John MacArthur has pastored the Grace Community Church for almost 50 years. In this time he has tackled the issue of The Charismatic Movement under a number of headings and in several high-profile venues. If you ask him, however, he will admit he has never viewed himself a warrior out to do away with all vestiges of this doctrine or these people. Instead, he simply preaches / teaches the Word of God, most often in a systematic, expository manner verse-by-verse, Book by Book. His Commentary Series, on the whole of the New Testament, is proof.
However, he has preached, taught and written against this movement for almost as long as he has been pastoring. He views it as a travesty of enormous size and influence. A doctrine which is subverting The Church and endangering peoples’ faith, if not their very lives.
It is not surprising, therefore, that people have tried to embarrass him and/or denounce him at various times. One such event took place recently [Aug 16, 2015] when a man made his way to the platform of Grace Church, as John was preaching, to rebuke him for his teachings and for his divisiveness. This man is a self-styled ‘prophet’ and believes it is his responsibility to be God’s ‘voice’ in this matter.
John is used to this and did not respond. The security team helped him find his way out as he continued to call for John to repent. Aside from the obvious bad manners (challenging a Senior member of the Family, especially in this inappropriate and disruptive way), there is a tremendous amount of arrogance [along with ignorance] to suppose God has appointed you a Prophet!
Biblical prophets come with a great deal of responsibility and accountability. Should your prophecy NOT come to pass, you are required to pay for it with your life! That’s a fairly high standard.
Of course, what they do is turn it into a New Testament prophet as opposed to the Old Testament version. Early in The Church there were prophets. Judas and Silas are identified as prophets [Acts 15].
Paul lists prophets only second to apostles, with teachers right behind, in his list of leadership gifts in I Corinthians 12. Later he specifies that ‘the spirit of a prophet is subject to the prophet.‘ [14:29] His point? They don’t have to say everything they’re thinking!
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul says The Church is built on the foundation of Apostles and Prophets. [c. A.D. 62] Later [c. 65-68] Peter warns of false teachers, but not of false prophets. John comes along, later [c. 90 A.D.] to warn about false prophets roaming about [I Jn. 4]
There seems to be a progression away from the prevalence of N.T. prophets. Only in I Cor. 12 do we find any mention of a ‘gift’ of prophecy, being operated by the Holy Spirit. This may be something other than the Office, meaning it’s something The Spirit does, not a gift the believer has.
We are left with the reality that the Apostles and Prophets were the Foundation Stones of the Church. The Apostles were limited to 12, how many Prophets were there? And how many ‘foundations’ does a building have? Are we still in the ‘foundation’ stage?
The obvious ramification of 21st prophets is an Open Canon. God, still revealing His Word. A ‘Word’ by which His people are taught, encouraged, protected and comforted. A ‘Word’ these contemporary prophets are NOT sharing with the Church, universal, as did God through His written Word! Countless ‘prophets’ ply their trade around the world, declaring things from God we never hear about; never get a chance to benefit from.
A ‘Word,’ by the way, He declares Closed/Sealed, specifying that “…God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:..” should anyone add to or detract from that which has now being sealed. [AD 95?]
These are significant facts / principles to overcome if we want to declare ourselves biblical prophets! Of course, this is not what most of these folks are doing. They maintain God has simply given the ‘Gift’ of prophecy. Their biblical warrant is found in Corinthians 12, where Paul lists a number of gifts, among them prophecy.
A rudimentary understanding of English grammar is sufficient to undermine this Doctrine! Note: Paul says….1 There are diversities of gifts. 2. There are differences in administration [of those gifts]. 3. And, there are diversities of operations [of these gifts, according to how they are administered]
BUT….the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man that the whole might profit. How? Well, In some cases it might be ‘the word of wisdom.’ Wisdom is not pure knowledge, but the discernment / the commonsense of a thing. In other cases it might be ‘a word of knowledge,‘ something I know without fully understanding how I know it. It might be a stronger or more specific faith, for some situation. It might be the ability to heal someone or perform some miracle, or prophecy or speak to someone who doesn’t know my language and have them understand what I’m saying [as did those men on Pentecost], or understand what someone else is saying.
ALL of these are listed as ‘manifestations of the Spirit,’ not Gifts! They are blessings God dispenses as He wills, not abilities we have to use however we see fit. How do I know? The Grammar Tells Me So! Basic English Grammar!
Written language is NOT open to private interpretation without risking error. The words mean ONLY what they mean to the one who wrote it. The Author protects his work through grammar and vocabulary, meaning we can’t simply make it mean what we want and still call it God’s Word.
This is precisely what we’re watching today. Men and women who have lifted God’s Word out of it’s grammatical context to make it mean what THEY think it means! Elevating themselves to a superior spiritual level, through the ‘gift’ they’ve been told is available to anyone who wants it!
So? So a man can stand before a respected Senior Saint, in front of his congregation, and presume to criticize his teachings, with NO formal training in God’s Word, NO authority, NO credibility, NO biblical warrant, simply because he THINKS he’s a Prophet of God!
Benny Hinn would not do this. Kenneth Copeland would not do this. Pat Robertson would not do this. Why? Out of respect. Out of decency. Out of propriety. Out of a sense that people are free to believe & preach whatever they want….They Do!!
If God did not strike Oral Roberts dead for his “Seed Faith” teaching, I doubt anyone else is at risk. “Seed Faith,” is not only a pure travesty against the Word of God, it is responsible for untold suffering and spiritual deception!
Unconscionable men and women have fleeced the flock with this teaching for decades, become wealthy on the backs of the sick, the poor and the desperate. Where’s the Prophet of God to condemn them?
When The Church accepts this foolishness as biblical, you know The End Is Near!