NO CONTINUATION OF PROPHETS TODAY
By: Victor T. Stephens
"People often claim to hunger for truth, but seldom like the taste when it's served up."
~ George R.R. Martin
The New Prophecy: Then and Now
In the late second century, the early church confronted a heretical prophetic movement known by its adherents as the "New Prophecy" or “Montanism”. The early church rejected Montanism on account that it diverged significantly from the biblical examples of Old Testament and New Testament prophecy and prophets. However, rejection of Montanism was not without opposition. The church grappled for many years to check the growing number of supporters to this "New Prophecy".
Today, parallels have been etched between Montanism and Pentecostalism, the charismatic movement, the New Apostolic Reformation, and the Vineyard affiliated groups. These denominations essentially contend that the prophetic gifts are functional today as they were during the early church.
Two Forms of Prophecy?
Some non-cessationists argue that there are two forms of prophecy. The first type is “authoritative apostolic prophecy”. This form of prophecy is the inspired words spoken by the Apostles. Their gifts were identical to the prophets in the Old Testament; and thus are considered the true successors to the Old Testament prophets. They functioned as a voice for God; and thus were infallible.
The second type of prophecy is commonly known as non-authoritative "congregational prophecy". Congregational prophecy is unscripturated revelation from New Testament prophets that began at Pentecost and has continued throughout the church age. This form of prophecy functions when the congregation is assembled. When operating on a personal level, it is known as "personal prophecy".
Allegedly this gift is distinct from the gift of prophecy exercised by Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles. These prophets would speak in the own words what God would spontaneously impress upon their minds. This form of prophecy may be to encourage, edify, exhort, comfort, and in some cases, may be predictive.
Unlike Old Testament and apostolic prophecy, non-authoritative congregational prophecy eludes the stringent requirements of testing prophets that were implemented in the Book of Deuteronomy. Thus, this type of prophecy does not have the same authority of the words of God; and thus are fallible. To put it another way, this form of prophecy is contingent on revelation from the Holy Spirit, but during the course of deliverance the New Testament prophet could interpret it insufficiently and/or incorrectly. Therefore, concessions are provided to the prophet for being in error. In the words of C. Samuels Storms, he states:
"The key is in recognizing that with every prophecy there are four elements, only one of which is assuredly of God: There is the revelation itself; there is the perception or reception of that revelation by the believer; there is the interpretation of what has been disclosed or the attempt to ascertain its meaning; and there is the application of that interpretation. God alone is responsible for the revelation. (...) It is infallible as he is. It contains no falsehoods (...) Error enters in when the human recipient of a revelation misperceives, misinterprets and/or misapplies what God has disclosed. The fact that God has spoken perfectly does not mean that human beings have heard perfectly."
(C. Samuel Storms, "A Third Wave View", in “Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?”, Pages 207-208)
Refuting Today's New Prophecy
The non-cessationists' proposed idea that there are two forms of prophecy has a multitude of ecclesiological weaknesses.
Firstly, let's momentarily accept the non-cessationists' position. Now ... by conjuring up a class of prophecy that can embrace truth and erroneous information produces an arduous means for the church to expose and refute false prophets.
Secondly, this theory furnishes no measurable and authentic base by which a person can be cognizant if he is hearing from God or a satanic source. Satan's primary deceptive tactic is mixing error with truth.
"For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." (2 Cor. 11:13-15)
Thirdly, this theory creates opportunities for false Christians to prey on other peoples' emotions for selfish gain.
Forth, and again momentarily accepting the non-cessationists' position, to allege New Testament prophecy is fallible is in effect alleging that we now have an inferior and lower status form of prophecy as compared to Old Testament prophecy. Do we not live under a better covenant? Let's now explore this further.
Contrary to the claims of many non-cessationists, there is only one kind of prophecy in the New Testament; and it is commensurate to prophecy in the Old Testament. New Testament prophecy is infallible and authoritative revelation from God. Whenever God spoke in past times, He never had others utter anything but His very own words. Deuteronomy 18:18-19 says:
"I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name." (Deut. 18:18-19)
As shown from this passage, the prophetic message from a prophet represented God's own words; which at all times declared precisely what He proposed to convey. What was true of God's revelations spoken through Old Testament prophets was also true of the Father's words spoken by Jesus.
