. If it has come true then it might well be a prophecy. Some prophecies can take a while before they are verified, for example, prophecies concerning the Messiah. How would I test (falsify or verify) the prophecy on the weblog? I know the source and I know that the dating is 100% accurate. The paper on which it is written is printed on the other side ( just about visible in the photo). That printing confirms the dating. As for the rest, try reading the papers or watching the television.

  • Martin

    So is the canon of Scripture still open? If it isn’t, then those miraculous gifts have ceased.

    What was their purpose, if it was to teach, what need is there, since we have the Bible. If it was to bear witness, that purpose has been achieved.

    The offices of the Church are well defined, the two being Overseer/Elder, who has a care for the spiritual well being of the body and Deacon, who cares for those necessary mundane things of the flesh. Each should be multiply present in each local church which should govern itself as the Spirit leads.

    That the interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 as the coming of the completed Scripture can be dismissed “because Paul expected to survive until the Parousia” is laughable. those passages quoted certainly do not give any support to that suggestion. It was certainly not the case that the apostles imagined they would survive until such a time.

    As to the suggestion that it is the perfection of the Church that is in question, when has the Church ever been described as a mirror?

    Of course, the problem we have is, at least in part, down to the failure of our forefathers to translate certain Greek terms. Thus we have baptism when we should have dipping and church when we should have congregation. And here we have prophecy when we should have telling forth.

    So in a sense we do have prophecy in that the preacher tells forth God’s word, expounding it and explaining it to the congregation. But is that not somewhat different from a miraculous gift of telling forth what God has relayed to you directly, not through the agency of Scripture?

    And is it not the Bible that the preacher, indeed every saint, today should turn to for wisdom, direction and heavenly knowledge?

    • Anton

      “So is the canon of Scripture still open? If it isn’t, then those miraculous gifts have ceased.”

      That’s a non sequitur. God gives us guidance today, sometimes in words, and those words are as much god’s as those in scripture but are not for others.

      • Martin

        Anton

        Our guidance comes from His word.

        • Anton

          Some if it, yes. And nothing that contradicts it. But please see my exchange with Carl for how the debate has developed from there.

          • Martin

            Anton

            I think Carl dealt with your claims. The Bible is adequate for any needed ‘local’ revelation for it covers all that we need to know.

          • Anton

            At the time you posted this comment he had yet to reply to some pertinent questions of mine. Please feel free to find them and make your own reply.

          • Martin

            Anton

            I’m not going to spend my time reading another’s comments and comparing them with what you have said.

          • Anton

            I didn’t ask you to! I asked you to find the questions I’d put, as they would be the same questions to you and I’m unwilling to have a similar discussion twice on the same thread, for the same reason you have given: we both value our time.

  • chiefofsinners

    In 1 Cor 13 verse 12, Paul makes a significant shift from first person plural to singular. “Now WE see through a glass darkly, but then face to face; now I know in part but then shall I fully know even as I am fully known.
    The implication is clear: there will be a time when he will be with the Lord, but others will not. That is the time to which the passage refers – a time when the church no longer has the apostles and their gifts. A time when the gifts shall cease.

  • Inspector General

    One is going to have to kill this thread. The answer has got to be no, God has not sent any prophets since Jesus, and that precludes violent lying sneaky paedophile criminals in smocks from eighth century Arabia…

    • Anton

      Do you mean seventh century?

  • IanCad

    I’m struggling with the opinions of some in this discussion who claim that prophecy has ceased.

    the apostle Peter seems not to agree. In Acts 2 :17 he quotes Joel 2:17 “And it shall come to pass in those last days, saith God, I will pour out my spirit on all flesh: and your sons and daughters shall prophecy —–“

    Maybe we should define “Prophecy.” Christ himself, in Matthew 24:11 tells us that false prophets will arise and deceive many. True prophets are described in Rev. 19:10 “—-I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
    Rev. 12:17 makes it abundantly clear that it is those believers whom Satan has in his sights.

    Going back to the Old Testament Amos 3:7 assures us that the Lord God will do nothing without revealing it to His servants the prophets.

    • chiefofsinners

      The opinion is that prophecy existed only in the early church, in order to establish the church, as Eph 2:20 says “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets”.

      • IanCad

        Not sure how that squares with the quoted scripture above.
        Prophecy goes back to Genesis; no reason to think it should have ceased.
        I’m not suggesting you do so Chief, but many consider a prophet to be, primarily, a forecaster rather than, more generally, a messenger.

        • Martin

          Ian

          Because Scripture took over its function.

          • IanCad

            If that is so Martin, it essentially denies the working of the Holy Spirit.

          • Martin

            Ian

            No, the Holy Spirit still has an interpretive role for each individual.

          • IanCad

            Well then, you are contradicting scripture. More especially, the passages cited above.

          • Martin

            Ian

            Which passages and how?

          • IanCad

            Martin,
            The ones above: Acts 2:17, Joel 2:17, Rev 12:17, 19:10. Amos 3:7; and, indirectly, Matthew 24:11.

          • Martin

            Ian

            And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
            that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
            and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
            and your young men shall see visions,
            and your old men shall dream dreams;
            even on my male servants and female servants
            in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
            And I will show wonders in the heavens above
            and signs on the earth below,
            blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
            the sun shall be turned to darkness
            and the moon to blood,
            before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
            And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
            (Acts 2:17-21 [ESV])

            That was fulfilled in the first century, nothing I have written contradicts that.

            Between the vestibule and the altar
            let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep
            and say, Spare your people, O LORD,
            and make not your heritage a reproach,
            a byword among the nations.
            Why should they say among the peoples,
            Where is their God?
            (Joel 2:17 [ESV])

            I fail to see the relevance.

            Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.
            (Revelation of John 12:17 [ESV])

            Present day

            Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
            (Revelation of John 19:10 [ESV])

            I fail to see the relevance.

            For the Lord GOD does nothing
            without revealing his secret
            to his servants the prophets.
            (Amos 3:7 [ESV])

            The Bible has all we need to know.

            And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. (Matthew 24:11 [ESV])

            There are plenty of false prophets in the Charismatic movement, in fact I’d doubt any are true prophets.

          • IanCad

            “That was fulfilled in the first century, nothing I have written contradicts that.”

            Your preterist view of scripture is going to make it tough to have a meeting of our minds Martin.

            Of course, such an understanding of the timeline of prophecy, precludes it from having relevance to you today.

            As one who holds more generally to the historicist school of interpretation we can only have agreement on the truth of, the sufficiency, and the currency of scripture but not the understanding thereof.

            There is no contention on the subject of false prophets. I agree with you – they are in our midst. Whether flashy TV hucksters or those who embrace charismatic excesses; the new worship enthusiasts who meld new age, eastern and pantheistic rituals with the dignity of the gospel.

            Or, the countless Protestant (Not Catholic) preachers who knowingly discount the eternal law of God. As in promoting Sunday worship in direct contravention of the Decalogue.
            In essence, preaching a new gospel.

          • Martin

            Ian

            Seeing that Peter himself, just before that passage, says that they have been fulfilled I think I’m in good company.

            I don’t, however preclude prophecies from present day or future fulfilment.

        • chiefofsinners

          Yes, prophets in the sense of those who tell forth the mind of God are, of course, alive and well. The point that is generally disputed is where they draw their inspiration from: Direct from God or through His word with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. A narrow distinction but often a very divisive one.

