COVID-19 Disclaimer:

COVID-19 is highly contagious and is known to spread mainly from person-to-person contact. By attending West Houston Bible Church, you agree to abide by the procedures established by the church to protect attendees and staff, and you voluntarily assume the risk that you and your family may be exposed to or be infected by COVID – 19 at the church, in the church worship services or while on church property. You agree to assume all the risks of attendance and participation for you and your family, and waive any liability against the church and any other parties.

Thank you for your consideration and cooperation.

West Houston Bible Church

Menu Keys

On-Going Mini-Series

Bible Studies

Codes & Descriptions

Class Codes
[a] = summary lessons
[b] = exegetical analysis
[c] = topical doctrinal studies
What is a Mini-Series?
A Mini-Series is a small subset of lessons from a major series which covers a particular subject or book. The class numbers will be in reference to the major series rather than the mini-series.

Scripture References

Scripture references on this site can be viewed by hovering your mouse cursor over the reference to see a pop-up window with the verse displayed. If you wish to use a different version of the Bible, you can make that selection below.

 

Bible Options

 

If you have Logos Bible Study Software installed, you can check Libronix to bring the scripture reference up in Logos.

Romans 12:6-9 by Robert Dean
Should churches today try to be like the early Church in the 1st century? Listen to this lesson to learn that the early Church lacked information before the canon of Scripture was completed.and had to rely on the temporary spiritual gift of prophecy. Get an accurate explanation of prophecy in both the Old Testament and New Testament. See what tests were necessary to verify that someone was a prophet and how to tell false prophets. Take to heart the importance of interpreting our personal experiences, no matter how dramatic, in the light of the Word of God. Learn to never interpret the Scripture on the basis of these experiences.

Note: Following this Bible class, Dr. Dean sent out this supplemental information:
Should we interpret our experiences by the Word of God? Or interpret the Word of God by our experiences? In our experience-based world, this question apparently confuses even many Christians. A case in point are so-called near death experiences, like those described in various books where people allege that in a state of anesthesia or near death they were transported to heaven and relate their experiences. One of the most popular of these books is "Heaven is For Real." For a helpful, biblical analysis of these types of claims I recommend an article from The Berean Call.

Series:Romans (2010)
Duration:57 mins 25 secs

Spiritual Gifts and Love
Romans 12:6-9

Open your Bibles to Romans, chapter 12. We're going to begin in verse 4. Tonight we're going to be wrapping up on spiritual gifts and also looking primarily at a little more in-depth study of the gift of prophecy. We always have to be aware of some of the spasms that are going on in the contemporary environment. Sometimes some of you get a little bored with some of those digressions because it's not in your realm. But there are a lot of folks in this congregation physically and also who listen online who are dealing with family members who are involved in lots of strange things. Some of these family members have been squared away in the past but now some of them are confused and are raising questions. You never quite realize how many things people have questions about.

Some of you may even come from backgrounds where some of these things weren't very clear so it's important to clarify what the Word of God teaches on these things. To just pick up the context a little bit starting in Romans 12:3 Paul begins to develop what he means in the first two verses, first of all what he means about presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice. In terms of what we're studying in Matthew that means to be a genuine disciple or learner or student of Jesus who is pursuing spiritual maturity through the study of God's Word. In contrast to presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice we're not to be conformed to the world. We're not to be pressed into the zeitgeist of the culture around us. We're not to think like the people around us. We're to think and act differently. Thinking should always precede action. We're not to be conformed to the world but we're to be transformed by the renewing of our mind so that our lives demonstrate that God's will is perfect and sufficient and complete.

Then Paul develops ideas in Romans 12:3-8 related to the body of Christ and the fact that we have all been given spiritual gifts and over the last several lessons I have gone through a basic introduction and summary of what the New Testament teaches on spiritual gifts. Romans 12:4-5 talks about the fact that the body of Christ is an organism. It is made up of every believer in Christ from the first day of the Church on the day of Pentecost in A.D. 33 until it is completed when Jesus Christ returns at the Rapture. All are members of the body of Christ and all the members don't have the same function. Each person is, as the Psalmist says, wonderfully made and God has gifted us uniquely.

