Does God speak directly to people today? Some people claim that the Holy Spirit directly leads them in their lives. Some even claim to be prophets like in the New Testament. What does the Bible say about this?
Before the Bible had been completed, the Holy Spirit truly did speak directly to certain men who were called "prophets." This was necessary in order for men to know God's will, since it did not yet exist in written form. But today we do have the Bible, so do we still need these direct forms of inspiration?
1 Corinthians 13:8-10 plainly says that someday the gift of prophecy would cease, because it was only partial. This means that no one prophet received all God's will at any one time. Instead, the revelation came gradually, or "partially," to many different men over a long period of time. But verse 10 tells us that, "when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." "That which is perfect" means that which is complete or has all of its parts. When God had fully revealed all the truth that He intended to reveal, then the revelation would be complete and the gift of prophecy would no longer be needed. So it would cease.
This may be compared to the process of building a house. As long as the house is only partially built, the carpenters hammer and saw in order to finish it. But when the house is complete, the hammering and sawing cease, because they are no longer needed. In the same way, direct revelation ceased when God's will for man had been fully revealed.
When did this happen? Speaking to the original apostles in John 16:13, Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth. This tells us that the complete truth was revealed to the apostles in the first century. This truth has now been recorded for us in the Bible. James 1:25 calls it the "perfect law of liberty." "That which is perfect" has come. And just as God predicted, when the Scriptures were completed, direct revelation ceased because it was no longer needed.
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 10/24/2007
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