  • Lienus

    If the church is so full of prophets, I shall be sure to pop into Notre Dame with a copy of the Racing Post before the next Prix De l’Arc de Triomph.
    But I suppose you knew I was going to say that?
    And you knew about all the bets I’ve lost over the years and so did God which just proves that you aren’t loving at all and neither is he otherwise you wouldn’t have let me lose.

    • carl jacobs

      Is this Eccles? It sounds like Eccles.

      • It does ….

        • carl jacobs

          Perhaps then I am a prophet? You might consider the implications of that inference. Maybe even reconsider some of the stiff-necked stubborn resistance that causes you to kick at the goads.

          • The Explorer

            Please explain. The only Eccles I know of that’s a person is the one from The Goon Show.

          • carl jacobs
          • The Explorer

            Thank you.

          • That’s not prophecy but reasonable (unusual for you) speculation. Let’s judge you on the basis of your prophecy Man Utd wont break through 50 points this season.

          • carl jacobs

            Ummm … 60 points.

          • Nah …. look back and you’ll see it was 50 points.

          • carl jacobs

            No Jack. It was 60. I am certain of it.

          • Jack stands corrected, Carl.
            “God told me that Man U wasn’t breaking 60 points this year, Jack.”
            We’ll see.

          • carl jacobs

            Goooood, gooooood. Everything is coming to pass as I have foreseen. Now, we have only to extend this particular instance … Jack stands corrected, Carl … to the general case.

      • Pubcrawler

        Eccles is witty.

        • The Explorer

          So is Lienus.

    • Gambling is a sin that’s why.

    • IanCad

      I’ve been on this blog for several years and this has to be just about the daftest comment I’ve seen yet.

      • The Explorer

        Consider who is being satirised.

        • It has a ring to it of Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          • The Explorer

            That would be wonderful, if so. Whoever it may be, we are fortunate to have so many contributors with a sense of humour. If you will forgive a quotation from Luther, “The devil, that prowde spirit, cannot endure to be mocked.”

            PS: Actually it was Thomas More. Even better from your point of view. Luther said something similar.

          • carl jacobs

            The RCC has been saying nice things about Luther of late. So Jack shouldn’t mind. He’ll have to be revising that whole “Luther was a heretic” idea soon anyways. This will be good practice for him.

          • That is a low blow. Jack is keeping his powder dry until a relevant article appears.

          • carl jacobs

            low blow

            What? I was just commenting on current trends in the Magisterium.

          • Define “Magisterium”, Carl.

          • carl jacobs
          • Nope – the Pope, acting on his own, is not the Magisterium.

          • carl jacobs
          • Now you’re scrapping the barrel.

          • carl jacobs
          • Written on behalf of the International Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity.

          • carl jacobs

            … and hosted on the Vatican website.

          • Still not the Magisterium, Carl.

          • carl jacobs

            I see. So how many people in the Vatican are a part of the Magisterium?

          • You want Jack to do your work for you?

          • carl jacobs

            No, it was a rhetorical question. I was just pointing out that if ideas are present in the Vatican, then they are also present in the Magisterium.

          • All sorts of ideas crop up in the Vatican and the Church.

          • carl jacobs

            Well, yeah. How else do you explain something like Papal Infallibility?

          • That was the Holy Spirit revealing something that had always been known just not made explicit.

          • carl jacobs

            Ah. Just like the pending rehabilitation of Martin Luther, no doubt.

          • Whatever may or may not be said in the spirit of ecumenicalism – and one hopes the Lutherans return to the fold – Martin Luther will always remain a schismatic and a heretic according to Catholic teaching. Jack really cannot see how this can change.

          • carl jacobs

            Eh. The Magisterium can change anything it wants simply by asserting that it hasn’t really changed anything. “It’s like an acorn. Doctrine develops.” Etc, etc. Like it did with EENS. That’s the magic of infallible authority. It can’t be contradicted.

          • The doctrine of EENS has simply been clarified in order to be understandable in changing circumstances.

          • carl jacobs

            … simply been clarified in order to be understandable in changing circumstances.

            Yes. It’s been clarified such “X” now means “not X”. That’s a great bureaucratic obfuscation, though. Did you spend time working as a Press Secretary for your local MP?

          • You don’t understand these things Carl because God didn’t favour you with a Catholic faith. Still, not all is lost as you cannot be held responsible for invincible ignorance.

          • chiaramonti

            Especially in the Jubilee Year of Mercy!

          • Does that really apply to American Calvinists? Besides, doesn’t one have to pass through a Mercy portal?

          • carl jacobs

            Tsk. Not everyone can be an American, Jack. Perhaps I could put in a good word for you, however? Help you with your citizenship exam? It might make a difference. 🙂

            I started watching a new series called “Zen” tonight. British cop show set in Rome. It seems high-ranking officials of the RCC are heavily involved in something called The Illuminati “The Cabal.” All very mysterious. And quite interesting.

          • Anton

            We have to put up with crap coming from Dan Brown adaptations about the same thing.

          • Zen was axed by the BBC after 3 programmes for a reason.

          • carl jacobs

            Ah. Vatican got to the BBC, huh. I understand.

          • Jack shouldn’t … but …
            “It is not surprising to see how far reaching homosexuality has gone in the Vatican. What other deviancies will enter the Vatican in the next decade remains to be seen. Whatever happened to normal sin? In the good old days, steeling a chicken perhaps constituted such sin, but these days, its sleeping with it. “

          • Cressida de Nova

            Invincible Ignorance is not an excuse for a closed mind. If a person refuses to open their mind to possibilities of truth which
            challenges their belief system … that is wilful arrogance.

          • Very true.

          • Anton

            As the definitive victory of the Roman Curia over the Conciliar movement regarding where ultimate political power lies in the Roman Catholic church. (Ever since a Council sorted out the 14/15th century issues of two then briefly three people claiming to be Pope simultaneously, the papacy has brooded about its inferiority to a church council. Pius II’s bull Execrabilis of 1460 was a threat to anathematise anybody calling for an ecumenical council to question papal decrees, and Pius IX took this to its logical if absurd conclusion.)

          • It’s always the Germans.

          • Anton

            You should thank them: it was the Germanic Holy Roman Emperor who forced the Council of Constance to be called and put an end to the absurdity of three men claiming at once to be Pope early in the 15th century. (I believe in three Catholic and apostolic churches?)

          • Do you spend your life reading anti-Catholic literature?

          • Anton

            No; sometimes I write it. And theoretical physics.

          • IrishNeanderthal

            Benedict (German) followed by Francis (Argentinian) looks like a conspiracy against English Football.

          • Even JPII and the Poles !!! You may well be on to something. Remember 1973 and Tomaszewski.

      • Now that greatly disappoints Happy Jack.

        • IanCad

          Wasn’t there a thread where I said the same thing to you Jack?
          Something about raising the age of consent to twenty five or so?

          • Happy Jack treasures such comments too …. To think he has been overtaken by a Frenchie …. the shame.
            [If as a society we accept sex outside of marriage, let alone same sex acts, the defence of women and the young demand that the age of consent rises.]

          • IanCad

            I must confess you have a point.

  • sarky

    Does god still raise up prophets?

    Those televangelists seem to be making profits.

    • IanCad

      Very good Sarky!! Triple upticks.

