Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Study With Me -- Acts Lesson 13

We have seen from I Corinthians 13 that knowledge and prophecy would cease when something caused them to cease. But what is prophecy?

I Corinthians 14:1 tells us to pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. Often times we think of prophecy as telling the future. However in verse 3 we have a pretty good definition of New Testament prophecy. “He who prophecies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.”

I think New Testament prophecy is more like we would think of preaching. It is speaking the Word of God in a way that builds up, exhorts and comforts us.

Take a look at 2 Peter 1:16-21. Peter is one of the apostles who was with the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration. Was that a real experience or just a feeling? It was a real experience and a grand one at that. Not many people have had that sort of experience.

Look at what Peter says in verse 16: “We were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” He goes on to describe a portion of his real experience there on the mountain including the fact that they heard the voice of God.

Then Peter makes an amazing statement in verse 19. He says, “We also have the more sure prophetic word.” What Peter? You have a more sure word than the experience you had up there on the mountain with Jesus? What is that more sure word?

He responds by telling us in verse 19 that it is not only a more sure word, but a word which we do well to take heed as a light that shines in a dark place. OK Peter, what is it?

Verse 20 has the answer. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation…” So the answer is that Scripture is a more sure word than what Peter experienced on the mountain and it is a more sure word than any experience we may ever have with God.

So many times people will tell me that what it says in Scripture is all well and good, but they had an experience that cannot be denied and go on to say something that is in direct contradiction to Scripture. Our attitude toward the Bible has to be such that we will measure every thought, every experience, every decision by what it says. Whatever doesn’t match must be thrown out no matter how deep or personal that experience may have been.

The gift of prophecy then is the gift of being able to speak the Word of God from Scripture in such a way that people are built up, exhorted and comforted with the truth from God.

I'd be interested to hear how the rest of you see it. What is biblical prophecy the way you understand it?

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