Tongues, Healing and Prophecy Notes – Part 3

Today I’m going to be posting up the the third part of my notes from the third talk I gave at the Last Days Bible Conference.  That talk was about a biblical understanding of tongues, healing and prophecy.  The previous post I put up contained my notes about healing, and the one before that contained my notes about tongues..  Today, I’m going to be posting the notes about prophecy.

If I had a dime for every "prophet" I've known who got this fortune cookie from the Holy Spirit...

I’m talking about Biblical prophets, not the fortune cookie rip-offs that are running around these days…

As in the previous two posts, my main objective in addressing the subject was to try to give, from the Bible, a definition of tongues, healing and prophecy as practice by Christ, the prophets and apostles.  Though there are plenty of questions regarding prophecy that come up in contemporary evangelicalism (though people don’t always realized that the question they’re asking is about prophecy), I hope once again to tackle a majority of the questions at a foundational level since a majority of people assume a wrong definition (that conveniently fits their expectations or experience) and then twist the biblical data to conform to their assumed definition, leading to many questions.

Here we go again!


In sorting out questions of prophecy, we only have three questions:

1. What is a prophet?

– The first occurrence of the Hebrew term “prophet” (navi in Hebrew) occurs in Genesis 20:7, but it’s a passing reference to how Abraham is a prophet.

– The next occurrence of “prophet” is in Exodus 7:1, and that’s where we see a prophet acting as a prophet. Exodus 7:1-2 says,

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh…’ ”

– Moses stood before Pharaoh as if he were God, speaking through Aaron.  It’s worth pointing out how Moses isn’t the prophet, but Aaron was the prophet of Moses.  Moses was to tell Aaron what he wanted to say, and Aaron was to tell Pharaoh.  Moses’ words were given to Aaron; Aaron spoke Moses’ words for him.

– Remember: when Pharaoh didn’t heed Aaron’s words, the Egyptians were punished for disobeying the command of God, not disobeying the command of Moses or Aaron.

– If there’s any questions about the relationship of Moses and Aaron, Exodus 4:14-16 sets the record straight. In the passage, God said to Moses regarding Aaron,

You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him.”

– As Aaron was Moses’ prophet in Exodus 7:1. Moses spoke to him and “put the words in his mouth,” and was “as God to him.”

– Just as God actually places his words in the mouths of his prophets, Moses placed his words in the mouth of Aaron.


– Aaron’s job was to pass those words onto whoever was to receive them.

– God was revealing his divine oracles through both men. To disobey a prophet is to sin, because the voice of a prophet and the voice of God are the same thing.

A “prophet” is a person who speaks God’s words from their mouth. Every prophet speaks with God’s moral perfection and divine authority/power behind their words.

– This understanding of “prophet” continues on throughout the Old and New Testaments. Balaam spoke God’s words as if he were God himself (Num. 24:10-13), as did Elijah (1 Kin. 17:8-24), Jeremiah (Jer. 28:1-29:14), Ezekiel (Ez. 2:7-3:11), Elisha (2 Kin. 7:1-2, 16-20), Isaiah (2 Kin. 20:1-11) and all the rest.

– There was absolutely no concept of semi-reliable or semi-fallible prophecy; when true prophets spoke and people didn’t listen, divine punishment and even death inevitably followed.

– Also, death accompanied false prophets as well. Claiming to be a prophet was a serious matter.

– A prophet who taught heresy was a false prophet (Deut. 13:1-8) and a prophet who got predictions wrong was a false prophet (Deut. 18:21-22). The judgment for false prophesy was death (Deut. 13:5, 18:20; 1 Kin. 18:40; 2 Kin. 23:19-20), since God treats falsely claiming to speak for him as a rather serious offense .

If people truly understood the seriousness of the offense against God represented by the thousands of false prophets in the Charismatic Movement, people would literally run from the churches in which false prophets are found.


– Also, It was common in the NT and OT for prophets to be verified via miracles:

– Moses was given validating miracles (Ex. 4:1-9).

 – Elijah was validated by predicting the famine in Israel (1 Kin. 17:1-2), the perpetuation of the widow’s flour and oil (1 Kin. 17:8-16), the raising of the widow’s son from the dead (1 Kin. 17:17-24), the fire from Heaven on Mt. Carmel (1 Kin. 18:36-40), etc.

 – Elisha was validated by the parting of the Jordan (2 Kin. 2:8, 2:14-15), the healing of the well (2 Kin. 2:19-22), his cursing of the mocking youths (2 Kin. 2:23-24), the prediction of the pools (2 Kin. 3:16-17, 3:20), the prediction of the defeat of Moab (2 Kin. 3: 18-19, 3:21-25), etc.