"For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say." (John 12:49-50)
As we can see, the words spoken by Jesus to His audience were the very words of the Father. Likewise, the words that God spoke to and by means of the apostles and New Testament prophets were His very words. Jesus said in John 14:26:
"But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26)
Jesus repeats in John 16:13-14,
"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you." (John 16:13-14)
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:10:
"these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God."
(1 Cor. 2:10)
It should be evident that the words spoken to and by means of the apostles and prophets represented the very words of God; and thus, were completely accurate. The idea that a prophet could insufficiently interpret God's intentions and speak an imperfect message is crudely foreign.
The assumptive case by non-cessationists that there is prophetic termination between Old Testament and New Testament prophets has no biblical basis. Just as there were false prophets in the Old Testament, there were false prophets in the New Testament (1 John 4:1). Thus, the early church needed to exercise discernment in determining who was a true or false prophet. Prophets and their prophecies had to be tested. First Thessalonians 5:20-21 states:
"Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good ..." (1 Thess. 5:20-21)
Let's now ask the following questions: "How did the early church exercise discernment in testing New Testament prophets? What did they employ as their model of comparison?"
Since New Testament prophecy was simply a continuation of Old Testament prophecy, the early church tested New Testament prophets based on the criteria established for Old Testament prophets. New Testament prophets who spoke false prophecy were regarded as false prophets based on Old Testament criteria of evaluation. Likened to Old Testament prophets, New Testament prophets were required to be 100% accurate. Therefore, the idea of a non-authoritative "congregational prophecy" that may contain errors is an anti-biblical concept.
To prove that New Testament prophecy was a continuation of Old Testament prophecy, let's take a look at what Peter stated in Acts 2:17:
"'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."' (Acts 2:17)
As I pointed out previously, Peter quoted Joel 2:28-32 only in the sense of illustrating the semblance of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost with that same outpouring of the Holy Spirit during the seven year Tribulation period. Again, Joel 2 is the continuity between Old Testament and New Testament prophecy.
Take note that Peter uses the same type of prophecy found in the Old Testament (Joel 2) and signifies it to the prophetic gifts that were given at Pentecost in the New Testament. Further evidence of this fact is seen by the use of the words "visions" and "dreams" in Acts 2:17; which are also used in the following Old Testament passages:
He said, "Listen to my words: When there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams." (Num. 12:6)
"Let the prophet who has a dream recount the dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?" declares the LORD. (Jer. 23:28)
"In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream." (Daniel 7:1)
"The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa --- the vision he saw concerning Israel two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel." (Amos 1:1)
"The word of the LORD that came to Micah of Moresheth during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah --- the vision he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem." (Micah 1:1)
It should now be abundantly clear that the gift of prophecy in the Old Testament is the same gift that was given at Pentecost. Thus, the same standards for judging prophets in the Old Testament apply to prophets in the New Testament. This fact refutes the notion that there was a second type of prophecy in the early church known as fallible "congregation prophecy". The only type of prophecy found in the Old and New Testaments was authoritative; and it came from the Holy Spirit with faultless accuracy.
To challenge this fact, non-cessationists contend that Acts 21:4; 1 Corinthians 14:29; and 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22, are examples of inaccurate and non-authoritative prophecy. Let's now examine these accounts in proper context.
1. “We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.” (Acts 21:4)
In this account, the assumption is that the expression "Through the Spirit" is indicative of prophetic speech. Thus, the fact that Paul ignored this allegedly prophetic forewarning is assumed to be proof of fallible prophecy.
What non-cessationists fail to realize is that the warning given by the disciples cannot be classified as prophetic speech. The Spirit of God is not cautioning Paul through the disciples not to go to Jerusalem; rather the Spirit informed the disciples of the tribulations that were anticipated upon Paul's arrival. As a result, out of love and concern for Paul's safety, it was the disciples' will that Paul not go to Jerusalem. Their pleadings with Paul should not be attributed to the Spirit of God.