I talked about this a little last week and we need to exploit the gifts that God has given us because each person has a role in the team. I believe that in the microcosm of the local church all of the gifts are going to be present if you have a group of more than a couple of dozen believers. Whether all gifts are present or not everyone needs to function in all of these areas, and it's important to do that, but not through the sort of contemporary approach to taking various spiritual gift tests to try to identify your spiritual gift but just to seek to serve the body of Christ in whatever way it needs, in whatever way you can serve it, but primarily focusing on spiritual growth and pursuing spiritual maturity.

And as we grow and as we pursue opportunities to serve in the local body then we will eventually maximize our efforts in the arena of wherever we're most effective which will turn out to be where we are gifted. So there's a unity in the body but there are differences in terms of how we are gifted and how we function within the body. In Romans 12:5 Paul says, "We, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another." Now that last phrase just runs counter to American thinking. American thinking and American exceptionalism is built on the concept of rugged individualism. In rugged individualism we don't always make good team players but that runs counter to what the Bible says here.

We're members of one another. That means there's an inter-dependency within the body of Christ. We're not Lone Rangers. We don't go out and operate on our own and we can't do that. Every ministry is dependent upon a vast number of people who usually work in the background in various volunteer capacities taking care of all the different functions that must be taken care of or a ministry can't just operate or go forward. I have recently been reading the third book in the trilogy called "The Liberation Trilogy" by Rick Atkinson who has written this trilogy on the war in Europe. It's exceptionally well written. It's just great fun to read it. He has great vocabulary and I've had to look up a word or two on about every two or three pages. It's not like I have a small vocabulary either so he's quite challenging in some areas.

He differs in his approach in talking about the war in that rather than focusing on the personalities where it's sort of a biographical account dealing with the different generals or dealing with the overall strategy of the war and the tactics on the battlefield, he deals a lot with the everyday nuts and bolts of every operation. He spends a lot of time talking about all the things that needed to be accomplished logistically just to engage in a battle. It has really impressed me. We could have probably made it into Berlin six months earlier but we didn't have gas or oil or food or all kinds of things, like bullets, grenades, and grenade launchers that needed to be pushed up to the front. The role of transportation and the role of all the quartermaster units and everything else just blows my mind how much was involved logistically in bringing about the end of the war. I was given the third volume for Christmas so I started off just before D-Day but I think I know the rest of the story so I can do that.

The body of Christ is like that. Often we look at the key figures, the names, the writers, the pastors, the big names, but just as you say in the military, behind every combat unit there are hundreds, if not thousands of people behind every single soldier on the front line allowing him to do what he's doing. The same thing is true for every pastor and every church. There are myriads of people who make that happen and they are unsung. I believe that many of them are going to be much, much closer to the throne of God when we get to heaven and they're going to have more reward at the Judgment Seat than the people we usually see on the frontlines today.

That's part of the whole operation of the body of Christ. Everyone needs to be encouraged to be a part of that. We are members of one another. We are interdependent. Romans 12:6 says, "Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, {each of us is to exercise them accordingly:} if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith." It's interesting when you get into looking at the grammar here that it is a fresh sentence not dependent on the previous sentence so there's a lot of discussion exactly how this should be understood. I think it probably should be understood as a causative adverbial participle starting off with the idea of "since" or "because" we have gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them. That's the general command in that sentence.

That command governs the next several verses. We are to use these gifts and the first gift he begins to talk about is prophecy. He's going to work through a list of several gifts here. It's not as extensive a list as in some of the other passages and he's going to describe how these gifts should function. I've broken the 1 Corinthians 12 list into two separate lists because they are distinct. One is given in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11 early in the passage and the other is given later in the passage starting in 1 Corinthians 12:28.

Ephesians 4 gives the four foundational gifts for equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry: apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers. In Ephesians 4:11-12 the purpose for those gifts is to equip the saints to do the work of ministry. The word there for ministry is the same word for which we get our English word "deacon", DIAKONIA. This is the same word that is translated "service" in Romans 12 as a spiritual gift. So it is the role of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers to train and equip all the saints to function in the realm of ministry. The term DIAKONIA has a broad general sense just related to service within the body of Christ and that can cover just about any function within the body of Christ.

Now apostles and prophets are mentioned again in 1 Corinthians 12:28 and the gift of prophecy is mentioned in Romans 12, as well. That's the first gift that's mentioned. As we've discussed some are temporary gifts. There are different designations you'll run across in talking about the temporary gifts. Some refer to them as "sign" gifts, some refer to them as "miraculous" gifts but the best term is temporary gifts because some were not revelatory or sign gifts but they are designated as the Scripture says in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 as temporary gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:8-11 consists exclusively of temporary gifts.