      • carl jacobs

        Oh. don’t encourage him. He’ll start to think he is a comedian.

        • CliveM

          He is a comedian.

          • Martin

            Clive

            I’d say he was a joke.

          • sarky

            Love you too 🙂

          • IrishNeanderthal

            Much preferable to the so-called “comedians” who infest the BBC.

          • CliveM

            A low bar to set! But true.

        • alternative_perspective

          Perhaps, but he’s not wrong. The damage done in the past by such people was enormous and today other wolves in sheep’s clothing are ready to exploit the weak and vulnerable.

          • carl jacobs

            No, he’s not wrong. (Cough) TBN (Cough)

          • sarky

            God tv ??? Someone’s got to pay for the divorce.

    • Anton

      They are playing a profiterole.

    • IrishNeanderthal

      I am reminded of The law and the profits by C. Northcote Parkinson.

  • alternative_perspective

    Context I believe is important.

    You rarely get manifestations of the spirit where it is not desired. Capernum I believe was the city where due to the peoples unbelief Jesus could only do a few miracles. The prevailing beliefs and expectations of a community determine what is possible or not.

    I think of it like the spiritual equivalent of the atmosphere in a restaurant. Even if ur own little table (the church) in the dining room is vibrant the overall feel of the dining room still affects the meal, the service and overall experience. A dead environment makes everything worse and having a good time harder. Sceptism, negativity and coldness are infectious.

  • dannybhoy

    “But the Church must have a mechanism by which Scripture may be distinguished from the prophetic words of man – no matter how lofty, trusted and exalted the leader may be. If a prophecy is given as a direct quotation from the Lord, with little room to apply Paul’s injunction to test the spirits, to weigh what is said, it becomes manipulative, if not arrogant and dishonest. Such words from professing prophets have served to malign the Pentecostal/Evangelical ‘Charismatic’ movement generally, especially when accompanied by divine claims of miraculous but medically-uncorroborated healing.”

    Such a pertinent thread!
    I have been reading up on how the charismatic, house church and pentecostal movements had developed in the last 35 years. I came to the Lord through an Anglican church influenced by Jean Darnell, Through YWAM I came into contact with, or at least knew of many of the emerging leaders in the house church movement. Besides the charismata the emphasis was on outreach, discipleship and building relationships rather than buildings.
    I still think it was a good structure, especially where the leadership consisted of elders rather than a single charismatic leader.
    I think knowing the Scriptures is essential in building a sound church fellowship. Then abiding in the Lord, openness and honesty, vision and obedience to the revealed will of God.
    I do believe in being filled with the Holy Spirit, but I don’t believe in placing too much emphasis on the gifts, as a distinguishing feature of our fellowship.
    Far better to concentrate on loving one another in practical ways and encouraging each other in spiritual growth. If the Holy Spirit wants to bestow gifts they will always be for a purpose, not as a trophy.

  • Philip Little

    I enjoy much that appears on this thoughtful blog … and I believe this particular contribution is both a balanced survey of current approaches to ‘charismata’ and biblical (and important) in its underlying convictions about the relevance of ‘spiritual gifts’ today.
    However, what surprises me somewhat is to find it in a blog which is so often coloured by Anglican perspectives on ‘church’ … because this article’s general position on the relationship between ‘ministry’ and ‘spiritual gifts’ is decidedly non-Anglican (or even implicitly critical of widespread Anglican thinking and practices). Statements such as “It is questionable whether any legitimate practice of Church leadership can be ‘non-charismatic’: ministerial authority is not manifest through a ranked hierarchy”, and many more, seem to me to advocate an approach VERY different from that widely adopted in the Anglican institution.

  • Inspector General

    The Inspector has been subjected to another virus attack by the on line Gaystapo. He wishes to inform said criminals (it is an offence to send malicious programs over the net) that this time it was only 2 hours as opposed to 2 weeks in 2014. Saints be praised – the Inspectorate has counter measures in place.

    No stopping a fellow now, what!

    • carl jacobs

      Just curious. How do you know it was a deliberate targeted attack? I’m not questioning the truth of the assertion. I am just curious how you know.

      • Inspector General

        A certain blog site has this man’s IP. It’s an inside job. A current or past employee is either responsible or has passed it on to a capable friend. Tonight, one had trouble with his password. It was not being accepted, then the lights truly went out. Should you ever be the subject of an attack yourself, you will be left in no doubt…

        • Ask you internet provider to change your IP address.

          • Inspector General

            But dear fellow, the man is back and communicating with you…

          • Yes but you still remain vulnerable, dear fellow. Next time might be different.

          • Inspector General

            Perhaps it would be to all our advantage to know when the Gaystapo are around. Cranmer’s missals obviously travel…

        • Martin

          IG

          Do you mean you were subjected to a denial of service attack?

          If so, a word with your service provider might be in order. Otherwise a hardware firewall, correctly configured, could prevent your IP from even being visible on the net.

        • Andre´Kristian

          Devil take those rotters responsible for such an unrighteous attack! The enviousness of Your opponents is only surpassed by their infantile desire for vengeance! Good luck and godspeed, my indomitable commander! Your brilliance doesn´t come without certain penalties, methinks. If it was up to me, I´d cut their ears off. (Why not?)
          Stay superior! I KNOW You will.

  • CliveM

    Years ago I attended the occasional Charismatic Church. You should have heard the guff that passed for prophecy! I am naturally inclined to scepticism. I have heard to many visions about people running through the daisies.

    But, I have yet to hear a good argument for there being no prophets or prophecies today. I see nothing in the bible that says it has stopped. Nothing unequivocal.

    I’ve still to hear a convincing argument.

    • dannybhoy

      A funny story…
      A streetwise American teen came to faith through the witness of a vibrant Charismatic fellowship.
      He started reading his bible and attending prayer meetings, and even though he was still rather rough around the edges the fellowship were very fond of him.
      After a couple of months he was invited to attend the annual meeting, where the burning issue was whether or not they should purchase an empty building to house their growing congregation.
      Some hours of discussion ensued with various people standing up to argue passionately for against the proposal,
      In sheer frustration the pastor suggested they turn to the Lord for a sign or prophecy..
      A few minutes of silence, and the young, by now bored young man, stood up and said,
      “Yea,
      Thus saith the Lord..
      Buy the damn building!!

      • CliveM

        Sometimes people look for a ‘word from the Lord’ when actually common sense will give the answer.

        Someone had a ‘vision’ at the CU I attended, that someone in the CU was being attacked and we should pray for him.

        Naturally it was more guff. He had been in no danger when we asked.

        • dannybhoy

          Why were you being attacked?

          • CliveM

            Amended!!

        • chiefofsinners

          A young lady at my CU had a word from the Lord that I was the man she was going to marry. I replied that when the Lord told me about it she’d be the first to know. Many years have passed.

          • carl jacobs

            What is a “CU”?

          • CliveM

            Christian Union. For students.

          • Hi Carl

            The Christian or at least Protestant version of the JSoc. Interestingly there was a separate Cathsoc . At the freshers fair, we used to be wedged between Cathsoc and the CU, who were next to the humanist society.

          • Anton

            I trust you are not seeking significance in that ordering!

          • dannybhoy

            It’s an old Scottish phrase usually associated with anyone named Jimmy….