 – Jesus also produced a few miracles too, and Christ himself spoke of how they were God’s testimony to his authenticity (John 5:30-38, 10:25-38, 14:8-11).

2. Did the defintion of “prophet” change in the New Testament?

– No. Charismatic intellectuals try to change the definition of prophet to water it down:

– Sam Storms (certainly one of the more biblically savvy among the more eccentric element in Renewal circles) says that “prophecy is ‘the human reporting of a divine revelation.’ Prophecy is the speaking forth in merely human words of something God has spontantously brought to mind.” (Beginners Guid to Spiritual Gifts, 110).

– Sam Storms then comments on “fallible prophecy” and says:

“We must remember that every prophecy has three elements, only one of which is assuredly of God. First there is the revelation itself, the divine act of disclosure to a human recipient. The second element is the interpretation of what has been disclosed, or the attempt to ascertain its meaning. Third, there is the application of that interpretation. God is alone responsible for the revelation.” (116)

– Storms then says that “the revelation often comes in the form of words, thoughts or perhaps mental pictures impressing themselves upon the mind and spirit of the prophets.” (119)

– Sam Storms’ definition is entirely arbitrary and doesn’t seem to correspond with what we actually see prophets doing in the New Testament.


– NT Prophets act just like the OT Prophets:

Mark 13:11 – Jesus, talking about the future trouble of the apostles, says: “And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 12:12 says something similar)

Luke 1:67 – Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied.

Acts 13:1-4 – “Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

Acts 21:11 – “And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’”

Acts 28:25 – ” The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:”

Eph. 3:4-6 – God reveals his mysteries now to his holy apostles and prophets…

Heb 3:7 – uses the phrase “The Holy Spirit says” before quoting Psalm 95:7-11.

1 John 4:1-6 – Prophets are still tested by what they say and whether or not they conform to previously received revelation.

2 Peter 2:1 draws a hard parallel between false prophets of the Old Testament and the false teachers in the New Testament.

Rev. 10:9-11 – “So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll. And he said to me, “Take and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” 10 And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter. 11 And I was told, “You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.”

Rev 11 The two witnesses are verified by miracles: they can breathe out fire (11:5), cause drought, plagues, and turn water to blood (at will) through the divine power that is given to them (11:6), and rise from the dead and ascend bodily into heaven (11:11-12).

Even though they’re in the distant future, they’re not a different type of prophet.

Rev. 19:20 – The false prophet performs lying signs.

– If the prophets became fallible in the New Testament, we don’t actually see that happening anywhere…except for a singular example that gets constantly trotted across the wasteland:

Donkey rider

Acts 21 and Agabus’ “error”:

– The main argument here is that Agabus said that the Jews would bind Agabus in Acts 21:11, but Acts 21:33 says the Romans were the ones who bound Agabus.

– The whole “the Jews didn’t bind his hands” line is just naive. Acts 21:32-32 says that the Jews were attempting to beat Paul to death.

Homicidal mobs generally don’t fight fair.

– The fact that the text records that the Romans bound Paul with chains (Acts 21:33) doesn’t mean that the homicidal mob didn’t have the basic sense to bind the hands of the man they were attempting to kill.

– The NT prophets were “prophets” just like the OT prophets. There’s no change of definition or some sort of 2 levels of prophecy in the NT.

Where are all those kinds of prophets?

– It seems pretty obvious that there’s nobody in the entire Renewal that is willing to try to pass the OT tests for being a prophet.

– The mark of prophets in the Renewal is one of unadulterated error, both in prediction and doctrine.

– It seems strange that the people claiming to be prophets in the Renewal say the stupidest things, are the worst at interpreting scripture, and are the worst heretics.

– When Cessationists pick out the “bad apples”, the Renewal folks cry foul since we’re judging the movement on the basis of a few…but the bad apples are all the spiritual giants.

Sometimes it's hard to not focus on the bad apples...

Two Other Points:

“Hearing the voice of God” is functioning like a prophet.

If a person “hears God’s voice” and it’s not equal in authority with Scripture, it’s not the voice of God. God is not an impressionist; he cannot speak as if he’s Ba’al. God can only speak with his own voice, and that voice is one of untainted truth and authority.  This doesn’t mean that contemporary revelation needs to be added to Scripture for there is an important difference between spoken and written prophecy.   This does mean that all words of God carry his full weight of authority; there is absolutely no such thing as sub-biblical divine revelation. Sub-biblical revelation is false revelation. Sub-biblical prophecy is false prophecy.