In order to fully understand the exegetical context of Acts 21:4, other passages need to be factored in. Thus, let's begin by taking a look at Acts 20:22-24:
"And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me -- the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace." (Acts 20:22-24)
Here, we see that Paul is "compelled by the Spirit" to go to Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit cautions Paul that hardships will face him as they have in the past. It was this warning that the Holy Spirit conveyed to the disciples at Tyre (Acts 21:4). Consequently ... as aforementioned ... out of regard for Paul's welfare, the disciples urged Paul not to go to Jerusalem.
The message that was given by the Holy Spirit to the disciples in Tyre was also given to the people in Caesarea. Acts 21:10-11 says:
After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, "The Holy Spirit says, 'In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.'" (Acts 21:11)
What were the peoples' and Paul's response? Acts 21:12-13 says:
When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts 21:12-13)
Take note that the prophet Agabus did not tell Paul not to go to Jerusalem. Rather, he expanded the warning that the Holy Spirit revealed to Paul in Acts 20:22-23. As a result, likened to the disciples in Tyre, the people in Caesarea urged Paul not to go on account of their love and concern for Paul's welfare (v. 13). Thus, as pointed out previously, Acts 21:4 is not an example of prophetic speech. Let's now examine the next account that non-cessationists use in their efforts to prove fallible "congregational prophecy".
2. "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge." (1 Cor. 14:29)
Since Non-cessationists contend that prophecy today can include truth mixed with error, they reference this verse as a means to evaluate prophetic utterances. The fact that Paul says prophecy should be judged is an indication that prophetic utterances may contain true and false elements. In order to minimize errors, allegedly provisions have been made for the prophet who speaks to be judged by the other prophets.
Such a proposal represents an inaccurate interpretation and application of this verse. Simply put, non-cessationists are imposing their own theological presuppositions by reading into the text what is it does not say. There is absolutely nothing in 1 Corinthians 14:29 to suggest that legitimate prophecies may encompass true and false elements.
Factually, this verse is saying that when a plurality of prophets are speaking their oracles during a church meeting, the entire prophetic message of each prophet is to be judged for complete accuracy by the other (established) prophets seated. A completely accurate prophetic message would determine who was a true prophet of God. In other words, the other prophets who were seated were not judging true and false elements within each oracle spoken, but rather they were sorting out the true and false prophecies amid the number of prophecies they received. Judging prophecies was a means of appraising the prophets' messages in order to declare judgment on the prophets themselves.
Further proof is presented by examining the proper context of the word "judge" in 1 Corinthians 14:29. The Greek word for "judge" is "diakrino". It appears 18 times in the New Testament (Matt. 16:3; 21:21; Mark 11:23; Acts 10:20; 11:2; 11:12; 15:9; Romans 4:20; 14:23; 1 Cor. 4:7; 6:5; 11:29; 11:31; 14:29; James 1:6; 2:4; Jude 1:9; 1:22). According to the New Testament Greek Lexicon, the usages communicate a variety of meanings such as:
"to separate, make a distinction, discriminate, to prefer to learn by discrimination, to try, decide, to determine, give judgment, decide a dispute, to withdraw from one, desert, to separate one's self in a hostile spirit, to oppose, strive with dispute, contend, to be at variance with one's self, hesitate, doubt." (New Testament Greek Lexicon)
If we read the 18 passages mentioned previously, we will discover that the New Testament does not use the word "judge" ("diakrino") in the context of distinguishing between true and false elements contained within individual conceptions, thoughts, notions, and impressions. Let's take a look at a few examples:
"For who makes you different ("diakrino") from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" (1 Cor. 4:7, emphasis mine)
"I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge ("diakrino") between his brethren?" (1 Cor. 6:5, emphasis mine)
"For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning ("diakrino") the Lord's body." (1 Cor. 11:29, emphasis mine)
"For if we would judge ("diakrino") ourselves, we would not be judged." (1 Cor. 11:31, emphasis mine)
In these four verses, the Greek word "diakrino" is being used to make distinctions between people. If in 1 Corinthians 14:29 the Greek word "diakrino" ("judge") was being used to signify a distinction between true and false elements, this grammatical usage would be unprecedented in the New Testament. However, if it is distinguishing true prophets from false prophets, then this verse is in harmony with other passages of Scripture which use the Greek word "diakrino".