          • dannybhoy

            Lots of stories like that from the earlier days of charismatic prophesying. Tie that in with the practice of shepherding though, and it gets scary…

          • Anton

            Yes. Derek Prince quit a mutual accountability group of five or so well known North American teacher-pastors to marry his second wife. He was a widower, she was a lot younger than him, they both believed God had opened the door to their marrying and they wished to marry, but the group told him he couldn’t.

          • dannybhoy

            Hmm.
            I met Derek Prince years ago in Israel.
            I’ll bet many of us could sit down and swap Christian ‘war stories’ around all kinds of issues. I know I could!
            It might be helpful, it might not
            However the main thread here is “DOES GOD STILL RAISE UP PROPHETS?”
            I personally think it depends on your view of the Charismatic movement, and I have found myself becoming more concerned than enamoured.
            We can’t deny that St Paul talks great deal about it, whereas other Apostles don’t much mention them.
            So if you do believe in the importance of the charismata, you have to also accept the idea of apostles and prophets.
            I think God can speak a ‘prophetic word’ to an individual or even a group.
            From my early Christian days I have moved from that charismatic emphasis to one of accepting the process of sanctification, including openness, humility, forgiveness and obedience to the revealed will of Christ in Scripture as well as obedience to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in my daily life.
            I’m not sure that I know of any one I would regard as or functioning a prophet in this country. I think Franklin Graham (son of Billy) might be regarded as acting as a prophet in the way he speaks out against what is happening in the world.

            I think God uses men and women who seek favour with God rather than man to speak for Him, as is evident in the Old Testament.

          • Anton

            Without disagreeing, please note that:

            All prophets in the Bible speak in the first person as if God.

            Prophets are sent to the community of God. Before Christ that meant ancient Israel. Today it means that they are sent to the church, not to the king or president or whatever. That means they won’t have a high public profile.

          • dannybhoy

            “Today it means that they are sent to the church, not to the king or president or whatever.”
            I’m not sure about that Anton. Consider Jonah’s mission. An exception I know, but in keeping with God’s love for mankind.
            As regards the Church proper, I would think that a prophetic role would largely involve keeping us focussed, pointing out error or sin and outreach.

          • Anton

            You’re absolutely right, but that’s an exception to the norm.

          • dannybhoy

            So would you accept the idea that Franklin Graham could be used of the Lord in a prophetic role to the American nation in the same way as his father sometimes was?

          • Anton

            It is indeed possible, for popular media reach Christians and non-Christians alike. Also, you say “prophetic role”, but that is not the same as “being a prophet” which all biblical precedent means speaking in the first person as if God. Some people have tried to pay me compliments by labelling as prophetic my explanation of why Christ, who has all authority in heaven and on earth, is allowing Islam (which denies His divinity) to rise. I always reply that I am not a prophet but simply putting the times together with the scriptures.

          • dannybhoy

            ” I always reply that I am not a prophet but simply putting the times together with the scriptures.”
            Well I’d agree with that Anton!
            But I wouldn’t rule out that godly men and women wouldn’t, or aren’t used of God to speak to the nations.

            Oh re Derek Prince, I think you were referring to the five men involved in Christian Growth Ministries at Fort Lauderdale.

          • Anton

            Thank you; I was.

          • dannybhoy

            And there you are, highlighting the problem of the prophet as a charismatic gift in these days.
            Five influential Christian men* who made a covenant to each other with a view to ensuring they all stayed on track and accountable..
            I assume you know what happened?
            * I have no reason to doubt their commitment or sincerity

          • Anton

            I read up on the Fort Lauderdale Five and Derek Prince’s withdrawal quite a while ago; when you ask if I knew what happened, I’m not sure to what precisely you refer. There’s this:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shepherding_Movement

            An oppressive hierarchy in a church movement? Can’t say I’ve encountered that in my reading before…

          • chiefofsinners

            And Enoch. And Balaam. Daniel. Obadiah. Micah. Nahum. Abraham.

          • Anton

            I’ll give you Obadiah and Nahum; thank you. But I had in mind only the era after the Covenant at Sinai; and Daniel was not an outsider in Babylon. Micah? NB Isaiah had plenty to say about the fate of other nations but it is clear that he was talking about them TO the Israelites.

          • chiefofsinners

            Try this:

            Luke 4:25 ” I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”

          • Anton

            I meant prophets sent to nations, not individuals. Thank you for your zealousness and I certainly forgot Obadiah and Nahum.

          • Shadrach Fire

            One prophecy does mot make a prophet.
            I don’t believe there is such a function as prophet today but there are those who prophecy.

          • Hi chief

            Well you could try shadchonim for shidduchim?

          • chiefofsinners

            Sigh. Everyone’s a yente.

    • dannybhoy

      I’d agree with that Clive. I certainly believe people are called to different ministries, and are ‘anointed’ in that ministry, but prophets perhaps are not always prophesying. Sometimes a person may have a word for their congregation, either encouraging or cautionary. Those people in my experience tend to be people who ‘are zealous for the Lord.’ Not usually known as ‘people persons’….
      Rather more in the mould of the Old Testament prophets.

  • chiefofsinners

    Was it the restraining order that eventually stopped you?

  • carl jacobs

    You see … this is why God invented fathers. And shotguns.

    • CliveM

      Wasn’t necessary, the young ladies were well capable of handling such tactics.

      • carl jacobs

        Bah! Daughter propaganda!

        • CliveM

          You’ve never met a Dundonian female of the species!

  • Dreadnaught

    “Reliable Prophet Wanted – good references essential; must have sense of humour and be fluent in tongues. Own beard essential. This is an equal opportunities position, the successful candidate will be the one who already knows they have secured the gig and therefore need not apply.”

    • dannybhoy

      Cynical but funny.

  • Excellent analysis

  • David

    I suspect that many, if not most, prophets are not recognised as such by the majority until later. Why ? Because based on my observations of life, the many seem keen to take the easy smooth path, and usually that entails following the establishment of the day, or at least doing what you think they are doing, which is what they want you to believe that they are doing. Prophets are by definition counter-cultural and therefore only the prescient and wise minority will heed their advice. Hindsight though, often validates their predictions.

    • Anton

      Do please note that prophets today speak to the church, not to the nation. That is the New Testament analogue of the situation in the Old Testament. If I had a penny for every time someone unthinkingly applied 2 Chronicles 7:14 to God healing Britain then I’d be a wealthy man, but the correct analogue is “If my people… turn from their wicked ways… then I will… heal their church. It’s about getting tough with the liberal hypocrites who claim to believe the gospel but don’t.

      • David

        Accepted. It is too easy to confuse the two different situations addressed by the two testaments.

    • IanCad

      Very true David.
      “–But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.” Matt. 13:57

      • David

        So we look at recent prophets, say those who warned against the early lowering away from Biblical morality, in the 50s and 60s, and remember how they were mocked and disregarded then; whereas now, half a century on, when the cumulative effects that stated then are mow multiplying all around us, a few are beginning to accord them more respect.