1 Corinthians 12:28 mentions apostles, prophets, healings, and tongues which are temporary gifts and then talks about administrations or in some translations leadership or helps which is the Greek word ANTILEPSIS which means simply to assist or help someone. In our passage in Romans 12 prophecy is the first one mentioned, then teaching, leadership in the sense of management, service [similar to helps but a different word is used] mercy, exhortation, and giving.

Since prophecy is the first one that's mentioned, I want to talk tonight about this gift. I've talked about it before, that within the context of the modern charismatic movement, of course, the thinking was that all of the gifts were permanent. The idea was that if we just acted like the 1st century Church then everything would be wonderful. You often run into this sort of utopic idealism among certain Christians that if we were just like the early Church all would be well. Well, the early Church, pardon me, was a little bit ignorant. They didn't have a lot of the vocabulary we have. They didn't have words like "trinity". That wasn't coined until the middle of the 2nd century. They weren't talking about dispensations the way we do. They were confused about a lot of things. They weren't even that clear on salvation.

Once you drop off the cliff with the death of the last apostle, the doctrine of salvation gets incredibly murky. In fact, if you read through a lot of the early Church fathers between about A.D. 100 to 300, most of them think you have to be baptized by water in order to be saved. They're very confused about that. Some of them even think that physical water baptism literally washes away sin. This is why in the beginning of the 4th century after the Emperor Constantine became saved he would not get baptized until he was pretty close to death because he believed baptism took care of all your sins up to that point and afterwards they didn't quite know what to do with those sins that came after baptism. Post-salvation sins have been a problem for Christians ever since the early Church. That was just one manifestation of it.

So there was a certain amount of confusion. It wasn't an ideal period. There were conflicts. There were difficulties. There were problems and I guess that's just because we're all sinners and consequently we don't understand things. There was a lack of clarity even in the early Church. In terms of understanding the Word of God I would much rather live today than in the early Church period. In the 1st century under the apostles and prophets you were also dependent on extra-Biblical revelation because there wasn't a closed canon. There wasn't a sufficient revelation yet. It wasn't until God had completed giving all of the information in the New Testament through the Pauline, Petrine, and Johanine epistles that people in the New Testament Church really understood this unique spiritual life that we have.

In fact, as I pointed out previously, the first epistle is not written until about A.D. 47 or 48 which is about 14 or 15 years after the death of Christ. It's not until the 50s in the 1st century that you get most of Paul's epistles and a few into the 60s. The Johanine epistles are written quite late. Revelation is quite late. The Petrine epistles are written before the fall of Rome, probably in the 60s so we just recognize that they lacked a lot of information and so they were dependent upon people in the local church who had the Biblical gift of prophecy who could give guidance and correction.

Those who were prophets were a much larger group than those who were apostles. We studied the doctrine of apostleship before. To be an apostle you had to have been directly commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ and you had to be a witness of His resurrection. That limited it. There were some people who were called apostles in the New Testament who were not part of the original eleven plus the Apostle Paul. They were apostles in a derivative sense. An apostle is someone who has been commissioned to a particular task or mission. So you have to determine who commissioned them and what the task was. Jesus Christ only commissioned a limited number. Local churches commissioned Barnabas and Junius and four or five others and they were sent out from local churches to take the gospel to other places in terms of missionary activity. So they're apostles in a lower case "a" sense, not the gift of apostle.

But you also had prophets. You had many more. In our study of Acts we've looked at Agabus and we looked at the fact that Phillips's daughters prophesied and we looked at some of the issues related to the gift of prophecy. It's possible that when you look at the authorship of the New Testament that several of the New Testament authors were those who had the gift of prophecy because remember according to Ephesians 4:20 the apostles and prophets are the foundation of the church. Not all of the writers of the New Testament were Apostles. Mark was not an apostle. He was the amanuensis for Peter and wrote his gospel under the guidance and authorization of Peter. It's very possible Mark could have had the gift of prophecy. The same is true for Luke. Luke was arguably a Gentile with no Jewish background. If so, he was the only Gentile who wrote a New Testament book. He was not an apostle. He travelled with the Apostle Paul. It's possible he had the gift of prophecy.

