Sorry, There's No Middle Ground Here

Background: There’s a lot of debate around the “charismatic gifts.” Some argue that these spiritual gifts are extinct (“kata-rgeō” as it’s stated in 1 Cor 13). The other side argues that they’re an integral part of interacting with God.

I’m not going to answer that question here, but I do what to share a revelation God has given me: there isn’t an easy answer, and there’s no middle ground. There’s just truth.

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Claim: Sure, some people can prophesy, see visions, and speak in tongues. That’s cool. But it’s not for me. Those gifts aren’t for everyone. We’re all different.

This is the easy answer. It avoids the awkwardness of saying strange things you have no control over while not completely alienating charismatics. And on face value, it seems Biblical. Romans 12:4-8:

4For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

6Since 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…

The Problem: Imagine that you are a mouth and you say something like this:

“I’m really glad God made me a mouth. He has a very important purpose for me and that’s why he made me so good at talking. I need to work really hard on what I’m good at and let the other body parts do their jobs. So I’m going to focus on my gift and stop eating.”

The body would die, wouldn’t it? See, nowhere does it say that you only get one gift or that once you’ve gotten a gift you should be content just with that. In fact, Paul tells the exact opposite to another church.

“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.”
1 Cor 14:1

The moderate philosophy on prophesy stands in sinking sand; not on the rock. It’s just like those who say they’re “Christians inside” but “just
don’t like to talk about it.”

Let’s look at a little greek. That word “eagerly” could be translated “jealousy.” This translation of “za-loō” is actually a little weak. It’s the same kind of jealousy God has for our love (2 Cor 11:2).

The Corinthians were commanded to zealously seek prophesy, and if we can prophesy today, we should do the same.

The Conclusion: So, what do I take from this quick study? You can’t have it both ways. Either prophesy is an extinct gift OR I am commanded to seek prophesy with a jealousy.

So, those are your two choices. There is no Biblical middle ground. Taking the easy answer doesn’t mean I’m not saved, just that I’ve missed out on one of God’s commands.

When God gives me conviction on whether or not I can prophesy, I’ll post my reasons. In the mean time, I’m interested in your opinions. What do you think? I hope you have also been convicted to not seek easy answers to the question, but seek the Truth.


7 Responses

  1. […] No Middle Ground […]

  2. Awesome post, and significantly challenging.

  3. That’s something my brain hasn’t chewed yet… Thanks.

  4. Bravo, Brian! Excellent point and food for thought.

    I guess now you have to define your terms. What is prophecy? I think of the prophet as one who speaks the Truth. But I know for a fact that many charismatics view prophecy as predicting the future, a ‘christian’ soothsayer, so to speak. That’s the kind of syncretism the Church can do without.

  5. I’ve heard people refer to “prophesy” as just “speaking the truth,” but I don’t see anywhere the Bible refers to it in that sense. Prophesy in every Biblical context always meant more than the just the Truth – it mean literally speaking the Words of God.

    So, I’m curious: where do you get the broad definition of prophesy?

    And the major difference between Biblical prophesy and soothsaying is the prophet has control (and can tamper) in the ladder case. Real prophesy is a gift, but God’s the one in control. And thank Him for that!

    Whether or not prophesy happens now… To decide, I need to do more reading…

    ><> Brian

  6. Your definition is better: speaking the Words of God. Actually, the very best definition I’ve ever heard came in the form of a comparison. A prophet speaks to the people on behalf of God; a priest speaks to God on behalf of the people. (Wish I could cite that source; alas, I forget.)

    And precisely because a true prophet speaks the words of God, much of what the OT prophets said became canon. On this side of the cross, of course, the point of contention is what specifically is a prophet’s job, now that we have the Canon of Scripture? And, again, precisely because a prophet speaks the words of God, the sin of presumption, to claim to speak for God when you really are not, was met with execution.

    Ever hear of the Kansas City Prophets? gag. This is a group of extremely presumptive men. And when they ‘prophesied’ and missed, they excused themselves with, “Well, no one gets it right 100% of the time.” Wrong. A true prophet gets it right 100% of the time. Or the Church stones them.

    True story: Dear friend calls, frantic. Just heard a ‘prophecy.’ There will be a bank failure over the weekend. Do you have cash??? (sigh) Weekend comes, goes. Banks still standing. Did they stone the ‘prophet’ in the city gate? nope. Should they have? yep.

    Your search for Truth in this area is commendable. When you figure it out, I’d be curious to know. For now, I think those who currently move in the prophetic are those who accurately divide the Word for us today. And, in light of Paul’s exhortation to jealously desire the gift of prophecy, that makes alot of sense.

    Curious: what are you reading?

  7. The Bible. 😀

    Yeah, I’ve gotten a couple good recommendations, but, I’m just taking my time in the word right now.

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