  • preacher

    An excellent & timely article. Many today see prophecy as a sign of Divine authority, given to selected leaders & promoted by the same as a means of control.
    Others believe that this gift has ceased completely or exists primarily as a form of teaching rather than in a predictive role. My own reading of scripture, coupled with experience leads me to conclude that Prophecy is still necessary, even essential in the contemporary church, along with the much forgotten gift of discernment.
    We shouldn’t be afraid of prophecy but should be cautious about what we accept & who from. We should always remember that a prophecy can be given to anyone that God chooses & that that it might happen only once in a lifetime – Gifts are given as & when the Lord chooses to bestow them, & always to reveal His will & presence among His people, especially in times of great trial, difficulty & temptation to fall away.
    Many of the prophets in the Old Testament suffered great persecution & even were martyred for speaking out the prophecies that God gave them so prophecy was not a thing to be taken lightly or trifled with. Most of them were warnings of impending war & captivity for turning away from God & embracing false gods & sinful lifestyles. But those that delivered these warnings were also given amazing powers to prove the truth of the prophecies, as we see in Elijah’s challenge to the priests of Baal. But Elijah had to be sure that the predictive word he was given was from God before issuing the challenge or he would be killed & the Nation of Israel would be plunged into Baal worship. Now Elijah was no hero as his subsequent flight proves, but he was ready, willing & able to stand in the gap as & when he was sure the message was from God. He didn’t hold high office because of the victory or be revered as a great leader, nor did he seek these accolades.
    One is led to wonder if some of the ‘Leaders’ today who proclaim great words of prophecy would gladly take the mantle of Elijah if the stakes were that high ?.

    Yes prophecy is still existent today & the Church desperately needs prophets & prophecy. But not without the gift of discernment to accompany it.

    • dannybhoy

      Discernment definitely!

  • len

    There can be little doubt that we are in ‘the last days’ even’ the last of the last days’. Discernment is need now as never before because many false prophets have risen up deceived themselves and deceiving others. Discernment can only come through the Holy Spirit as He is our Teacher and leads us into all Truth.

    “‘In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
    Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
    18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy.
    19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood and fire and billows of smoke.
    20 The sun will be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood
    before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
    21 And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved.’[Joel 2:14-36)

    • “There can be little doubt that we are in ‘the last days’ even’ the last of the last days’.”

      Did God reveal that to you?

      • Anton

        Yes, via the Bible. Globalisation and the return of the Jews to the Holy Land as a nation were both prophesied in the Bible 2000 years ago as being events close to the terrible climax of human history. Both of these things are true today and weapons of mass destruction will soon inevitably fall into the hands of men less restrained than American and Russian presidents. The correlations between the front pages and the Bible have never been clearer.

        • You do realise that nearly every generation has ‘read the runes’ and said that about itself too.

          • Anton

            Globalisation, a refounded State of Israel in the Holy Land and WMDs are all new phenomena in the lifetime of people alive today, and all relate in the Bible to the endtimes. Please engage with what I’ve said, rather than with what others have said.

          • Jack has engaged with what you’ve said – he just doesn’t agree with you. A secular Israeli State, globalisation and WMD are insufficient to say we are in the ‘end times’. Besides, these phenomena are just your interpretation of scripture. Others come up with other points. It’s all speculation.

          • Anton

            In that case you might as well say that all interpretations are speculation. God gave us the scriptures about these events for a purpose; the key book describes itself as the Revelation from Jesus Christ, not the Obscuring.

          • Indeed, all interpretations of scripture outside of the dogmatic propositions of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church are speculation. The Gospel hasn’t been given to us to use as an almanac. Revelation teaches us God is in control of history and that it has a teleological purpose.

          • Anton

            I’m not going to go Reformation in this discussion but I do regret your pessimism about making sense of eschatology. God has not given us a timeline but he has given us plenty of information. If Jesus meant us to know nothing about it then he would have refused the disciples’ question about the signs of the end of the age on the Mount of Olives and not have granted John the vision that unfolds in Revelation.

            The action in the midpart of that book alternates between heaven (meaning the spiritual realms) and earth. The opening of the seals, blowing of the trumpets, pouring out of the bowls of divine wrath in heaven have earthly consequences that are specified. Therefore it makes no sense to interpret the entire sequence spiritually. And the earthly events do not match anything in human history; therefore they lie ahead. If the Magisterium agrees with that, well and good; if not, I’d like a Catholic to tell me why.

          • The Catholic Church has no settled or fixed position on Revelation and permits varied readings of it. Who said the Church only interprets it spiritually and the events do not match earthly events? Jack wrote:“Revelation teaches us God is in control of history and that it has a teleological purpose.”

            St. Dionysius of Alexandria writes: “The darkness of this book does not prevent one from being astonished at it. And even if I do not understand everything in it, that is only because of my incapability. I cannot be a judge of the truths which are contained in it or measure them with the poverty of my mind, being guided more by faith than by understanding. I find them only surpassing my understanding.” Jerome expresses himself in the same manner: “In it there are as many mysteries as words. But what am I saying? Every praise of this book will be beneath its worth.”

            Revelation is not and has never been read during the Liturgy of the Word at Mass because the reading of Holy Scripture is followed by an explanation of it, whereas the this Book is too complex to explain.

          • Anton

            As I said, I regret your pessimism about making sense of eschatology. That pessimism is deeper than I had imagined. I urge you to ask yourself questions about the eschatological parts of God;’s word. Seek and ye shall find!

            “Who said the Church only interprets it spiritually and the events do not match earthly events?”

            If you are referring to the Roman Catholic church, I wasn’t saying that it did, but I have seen plenty of people including Catholics make that assertion.

          • And what would the point be? Really? Jack has enough on his plate working out his own salvation and bringing God’s Gospel to others.

          • Anton

            You might be surprised at its relevance to both. When after some searching I found the book that made sense of eschatology to me (in the late 1990s), I was gripped for six months by a fear of God that was entirely holy. After that time I I had integrated it with the rest of my understanding of scripture, but it has remained a necessary and healthy part of my faith. I am not saying that you (Jack) don’t have a holy fear of God, but I am saying that studying parts of the Bible you have neglected can have unexpected and good effects on your faith. Moreover I have impressed secular people with the preaching message that globalisation, the return of the Jews to the Holy Land and WMDs were all predicted at least 2000 years ago to take place and to do so in the same epoch.

          • Well each to his own, Anton. And Jack does not mean that flippantly. It’s just not a path he’s called to tread.

          • Anton

            Well yes, scripture takes us all in different ways. But we should expose ourselves deeply to all of scripture.

          • Jesus also said: “It is not for you to know the times and seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority.” All we need know is that God is in control.

          • Anton

            “Times and seasons” is a somewhat ambiguous phrase: does it mean they won’t be given an exact timeline; does it mean they’ll know nothing whatsoever; or does it mean something in between? As Jesus does not contradict himself, and as he gave the signs to watch for on the Mt of Olives, it means the third. We need to know those signs and watch the world.

            It has been well said that the Christians either never get into the Book of Revelation or never get out of it. A healthy approach integrates it with the rest of scripture, of course. The question I hope you will ask yourself is: why did God give this book?

          • Jesus actually advises it is not for us to know the times and the seasons, i.e. we will not be able to read the signs, so attempting this seems, at the very least, a waste of time. Jack believes prophecy is given to us to assure us God is in complete control of history and it is heading towards a climax. That is sufficient for him. It gives some warnings but is not a road map.

          • Anton

            What then of his reply when asked on the Mount of Olives?

          • Mathew 24: 36-44 sums up Jack’s views.

            “But as for that day and that hour you speak of, they are known to none, not even to the angels in heaven; only the Father knows them.” Jesus was telling us to stand ready as: “the Son of Man will come at an hour when you are not expecting him.”
            Given all of this, Jack doubts the Olivet discourse or the Book of Revelation can be used to say we are in the “Last Days” or to predict them.