It's the same with James who writes the epistle of James. James is the half-brother of our Lord Jesus Christ but this James was not an apostle. This is not James, the brother of John; this is James the half-brother of the humanity of Jesus. The same is true of Jude. Jude is also a half-brother of Jesus and a full brother to James. They weren't even saved until after the resurrection of Jesus, when He appeared to them. They're not apostles but they wrote under the authority of God the Holy Spirit and it's very likely they functioned under the terms of the gift of prophecy. They had authorization through their association with the Apostles. That's what gave credence and authority to their particular writings.

Nowadays, if you fast forward to the 20th century when you get the modern charismatic movement, they want to resurrect these temporary gifts. You have people I've mentioned before like Wayne Grudem who used to teach at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and wrote his PhD dissertation on the New Testament gift of prophecy. Now he's a president of Phoenix Seminary. He is involved with the Vineyard Association of Churches, which is part of what's called the "third wave of the Holy Spirit" that started back under John Wimber in the 1970s. I've gone through this before but I'll just hit a couple of his quotes.

According to Grudem, "Prophecy in the New Testament churches was not equal to Scripture in authority but was simply a very human and sometimes partially mistaken report of something the Holy Spirit brought to someone's mind." He goes on to say, "New Testament prophecy is telling something God has spontaneously brought to mind." You'll run into Christians who have been influenced by this type of thinking and they will talk very loosely about God speaking to them. This may be a soft form of mysticism but it's still mysticism.

God has quit speaking today. He stopped speaking at the end of the 1st century. There is no more direct revelation. The canon is closed, that's what we mean by the closing of the canon. Whether God revealed something to Paul and he wrote it down or He revealed it to Agabus and he didn't write it down, it still was breathed out by God [2 Timothy 3:16-17] and therefore it still has the authority of having come and originated from God and is equally authoritative and equally infallible. Now what happens in the modern sense is when people like Grudem come along and say that New Testament prophecy is different form Old Testament prophecy and as a result they are minimizing and diluting what's going on in the local church. It's a real source of error because people think the so-called prophets today are giving out accurate information.

There was a group in Kansas City that was a spin-off from the Vineyard Movement and they were called the Kansas City Prophets. One of their leaders was a guy named Mike Bickle who has gone on to head up an organization called IHOP, the International House of Prayer. They tend to bleed over and associate a lot with post-mils and reconstructionists. A few years ago, if you remember, there was a lot of controversy about the fact they were having a state-wide prayer meeting over at Reliant Stadium and a lot of the people that influenced Governor Perry in that were associated with Mike Bickle's group and some of these other groups.

It's because they had given rise to all of these really confusing ideas related to prophecy. A lot of times these ideas filter out into real time contemporary events and shake them. That's one of the reasons we need to study this. Grudem says, "Much more commonly, prophecy and prophets were used by ordinary Christians who spoke not with absolute Divine authority." Now, where does he get that? Where in the Bible does it ever shift the definition of prophecy from what it was in the Old Testament? It's a word just like the kingdom of God that shows up at the very beginning of the New Testament and there's no re-definition of the term. Anyone who would read it or read of it would normally think of the Old Testament criterion as the framework for understanding the gift of prophecy. So Grudem says they don't have Divine authority but "they're simply reporting something God laid on their hearts or brought to their minds". There are many indications that this gift of prophecy had authority less than that of the Bible." Of course his examples don't exactly support that. So he just makes that contention.

On the other hand you have people like Bob Thomas who spoke here several years ago on hermeneutics at the Chafer conference and he says that "prophecy was speech inspired by the Spirit and therefore totally true and authoritative." It doesn't change its meaning from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Richard Gaffin who teaches at Westminster Seminary makes the statement that "prophecy is not the interpretation of an already existing inspired text."

That addresses the problem that many of you have heard that's very popular in some Baptist circles that prophecy is preaching. Prophecy is not preaching. I've heard a lot of people say that. Prophecy is a channel of direct revelation of God to your audience. That's different from preaching. That's what Gaffin means when he says the interpretation of an already inspired text is preaching so he's saying prophecy is not preaching or oral tradition but is, itself the inspired non-derivative Word of God. That means it is fresh revelation from God. So that's how we should understand Biblical prophecy.