There’s a rather large difference between the specific guidance and propositional revelation. The Holy Spirit leads (i.e. Acts 15:28, 16:6-10; 2 Cor. 2:12-13) and providentialy orchestrates the affairs of life (i.e. Ex. 1:15-2:10), but sensing that the Spirit is placing Taco Bell on your heart isn’t the same as him saying “God to Taco Bell.”

Focusing on dreams and visions is a mark of a false prophet.

False Teachers actually have often receive what they think is revelation that comes in the form of lying dreams/visions from their imaginations (Lam. 2:14; Is. 9:15; Jer. 14:14, 20:6, 23:16, 26, 27:9-10, 14-16, 29:8-9, 21, 31; Ez. 13:2-9, 17, 22:28; Zech. 13:2-6; 2 Pet 2:3).

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “I made it through without a single prophet/profit pun” Unger


12 thoughts on “Tongues, Healing and Prophecy Notes – Part 3

  1. I would distinguish between being a foundational NT prophet (linked with the apostles), and the gift of prophecy within the church. This latter is a new convenant idea, we are not under the law of Moses, and the test and punishment of a prophet no longer applies. (That doesn’t mean we should accept false prophecy or prophets, but it does mean we mustn’t put believers back under the old covenant before the Holy Spirit was poured out on all flesh.)

    As far as prophecy in the church age, this is defined as “On the other hand, he who prophesies speaks to men for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation”. I don’t see prediction there, more a specific word on a specific occasion for a specific person or group. This kind of speaking in the Spirit is not the same as teaching or preaching, nor is it a substitute for them. Should it start to replace scripture, we would better off not asking for it – but this is not an inevitability.

    Such prophecy needs testing, because anyone using spiritual gifts can make mistakes. The point is this is not scripture, it is not adding new revelation.

    I listened to John MacArthur on tongues, and he has the distinction of producing the worst sermon I think I have ever heard! The text was being tortured! Now he says the NT gift has ceased, the nearest equivalent today is when he opens his bible and preaches on Sunday morning. If that is the case, does he claim what he says after finishing reading scripture – the sermon itself – is infallible? Is not the sermon ‘adding to scriture’ additional revelation therefore undermining the closed canon and its unique authority in the church? And would he let women preach in church, since they too may prophesy as well as pray?

    Of course he doesn’t believe in new revelation, but is it not possible to ‘speak in the Spirit’ whilst not actually preaching, and bring a word of encouragement from God to someone? The finished NT commands us to seek to do this, and in my view relegating all this to the past actually undermines scripture. It’s a kind of evangelical liberalism, a dismissal of anything ‘supernatural’ to the past.

    I have occasionally heard a ‘prophetic’ word that spoke very exactly to someone’s personal circumstances where the speaker had absolutely no idea of what was going on, often enough to think this isn’t coincidence or there was demonic interference.

  2. Ken, “but is it not possible to ‘speak in the Spirit’ whilst not actually preaching, and bring a word of encouragement from God to someone?” Ah, where in Scripture does it say, “speak in the Spirit?” Paul and John both tell us to test the spirit (1 Cor 12:1-3 and 1 John 4:1-6), which implies that when the Spirit speaks, it will be perfection, as Lyndon alluded to in his notes. The same implication is that when we speak presumtously, we are speaking falsely.

    I’ve experienced people telling me numerous times, “God told me to tell you this,” and were all blatanly wrong in every conceivable way, yet it did not deter them when I told them that their words were not true and actually gave them proof that they were wrong. Did not deter them at all. The problem here is that my friends refuse to look at Scripture to validate their experiences. Our experiences mean nothing–I cannot even trust my own memory of what I’ve experienced because my memories are decaying. I cannot trust my own feelings or emotions because they are deceptive (Jer 17:9). The only area that we can trust is the infallible Word of God which never changes and gives me THE objective truth.

    What happened to the apostles and prophets was unique, and God used those times to verify His Word, the Canon of Scripture, so we can know what they said is true.

    • Well, I no more want anything duff than you do, nor do I want to add to scripture.

      My ‘in the Spirit’ idea comes in various guises in 1 Cor 12 with regard to verbal and other gifts. The argument always seems to be that these gifts always were, and must be today, infallible or they are worthless. This standard is not expected of expository bible teaching, neither is this latter considered adding to scripture. Why not ask for teaching and prophecy gifts, as detailed in Rom 12 where they are clearly not the same gift.