          • Anton

            Followed by: “If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

            Who regards Christ as coming like a thief in the night? The world, wallowing in its sin! It is the world that does not expect him. The church has been given the signs. A Jewish State refounded, globalisation, WMDs… would you agree that we are perceptibly closer than 200 years ago?

          • Jesus was just warning His disciples to be ready for His return. How come the early Church expected the end of the world in the lifetime of the Apostles?
            Jack doesn’t know if the ‘End Times’ are “perceptively closer” than 200 years ago. The signs you have given don’t indicate we’re on the edge of Christ’s return. Jack would say we’re many, many years away given his understanding of Saint Paul that he posted a few days ago.

          • Anton

            I can see why you guys developed the concept of invincible ignorance!

          • Hah …

          • CliveM

            Agreed. It is as well we are all alive to the possibility that these are the end times. But we can’t and won’t know.

          • Jack would say there’s a few hundred years to go – at least. Better to focus on ones own salvation and sharing the Gospel, than engage in idle speculation about the ‘end times’. Even Jesus discouraged this.

          • CliveM

            Agreed. Any discussions on when the end times are, are pure speculation. The bible makes clear that this knowledge is not for us.

          • The Explorer

            ‘Revelation’ certainly seems to suggest some sort of common currency and common government: a sort of global EU and global Euro.

            Whether that literally means the world, or just a politically and monetarily unified Middle East, I don’t profess to know.

          • Revelation ‘suggests’ all sorts of things to different people.

            One of the signs that the Second Coming is approaching is the corporate conversion of the Jewish people. Saint Paul is very clear about this in Romans 11. After the First Coming of Christ, the Jewish people as a body rejected the Messiah so that the Gospel might bring salvation to the Gentiles. When “the full number of the Gentiles [has] come in,” the Gospel will turn back to the Jewish people and as a body and they will accept the Messiah. Paul links this conversion of Israel to the end of the world. So when we see massive numbers of Jewish conversions to Christ, that is a sign we are nearing the end.

            In 2 Thessalonians 2, Paul gives a number of other signs that the Second Coming is approaching. The first was this: “Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion/the apostasy comes first” – a massive turning away from the Christian faith.

            The next sign Paul mentions is the appearance of “the man of lawlessness”: “That day will not come, unless . . . the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition.” This individual is often identified with the Antichrist whom John talks about, as one who denies the incarnation of Christ (2 John 7). Paul says this man will demand that others worship him as a god. He tells us the man of sin is one “who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship”. Will he be a deified human? Paul says this man of lawlessness will proclaim himself to be God. This man of lawlessness will exalt himself “that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God”. Is this the Jewish Temple at Jerusalem? If so, it will have to be rebuilt before the man of lawlessness carries out his part in the final drama. A war likely would start if Israel tried to tear down the Dome and build a temple, or even if it tried to build a new temple alongside the Dome.

            So a long way to go ….

          • The establishment of the State of Israel, etc., suggest that we are in the end times. However, other end time events (for example, the prophecy in Isaiah 19:18-25) might not, the way things are at present, be fulfilled in our lifetimes or even in this century. With God, of course, all things are possible and we need to be prepared.

          • Anton

            I’m prepared to talk timescale, although not a specific year, for that cannot be known until 7 years earlier. Too many political prophecies about the Near/Middle East in the Old Testament have yet to be fulfilled for the end (and the Lord) to come within a few years. On the other hand, Daniel said that the end would “come like a flood”. Globalisation began with the industrial revolution in the 18th century and you can feel change feeding on change in a great acceleration; secular people are as sensitive to that as enthusiasts for biblical eschatology. So the timescale is not “centuries”.

            What’s an intermediate timescale between “years” and “centuries”? Answer: decades. And that is as specific as I can or wish to be.

            Although we cannot state the year, we can state the time of year: autumn in Israel, for Christ will return to fufil the Festival of Tabernacles, as his Crucifixion fulfilled Passover and Pentecost fulfilled Firstfruits. Those are the “big three” of Israel’s festivals at which every man was meant to make pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

    • sarky

      So when is all this going to happen then???

      Seem to remember a few blood moons last year and last time I checked, we’re still here.

      I really hate all this last days b****cks, too many people praying for the end and doing nothing about the now.

      • dannybhoy

        And what are you doing about ‘the now’ Sarky?

        • sarky

          What I can.

          • dannybhoy

            As I have said to you before, I fail to understand why you remain on this blog.

          • carl jacobs

            We can’t afford for him to leave now. What would we do with all the excess question marks?

            🙂

          • dannybhoy

            I’ll be frank.
            It annoys me that someone who snipes at God’s people and constantly derides our faith continues here.
            I am reminded of Korah or Balaam.
            I am one of the first to acknowledge anomalies or paradoxes In our faith. But it is my own conversion experience and the character of my Lord and His sacrificial death on the Cross that binds me to Him.
            I believe in the Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in His Son our Saviour Jesus Christ…

            To my mind Sarky dices with his own eternal destiny.

          • carl jacobs

            We need people who disagree with us. It keeps the weblog interesting. And to be frank, I feared yesterday’s thread might turn into a mock-fest. I was pleased at the restraint shown by non-theists on that thread.

            Sarky has his opinions. But he can’t hurt the truth. And his opinions don’t hurt me. All in all, he is a good addition to the weblog.

          • Anton

            Agreed Carl.

          • sarky

            Arhhh I’m wellin’ up.

          • dannybhoy

            He can’t hurt the truth, but he can mock it and divert attention away from it.
            I wish him no harm. I don’t dislike him, but if he were my neighbour I’d leave him to his own devices.
            Seriously.
            A Christian reaches out to everybody they come into contact with. They do acts of kindness where they can and share their faith if possible.
            But when you realise you;re dealing with someone who is actually mocking and doesn’t believe anyway, I leave them to it.
            If they come asking help I would give help, but I would not continue a dialogue where they could carry on mocking what I believe.

          • William Lewis

            Agreed. Most of the time Sarky just mocks and goads. Only occasionally will he engage in some kind of reasonable discussion.

          • sarky

            ???????????

          • Anton

            ?????????????????????

          • sarky

            Because you’d miss me.

          • dannybhoy

            No,
            I wouldn’t.

          • sarky

            Come on admit it, you would.

          • dannybhoy

            No, I really wouldn’t.
            You give me no reason why I should.

      • The Explorer

        It’s perfectly legitimate to wonder about the end of the world. Atheism did it all the time in the Cold War. The song ‘Eve of Destruction’. “A green and insignificant planet is now dead,” were the last words of ‘Beneath the Planet of the Apes’.

        In ‘The Time Machine’, the Traveller reaches almost the end of things: Earth’s rotation ceases, the Sun grows redder and dimmer; everything freezes.

        The biblical End Times are not just about when the world will end, they are also about how the world will end: and about what happens after that.

        • dannybhoy

          Absolutely. Only those who are kin to the dodo have no interest as to where we came from and whether there is any meaning to life…

          • Er, the Dodo considers such issues too.

          • carl jacobs

            I’ Dodo est mort.

          • Habet propinquis

          • carl jacobs

            But he was the last of the Dodos. There can be no more.