As I pointed out before the New Testament gift of prophecy is not redefined in the New Testament. New Testament prophets were seen as equal in divine authority as New Testament apostles [Ephesians 2:20]. Early Church writing from the late 1st century, about A.D. 60 or 70 into the early 2nd century understood that the gift of prophecy to be identical with the Old Testament gift of prophecy and still applied the same tests of authentication to New Testament prophetic claims and that New Testament prophecy died out with the closing of the canon of Scripture.

Now critical to understanding prophecy is the test for prophecy given in Deuteronomy 13:1-5 and Deuteronomy 18:9-22. So turn with me to Deuteronomy 13 to begin. We'll just cover a few of the important principles laid down here in Deuteronomy 13. First of all if you look at Deuteronomy 13:1 you should be making notes in the top margin of this chapter. You should write "tests for prophet". That way you can find it the next time the topic comes up. You should also write in the margin Deuteronomy 18:9-22 so the next time you look at Deuteronomy 13 you'll see that you're supposed to go to look at Deuteronomy 18 as well.

Moses starts off saying, "If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams." Notice he doesn't act as if this isn't going to happen. He doesn't say this is a pseudo-prophet or a pseudo-dreamer. He doesn't qualify anything. He recognizes that someone is going to come up with some sort of legitimate revelatory background. Legitimate not in the sense that it comes from God but in the sense that he's not just making it up out of whole cloth, either. He goes on to say, "If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder." 

Now a lot of what we see today in contemporary healing events is just fraudulent. They're just all kinds of things that go on that are just totally bogus but he's assuming for the sake of argument that there's some sort of revelation, maybe not from God but some sort of revelation from Satan or a demon or something and that he has the ability to perform a miracle. We would call it a pseudo-miracle because it's not from God but he's not denying that something miraculous occurs. This is the kind of thing that will happen in the Tribulation period under the authority of the false prophet. There will be true miracles that take place but the origin of that power doesn't come from God.

So there's a real healing or a real miracle that takes place. In Deuteronomy 13:2 he says, "and the sign or the wonder comes trueÉ" See he's not questioning at all the legitimacy of what happens. That's what we would do. We'd say, "Well that really didn't happened." So he's assuming it did happen. Don't question the experience. We have to go back to two basic principles in life. Are you going to evaluate your experience from the Word of God or are you going to evaluate the Word of God on the basis of your experience? Now if you're evaluating it on the basis of your experience or you talk to people who are evaluating it on the basis of their experience you'll be confused. For example we have some of those books like Is Heaven Real? It's the story of a three-year old boy who had appendicitis and he went under surgery and while he was under surgery he saw a lot of things. Now we can't explain how he came to know some of the things he came to know.

What most people do is challenge his experience. You can't challenge someone's experience. If someone says, "Well, this happened to me." Great. Fine. I'm not going to say it didn't happen to you. I'm going to say maybe you didn't interpret it correctly. You can't challenge a person's experience. I remember a lady in my church in Irving about 30 years ago and she had gone to a faith healing thing the night before she was to have an operation on cancer, major surgery on stomach cancer. She felt some sort of power at the faith healing and when she went in the next day to the surgery they could find no evidence of the cancer. Now I can't explain that but I don't have to. The Word of God doesn't tell me I have to explain it. There are lots of things in this life I can't explain. I don't know enough information.

It's just like in marriage counseling. People come in and they tell you what's going on in their marriage but that's their rather limited view and interpretation of what's going on. They don't even have enough information to know what's actually going on between them and their spouse. If someone comes in and say they had a certain experience you get their interpretation of something that happened and you get less than one tenth of one percent of the facts. It's sometimes impossible to get the rest of the facts. We do live in the devil's world and we're in an invisible warfare. There are lots of things going on that we're unaware of. So I don't have to explain certain things that happened and what's going on. I just know what God's Word told me and what God told me is sufficient.

Therefore, whatever you think happened your interpretation is wrong if it's contrary to the Word of God, and that's all I need to know. So here's a case in point where there's someone who performs a miracle, claims to be a prophet, claims to be a dreamer of dreams and he claims the sign and wonder and it actually comes to pass. But the issue isn't his experience. The issue isn't his claim. The issue is what does he teach? It's the content of his message that determines if he's from God or not, not whether he performs a miracle.

