Fifth, it’s important to note that Paul asserted his apostolic authority over, not submission to, prophecies in local churches (1 Corinthians 14:37–38). This indicates he didn’t consider such prophecies as authoritative and infallible—meaning, he didn’t put them in the same category as the authoritative revelations he himself received from the Lord.
To add one further observation, from outside of 1 Corinthians 14, Paul exhorted Christians to not despise prophecies—meaning there were (and still are) real temptations to do so. Rather, they were to “weigh” or “test” them and only “hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:19–21), which even at that time included authoritative apostolic writings (2 Peter 3:15–16).
These, among other reasons, lead continuationists to believe that the New Testament gift of prophecy is Spirit-prompted, yet partially and fallibly reported revelation that must always be subordinate to apostolic, doctrinal authority—which for us today is the Bible.
You Should Desire to Prophesy
And since continuationists understand prophecy in this way—that this spiritual gift poses no necessary threat to the canon of Scripture or challenges its sufficiency—there is every reason to believe that the Holy Spirit still “apportions [this gift] to each one individually as he wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11). And there’s no reason to believe the gift of prophecy will cease until “the perfect comes”: when Jesus returns (1 Corinthians 13:8–12).
And if the spiritual gift of prophecy continues in our day, what are we to do? Paul tells us exactly what to do: “Pursue love).
It is not an option; it is an instruction. It is not a suggestion; it is an imperative. And whenever God gives us a straightforward command in the Bible, the default response he expects from us is to trust and obey. John Piper gives us this challenge:
I wonder how many of us have said for years that we are open to God’s moving in spiritual gifts, but have been disobedient to this command to earnestly desire them, especially prophecy? I would ask all of us: are we so sure of our hermeneutical procedure for diminishing the gifts that we would risk walking in disobedience to a plain command of Scripture?
Prophesy for Your Joy
We should all want to obey God. But guilt over our failures to obediently pursue this gift is not the primary, deepest motivation God wants to use to help us begin or begin again. Prophecy, like all the spiritual gifts, is a gift! And God loves to give good gifts to his children (Luke 11:13). He wants us to hear his command that we earnestly desire to prophesy as an invitation to pursue our own (and others’) joy in him!
Like the young man experienced in Spurgeon’s church that remarkable morning, God wants at times to reveal his intimate knowledge of us as individuals and our unique circumstances that we might experience his personal love for us, a love he infallibly revealed to all his children in Scripture. He wants our churches to exercise this gift so we and our brothers and sisters will be upbuilt, encouraged, challenged and consoled as we experience together the friendship of God through his Spirit. He wants us to prophesy because he loves us.
Therefore, since the God of Scripture has revealed all this to us in Scripture, let us continue to earnestly desire that we may prophesy—until the Lord returns.
This article originally appeared here.