          • Latterly he liked to be known as “Dodo the Dude”. Who knows what he got up to. Certainly he had a wife and it is rumoured he had fledglings too.

            http://httpwwwmreman.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/born-to-be-wild.html

          • carl jacobs

            Well, let’s hope they take after their mother.

          • Lol ….

          • sarky

            I dont waste the middle worrying about the begining and the end.

          • dannybhoy

            Nor more do I Sarky, but intelligent people do wonder about life and origins..

            I don’t worry about life: only how I personally respond to it.

        • sarky

          The world won’t end (yet), we might, but the old Blue will keep a spinnin.

          • The Explorer

            You see: you’re speculating about it too.

          • sarky

            Your examples where pure sci-fi. The difference is people don’t believe and actively pray for them.

          • The Explorer

            It was how Wells thought the world would end, based on the science of his time and absenting divine intervention. Cold-War atheists might not have prayed for that sort of ending – what, after all, would atheists pray to? – but it was what they thought might happen.
            Agreed the end of the world is a joyous event for Christians because of the remade world that follows it. For atheists, it’s termination: a pleasing thought only for those who hate the world and humanity enough to welcome their destruction.

      • IanCad

        You’re hitting a raw nerve with me Sarky. We do not present the light of our faith as we should.
        We Christians have the Blessed Hope and in that look for the return of Christ. Now that great day will be preceded by a time of trouble that never was. Bloodshed, war – the most awful times that have ever been.
        I’m a coward and must confess that It would be quite fine with me if these terrors take place sometime after I’m dead.
        No one knows when the Lord will return but we maintain the lively hope that we will be judged worthy to be in His Kingdom.

        • sarky

          I think you’re in a minority. Many are actively praying for death, destruction and the slaughter of billions.

          • The Explorer

            Only a psycho would actively pray for the Tribulation. Instead, there are Christians who hope to be raptured away before the Tribulation.
            I myself think the Rapture and the Second Coming are two different descriptions of the same event. Given the martyrdom of Christians throughout history, I do not see why the final generation would be spared. I see nowhere in the Bible that says they will. What is promised is that the Tribulation will be cut short for the sake of the Elect.
            The Tribulation will have to be endured. It’s what comes after the Tribulation – the end of suffering, and justice for those who have never had it – that Christians pray for.

          • Anton

            I agree with you. I wondered when the timing of the Rapture would be aired at His Grace’s; it’s the Christian equivalent of Godwin’s Law.

          • dannybhoy

            Good points. The thing is that no matter what happens, we Christians always find ourselves in a right relationship with Him.

          • IanCad

            What an indictment that is Sarky.

          • sarky

            Yep!

      • Anton

        Globalisation and the return of the Jews to the Holy Land as a nation were both prophesied in the Bible 2000 years ago as being events close to the terrible climax of human history. (If you want chapter and verse, I’ll gladly provide it.) Both of these things are true today and weapons of mass destruction will soon inevitably fall into the hands of men less restrained than American and Russian presidents. The correlations between the front pages and the Bible have never been clearer; you need less faith to be a Christian now than ever before. Grab it before the storm breaks in our lands.

        • sarky

          Why is it that every generation has believed its in the end times?
          They were talking about it when I went to church!!
          Sorry but this kind of hysteria does nothing for your cause.

          • Anton

            Globalisation, a refounded State of Israel in the holy Land, and WMDs, are all new phenomena in the lifetime of people alive today and all relate in the Bible to the endtimes. If you want to reply to me, please engage with what I’ve said rather than with what others have said.

          • sarky

            So who is the antichrist and where will he/she rise up from??

            Cant see a situation where one person will wield that kind of power.

          • len

            Many have Stalin, Hitler, Mao, etc

          • Anton

            Too soon to tell yet but we have been given enough information to recognise him when he emerges.

            “Cant see a situation where one person will wield that kind of power.”

            You’re kidding! Even secular people are talking about a world government in a couple of generations. Economic globalisation is essentially complete and political globalisation is not implausible in its wake on a long but forseeable timescale. Listen to Lennon’s “Imagine”…

          • sarky

            World government, really?
            I see it all fracturing within a decade. The Eu will go and nationalism will rise, globalisation has already being shown as a failure and countries will start looking within for answers.

          • CliveM

            “globalisation has already being shown as a failure”

            Really, quite a bold statement. In what way has it failed? What do you think is the purpose of globalisation?

          • Anton

            The EU is indeed in big trouble but the fact that things can change so quickly shows they can do so again. People were writing in the first decade of the 20th century how things were just going to get better and better and better. Then World War 1 happened. Europe is facing civil war between Muslims and the descendants of its longterm population, not tomorrow, not next year, but in the forseeable future; the Middle East is set for a major Sunni vs Shia confrontation with Russia involved; China is rising and the USA is falling economically and this could cause a flashpoint war in the Pacific. Wars now could easily go nuclear; before 1945 they couldn’t, and after that there was a superpower standoff, but the Cold War era has now shaded into general instability. Watch for a horrendous war and out of the smoke a man emerging promising a new era of peace if he is let rule those places that he has not already taken control of. And please take into account the hippie idealism of the generation now running the West. That is the idealism behind the nonsense of multiculturalism which admits so many Muslims.

      • preacher

        sarky. You claim to have read the Bible, all true prophecies happen in God’s time not ours. He is not reliant on us, & frankly I often wonder why He bothers with the proud, facetious, foolish talk of mere mortals. Remember the part that says, in the end times, mockers & scoffers will come saying more or less exactly what you just said.
        So you see you’ve already answered your own question & proved the prophecy correct. Without a doubt, you will find some smart reply – for that is the nature of the beast !.
        Nuff said !!!.

        • sarky

          The mockers and scoffers have been around for years. … still no armageddon.

          • The Explorer

            It doesn’t suggest that there will not be mockers and scoffers until the End Times. They’ll be there through the history of the Church. It’s just that at the end they’ll multiply.

          • sarky

            They only seem to be in Western counties. As people on here are keen to point out, the church is growing in China and Africa so ‘globally’ that argument doesn’t stack up.

          • The Explorer

            Yes, and that’s probably a sign we aren’t yet in the End Times: given that the conditions of ‘Romans’ 11 have not yet been fulfilled. It’s possible that the West will unexpectedly revive, as it has done in the past, but the attitudes in, say, modern Britain are a paradigm of global conditions at the end.

          • preacher

            Yet !

      • len

        I take it you have seen the all the other signs as well? if so please give dates and times?.
        Those of us who preach the gospel do so as a warning much as if we saw a car travelling down a road that ended in a precipice and tried to warn the occupants .Many such as yourselves shout back abuse not realising the danger they are in.We can only try and warn those hurtling towards oblivion hoping some might listen……
        The re birth of Israel is when the end times clock started ticking if you had studied the Bible you would know that……..

      • preacher

        Whether we go out wholesale with a big bang, or quietly in a bed at home or a hospice, or in an emergency room at a hospital after an accident brother. One things is for sure, the morning will come when individually, none of us will be here to check it.
        Each person has to decide where he/she stands in relation to their eternal destiny. It’s not something to be taken lightly.
        The end will come for each of us brother & that’s a fact that is not in dispute !!.

        • sarky

          Your right of course. I just choose to make the most of my one life and don’t see the point of spending it worrying about what comes after.

          • preacher

            Enjoy & don’t waste too much time on the computer blogging!!

          • sarky

            Ha ha as you can obviously work out, I don’t! !!