With that being the actual case, Paul was appealing to the other seated prophets to test the entire prophetic messages of the prophets who were speaking. How did the other prophets ascertain if a divine utterance was authentic? Verse 30 says,
"And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop."
The other prophets were to determine whether the prophetic message from the first prophet speaking was truly direct communication from the Holy Spirit. If a revelation came to one of the prophets who were seated, the first prophet who was speaking would be required to stop so that the next prophet may take turn (v. 31). Thus, the test for true prophecy was revelation. Revelation from the Holy Spirit championed the complete accuracy of the true prophet of God. This is the same test that is consistent with Old Testament standards to determine the ultimate source of prophecies. Deuteronomy 18:21-22 says:
You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?" If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed. (Deut. 18:21-22)
Jeremiah 28:9 states:
"But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the LORD only if his prediction comes true." (Jer. 28:9)
Ezekiel 33:33 says:
"When all this comes true --- and it surely will --- then they will know that a prophet has been among them." (Ezekiel. 33:33)
If a prophet from the Old Testament and New Testament spoke with divine inspiration, their prophecy was always accurate. Any prophet who spoke with less than perfect prophecy was considered a false prophet. Let’s take a look at 2 Peter 1:20-21 (NIV, KJV):
"Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:20-21 NIV)
"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (2 Peter 1:20-21 KJV)
Here, Peter is defining New Testament prophecy in light of Old Testament prophecy. He says "no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation", or in other words not "by the prophet's own interpretation of things." He then points to the Old Testament saying, "prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, or in other words "prophecy never had its origin in the human will." Therefore, the Old Testament standards of judging prophecy also serve as the standards for judging New Testament prophecy. The weight of this fact is elevated when ... as pointed out earlier ... Peter in Acts 2:17-18 was quoting an Old Testament prophet (Joel 2:28) in describing the prophetic gifts that were poured out at Pentecost.
Now, take special note that Peter also says, "but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." The King James Version says, "but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
These statements by Peter serve as a blistering refutation to the notion that New Testament prophecy may contain fallible elements. Whenever a prophet spoke for God, he was "carried along or moved by" the Holy Spirit. As such, spoken human prophecy from God was always fully authentic. The idea that New Testament prophecy may contain true and false components is an anti-biblical concept conjured up by Satan and his false prophets (Matt.7:15), false apostles (2 Cor. 11:13-15), and false ministers (Acts 20:29-31). In Genesis 3:1-5, Satan deceived Eve with a combination of true and false elements.