Today we have people who think if someone performed a miracle they must be right. Don't get distracted by the miracle. Don't get distracted by the claim of a sign or a wonder. Don't get distracted by the experience. Focus on the Word of God. This is what Moses says about this person who comes along and they perform this miracle and they say, "Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them," See the message is false. That's how you know they're a false prophet: not because the miracle was screwy but because the message was screwy. It's the content that matters. Going after other gods is a direct contradiction of the Word of God. See you have to judge your experience by the Word of God, not judge the Word of God by your experience.

The command from Moses comes in Deuteronomy 13:4, "You shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul." See, God is going to test you by having someone come into your life that performs something that you can evaluate. It's a real healing. It's a real miracle. God allowed that miracle to happen to test you. Are you going to put the Word of God first or are you going to put experience first?

Then comes the command in Deuteronomy 13:4-5, "You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counselled rebellion against the LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you."

That's a harsh penalty. It's a capital crime to claim to be speaking for God when you're not. Now there's nothing that seems to change that in the New Testament: that the prophet is the channel for direct revelation from God and is the most serious claim you can make because if you're wrong it would invoke the death penalty. Now in the New Testament you're not under the Mosaic Law but the principle of the seriousness of the claim to be a spokesman for God continues to be the same.

Now let's go to the second passage that gives us a test for genuine prophecy and that starts in Deuteronomy 18:9. In Deuteronomy 17 and 18 the broad context is that Moses is giving regulations for the leadership. Regulations related to kings, regulations related to the priests and the Levites and regulations related to prophets. In Deuteronomy 18:9, he says, "When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations." Don't fall into the trap of the false prophets and the false prophecies of the religions around you. "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead." These are all aspects of demonism. "For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD." So he's listing aspects related to some sort of revelation into the future or the dead that doesn't come from God.

Then we come to Deuteronomy 18:15. When we look at verses 15-22 we have to recognize that there are two divisions here. The first is Deuteronomy 18:15-19 and then Deuteronomy 18:20-22. In verses 15-19 we're talking about one of the greatest prophecies about the Messiah in the Old Testament. It says, "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me [Moses] from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him." This is a Messianic prophecy.

There are some people who deny that. You may have a study Bible that doesn't identify this as such but this is a Messianic prophecy. We know this first of all because of the wider context that I talked about because He's the head of all offices and authorities in surrounding passages. He's head of the priests, the kings, and the prophets. Secondly, the immediate context which I just read to you in Deuteronomy 18:9-14 talks about the negatives of rejecting paganism and divinations and that contrasts with the Messiah who is going to be the perfect and complete revelation of God. Third, the discussion of false prophets in Deuteronomy 18:18-22 is consistent with an individual prophet in Deuteronomy 18:15-19. This is important to understand.

In verses 15-19 he talks about [a] prophet. The word "prophet" is without the definite article so in the way he's describing this he's describing an individual. When you get into verses 20-22 he's talking about general principles relating to the prophets. So the definite article is used in verses 20-22 in terms of stating gnomic principles of discerning who's a prophet. So in verses 15-19 we're talking about a specific individual prophet using the singular noun.

We see this in a general contrast that occurs beginning in verse 20. The Hebrew word that is translated "but" is the Hebrew word ak which is sort of a soft word in contrast so it is contrasting these prophets who have the arrogance to speak the word in My name with the true Prophet mentioned in verses 15-19. The noun that's used in verses 15-19 is a singular noun defined as a specific individual, one who is like Moses. When you get into verses 20-22 it includes the article and it is the generic use of the article indicating anyone in this class who claims to be a prophet. So this just gives you a little bit of the framework here. It's a very important passage in terms of understanding its exegesis.

A young woman who graduated from Trinity Seminary wrote a PhD dissertation on this as a Messianic prophecy. She did a fabulous job on this and pointed out about six things that are important to understand. One is that the singular of nabiy here points to a specific individual. It's amazing how many so-called exegetes overlook that. They want to say that because it's singular it's a collective noun but when a collective noun is intended that's usually followed in the context with a mix of singular and plural pronouns. That doesn't occur here. All you have is singular pronouns so grammatically it points to a single individual.

The second thing which you get from the context is the prophet is compared to a single, exalted individual, Moses. So there's a comparison of kind to kind or apples to apples which means since he's compared to an individual the prophet here must be an individual as well. The individual future prophet is compared to the individual Moses. Third, in the history of the Old Testament period no ordinary prophet exercised all the authority Moses did. Moses had legislative authority, executive authority, priestly authority, and mediatorial authority and no other prophet in the Old Testament had that degree of authority.