      We are told to ‘pray in the Spirit’, but I doubt if many evangelicals expect such prayer to be ‘infallibly’ within the will of God and therefore to be specifically answered in the affirmative, not because the Spirit is unreliable or makes mistakes, but because we are not always ‘fully in the Spirit’. But no-one would argue from this not to bother praying.

      I’m sorry if all you have ever experienced of this is clearly wrong – why would God ‘speak’ to friends of yours rather than to you?! But I still think the real thing is avaible in a more corporate setting if we ask.

      I doubt if there is much new to be said on the standard positions taken on charismatic issues. Having been for, then against because of the weird stuff, I have been forced back from being so anti with regard to 1 Cor 12 – 14 gifts having seen other agendas at work that try to negate the NT witness as the final standard. The argument is not necessarily really about spiritual gifts.

      I’m thinking of an arrogant unwillingness to lose control of the argument and actually listen to what people say, a fear of women having a ministry, and of the implications for church meetings where a (professional) man is ‘at the front’ doing the ministry which would be threatened by more people actually contributing, in a ‘when you come together each one has’ sense.

    • Hebrews 13:8? You might want to come back here next Friday, May 29th. That verse is going to be making an appearance.

      It is one of the most abused and twisted passages of scripture in the Renewal movement.

      Thanks also for the baseless blanket statement. It makes people like me, who have labored for thousands of hours to provide a balanced biblical perspective on these things, feel like we’re speaking to a brick wall.

      • ….and also Habakkuk 1:12, Daniel 6:26, Psalm 102:27, Psalm 102:27, and various other places in the Word of God. We see that God is the great I AM. He is perfect in nature and He does not change. He is the Constant One. His love, authority and power are the same in the Old testament, in the New Testament, now and forever. I cannot limit Him to my personal experience of Him or what philosophers and preachers have said. The Word of God is supreme truth and authority. That Christians can be immature, flawed, imperfect, money-grubbing, liars, selfish, and deceived does not change God, His Word, His Spirit- His profound love and power.
        I do appreciate all your research and your humor- that’s why I follow and read your blog. Thank you for all your hard work. I am also striving to know God more and more and worship Him in Spirit and in Truth and your blog does provide a lot of great information. Please don’t take my comments as combative or anything like that. I wasn’t trying to label or attack you or anyone. Although I attend a Southern Baptist church, where most people hold pretty strict cessationist beliefs, I don’t believe that our faith and our relationship with God can be defined by denominational or philosophical labels. God looks at the heart, not on labels or appearances.

        • God does not change in his essence, sure. He does change in his function though.

          For example, on the most basic of levels, God will be doing different actions in the eternal state than he is doing now…i.e. restraining the evil of wicked men.

          Hebrews 13:8 doesn’t mean that God is somehow bound to act in a uniform way across all history, regardless of epoch or age.

        • There is indeed a time for everything- and God decides. My problem is that some people seem to think we’re in a new dispensation or whatever and that what Jesus promised His disciples and His church has somehow passed. That what we see in Acts is not happening in the church today is not because the time has changed- that which is perfect has not yet come. The problem is with us, not God.

  3. Some of the comments on these posts show me the great necessity of this entire series. Lydnon examines the history and roots of this movement to show how corrupt it was in its infancy. Then show from the scriptures how the gifts in question have always been down through history, old and new testaments. And then the comments – unbelievable!. It’s like, “History and the roots of the movement….Blah Blah Blah. Yeah scripture shows how the gifts have always been…Yada Yada Yada. But things are new now so it’s all good. Sure, there’s some whackadoodles in the movement (where AREN”T there?) – WE don’t do it that way like them. WE do it this way, so that makes what we’re doing right so, thank you Lyndon, but everything you’ve just taught is hogwash.”

    So MANY warnings in scripture about false teachers and the kinds of teachings they bring and the charismatic/renewal movement is a HIVE of them, and those in the movement are blinded to it all and are willing to accept huge swaths of it. They call for those who discern the errors to be discerning while they themselves show they haven’t a clue what that means.

    Here’s a prophetic word for you (not from me, mind you, but from Isaiah so you can take it to the bank that this is real) – “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’

    You’re doing a good work, Lyndon. Blessings to you!

    • The *gift* is when the Holy Spirit makes someone a prophet. The *office* is the role that said gifted person fills in a given historical context.

      So for all intents and purposes, there is no difference.

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