  • Shadrach Fire

    His Grace writes an exciting exposition of the Gifts in the Church today which is all very interesting. However he also wrote;
    “Gifts such as healing constituted a sign of Jesus’ divinity, and these ceased at or near the end of the first century AD.”
    I hope he does not believe this as i have personally experienced and seen amazing miracles of physical healing and fervently believe that healing shows the power of God to intervene and his concern for our lives today, just as it was in the first century.

    • chiefofsinners

      I don’t think anyone doubts God’s ability to heal. The debate is over whether specific divinely gifted individuals are able to heal on demand as Jesus did.

      • preacher

        I believe all Born again, Holy Spirit filled believers can & do still heal the sick. But they do so as the indwelling Spirit directs & guides them, not just as they please. Believers are always subordinate to the Holy Spirit never the other way around. Although we should always be ready to pray & petition the Lord to heal on the other persons behalf. The Lord & the Holy Spirit as part of the Trinity were in total unity so the Lord was in a unique position of equality.

        • Anton

          1 Corinthians 12:7-11 is clear that some but not all Spirit-filled Christians have the gift of healing.

          • preacher

            Hi Anton firstly let me say that I agree with you that different gifts are given as the Spirit wills. I believe that as the Holy Spirit is alive & living in us, He is aware of the needs that are required on a day to day basis & also the ability & willingness we have to use the gifts. For example an extrovert evangelist would be more likely to need & use certain gifts effectively than one whose ministry is intercession or teaching.
            As we read in scripture, the gifts are not limited to ‘ One to each believer ‘ but we are encouraged to desire more of them to facilitate the spread of the gospel.
            The Holy Spirit will provide the power, but it’s then up to the individual whether to use it ( He will work with us but never overrule our free will ) . Paul asks ” Do all speak in tongues ? ” obviously many do, but if we all spoke in tongues all the time, chaos would reign, we have the choice. Another example is driving a car, the Power is there but we must use it sensibly or face catastrophe. I hope this helps to clarify my position.
            Blessings. P.

  • carl jacobs

    W00t! I am sitting here waiting for the Caucus to start. Time to do my bit to slay the Trump Beast.

    • Only in America ….

      • carl jacobs

        [Cough] Corbyn [Cough]

  • carl jacobs

    I think he hurt The Donald. I think The Donald IS hurt. Corey Lewandowski, The Donald’s campaign manager right next to me is saying it. You may hear him. Down goes The Donald! Down goes The Donald! Down goes The Donald! The heavyweight champion is taking the mandatory eight-count and Ted Cruz is as poised as can be in a neutral corner!

    • CliveM

      So a Rubio, Clinton run off for President?

      • IanCad

        I would say it will be Cruz/Sanders.
        Rest assured; I rarely get US elections right.

    • Anton

      I don’t think that many people here will get that reference to the Frazier-Foreman fight.

      • carl jacobs

        Very good, Anton. I’m impressed.

        • Anton

          Frazier-Foreman-Ali-Norton was a golden age. Likewise Hagler-Hearns-Duran-Leonard.

  • David

    We may be in the “Last Days”, or it may be that we may be so close to powerful, opposing forces at present that it just seems like that to us. But only God knows.

    There have been several phases in history when, to that particular set of Christians it seemed as if it were the “Last Days”, but it wasn’t. This is because, like all humans living in a particular society, in a particular place at a particular phase in history, and having a certain mindset and cultural approach, we inevitably lack the wider perspective. Or as my very Christian grandfather used to say, “we are to close to the tree to see the woods”. But we can be assured that human frailties aside, God knows.

    Maybe there are certain advantages in believing that we are in the “Last Days”. Perhaps it motivates people to work, to strive to bring more people to know Christ. On the other hand, maybe by saying out loudly and confidently, “we are in the Last Days”, it merely repels people from the Gospel message that we are offering, as they take the view, how can anyone possibly know ? Or again people may react by thinking, “what a silly threat – I don’t like to be threatened into joining them”.

    The Bible itself tells us that the exact time and hour is not for us to know, but that we are to live and work for the Kingdom, with energy and commitment, whatever time we live in. Personally I prefer the Bible’s advice. Let’s just work away and trust that God knows what He is doing, shall we ?

    • len

      The rebirth of Israel is the indicator as to how near to ‘the end days we are.’ ‘The last days’ in many peoples estimation have lasted 2,000yrs a mere blip in God`s timetable.

      • David

        Maybe Len, maybe. This is how it is interpreted by many I agree. I am not saying that the rebirth of a state called “Israel” is not the proof you claim it to be. But I am saying that misinterpretation would be very easy and has been done before. Above all I don’t want to make claims of which we cannot be sure, as it will bring The Gospel, and the whole Christian endeavour, into disrepute. We were told not to worry about the exact day and time, but to work for The Kingdom, and be ready. That advice is good enough for me.

        • len

          There have been many false predictions as to ‘the end of days’ and the return of Jesus Christ but these were not based on the Word of God but based on false hopes and’ gut feelings’ and I agree this has brought discredit to the Gospel.
          We do not know’ the day or the hour’ but we should know the ‘season’ and that’ season’ is based on the return of the Jews to their homeland Israel.

          We Christians are told to keep oil in our lamps(filled with the Holy Spirit) so we are ready whenever that time comes.The approach to the end brings a greater sense of urgency to get the Word out to whoever will listen because there is a time coming when the Gospel will not be allowed to be preached publicly.

          • David

            We are in agreement on all the general points regarding being ready and urgently getting out The Word. It is for example, remarkable how The Gospel is now being spread, to many Muslims, and many are coming to faith, even in totally anti-Christian Islamic lands. This is unprecedented ! So it looks like the Spirit is hard at work in unexpected places, all pointing to the distinct possibility that we are in an exceptional time, and maybe also approaching the “Last Days”.
            My reservation is that although it is very possible that we are in the “last days”, I would prefer to just work away at the Great Commission, without publicly, confidently asserting that we can be sure about the season. I feel that we will be more successful in bringing people to accept salvation through repentance and faith in Christ, if we just work, and avoid appearing to be over-confident regarding our abilities to be really sure about this. Unbelievers scoff at failed predictions. So my preference is to avoid putting The Gospel in a position where it may be laughed at, and instead I’d prefer to just get on with the job, trusting to God.

  • len

    God continues to speak but who is listening?. We have Churches who carry on with their programmes, their meetings their coffee mornings but is God included in their agenda?. There are Churches filled with idols and led by men who sit on golden thrones who rule over the people .Gay Priests and those who have abused their flocks betraying the trust placed in them. False shepherds whose main interest is’ fleecing the sheep’ placed in their care.
    We have created ‘a god ‘in our own image, a tolerant benign god ,who accepts us as we are, a politically correct god who bows to the laws of men.

    As Jesus said Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6;46)

    • Anton

      This is why I am not in the big two denominations found in England, to which you obviously refer. Be of good cheer, for some of us are listening.

      • len

        Good the hear!.

    • preacher

      It’s tough to preach the gospel in the face of such opposition isn’t it len ? but as a pastor I knew once said ” If you throw a rock up a dark alley & there’s a shout – you’ve hit something ! “.
      Keep going brother & enjoy the trip every step & challenge of the way.
      Blessings. P.

      • len

        Amen. God Bless.

    • dannybhoy

      Good post Len.