The next point I wish to make is that prophets who judged other prophets is not a New Testament concept. In actuality, prophets who judged other prophets had its origins in the Old Testament ... proving once again that New Testament prophecy was a continuation of Old Testament prophecy. Prophets in the Old Testament who judged other prophets include Elijah, Micaiah, and Jeremiah. Let's begin with the prophet Elijah:
"Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table." So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. Elijah went before the people and said, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him." But the people said nothing. Then Elijah said to them, "I am the only one of the LORD's prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let Baal's prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire --- he is God." Then all the people said, "What you say is good." Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire." So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. "Baal, answer us!" they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made. At noon Elijah began to taunt them. "Shout louder!" he said. "Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened." So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention. Then Elijah said to all the people, "Come here to me." They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, "Your name shall be Israel." With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, "Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood. Do it again," he said, and they did it again. "Do it a third time," he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench. At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: "LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again." Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, "The LORD --- he is God! The LORD --- he is God!" (1 Kings 18:19-39)
In this account, the prophet Elijah challenged the 450 idolatrous prophets of Baal for a contest on Mount Carmel to test who was the true God. The test would be a sign from heaven that consisted of fire as evidence of whose god is truly God. As this passage points out, the prophets of Baal failed the test; and thus, they were exposed as false prophets. The God of Elijah, however, sent down fire from heaven ... revealing that the Lord is the real God. Let's now consider the prophet Micaiah:
So the king of Israel brought together the prophets --- about four hundred men --- and asked them, "Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?" "Go", they answered, "for the Lord will give it into the king's hand." But Jehoshaphat asked, "Is there no longer a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?" The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, "There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah." "The king should not say such a thing," Jehoshaphat replied. So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, "Bring Micaiah son of Imlah at once." Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing floor by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them. Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns and he declared, "This is what the LORD says: 'With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.'" All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. "Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious", they said, "for the LORD will give it into the king's hand." The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, "Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably." But Micaiah said, "As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what the LORD tells me." When he arrived, the king asked him, "Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or not?" "Attack and be victorious", he answered, "for the LORD will give it into the king's hand." The king said to him, "How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?" Then Micaiah answered, "I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the LORD said, 'These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.'" The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?" (1 Kings 22:6-18)
Here, the prophet Micaiah judged 400 prophets. These prophets consensually advised the king of Israel to go to war against Ramoth Gilead and professed victory. However, after initially deriding their prophecies in a sarcastic manner, Micaiah judged their prophecies as lies. Let's now take a look at the prophet Jeremiah:
Then the LORD said to me, "Do not pray for the well-being of this people. Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague." But I said, "Alas, Sovereign LORD! The prophets keep telling them, 'You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.'" Then the LORD said to me, "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds. Therefore this is what the LORD says about the prophets who are prophesying in my name: I did not send them, yet they are saying, 'No sword or famine will touch this land.' Those same prophets will perish by sword and famine. And the people they are prophesying to will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and sword. There will be no one to bury them, their wives, their sons and their daughters. I will pour out on them the calamity they deserve. "Speak this word to them: "'Let my eyes overflow with tears night and day without ceasing; for the Virgin Daughter, my people, has suffered a grievous wound, a crushing blow. If I go into the country, I see those slain by the sword; if I go into the city, I see the ravages of famine. (Jer. 14:11-18)
In this account, the prophet Jeremiah judged the prophets in Judah. They were prophesying that the people in Judah "will not see the sword or suffer famine" and will have "lasting peace". But the Lord through Jeremiah said "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name."
There are other examples in the Bible that illustrate prophets judging other prophets. However, for the sake of brevity, I will conclude here. These three Old Testament accounts should demonstrate that the judgment of a prophet against another prophet was common before the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost. There are no implications in the New Testament that there were modifications in how prophets were to test other prophets. Let's now examine the third account that non-cessationists use in their efforts to prove fallible "congregational prophecy".
3. "Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil." (1 Thess. 5:19-22)
Likened to 1 Corinthians 14:29, non-cessationists allude to this verse to contend that genuine prophecies many contain true and false elements. Although a prophecy may contain errors, we should "hold on to what is good" ... meaning the true elements.
Factually, when the Thessalonians received multiple prophecies, they were encouraged to test each individual prophecy for complete accuracy, not parts of each prophecy for bad and good elements. Inaccurate prophecies were considered as evil prophecy from false prophets; and thus, were rejected.
As I have clearly shown, New Testament prophecies are tested using the same standards as those found in the Old Testament. And Old Testament standards of judging prophecy make clear distinctions between true and false prophecies. The notion that authentic prophecy may encompass true and false components is a foreign concept in Scripture. If any portion of a prophetic message is found in error, it is false and to be repudiated.
In the Bible, there is only one type of prophecy. The hypothesis that there is a second type of prophecy ... a fallible prophecy known as "congregational prophecy" is a new and added form of prophecy that parallels Montanism of the late second century. Just as the early church rejected Montanism, the heretical belief of the existence of a non-authoritative "congregational prophecy" must be renounced today. Paul, the apostle, said in 1 Corinthians 4:6:
"Do not go beyond what is written." (1 Cor. 4:6)