Fourth, the prophet who is like Moses is so unique that only the Messiah could fulfill those qualifications. Numbers 12:6-8 after Moses had organized the elders and God said that he would speak to them and would speak to Miriam and to Aaron. But God said, "I don't speak to them mouth to mouth like I speak to you, Moses." Moses had a unique relationship with God and the revelation he received from God was unique form everyone else because of his intimacy with God. In Deuteronomy 34:10 at the conclusion of Deuteronomy written after Moses died the writer writes at the end that to the time that he wrote no prophet had arisen. That means it's not Joshua, not Nathan, not Gad, not Isaiah, and not Jeremiah. This unique prophet had not yet come by the time of the exile.

So this is a Messianic prophecy in Deuteronomy 18:15-19. "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. This is according to all that you asked of the LORD your God in Horeb [Mt. Sinai] on the day of the assembly, saying, 'Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.' " Remember at Mt. Horeb when God began to speak to them they all cowered. They were afraid. The very voice of God just scared them to death and they just fell on their face and they said Moses had to talk to God because they couldn't stand to hear His voice. It's too much.

"The LORD said to me, 'They have spoken well. I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require {it} of him.' " There will be judgment on those who reject Him. Then we have the contrast in verse 20. "But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die."

The Hebrew there means to speak arrogantly and to reject authority. It's saying if the prophet claims falsely that God spoke to him, he shall die. How many times I've heard people say that. That's presumption. Once again it's a death penalty to claim God spoke to you falsely.  This applies to anyone who claims to be a prophet.

Then we have a validation. "You may say in your heart, 'How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?' " They're asking how to evaluate a prophet. Anyone can come along and claim God said something to him. How do we know that God didn't speak to them? Well, that's Deuteronomy 18:22, "When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him." Even though there were many prophets who gave long-term prophecies that wouldn't be fulfilled in their lifetime, they all gave numerous short-term prophecies that could validate that they were genuine prophets. You could test them to see if these things came to pass. If it doesn't come to pass then that's the thing the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously. That's the criteria.

That goes directly again Grudem's assertion that the New Testament prophet isn't speaking with the authority of God and can make mistakes. Grudem says he's going to misidentify things and that's okay because he's a New Testament prophet and he just doesn't have God with him, really. That just destroys the authority of God's Word because these people are saying God told them. Well, either God told you or He didn't. So the punishment is death in Deuteronomy 18:22. So this gives us the primary test for being a prophet.

Now there's another thing that comes along that gives us a connection with the Old Testament. Turn to Joel 2. Joel is quoted by Peter on the Day of Pentecost. In Joel 2:28, Joel is predicting what will take place on the Day of the Lord. "It shall come to pass afterwards {after the Tribulation} that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind and your sons and daughters will prophesy." Now that's not the spiritual gift of prophecy that we have in the Church because there was a gift of prophecy in the Old Testament under Israel. There'll be a gift of prophecy in the Tribulation because we're back in the Age of Israel. But it's not the spiritual gift of prophecy which is designed as something unique for the Church, the body of Christ, but there's a contention here that your sons and your daughters will prophesy.

The meaning of prophecy here is the same as it's been all through the Old Testament so when Peter quotes it in Acts 2 he doesn't change the meaning of the word "prophecy". Prophecy is the same in the New Testament as it was in the Old Testament. That's the only point I'm making there. The way the word is used from the very beginning of the New Testament in Acts 2 it comes out of an Old Testament quote and means the same thing as it did in the Old Testament. It means divinely given revelation mediated through a prophet that's not based on any interpretation of an already given revelation or the Word of God.

That brings us up to a conclusion in Romans 12 that those who prophesy in "proportion to our faith" which means in accordance to the standard of faith have a check. Even in the Old Testament it had a check. Whatever the prophet said had to conform and could not contradict already accepted Divine revelation. So there was a standard. A prophet could just come along and say anything and you couldn't just take it for granted. You had to evaluate it on the basis of previously accepted truth. That's the same thing that Paul says here is that if you prophesy it's in proportion or according to the standard of faith.

Then he's going to go into other spiritual gifts which we'll look at next time related to ministry, teaching, exhorting, and giving, and then we'll get into the next section which talks about the foundation for utilizing everything, which is love.