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Gift of Prophecy after the New Testament times

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"Most believers in the Bible take it for granted that the gift of prophecy was withdrawn from the church when the writing of the New Testament was completed." Agree or disagree. Provide Biblical evidence to support your answer.

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Solution Summary

This solution debates the statement: Most believers in the Bible take it for granted that the gift of prophecy was withdrawn from the church when the writing of the New Testament was completed. Validated through Biblical evidence.

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This answer draws heavily on the work of Haynes, "The gift of prophesy." Indeed, "most believers in the Bible take it for granted that the gift of prophecy was withdrawn from the church when the writing of the New Testament was completed."

Few Christians give serious consideration to the idea that the gift might have operated after that time. The purpose of this response is to address the Scriptural evidences which reveal God's purpose to continue to send revelations to His church through prophets, whenever special messages might be necessary or desirable. In particular we will find that the gift should be present in the remnant church shortly before the return of the Saviour.

About a dozen Bible passages, divided into four groups, present the evidence. Since there are no texts that even hint that the manifestations of the gift should end, it is not necessary to compare and weigh evidence to discover whether or not the gift should be present in post-Biblical times. Particular attention must be given to the circumstances under which it is indicated that the presence of the gift might be expected.

Bible Evidences

1. From the Old Testament. "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call." Joel 2:28-32.

The time setting of the prediction of the outpouring of the Spirit is important, in order that we may understand the significance of "afterward" in verse 28. According to the next verses, this was to be fulfilled at the time when certain wonders would be shown in the heavens and on the earth, and in close proximity to the deliverance of "the remnant whom the Lord shall call." The first two verses of chapter 3 help to complete the picture of the time involved. Joel 2:30 may be subject to a variety of understandings, but there can be no question about the events of verse 31, "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come." In His enumeration of occurrences portending His return, Jesus included this sign among others: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven." Matthew 24:29, 30. Another parallel passage is found in Revelation 6:12-17, "And I beheld when He had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth.... And the heaven departed as a scroll.... For the great day of His wrath is come." These signs, referred to by Joel, Jesus, and John point to the dark day of May 19, 1780. Other related signs, closely associated with the second advent of Christ, are witnesses that the event is near. The indication is that in the same general time period the Lord would pour out His Spirit in an unusual manner upon "all flesh."

The prediction reveals that in the days preceding the second advent of Jesus Christ, God will pour out His Spirit in a remarkable way. We need not now delve into the variety of the manifestations of the Spirit. It is sufficient for our purpose to know that one of the results of the coming of the Spirit will be to cause some persons to prophesy, after having received visions and dreams. Therefore, a revival of prophetism is to be a mark of preadvent times.

One question must be answered before we leave this prophecy of Joel, a question raised by the use Peter made of this text on the Day of Pentecost. Explaining to those who mocked the miracle of that day, the apostle declared, "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel." Acts 2:16. Then he went on to quote the verses we have been considering. Was the prophecy completely fulfilled at Pentecost? If so, it cannot help us in our present problem. Louis M. Sweet proposes the same query, and virtually answers it in the asking. "The promise through Joel is an undeniable prediction (every promise is such), which in a measure would be fulfilled in any exceptional manifestation of God's Spirit among men. The only question which can possibly be raised in connection with Peter's use of this passage is whether the Pentecostal outpouring was the climactic realization of the promise: that is, the establishment of the era of blessing foretold by the prophet."-The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 4, P. 2517. He approves Peter's use of the text to apply to the occasion, but he wonders if enough happened on the Day of Pentecost to warrant maintaining that the prediction of Joel was completely fulfilled that day.

A brief review of the events shows that Joel's prediction did not then meet its complete fulfillment. The wonders in the heavens and on the earth that were foretold did not take place. There is no Biblical evidence that visions and dreams were given that day, and if the whole prophecy was fulfilled in one day, that would have been necessary. The prophet named events
to take place with a view to the soon coming of deliverance for God's remnant, but other predictions of the rise of the remnant were not completed for many centuries. On the Day of Pentecost a remarkable outpouring of the Spirit of God was given, and Peter rightly used Joel's ...

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